Tag Archives: Education

AltMBA: Reinventing the MBA

It all began just 4  weeks ago when I received this email from Seth Godin’s blog (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/05/a-different-way-to-move-forward.html).

Seth has been often quoted saying:

The traditional top-tier MBA takes two years, you usually need to move and it costs more than $125,000. The best business school experience is transformative. It exposes students to a new way of thinking as well as a cohort of fellow travelers, motivated, smart people in a hurry to change things. What’s changed is that access to information is no longer the reason to go to business school. The information is everywhere. Our goal with the altMBA is to assemble leaders (corporate executives, non-profit linchpins, founders, managers and people in a hurry) and to connect them and amplify their work. Without leaving home. In just a month of intense effort. Instead, we’re organized around action, around publishing, around sharing your work and learning from it.

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In his blog on 12th May 2015 he announced that he is finally launching the inaugural class of altMBA. It was going to be a real-time, month-long intensive program. This was going to be a small-group process that works online as well as through hands-on projects. The focus of the program was going to be on group work, leveraging the power of collaboration, both by learning from and teaching others.

As soon as I read it I knew I had to apply. I consulted my wife, my friends, my team and my bosses to check I wasn’t being impulsive; but all were supportive. Redington encouraged me to use my current strategic projects for the assignments (as appropriate) and to do the course at work and around my work.

So I applied. It was a very different type of application form and there was a video bio to record too (my first!). 100 people were chosen for the inaugural group beginning in June. I got in. I felt excited, daunted and terrified all at the same time.

Now that it’s really happening, there is a lot of planning and scheduling to do:

  • I will find out tomorrow (on Sunday) from my coach Paul Jun who my learning group of 4 is for the first week.
  • On Monday at 11am (6am EST) I get a prompt with the first 3 projects for week 1.
  • On Tuesday and Thursday I have online study meetings with my learning team from 6pm – 9pm. Sunday we are booked for the all day.
  • We need to submit each project by midnight on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. These are all online and public.
  • We review other people’s projects and give feedback by 6pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • Saturday appears to be the only day off.
  • That repeats again next week and the week after … Until the 13th assignment is handed in on 15th July.

Last week I got a box in the post at work, filled with books. I also received a reading list by email with over 70 books/blogs/articles on it … I am in heaven!

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These are the commitments we have all signed up to:

  • I will do the hard part first.
  • I will embrace emotional labor.
  • I will think of myself as the type of person who can and does.
  • And I will act that way.
  • I will have a posture of generosity. Giving without hope of getting.
  • I will care about people and the world around me…
  • And I will act that way.
  • I will dance with fear.
  • I promise I will continue to keep making change (‘ruckus’).
  • And then I’ll teach someone else to do so, too.

This is a course of the future, for the future. We are using a whole bunch of online tools, many of which I have never used before – Disqus, Zoom, Slack, Feedly, Digg, etc. Other than what I’ve described above we have no idea what to expect, what the assignments are, how exactly we will work together, how exactly we will do them …

This is not for everyone. These first 100 appear to be a diverse and interesting group of people. As it gets closer many people on the course are feeling anxious, frustrated and stressed at the sheer uncertainty. I also feel like that at some level though the experience has made me realise that I am ok with uncertainty, I can handle change and I quite like being thrown in the deep end. This process is about feeling your fears, acknowledging them and facing them. It’s early days though, I’ll keep you posted on our adventures.

Here we go: 4 weeks, 5 coaches, 13 projects, 100 people, 175 concepts.

All our work is public and will be available for review and comment here – https://altmba.com/blog/

My work will be shared here – https://altmba.com/student/miteshsheth/

Wish me luck! See you in a month.

The Inaugural Class of AltMBA 2015 runs till 15th July.

We have a problem!

When I was at school I was pretty good at Maths and I was told by my teachers that I should become an Actuary and work in the city. I was told the investment firms take the brightest minds, make them work very hard and in return, reward them very handsomely. It was all about money, status and power. This sounded particularly appealing especially for a guy saddled with debts from going through university in London.

For the past 12 years I have worked in the City, more than half of that in a medium sized fund management company. We invested people’s savings in equities (shares), property and bonds to earn them a better return than they might get from the bank. I could definitely say that we felt pretty good about our work and our role in society… until 2008… when things changed.

Over the past 4 years the image of the city has gone from intelligent, hard working, wealthy and often envied to being portrayed as greedy, crooked and immoral. That’s a big change to deal with psychologically and for me and many of my peers it’s been a hard reality to face.

Whilst some of these negative feelings maybe justified not just towards bankers, but also for politicians and corporates and the media; some of these feelings are quite unjustified. In general, most of the people I have worked with over the years are decent people, who work very hard, make many personal sacrifices and are quite conscious of their responsibility in managing their customers’ life savings.

There is no doubt that many people have lost a lot of money in recent times, markets have been unpredictable, banks are unstable, funds didn’t do what they said on the tin and its no surprise that the average person finds it hard to know who to trust and where to put their savings.

I want to change that.  I feel I owe it to the industry and the city that has given me so much. I know I can’t do it alone, in fact I don’t think any single company can either.  It will need us to work together across the city to rebuild society’s trust in our industry again.  It will need ideas … lots of ideas from all those that really care about the industry, the city and business.

Here’s one small idea that might make a difference – a change that might help us educate, inform and reduce information asymmetries to build a deeper contract with society (and our clients) and take a small step to rebuilding trust in the financial system:

Diagnosis:

Information is immensely powerful. The people that have information (experts in any industry) often use it to profit from those who don’t have it and who want it (consumers).

Now most people (and also organisations) act in their own best interests; most people respond to incentives; most people will be more inclined to do something if everyone around them is doing it.

So this information asymmetry gives power in the hands of a few, power corrupts, especially if incentives encourage it and everyone else is doing it – whether journalists (that need a story), car salesmen or insurance salesmen (looking for commission), doctors, estate agents or fund managers.

One solution:

We could use the internet’s power to shift valuable information from those who have it to those that want it (possibly with the kind of impact that the insurance market has seen, reducing premiums but increasing trust). Let’s educate the consumer about money, savings and investment.

For example, we could educate customers that “Day to day changes in markets are fairly random”; “the longer you hold on to your investments the better the chance of meeting your investment objectives”; “good things really do come to those who wait”; “fund managers/banks also benefit if customers to keep their money invested with them for as long as possible”. This in turn could encourage longer term contracts between fund managers and investors.

What ideas do you have?

To get involved take a look at the Future of Fund Management 2020 Challenge www.miteshsheth.com/challenge/

 

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

Today I found myself remembering teachers from my past that have inspired me, encouraged me and ignited my imagination. I miss that feeling… This got me thinking. Who are my teachers today? And how can I jump start my learning again?

When we’re at school/university it’s clear what we’re learning and who is teaching us – it’s a very deliberate and organised process. But once we’re out in the big wide world learning is far less structured, less organised and depends very much on what we do/seek, how curious and keen to learn we are.

One might feel we are learning all the time in this global information age, as we are bombarded by information & we have access to news as it happens all around the world. But are we really learning, are we growing, if so what are we learning? TS Elliot put it well – “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge, where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”.

Some might feel we are just floating with the tide, wedded to the same routines and habits every day, making the same mistakes again and again. When we’ve had too much, we escape into a film, a novel or on holiday. What little we learn is absorbed passively from the TV, newspapers and the internet. We learn many lessons passively: look after yourself; you can’t trust anyone; live for the moment; fulfill your dreams; spend your way to happiness; your success is defined by what your possess. It’s not surprising that we live in a society plagued with worry, depression & stress.

One thing is for sure, if we want to change the situation, we have to change our behaviour; and if we want to change our behaviour, we have to change our thinking.

I once read that “A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others. ” but we rarely see this in our modern times.

However, if you look carefully you’ll find great teachers all around you. Throughout our adult life we come into contact with many mentors and guides that give us their time, support and encouragement, pushing us to stretch our boundaries.

We need to surround ourselves with such people that challenge us, make us think, question and grow. All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind.

It’s no surprise that our learning grinds to a halt as we grow older, as we get busy with ‘life-admin’, we stop asking questions, and think we know enough.

Whatever age we are, whatever stage we’re at, we can reaffirm our commitment to learning, strive to open our minds, be curious, be inquisitive and be devoted to the pursuit of knowledge. There is so much to learn still about ourselves, about each other, about human relationships, about life and about the world.

What are we waiting for?