Aldis Greitāns: implementing the strategy is the only way we can make sure some parts of the strategy are working

“Learn things you are not taught during MBA studies”. This introduction to the social media post recently gained my as MBA Program Director’s attention. I read further. Turns out the particular MBA studies are focused on the creation of strategy but does not teach anything how to implement it. My response – trust but verify. To be certain I repeatedly reviewed the Riga Business School MBA program strategy course description. Nevertheless, large part of the course is focused also on implementing the strategy. As we know – idea without implementation is just a hallucination, therefore implementing the strategy is the only way to make sure that some parts of the strategy are working.  

Statement that MBA or, more precisely, people with the Master’s Degree in business administration is to be blamed for all the disasters of companies and economic is nothing new. It is not hard to guess why these assumptions are so common. The higher up the ladder of the corporate hierarchy, the more we can encounter people with MBA Degree. Why not to conclude that exactly MBA studies are the one’s completely destroying perception of the individual how companies should be managed, and killing any kind of creativity in general?

To be true, I have to note that proportion of MBA’s in the management of successful companies is the same as in the one’s where business is not running smoothly. It should also be considered that in general MBA graduates are a minority in companies. It means that not only they create the culture of the company that, as we know, eats strategy for breakfast (Peter Drucker). I would even like to state that majority of MBA graduates are working in the companies where the culture developed long before they started their employment there. One of the most frequently heard phrases from MBA students during my classes is “please tell me how to convince my bosses about it?!” This probably is a question of the company culture.

Recently I had to listen to the discussion where a CEO of one company claimed that task of business schools is to listen and teach what the employers require. For example, sales specialists. Here I would like to point out that students are primary customers of business schools. Therefore, no doubt that business schools have to follow what skills are in demand in the labour market but also perceive it through the perspective of the student not employer. Business schools should not support still very popular business model of cheap highly-qualified workforce.

Students of Riga Business School MBA programs usually are individuals who have already achieved something in their career. They are serious professionals in a specific field or lower or medium level managers. I am also glad that increasingly more students become entrepreneurs or consider that.

Reason people start studying at the business school is an understanding that to further develop their career they need to gain knowledge about how the company operates. This shows business schools must teach several and different subjects beginning with accounting and statistics to the people management theories and, of course, strategy. Therefore, curriculum of MBA program includes, for example, marketing but not training in sales. Unlike a simple set of sales skills and other training, task of MBA is to give students complex, comprehensive understanding how the company works in general and how it should be managed.

Recently the biggest challenge of MBA is related to the increasing complexity of business. New theories about people management are emerging all the time, product and service creation and development methods are changing, digital transformation introduces changes into literally all companies and their functions. Thus, MBA can no longer provide an unambiguous perspective “how things should be done”. Instead, except for a few fundamental subjects, task of the business school is to grant inter-disciplinary perspective to the student, understanding how various company management aspects are linked together and develop the way of thinking that is necessary to find complex solutions to the problems of the company.

 

Aldis Greitāns, Riga Business School MBA Programs Director