Thursday, February 18, 2010 2/18/10 - business education

In today's encore excerpt - writing in
the late
1990s, Quinn Spitzer and Ron Evans contrast the
business leaders of the immediate post-World
War II
period to more contemporary businesses leaders
raised on a steady diet of business
management books, MBAs and consultants:

"During the 1990s virtually an entire
generation of top
executives left their businesses, retired, or
away. Many of these executives had achieved
legendary status - [David] Packard at
[Akio] Morita at Sony, [Sir John Harvey-]
Jones at ICI,
[Sam] Walton at Wal-Mart, and [Jan] Carlzon
at SAS, to
name a few. These leaders shared some notable
characteristics that differentiate them from
successors. They lived through the Great
which crippled the world's economy in the
1930s; they
experienced the horrors of World War II; they
their business apprenticeships in the postwar
rebuilding period of the late 1940s and early
But what may differentiate them most from their
counterparts of today is the issue of
management.This 'old guard' was the last of a
of executives who developed their management
almost entirely in the workplace. They were
businesses while management 'science' - if it
can be
called that - was still in its infancy.

"In 1948 ... the Harvard Business Review had
a robust
circulation of fifteen thousand. That number had
reached nearly two hundred fifty thousand by
the mid
1990s. The Harvard Business School itself and
few other graduate business schools in
existence in
1948 awarded 3,357 MBAs - a far cry from the
MBAs awarded forty-five years later. Even
the best known of consulting companies, was a
relatively small firm with annual revenues of
under $2
million, compared with 1994 revenues of more
$1.2 billion. Management guru Peter Drucker
was a
youngster of thirty-nine. Seven-year-old Tom
was probably 'in search of' a new bike.

"The executives of [the immediate post-war]
were not uneducated - in fact, many were
well educated - but they did not learn their
approach to
business from a business school, a management
expert, a celebrated management book, or an
consultant. Options such as these were not
available. These executives learned their
skills in the industrial jungle. ...

"The forty-year-old executive of the 1990s,
by contrast,
probably holds one of the tens of thousands
of MBAs
awarded each year. His formal management
education is supplemented by dozens of business
periodicals and hundreds of management books.
however, a situation seems resistant to even
mass of management wisdom, there are several
hundred consulting firms and more than a hundred
thousand consultants ready to provide additional
management skill and knowledge. In 1993
businesses around the world spent $17 billion
consultants' recommendations, and AT&T alone
lavished $347.1 million on outside expertise.

"That does not necessarily mean that the
executives of the past were superior to those
of the
present. ... Still, we suspect that if those
[managers] of
years gone by found themselves at the helm of
any of
today's extraordinarily complex and competitive
business enterprises, they would steer a
straight and
successful course."

Quinn Spitzer and Ron Evans, Heads You Win!,
Fireside, Simon and Schuster, Copyright
1997 by
Kepner-Tregoe, Inc., pp. 15-17.


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