Last week I presented some early Lead by Letting Go ideas to a group of 16 MBA program administrators. I opened with a Google trends image and later in the talk I drew the extended lines. The image shows the number of searches for the terms MBA (top, downward sloping line), MOOC (massive online open course, middle upward sloping line), and Coursera (a leading MOOC platform, just showing a rise in the trend chart). The lines show the trend if we extend it out two years -- and keep in mind that two years is an eyeblink in university time. In Decker Communication terms, this was the SHARP; the hook to grab the audience and let them know that they need to listen to the rest.

MBAs Falling in Relevance?

Building off the three dimensions and the three practices of plugged-in management (they’d each been gifted a signed copy of my book, The Plugged-In Manager ... thank you, Leavey School of Business), I offered that we need to immediately begin small innovation experiments if we want to continue providing value to our audiences: students and hiring companies.

We need to lead by letting go.

We need to let go some of our traditional thinking around our relationships with our students and colleagues. I used the Yahoo! and Best Buy news around tightening the grip on employee relationships to tie the ideas to current events and Gen Y thinking.


Letting go of:

...boundaries around students' knowledge, skills, and abilities will let us engage with more students

...ideas around "our" faculty will let us engage our students with the best faculty for the topic, and let our faculty present their best topics to more students

...walls will let us engage with the world rather than a bounded geographical area

...traditional degrees enables us to take a mosaic view of education, rather than a lumpy view (I wish I could remember who said that we should treat education the way we treat fitness -- no one would ever think it was a good idea to spend two/four years getting fit, and then think they were finished). Where we often talk about “educating the whole person,” I’d like to adjust that to be “educating the whole person their whole life.”

The closing call to action was to take the three dimensions of people, technology, and organizational practices, managed through the three practices of stop-look-listen, mixing, and sharing, to develop experiments (lean entrepreneurship ) that will guide the evolution of MBA education.

We can’t wait two years to start.