I just read the abstract for a book called Managers, not MBAs which is focused on the concept that MBAs are being thought too much theory which is completely useless in a business where leadership and proven experience are the basis for performance. The book also claims top-school MBAs are arrogant and makes a case for top Harvard graduates who failed miserably in business. Furthermore, enrollment in the best schools is limited to students with high test scores instead of professionals with proven performance. The fundamental premise is that management is art and our education system focuses on theory.
It is true that in general, education is not evolving as quickly as businesses do. However, as long as companies keep hiring MBAs to high-paying high-profile jobs, the schools will continue to offer them, students will continue to pursue them as there is little incentive to change anything. I think some schools are trying to move in the right direction by introducing more case studies and role playing.
I still think there is a huge opportunity for innovation here for academic institutions and hiring departments in all sorts of companies.
Is your hiring department screening candidates based on the practical skills needed to do the job? Take a clue from The Apprentice: Donald Trump did not hire the top graduating students from a brand-name school nor he made his choice by a written test on management theory. Of course, that scenario would have produced poor rating in all likelihood. At the end, trump hired the person who performed best in real-life scenarios.
That’s why I found it so interesting to interview at Microsoft. The focus of the interview discussions are not based on what positions were held or what you studied. Interviewers present challenges that test problem solving, innovation, and other much more important, sometimes relatively subjective aptitudes. I think the fact that Microsoft is known for hiring smart people (except for me maybe) proves the point about the opportunity for companies to look at candidates in a new way.
Is there a market for a new kind of academic institutions, the Harvard of the 21st century?
Two years ago, during the 2006 Soccer World Cup Univision and ESPN published their ratings for the Mexico-Iran game which showed 5.6 million people (if I remember correctly) watched the game ton Univision, plus about 1.5 million on ABC. That’s almost 10% of all households with cable and TV (data from worldscreen.com). And this only accounts for fans that speak spanish and/or those who follow Mexico as a team.
It is evident that the number of soccer fans in the US is a sizable market measured in probably tens of millions, a market that is being largely ignored.
Coming back from work it is very hard to find a TV channel with a good summary of the day’s games – the best I could find is 20 minutes on ESPN at 10pm. No major sponsorships as you would expect from McDonald’s or some other fast food chain, no special offer from the cable company or Best Buy to buy a better TV (except for a few ads in Univision). At work many people were having a hard time finding a t-shirt to support their national team.
Surprising for the most competitive market in the world.
Entrepreneurs, mark your calendars – the World Cup is back in 2 years!
Sure – but what is Performance?
Harry Joiner made a post on his blog that made me ask myself this question. Why? here is what I posted as a comment on his blog, which by the way is an excellent blog.
Harry, I agree with the principle from Peter Drucker, however there is a big caveat: How do you define “best performers”?
Every company hires people based on their culture and their unique criteria for performance. Just like there are my aspects to what we call “intelligence”, performance- or “ability to execute” is an ambiguous term in its definition and especially in the way to measure it.
As an example during the 90s, Motorola is a company with very high performance people in terms of their engineering ability. As a consequence, the company filed an incredible number of patents and innovated in many areas creating technologies that have changed our lives.
The problem is, these high-performance thinkers/engineers/problem solvers were not very high performance marketers.
Visiting the Motorola Museum is enlightening both in the number of technologies created by Motorola (from the first square TV to the first car radio to the transponder used to communicate with Apollo XI) as well as the number of markets created by the company, only to be lost to competitors in an amazingly short timeframe.
A good example is the cellular industry – created by Motorola a few years ago, worth many billions of dollars in infrastructure, services and handsets. According to data reported by Monitor this week, Motorola has only 18% of the handset business – and this is after a strong comeback.
Is Google hiring high performance engineering talent-focused thinkers with a big ego, creating a culture that is extremely ambitious and self-confident? Can they really take on companies like Microsoft with 10 times their manpower and recognized by hiring high performance people?
From the teenager girl buying her next cell phone at a mall to the CIO making a multi-million decision that will impact his company’s information platform, people make emotional decisions and justify them rationally.
Why have people grabbed over 50 million Motorola’s RAZR phones? style. Not because of its performance as a phone, ability to get multimedia content, or ease of use. It is cool and it’s the gadget to have. Even Samsung this week launched a copy cat.
When we talk about mobile platforms for enterprises, people talk about “security” as a key factor in making purchase decisions. However, most of these people do not have a thorough understanding of what should be their security requirements and how each platform meets those requirements. Surely there are many people who do, my point is that many decisions are made based on perceptions and pre-conceived notions.
Most people who like technology feel very passionate and personal about the technology decisions they make. When I was in high school I was part of the Commodore 64 clan, and we tried many times to convince the people on the dark side (Apple II users) about the superiority of the Commodore machines.
In retrospect, I remember feeling a bit envious of some of the Apple’s features, but my choice went far beyond a simple purchase. I still have a strong emotional attachment to Commodore that influenced my decisions and the recommendations I made. Quite frankly, I cannot say all the advice I gave to friends and customers (I used to own a computer reseller company) was completely unbiased and facts-based. but I am not the exception.
A CIO who is anti-Microsoft, for example, would be naturally predisposed to support Linux and see that platform as more secure and more cost effective. His feelings will be reassured every time he would read an article about a Microsoft patch, subconsciously ignoring the article on the other side of the page talking about Linux’s vulnerabilities. The same happens for a CIO who has been using Microsoft’s (or Sun’s or Oracle’s) platform successfully. It’s just human nature.
So how are you as a marketer optimizing your customer engagements for emotional impact?