Tag Archives: business

Business isn’t primarily a financial institution

“Business isn’t primarily a financial institution. It’s a creative institution. Like painting and sculpting, business can be a venue for personal expression and artistry, at its heart more like a canvas than a spreadsheet. Why? Because business is about change. Nothing stands still. Markets change, products evolve, competitors move into the neighborhood, employees come and go. There’s always the “son of Lenny” to threaten all you hold dear.

Business is one of the last remaining social institutions to help us manage and cope with change. The Church is in decline in the developed world, ceding leadership to a materialism of unprecedented proportions. City Hall is subserviant to the economic interest of its constituencies. That leaves business. Business, however, has a tendency to become tainted with the greed and aggressiveness that at its best it channels into productivity. Left to its single-minded pseudo-Darwinian devices, it may never deliver the social benefits that the other fading institutions once promised. But, rather than give up on business, I look to it as a way, indirectly, of improving things for many, not just a lucky few. I accept its limitations and look for opportunities to use it positively.”

Randy Komisar, “The Monk and the Riddle”, 2001

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Description of Common Business School Classes

Pretty accurate description of Business School classes according to Jacob (via www.flailfast.com).

Andy

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Microeconomics: Taught by a professor supremely confident in their understanding of the world. Typically proven wrong every 10 years, but never in the classroom.

Macroeconomics: Taught by a professor supremely unsure in their understanding of the world. Typically proven wrong every 10 minutes, usually in the classroom.

Accounting: Criminally boring but universally regarded as important. Appeals to the perfectionist who demands compliance in their business dealings. Or the maverick who exploits accounting’s mile-wide holes. Both will likely be indicted in some sort of accounting fraud in the future, thanks to Sarbanes-Oxley, making the entire idea of becoming an accounting expert a lose-lose proposition.

Financial Markets: Where Microeconomics and Macroeconomics are distilled into supposedly practical “real-world knowledge.” A key example of the course’s pragmatism is the “Efficient Market Hypothesis,” an idea most elegantly proven wrong by the fact that a professor is paid $200,000 a year to teach it (a gross market inefficiency).

Human Resources: In this class you’ll learn how to dehumanize people as resources through the use of rewards and punishments. Outside of Financial Markets, the most efficient way to lose your soul.

Organizational Behavior: Ostensibly the study of advanced psychological techniques to bend large groups to your will, you wind up spending most of your time playing with legos, blocks, and fingerpaint to teach “team building” amongst adults. Colloquially called “Kindergarten Pro.” Strangely one of the most accurate representations of team building in modern business.

Operations: You learn how things are built but never how to build anything. You’ll discover concepts like “bottlenecks” and “critical paths” and spend weeks on “Six-Sigma Operations,” an idea popularized by Japanese automakers who were really, really consistent, by some arbitrary statistical value connected with the bell curve. You’ll marvel at the the technological sophistication but have absolutely no idea how to replicate any of it.

Marketing: Better described as “how to convince a consumer to buy damn near anything, usually against their self-interest.” Also known as “Advanced Lying Techniques” or “How Republicans Win Elections.” Biggest takeaway: never trust advertisements, PR agencies, or corporate executives.

Ethics: A class created by business schools to absolve themselves of any culpability when their graduates engage in evil, unethical things. Otherwise, serves the practical purpose of teaching you how to get away with doing evil, unethical things.

Strategy: The crown jewel of every business school’s core curriculum. Strategy synthesizes all other courses into a glorious edifice of oversimplifying frameworks and acronyms steeped in a solid foundation of rancid, steaming bullshit. It’s no coincidence that an MBA is sooner called a “Master of Bullshit Acronyms” than a “Master of Business Administration.” Strategy also holds many esteemed awards, including Most Frequent Abuser of the Case Writing Method, and Most Loved Class by Fortune 500 CEOs.”

 

 

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