A few decades back, important business people would have secretaries to type for them. Then the innovators of their day realized it was more effective just to do their own typing, particularly with the advent of computers and digital.
I would say this is important and a harbinger of things to come for three reasons:
- The Importance of Velocity
In the traditional corporation, executives make long-term plans and want them executed as efficiently as possible. There’s a lot of importance ascribed to getting the strategy “right.” In the innovative corporation, management creates a culture of experimentation where teams can test a lot of ideas quickly so they can find the one in 10 that’s really a winner. There’s a lot of importance ascribed to strong process and the velocity at which teams can test ideas.
Handoffs between departments or functions (like product management and engineering) kill velocity, and so the MBA of the future needs to be able to go beyond putting ideas on paper (or PowerPoint).
- The Importance of Small, Interdisciplinary Teams
In the traditional corporation, there are functional departments with hierarchical reporting structures. Various project management interfaces are created to facilitate interfaces between departments — most of these require relatively formal handoffs and working in large batches and long timeframes with a lot of work in progress. In the innovative corporation, executives create a charter about what problems they want to solve for customers and empower small, autonomous, interdisciplinary teams, keeping them aligned with that charter.
While there are experts on those teams, the boundaries between disciplines are fuzzy vs. stark, and so the future MBA needs a functional understanding of design and development to participate in such a team.
- The Ascendance of the Maker/Doer Culture
In the traditional corporation, your prestige is associated with the number of employees that report to you. In the innovative corporation, the best thing that can happen to you is getting on a small, talented team working on a potentially valuable problem.
Effective teams have a culture of experimentation and a culture of doing vs. talking. The MBA of the future needs to be better at showing than telling.
I’m excited for the future of business and the future of work, and so are Darden MBAs. If you’re interested, I invite you to check out some of their terrific work from the “Software Development” class: