1) Reorient your worldview
Remember those grade school maps of the world where the U.S.A. showed up squarely in the middle? On my first trip to England I saw a map there with the British Isles squarely in the middle. My first thought, of course, was don’t they know that the U.S.A. is supposed to be in the middle? When I got into sailing I discovered the Southern Ocean. The world looks pretty strange with Antarctica in the middle.
Many of we MBA folks tend to see the degree, the market and the results in shades of red, white and blue at times. We’re good at tuning our curricula to different industries and sectors and adapting learning outcomes that add specialties to a graduate’s portfolio, but most efforts grow out of either the U.S. corporate scene, or a familiar U.S. portal to the international corporate scene. The growth and prominence of strong B-schools elsewhere in the world is a positive challenge to how all of us perceive graduate business education and encourage us to think about the edges of our comfort zones.
But even when I do my best to frame a comprehensive, omni-cultural view of management learning my paradigm always lurks in the background. Not trying to be trite, but it helps to walk in someone else’s shoes (sandals, etc.). I know a young Caribbean man who is bright and wants to start a business. In a completely unrelated setting we talked and I discovered that he didn’t know what a business plan was, did not have access to books about starting a business, and had not considered an undergraduate education. I loaned him a book about business plans, but now I’m not so sure that’s the solution.
Peter Drucker once defined management as making knowledge effective. Until I can imagine how he sees the world I don’t believe my chatter about start-ups and business plans will make the knowledge he needs effective for him.
Sometimes I like to add “through relationships” to Drucker’s definition.
So I’m trying my reorientation by starting with a relationship.
For step 1) the question is, if we’re reading to take on the “rise of the rest” are we also willing to risk relationships with “the rest”?