For a bit of background, my undergraduate was in Computer Science which is a deductive logic problem solving course. The computer science angle is that you are taught a series of programming tools and techniques which you then apply to solve various problems. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate it wasn’t until I started my MBA that I realised my undergraduate only taught me the what and how, but not why.
The following are four key areas in which an MBA has added value for me:
1. Learning how to ask why and explain why effectively
When you do an MBA, or any Master study based on my discussions, reflections become a staple assessment in the majority of subjects. This is because the course is trying to not only make you think about why something should be done in a certain way, but also why you personally would do it in that way and what has influenced you to think in that way.
The value of understanding why is a much longer discussion, but the point I’m trying to make is that subjects in an MBA don’t just teach you tools and techniques, they teach you the fundamentals of why they are important. And once you have these fundamentals you are armed with a strong foundation to constructively justify or challenge a point of view. This is still of great value in today’s business world and I can’t see it losing value any time soon.
It is ultimately the “why” that motivates people and teams.
2. Re-framing the way in which you approach and solve problems
To date, my most mind-bending subject has been Design Thinking. Not because the content was hard, but because the content forced me to question the way I looked at the world and ultimately a number of my key values and thought processes. Our lecturer did an amazing job of removing ego from our class so everyone worked as unit and shared / constructively challenged ideas. This helped me make a shift from being an extrovert that would simply yell out what I thought was the best answer to drive a quick result, to shutting up and listening to a number of less vocal members of the class before voicing opinions. I realised this approach worked for not only the whole class, but also for myself as it forced me to explore other opinions and perspectives before jumping to my default, results driven, conclusions. It was after this that our lecturer dropped the bomb on us that conventional schooling is based on deductive logic, hence why the majority of people we engage in the workforce know no other way to approach problem solving. This doesn’t say deductive logic shouldn’t be used, it is simply suggesting that there are other ways to solve a problem and if you ignore these other avenues, you are greatly limiting your potential solutions. Like the old adage states, if your only tool is a hammer, you will only see nails.
3. Connecting the dots surrounding and knowing when things don’t add up
There have been so many times through-out my professional career where I have thought, “that’s a strange decision…” However, after some polite back and forth I’ve trusted my leadership are making the right decision. Well the facts are simple, sometimes my leadership was right and sometimes my leadership was way off, but sadly I didn’t know any better, so I had to trust them. The MBA provides you with a best practise surrounding how business should be run, so in the event something doesn’t add up, you have a framework to constructively challenge and ensure your management and leadership are moving in the right direction.
Finally, and likely most importantly, choosing the right MBA at the right institution is a great opportunity for you to expand your professional network. The bulk of people I have worked with throughout my MBA have been smart, motivated and practical individuals who not only help you to get the best out of your coursework, but also create opportunities for you outside of the lecture hall. Furthermore, this network expansion isn’t just limited to students as lecturers, industry partners and guest speakers are all made available as part of your course work to expand and likely rejuvenate your professional network.
These are only a few ways in which my MBA has added value for me, there are many more. In the event you are feeling a bit stagnate in your career and some of points made above have resonated, an MBA or masters study, may be something that will add value for you.