MBA students working together with one or more classmates in order to complete an assignment is a norm in most MBA programs. Working together successfully often depends on how well the group shares information. This usually means sharing a document or file of some kind, such as an MS Word document, PowerPoint presentation, PDF file, picture, graphic, or a spreadsheet. While MBA students working together may be the norm for most MBA programs, providing students effective and efficient ways of sharing documents is not. The answer for most MBA programs is to let students find their own solution, which usually means using email and file attachments. Much better solutions are available, many of which are consumer-focused, user friendly, and free.
Most MBA students do not find themselves unhappy with their MBA program. However, many do find that, during their pursuit of an MBA, they develop an attitude or feeling of disapproval of certain aspects of the program and they find little pleasure from their participation in the program. In the short term, such attitudes or feelings can adversely affect a student’s learning, while, in the long term, they can affect student and alumni advocacy for the program. What should an MBA student do when they find themselves in this situation?
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:
While reading a recent article by Jeff Haden, “8 Qualities of Remarkable Employees” my thoughts turned to the qualities of remarkable MBA students. I took the liberty of reworking Jeff’s eight qualities, modifying his wording so it applied to MBA students and created new qualities and descriptions when his wording would not work. Furthermore, I realized while writing that an MBA faculty member’s list of qualities will likely differ from those found on an MBA student’s list. With this in mind, the following qualities are those that I think make an MBA student remarkable in the eyes of an MBA classmate, MBA peer, or MBA team member. Moreover, I see these eight qualities as a starting point. I invite the MyeEMBA readers to add to the list.
Great MBA peers are “reliable, dependable, proactive, diligent, respectful, willing to share… they possess a wide range of easily-defined—but hard to find—qualities.” However, some are remarkable, possessing qualities that may not appear on admission criteria but nonetheless make a major impact on the experiences of other MBA students.
A Chronicle of Higher Education newsletter, Wired Campus (January 17, 2012) used the following question as a section title, “Are Your Students Prepared to Be the “Knowledge Workers” of Tomorrow?” This started me thinking about MBA students as “Knowledge Workers,” which in turn caused me to ask the following questions:
Are MBA students prepared to be the “Knowledge Workers” of tomorrow?
Are MBA students preparing themselves to be the “Knowledge Workers” of tomorrow?
Do MBA students have the “Mind Set” to be the “Knowledge Workers” of tomorrow?
Do MBA students even have the “Mind Set” to be “Knowledge Workers?”
I first learned of “Knowledge Workers” while reading Peter Drucker’s book, The Effective Executive (HarperBusiness, 1966). I since discovered that “Knowledge Work” and “Knowledge Workers” are concepts that permeate many of Drucker’s writings. Quoting from Drucker’s Post-Capitalist Society (HarperBusiness, 1993: p 85):
As successful as Wikipedia appears to be, my experience is that MBA faculty members do not widely use it in their courses or encourage their MBA students to use Wikipedia as a resource or to become contributors. Moreover, when I talk with MBA faculty members, there is little agreement regarding the extent to which Wikipedia is an appropriate resource for MBA students.