Educating Management

Would you agree to be a passenger on a plane piloted by a person not having the knowledge and ability to pilot the plane?  Would you allow a doctor who was not educated and trained to perform surgery to operate on you?  Would you help your children on a school bus driven by a person who had not been properly prepared to drive the bus?

Today there are people who everyday are expected to provide the service of management,   yet the only generally accepted guideline for management is to maximize shareholder value.  How could this be enough when the actions of management—as we’ve recently experienced—can have a deleterious effect upon society?  Shouldn’t we expect those who serve as managers to be and do more?  Should we expect the same level of professionalism from management as we do from those, for example, who serve our health needs?

Okay some might argue that business schools provide the necessary education and training for people seeking to provide management services.  If this is the basis of the argument it could then be argued that this is precisely the problem: business schools aren’t teaching what needs to be learned!

Fundamentally the curriculum of business programs haven’t changed since the early 1900’s, when they were first developed.  Oh, there are courses here and there that have been inserted that speak to today’s global environment and technological advances, but the principles of management that are taught have not changed.

Among the things that are taught includes management-by-exception, stimulus-response practices and the purpose of business is to maximize shareholder value—these are all so out of the thinking of early19th-century.  Moreover, the vast majority of MBA’s know nothing of the theories and practices advanced by Deming or Juran, or even who they are.

Although a business enterprise will remain viable if and only if it can continue to deliver value-added quality to people in society, there are very few, if any, schools of business that teach the system of knowledge necessary to enable people in the organization to be successful to this end. There are few if any programs—especially those considered top tier—that include principles of quality, statistical thinking, systems thinking, psychology of humankind, and critical thinking as foundational to management education.  How could this continue to be!

Part of the problem is that Deans and faculty of business schools can’t teach what they don’t understand!  They themselves were educated through the very same curriculum they now teach.  How could they know otherwise? How could they possibly be expected to design a curriculum that includes a system of knowledge they know nothing about?

You could argue that they are surely intelligent enough to learn it.  However, intelligence alone is not sufficient.  They also need to acknowledge that what they are providing is inadequate and to have the courage to overcome the inertia of current thought to change it. Then and only then will we have managers properly prepared to provide the needed management services everyone so desperately needs.

4 thoughts on “Educating Management

  1. I believe a requirement of business schools and their affiliated Universities should be that they should apply the thinking and techniques they are teaching within their own Universities. And diligently research their success or otherwise. To me the Universities and Business Schools in the UK have no credability as they fail to challenge the “command and control” concepts though which their own establishments are managed.

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