What they should be teaching in business school

I realize that we want our future business leaders to be able to make quantitative decisions and understand the intricacies of corporate finance but I also believe they need to gain a greater understanding of human and organizational systems.  Now more than ever, people who lead organizations of any nature must understand how the actions of people within the structure affect the structure.  This is even more complex with the advent of social communication tools and impact they can have as well.  We can no longer work under the old “command and control” ideology when it comes to information and knowledge.  As Alvin Toffler said, “Knowledge is the most democratic form of power.” This means that organizations are now flat whether they are structured that way or not.  There can be no expectation that people will not know what is happening (or about to happen) and that dramatically changes how we need to manage (yes manage and not lead…this issue will be addressed in an upcoming post).

Here are some things that we need our future business managers to learn before they take the reigns:

  • You cannot change an organization.  The organization will change as the cumulative effect of the changes in behavior from the individuals within.
  • Manage as if everyone knows what is going on (because they do or soon will via twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc.)
  • Embrace transparency as a way of thinking (see previous bullet point)
  • Understand that you only influence people and they will not just do as you say.  Directives will work a small part of the time and they will not work at all for issues of importance.  Your success is linked directly to your ability to influence those around you.
  • Organizations will become more decentralized so your ability to develop and nurture relationships is a skill you must hone.  This is one of the foundational skills of success in life and should be a class (or series of classes) in business programs.  Truly understanding things like social capital and communication theory will pay tremendous dividends.
  • Finally, if you want to lead others effectively spend more time leading yourself and they will follow your example.

The fundamentals of business itself will never change but the way in which we need to manage businesses will.  We have to embrace that our own development is a process and not an event.  We must continually evolve in order to survive.

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Filed under Adaptation, Complexity, Futuring

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