This is a post I was asked to write.
The questions posed was: “What do you think Business Schools need to do a better job of teaching? Here goes but given the potential weight of this post I’m going to most stick to a list vs. narrative:
The New Corporation — the Federated Enterprise (JV’s, Partnerships and Strategic Alliances). The corporation of tomorrow is an amalgam of various other enterprises that come together in a specific deal, to deliver a specific product or service, for a finite life cycle. Studying the old NYSE listing corporate parent and financials just isn’t very relevant anymore.
Small/Medium Sized Business Capitalization Tables, Debt Structures and Pro-Forma Financials. In a world where you need capital to be successful at almost anything anymore the most complicated cap tables today don’t have just common stock and bank debt — they have various classes of common, multiple series of convertible preferred — with warrants and convert options — and multiple tranches of short-term and longer-term debt. Often sizing this up is a non-trivial matter :). None – I repeat none of the B School grads I’ve met can digest a complicated cap table post-graduation without hand holding.
Worker Types, Pay Cycles, Employee Taxes and Benefit Plans/Approaches. Its gotten really complicated out there and the old full-time/part-time bi-monthly payroll world with one set of benefits is dying fast. Understanding the workforce is a critical part of any business and Business Schools are way behind on this one. These are now critical components to attracting and retaining key talent — and theres a lot more custom crafted programs in place than schools realize.
Intellectual Property Definitions & Protections. In a high tech world with workforce of knowledge workers — “advantage” is often cerebral nowadays. Knowing what we own and how we can protect it is a big part of today’s factory operations.
Doing Competitive Company and Principal R&D Using Web & Social Media. There’s no excuse for not knowing who your competitors are and what they’re thinking given the wide sea of data out there today. Mine it – hard.
Networking as a Weapon. When you get out of school you should have already learned how to set-up and nurture a people network. Of mentors, of missionaries, of peers and of potential enablers. Being competent is necessary as a floor for your success but being connected is really what will help accelerate it.
Producing Cohesive Written Documents. I mean REALLY — where did this skill die? I constantly see muddled, thrown together, half thought out, typo laden stuff . I don’t care how great or engaging an oral communicator you are — business still runs on written documents (digital or paper) and when you serve up crap that’s exactly what I think of you and your idea. Learn this at school — practice writing business plans, competitive assessments, product idea presentations — and then edit and refine them over and over until this becomes second nature.