Photo by Roo Reynolds
If you can say that there is one thing common to all MBA classes, I think it is this: there is one answer you hear from all the professors: it depends.
Accounting, economics, and organizational behaviour… in all of these classes I have been hearing the same tune: it depends. It varies by professor. Some never say what they actually think or what they will actually do if they were presented with a certain situation, only present the various options. Some, hint to what they actually think. You know what? When you think about it, this might even be a good thing. after all, a good manager should be able to see all sides of an issue before he makes a decision, right?
But still, sometime I feel there is misalignment here. That the teachings err on the side of caution. That the fear to say something concrete and get it wrong just overwhelms all other considerations. Because in real life, after weighing all the evidence, a manger has to make a decision. Even if it is the wrong one. Even if there is still uncertainty involved. And a manager needs to be able to back his decision and explain its merits, even if the data he is partial.
This week I attended a conversation on photovoltaic with David Jordan, Director of Business Development for the UNSW Engineering Faculty. He used to work for BP and told us that when they presented a project in order to get funding as part of the capital investment process, they were not allowed to use the word “contingent”. In some of the courses I covered in the MBA so far, that has been to number one used word.
It depends is a good answer. It is just not good enough.