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Nick M.

I considered getting my MBA after 5 years in the workforce. I spoke with a handful of people and specifically two entrepreneurs I know. One runs a small tech company in Seattle and the other has started numerous telecoms in the Bay Area, one of the telecoms sold to Cisco for $7B.

Their message was pretty much the same - my work experience was more valuable than an MBA. Their argument was that my experience and results said I accomplished something and had an impact versus a certificate saying I was able to learn stuff.

This doesn't address the particular question, but it does support the idea of "just doing it" if you have the passion and desire to start a company. Even if you fail, that experience may be more valuable (and possibly less costly) than an MBA.


I think you can pretty much drop the "business" part of this and apply it generally to all school. I think I'm starting to see the beginnings of change though, so fingers crossed for the future.

Larry Ford

When we speak of "culture fit", are we not really speaking of thought control, or the kind of mindless conformity that all organizations, be they corporate, academic, or otherwise always seek to instill? If one of the purposes of any organization is to decrease randomness, then the pursuit of mindless conformity is inevitable. Indeed, one might claim this to be a hallmark of civilization.


My experience is that the pressure to conform comes more from students, not from the professors.

When I was working on my dissertation in Computer Science, I once asked my advisor if he would follow a particular line of research I was considering. His response was astounding to me at the time and it has stayed with me: "I'm not here to turn you into a copy of me. You are here to share what you uniquely can contribute." (Remembering that kept me going through all the times he didn't seem to appreciate my unique contributions on any given day. ;-) )

When I did an EMBA program, I found little pressure from the faculty to conform to a norm. In fact, many seemed to appreciate the diversity and unique points of view brought by different students. They were eager to explore each perspective brought up during classroom discussions in a mostly analytical way, without being personally judgmental. (Being a prestigious EMBA program with many accomplished students, this experience may have been different from what one finds in a typical full-time MBA program. I don't know.)

This is not to say that there was no pressure to conform. There was peer pressure both within study groups and the cohort in general. This resulted in a fair amount of cliquish behavior and explicit social pressure. For example, at one point one student told me that there were many people in the class who wanted to befriend me but couldn't because I was friendly with a member of my assigned study group whose behavior was a few sigma away from the norm. My less than politic reply was that I had no interesting in befriending anyone who wanted me to ostracize someone else in order to be their friend. In some ways, this impressive cohort was not socially that much different from the average Jr. High School class.


I think its a valid concern, particularly for graduate school, where students are trying to understand what it means to be a professional in the field. The best schools, and teachers, don't teach conformity. They teach ways of thinking and taking advantage of natural talents.

Business school seems particularly vulnerable to the squelching of right-brain activity because, at least in the U.S., business is seen as a serious, analytical, bottom line profession. Which it is. But as great leaders show us, its about a lot more than that.

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