Just over a week ago I was on my way back from London from a business trip. I’m waiting at Heathrow airport, uncomfortably seated with my warm notebook computer on my lap – a laptop, literally. I see a little bookstore just around the corner and decide to go have a look. As usual, my first stop is the business section. I look through the disordered titles and stumble on this little book with an appealing title: The 80 Minute MBA. I look at the introduction, and it’s actually a book that can be read in 80 minutes or less; perfect for my ride back to Montreal. I’ll read this when my laptop battery dies.
The cover page really got my attention. In addition to the topic, there’s this phrase on the left of the title: “Everything you’ll never learn at business school”. Quite a pretentious cover page I tell myself.
After having read the book, in my opinion it turns out to be that, a pretentious title for a decent book. I admit that I’m currently doing my MBA and I’m almost done. The fact is that I really love the degree and I’m getting a whole lot from it. But regardless, although the book has some good content, I feel it’s a collage of paragraphs taken from the standard business school curriculum, intertwined with a few interesting comments. The cover page promises a great deal but the content doesn’t deliver.
For those interested, here are my commentaries on a few sections.
Although nothing groundbreaking was revealed, this chapter served as a good reminder of what can be done and what needs to be done to provide a viable life for the current and future generations. It helped me take a step back from all the head-down business school studies and reflect on what I’ve always promised myself to do once I do operate “that” successful company – use business as a vehicle for prosperity and good, simultaneously.
“The finest leaders are those with bigger ambitions for their organization then for themselves”. I think there’s a lot of true in this. For the organization to be successful you can’t simply consider your own personal gains as this will cloud your judgment and most likely result in poor decision making at one time or another. There is much more than your person in stake here; potentially thousands of direct jobs, numerous service providers, and let’s not forget all those stock holders. Hey, I don’t want my retirement fund to drop in value – again – because of the greed of a few. However, it all seems like most see this as a nice statement to put in a book but that doesn’t really apply in real life. At the same time, I feel like many “regular” employees do this on a daily basis. They sacrifice quite a few things and put in a tremendous number of hours without ever seeing the financial gratification of this overtime. I think this is something leaders should think about. Not all of us have Fortune 500 CEO salaries and benefits.
Solidarity, purpose, and equality, are all nice words. But to me these are words you just see too often in business books. Don’t get me wrong, I actually believe in working as a team to reach common goals, do it efficiently, and on the way learn a bunch and appreciate the work you’ve done. But first off you need to have employees satisfied with their jobs, proud of what they do, and passionate about reaching a common goal. Employees also need to be fairly compensated for their hard work. I remember receiving corporate emails while working for an Investment Banking firm saying that we all need to act as entrepreneurs – it’s our company – we need to cut costs and save money, after all its all our money. I can’t think of a more insulting email. Most of us (if not all) in our local office weren’t entitled to receive big fat bonuses at the end of the year as other offices and business units did. They’re right, perhaps as a project manager I could have saved more money by using notepad to track my project plans rather than asking for a Microsoft Project © license.
One interesting part in this chapter is the mention that a successful leader energizes his team. I find this to be an important statement as we often forget to positively influence others, especially in times when we’re unmotivated for one reason or another. I’m taking note of this one.
Telecommuting can be a good thing. The book mentions that some companies have seen an increase of 20% in productivity after allowing employees to work from home. I can agree to some extent. Getting that extra hour of sleep in the morning can sure do miracles for the rest of your day. But this is good to the extent your work is mostly isolated and doesn’t require a lot of collaboration. I’ve been in too many meetings where everyone is on the phone in different locations. It’s hard to get things done quickly when you can’t walk up to someone and discuss a matter face to face. I think a lot needs to be done in this area, and no, I don’t believe web-meetings are the solve-it-all solution.
I rate the quality of books I read based on the ideas they trigger in my mind. Although this book isn’t a bad read at all, for me it just didn’t have that extra thing that takes your mind to high places. I really applaud the authors for managing to condense some key MBA concepts in this short format. That’s a feat by itself. I think this book will serve as a good introduction to those wanting to glance the theories and concepts of business administration.