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August 13, 2007

MBA in a Page


My buddy Ray Schraff from Hyland Software pointed me to this site containing a comprehensive list of management theories. It is an “MBA in a page,” and I mean that in a pejorative way.

Here are some examples from the page: GE/McKinsey matrix, Kaizen philosophy, Capital Asset Pricing Model, Business Process Reengineering, and Scenario Planning.

You can use the page as a test: Anyone who knows all these theories is someone you shouldn’t hire.


This posting has generated a lot of anger. Many MBAs unsubscribed from my feed because of it (perhaps I can now raise my CPM—I’ll check with Federate Media). That said, today my feed count is the highest it’s ever been. Tomorrow I am going to post a Truemors promotion, so I expect even more people will unsubscribe.


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» MBA in a Page from Marketing & Strategy Innovation Blog
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I've got an MBA from a pretty good school, and I enjoyed the experience and think it contributed to my career and my life in general - but I'm not "an MBA" - i.e. having an MBA is not what defines me. I suppose that the people who unsubscribed because of this post lost their sense of humor (if they ever had it) long before gaining their MBA.

Let's face it - we're lucky. Lawyer and engineer jokes are far worse than MBA jokes.

They may unsubscribe (won't be able to comment) but they will still be reading you every day!

Let's not forget George Bush has an MBA!


Let's send all MBAs to the countryside to be re-educated!

Oh wait.... I'm doing an MBA. Sssh! Or, should that be $$$$h?!

Where's all the anger? I was expecting more than a couple posts and unsubscribes, but most are fully supportive of Guy. Count me in the camp of MBAs who love him. But let's get more than a love fest going...

I wonder how many times Guy has invested in a company that used some kind of "matrix" on its business plan or 10-slide powerpoint presentation in order to visually depict a business opportunity? Should anyone who uses a strategic framework be discounted?

The magic of these models is that is helps us dumb down complex issues for ourselves, our investors and our clients.

I think my biggest MBA takeaway was an exposure to hundreds of types of companies, industries, issues and business opportunities - especially via case study. These helped me turbo charge my understanding of business in a way that sticking with a single company for two more years would not. Of course diverse real world experience remains my foundation and continuing education, but the MBA is part of why I'm successful today.

I know more people with MBA's that lack an understanding of the customer. Producing spreadsheets and power point presentations is intertainng to look at, but the customer is King. It's not what you know, but that you can take care of your customers. Of course cash is the bigest king, and it takes dedication to insure customer satisfaction. Maybe someone with an MBA can do this job, but some of the best are high school drop outs. I am not promoting to not seek education, as you can never know to much, but the best busiess people don't need an MBA to succeed.

Guy, how about this for your next post? Why does the apple i-Phone not have a thumb keyboard? Answer: Because Steve Jobs see's the future without it. My comment would be, that thumbing your life away is short lived. When you port Unix to a phone with a development platform on your computer, then voice recognition and text to speech is around the corner. Hello i-phone talk to me!

Another potential post: What does the computer of the future look like. Answer: First off, Microsoft will push Windows on the Mac hardware because it is a controled architecture and insures windows runs the most nimble and efficient. The ISA architecture or whatever it is called today will just be built for people running Unix, and the open source community will continue to make it rock.
Buy Apple stock as it's the future's Big Thing.

(1) congratulations! keep your unique insight is what attracted me to the website.
(2) I thought all the MBA with leadership training would be capable of taking different point of view into consideration. Not just turn its back=sign off (at least put on some facts indicated the successful use of the theory). I guess I was wrong.
(3) Well, you get rid of >80% of IQ group (most of guys pass the GMAT appear to be "high IQ"). you just got stuck with left over somone like silly me (lower IQ for sure).

Didn't know that Guy was writing for Private Eye. I think they would approve. Where can I cancel my subscription?

Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells


@Mark : do you think Neanderthals had MBAs when they invented their tools ?

At the end of the day, business is about only one thing : the customer. So, anything you do is aimed at keeping & growing this guy with you. No MBA or HEC diploma (the French disease) required to understand that.

Because the whole stuff is just damn simple: make this guy happy by making his life (at work) easier. The methods, the tools, the processes here are pretty simple too : it's called human relationships.

And nobody's going to teach you those at a MBA (or at HEC ;-)

you are all wrong.. it all depends on the situation.

for instance, if i wanted to sell a $500M company, i would probably want an mba to be able help value and sell it. if i wanted to invest $100K in a startup, i might get Guy's opinion.

if i was starting a new web company that helps huge companies with inventory management issues, i would rather get an mba who can apply all the theories, vs Guy or an entrepreneur who would know very little about the situation.

if i wanted to expand a retail chain operation, i would probably want to get an mba who can do the real estate analysis in picking the best locations. if i wanted to expand a little dinky web app (like tumors), Guy would be really good at that.

in others words, there are some areas that an mba would be a better fit for and there are instances where a hard-working entrepreneur with a good gut is better.

I'm a just final year marketing student, I did well for all my units EXCEPT for an elective which I chose as an interest - Technological entrepreneurship.

Instead of being bombarded with theories, models and researches. I was placed in a situation where I had to unlearn my thought process groomed by my previous experiences. Maybe it's just me - I find that I failed to spot the most simple, significant details/solutions critical to my business plan and was practically hurling models and theories at the problems.

My takeaway was: it's about using your common sense to assess the situation then consider the best tools to leverage. Not throwing everything u have that you assumed is best for the situation.

If I can, I'll still do MBA to learn more and network. :)

I'm not taking sides but just want to share my little experience.

Kind Regards,

I'm laughing with you. Why are so many of you not laughing?

And no joke, I'm not sure what MBA stands for. Me?
A laborer in water/sewer maint./construction for over 20 years. I'm still at it. MBA's pass me every single day. I wear a hardhat and orange vest waving your vehicles past our job site or in the trench hand-digging to locate utility lines as heavy equipment operators stand by or tagging back cement trucks as we prepare for a pour. I wonder if you see me? The MBA's who catch a glimpse driving through? I'll tell you true and they will too....I'm smiling and laughing! It's the construction season! You who have unsubscripted? Next time you find yourselves stuck in a traffic back-up due to road work ahead? Slow down and take a look around...look past the sweat, the dirt and sun-baked skin and you'll see what is missing from so many of the MBA comments. You'll see humor. It's everywhere! We are laughing. Big belly laughing. A benefit earned. A part of the job description. Maybe you'll laugh your way back? Laugh all the way back here, to this post page? I miss you already.

I found Guy last week at Think map Visual Thesaurus. 13 years ago, Guy found me breaking through. The strong wind that carried me then, today waves a banner with my purpose. To take on the challenges and help pay the great debt I owe to those who went before me and suffered through. I have no misgivings, I do not lack confidence and my courage does not falter when I am called upon to put up the good fight. I know how so many strongly lean upon the triumph of this cause.
I'll never surrender. And I'll never stop laughing.

Can I subscribe twice ?


Thank you for the link to Marty's story and sorry for my comment about you Truemors being a low point for you. I guess I was a bit salty after loading the Facebook book app the other day and having to uninstall the stealth Truemors wideget that came with it. I wasn't too happy about that but I can see why would would try to package it that way.

I did check out Truemors when it first launched and looked over the site again today.

I'm still not a fan of Truemors, but I am still a fan of Art of the Start and will continue to recommend that book to anyone I know who is looking to start a business, even though you rip MBAs as though all MBAs were mindless drones that lacked any ounce of creativity.

You would be surprised at how many MBA grads these days are now becoming social entrepreneurs and working for non-profits rather than the traditional route of strategy consulting or i-banking. Check out my blog "Green is Good" sometime if you want to get an idea of what a recent MBA graduate is up to.

Also, in one page, there is Periodic Table of Visualization Methods for Management:


Hi Guy,

There are also other resources which are as valuable.




Oddly enough, I contacted my university just a few days ago inquiring about doing an online MBA... just for the hell of it. Long story made short, I told the university I will wait till they award me an honorary one ;-)

So far in my business experience, the worst sales person I ever had work for me was a MBA, not to say all MBAs are bad, there are some damn outstanding ones out there!


Great link Guy! The smartest and richest people I know don't have MBAs. Arrogance substituting for knowledge gets us the kind of software and applications we see in the market today. It also gets us lead in kids toys, or maybe that's just greed. Anyway, with all of these MBAs developing sophisticated methods to make things work better, why are so many things getting worse? Invest in the person with vision, passion, and the drive to make it happen. These traits aren't taught, but they are infectious.

A cheeky way of making a good point Guy - that's why I love this blog!
I'm trying to build and launch a start-up and to be honest most of the formal strategic mgt methods I learned back in my MBA days have been nothing but a distraction (and a source of irritation for my guru developer business partner).
Build a product, a good product, figure out how to make money from it and the rest will follow. Smart money looks for smart products and not clever people alone.

This is great.
In fact, we could create an exam based on a subset of these theories and test people we consider successful (in the MBA-sense of success, obviously)...
Assuming MBA graduates get a good score at these theories (which is, in fact, just a theory), we would know the real value of MBA's (not that of comparing the salaries of MBAs to non-MBAs, which is biased).


I could make it even simpler. Get all the candidates in a room. Read off a few of these theories. Ask all the people who know what they are to go to one side of the room. Ask those who don't to go to the other side. Then hire the people who don't know the theories.


Guy - I'm an MBA student at UNC Kenan-Flagler with start-up experience/aspirations and I completely agree with your sentiment. An MBA student would probably be the last person I would seek to hire in an early-stage start-up.


And another thing for all you "unsubscribers" out there...

How do you think all these "tools" came to be? By people deciding that the curren tools did not fix their problem. They were not so tied into theory that they could actually think on their own and come up with a NEW theory.

Give back you MBA....you don't deserve it!

This is hilarious! People get their panties in a bunch over the stupidest thing.

I have an MBA. I am not the least bit offended by the comment. Anyone that has time to study all those management concepts (and the list is long if you noticed) could not possibly have experience in all of them. Therefore, why would I hire them? If they say they have experience in all of them, I call bullshit.

As someone stated below, the right tool for the right job. Find your problem, then the right solution for the problem. Not the other way around!

Great post Guy!



They're not "panties." They are "Generally Approved Antecedents for Pants."



As far as I am concerned, MBA or not, as long as people can subscribe with a click or two, you will be just fine.

I am not an MBA if anyone's curious. I still have yet to finish my first degree which I started over 14 years ago.

I am more interested in what Guy has to say, an open mind is a learning mind.


> You can use the page as a test: Anyone who knows all these theories is
> someone you shouldn’t hire.

Is there _anyone_ on this planet who actually knows _all_ these theories?

Nutty Guy! Are you now playing with bloggers' psyche? You studied psychology, didn't you?


Yes, it was the easiest major I could find.


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