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September 20, 2010


Chris Flanagan

Hi Irving - As always, I love reading your posts. I learn something every time. Question for you: do you think today's business schools are adequately preparing the next generation of leader to deal with all the cluster bombs that will inevitably be thrown at them?

I can see why the CEOs of Wang, IBM and Digital (who were raised under the auspices of 'one generation, one business model') might not have seen - or understood - what was staring at them in the mirror. Today is different though.

And I think, as far as the history books go, the successful leader will be judged by his/her ability to guide a business through multiple business models. But are schools preparing them for that?

Would love your thoughts on this.

Cheers from your BIF friend!

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Are business schools doing a good enough job in preparing the next generation of leaders? I think that while a number of business schools are re-evaluating their curricula and are trying to change to better prepare their students, a lot more that needs to be done.

Earlier this year I wrote a blog - http://blog.irvingwb.com/blog/2010/03/business-management-and-holistic-critical-thinking.html - based on an article by Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

I agree with his views that in order to better prepare the next generation of leaders for the fast changing worls they will be facing: "students needed to learn how to think critically and creatively every bit as much as they needed to learn finance or accounting. More specifically, they needed to learn how to approach problems from many perspectives and to combine various approaches to find innovative solutions."


Surely it's the limits of your business model? Companies do not know how to react to disruptive (to-their-business-model) technologies. I've met with tens of thousands of companies large (Sam Palmissano) and small startups. Once a company knows how to make money they stick with it and they are so focused on it that they don't know how to deal with disruptive technologies. They are on a track and even though they see the train wreck way ahead they can't down-size fast enough or change tracks in time, they slam into the wreck. I see it all the time. It almost happened to IBM, it took Lou Gerstner ten hard years to move the company to a different track. Teaching an elephant to dance, indeed...

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