Typically, MBA students and alumni are introduced to philanthropy in either of three ways. One is when an alumnus makes a significant gift to the university and the act is highly publicized. Another is when the graduating class raises money that is then gifted to the MBA program in the class’s name. Finally, almost all graduates receive that annual letter or phone call asking them to support the annual fund-raising campaign by making a donation. While these activities serve a very useful purpose, they unfortunately target individuals who are paying large amounts of money toward tuition and fees or are trying to pay off student loans incurred while attending the program. Introductions of this nature do little to foster a spirit of helping to make the lives of others better which is what philanthropy is all about. Nor do they help establish a habit of giving. I believe an alternative approach is needed—one that engages MBA students and alumni in a way that adds very little financial pressure to their already stressed financial situations and allows them to see how their efforts can help make the lives of others better. Let me share with you a recent experience of mine to describe what I believe could be a viable alternative.
Most MBA alumni realize their degree increases in value when their program’s image and reputation grows. However, many of these same alumni do not realize how they can contribute to their program’s image and reputation growth. I believe that engaged alumni contribute that growth while unengaged alumni actually detract from it. Alumni engagement varies from program to program and individual to individual, and I think engagement and degree value will increase if MBA alumni do any of the following ten things:
Ask any group of MBA students and they will tell you that they have too much to read. From their perspective, this may be true. However, from a faculty member’s perspective, there is always room on the syllabus for one more article or book chapter. Having too much to read may be a matter of perspective during the MBA program; however, after graduation, MBA students no longer have a faculty member selecting books and articles for them to read. Therefore, the burden of dealing with the crisis of too much to read becomes an issue for the individual MBA to address. Read the article to learn one approach to dealing with the crisis.
Managers manage, leaders lead and problem solvers problem solve. In an organizational context, much of the work managers, leaders and problem solvers do relates to reacting to or preventing a failure of some kind. Couple this situation with the daily bombarding of bad news from multiple sources – newspapers, magazines, television, radio and the Internet; and before long, we find ourselves focusing only on failures – the organizations’, co-workers’, family members’ and our own. Moreover, I believe that such focuses make us quick to criticize others, as well as ourselves. Self-criticism that focuses only on failures leads to an imbalance in the perception we have of ourselves, one that is more negative than positive. MBA students are not exempt from this imbalance and one way of balancing this perception is for them to develop a greater appreciation for their accomplishments.
Read the rest of the article to learn how to re-balance one’s perspective.
While reading Kio Stark’s book, Don’t Go Back to School: A Handbook for Learning Anything, I discovered that I am an independent learner. I also realized that for most of my early life, I was a dependent learner, as I progressed through the formal education system – K-12, BBA degree, MBA, D.B.A., and various certification programs. The transition or evolution from dependent learner to independent learner was not obvious to me, yet it happened. In retrospect, had the changeover occurred sooner, advancement along my chosen career path might have been faster. For this reason, I believe that the sooner MBAs become independent learners, the faster they will advance along their chosen career path. Moreover, I believe an MBA program is the perfect place to start developing independent learning skills.
The MyeEMBA article, “Do MBA Students have the Mind Set to be Knowledge Workers?” generated a sizable number of comments on LinkedIn. One comment by Augustine Mayomi (TopMBA) wanted me to suggest ways a new MBA graduate could develop a knowledge-worker mindset. This article addresses Augustine’s request by identifying 10 things MBA graduates can do on their own to develop the mindsets that is necessary for their becoming knowledge workers. I regard these 10 as a starting point and invite the MyeEMBA readers to add their own suggestions in the comments section below.
I think the key to developing a knowledge-worker mindset starts with the understanding that, as Drucker put it, “In knowledge work, the task is not given; it has to be determined.” and, perhaps more importantly, task or problem determination requires thinking. While MBA students are predisposed to action, they need to learn that thinking before doing is critical to developing a knowledge-worker mindset. Furthermore, learning to think about task clarity and determining the task is an acquired skill that requires a lot of individual time and effort to develop. From an MBA student’s or a new MBA graduate’s perspective, understanding and developing new ways of thinking is what helps develop a knowledge-worker mindset. With this thought in mind, I suggest the following: