August 23rd, 2010
Rodrigo Canales, Cade Massey and Amy Wrzesniewski make several good points in their WSJ op-ed about the need to incorporate values into business education (via Teaching Ethics to M.B.A.s – WSJ.com).
Some pundits [...] believe that schools should train managers in narrower elements of business strategy—negotiation, incentives and the like—and leave the teaching of values to others.
We couldn’t disagree more.
Business education is much more scientific than it was in its early years. It has been made more rigorous by the rising influence of statistics and economics. We believe in analytics. [...] But analytics are not a substitute for values. Indeed, an overreliance on analytics leaves managers poorly prepared to lead in moments when statistics obscure the full human dimensions of a choice.
But they miss an important point about the role a professional oath such as Thunderbird’s, the student-led MBA Oath, or the Young Global Leaders’ Global Business Oath can have in driving that change:
Like a chastity vow, the M.B.A. oath has an unstated assumption that those who have gone before are somehow different: They had weaker wills, less resolve, looser morals. The oath is meant to signal a stronger commitment to values. The danger is the false sense of moral inoculation such oaths engender. Just as teenagers who take a chastity vow in lieu of better sexual education are more vulnerable to the consequences of unprotected sex—vow takers are actually more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior—M.B.A.s who take an ethics oath without enough supporting leadership education are likely more vulnerable to ethical breaches.
An oath makes a clear statement as to what is missing in the curriculum, and it can encourage self-criticism and curriculum change in business schools. Making a public statement of intentions is often the start of real change and it communicates clearly and unambiguously what are the values that are being transmitted.
via Teaching Ethics to M.B.A.s – WSJ.com.
August 22nd, 2010
By Jen Wilt, GMBA ‘2010 (Excerpts from commencement address)
GMBA On-Demand students are working professionals who keep their day job while pursuing an MBA at the same time. Every week we collaborated with classmates halfway around the world, covering nearly every time zone from Hawaii to Boston, South Africa to Dubai, Kazakhstan to Japan. And if we weren’t living or working in one of those locations, we were often in transit. One of our classmates from Ethiopia, Joao, is a great example of this globetrotting. I’ll never forget a note he posted in one of our classes: “Team, Any chance we can meet for breakfast or a glass of wine in Dubai? I’m traveling from Paris on Saturday, leaving for Cairo the next afternoon, and will be in Venice the week after.” Now THAT’s a global mindset!
Now, full disclosure. I happen to be one of the very few of us who chose not to work full-time while pursuing this degree. And as my husband can attest, I still needed some babysitting. So I have incredible respect and admiration for my amazing classmates who were able to handle this workload along with a full-time job, many of whom did so while raising a family as well. My personal hero is Kamran, who on top of working for Bayer HealthCare and raising a family, decided during this program that he could also handle moving his house, becoming a landlord, taking business trips to Europe and Asia, easing into a job change, and having a second child. Well, his wife had the baby of course, not him, which made it somewhat easier! But seriously, Kamran, we thank you, and your wife, for always coming through on your homework. Annie is another hero, who never shirked her class responsibilities while working as an engineer for Intel – which I hear is a pretty serious job – and being a single mom. Incredible. Luke Larson, one of our two Iraq War veterans, actually published a novel during this program! So when it comes to the On-Demand program and my classmates, let me assure you that no one works harder. And after all we’ve been through this past 19 months, we’re certainly ready for a break.
Read more »
August 22nd, 2010
Worse than having a problem is not knowing it. Even worse: being proud of it. A recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (Evan Glodstein: What if English Only Isn’t Wrong? Do Americans Need To Be Bilingual, and Will Technology Smash the Language Barrier For Good? – WSJ.com) toys with the idea that English dominance, the efforts by others to learn English plus the availability of translation technology makes it just fine for Americans to remain mono-lingual.
To learn a new language is to open a window into a new culture, to acquire a new prism through which interpret the world around us. When the Chinese learn English (there may be more English speakers in China already than in the U.S.) they are also learning English culture, they are reading American media, becoming more familiar with American life-style, understanding the preferences of their largest customer. When Chinese executives negotiate a deal in English with an American counterpart, they are likely to understand the other party much better than the other way around. If it were a poker game, it is clear where I would place my bet!
It has always intrigued me how the very same political leaders who defend “English Only” policies are also the most concerned that China is eating America’s lunch. America’s education policies often seem more focused on “curing” immigrant children from their “bilingual problem” than on exposing all children to at least one foreign language at an early age. My 8th and 6th graders attending public schools in Arizona are yet to take a single foreign language class. If it weren’t for our efforts to preserve their Spanish (sorry authorities, we are hoping they will remain “contaminated”) and expose them to other languages in our family travels they would reach high-school without having ever had to learn a word of anything other than English.
Thunderbird has been educating global business leaders for the last 64 years and learning a second language has been a critical foundation of our educational approach. We are fully aware that most international business transactions will be conducted in English, but we are more concerned that without an understanding of the cultural framework shaping the thinking of the person across the table, a mono-cultural executive would be doomed to making a bad deal. “English-only” is in fact a terrible deal for America.
August 13th, 2010
One of the most complex and crucial actions in a life of any organization is to decide on its vision for the future: what it is trying to accomplish, what are the collective aspirations that will define success. Every few years, organizations need to pause and ask themselves those fundamental questions. This was the year for Thunderbird to do so. After a year-long process of energizing, thought-provoking, out-of-the-box dialog with alumni and students, faculty and staff, trustees, fellows and global council members, donors and friends from around the world, earlier this summer the Board of Trustees expressed its enthusiastic support for our new “Thunderbird 2020 Global Vision.”
Thunderbird alumni played an important role in the development of Thunderbird 2020 – through Thunderbird 2020 brainstorm sessions held in Macau, Dubai, Geneva, New York City, and Panama and then in feedback provided during last spring’s Homecoming activities. I also received valuable feedback and advice from individual alumni throughout the course of the planning process or in response to some of the updates I posted on my blog.
Everyone involved in the process agreed that this is an exciting time for Thunderbird. The world is in dire need of the global leadership talent we were founded to provide. But the dramatic changes in the world economy as well as in the way education is delivered require that we re-think what we want Thunderbird’s role to be in the next decade.
In Thunderbird 2020, we commit to significantly growing our impact and seizing the opportunity provided by a global economy that is increasingly multi-cultural and inter-connected. To that purpose, our vision for 2020 centers around the theme “global leadership for global impact.” We are committed to remain a world leader in management education to dramatically extend the impact we have in the global economy. These are certainly bold words but they are backed by an equal boldness of thought and commitment to action centered on the following four strategic priorities:
1. Strengthen Our Unique Approach to Global Leadership Education
2. Innovate for Scale and Impact
3. Engage Deeply in Emerging Markets
4. Build a Global Community of Learning and Practice
Read more »
August 7th, 2010
My opinions and others on the Washington Post, Sunday Aug. 8th, 2010, as to why American politicians seem unable to tackle one of the biggest crises of our time, human induced climate change:
[...] we’re stuck with carbon-producing fossil fuels because any alternative would create an immediate loss to many actors, private and public: from energy companies to automobile manufacturers, transportation operators, regulators and even consumers, who have developed a fossil-fuel dependent lifestyle. [...] This market and policy failure is more severe in the U.S. than elsewhere because the stakes here are higher. The answer to “Who is most responsible?” cannot be other than “all of the above.”
Pablo Eisenberg (Georgetown Public Policy Institute):
The blame for not enacting a climate change bill has to be shared by several parties… president, the Senate, Democrats, Republicans and the public.
Deborah Ancon (MIT Sloan School of Management):
Unfortunately, collaborative leaders are almost as rare as hero leaders and almost as likely to get sacrificed while the rest of us point fingers and continue to clamor for improvement with no sacrifice.
Yash Gupta (Johns Hopkins Carey Business School):
We all recognize that this is a difficult issue for our politicians to tackle, but that’s what true leadership is about, articulating the urgency of the problem at hand and forging the will to produce a solution, even if it means one’s popularity takes a hit.
via Washington Post: Carbon and climate change: Why are we behind?.
August 5th, 2010
Through Imagining the Future of Leadership, a symposium at the Harvard Business School and accompanying blog series organized by Profs. Snook, Nohria and Khurana, an eclectic group of thinkers gathered to investigate what is necessary today to develop the leaders we need for tomorrow.
This video (a The Crucial Skill for Tomorrow’s Leaders – Video – Harvard Business Review) provides a nice sample of the discussions that took place, featuring (in order of appearance):
Myself, Bill George (Harvard Business School and former CEO of Medtronic), Daisy Wademan Dowling (Leadership Development at Morgan Stanley), Andy Zelleke (Harvard Kennedy School), Batia Mishan Wiesenfeld (NYU), Evan Wittenberg (Global Leadership Development, Google, Inc.), Ellen Langer (Harvard), Scott Snook (HBS and retired Colonel, US Army Corps of Engineers).
My own contribution dealt with “The Soul of Leadership“, the notion that leadership builds on trust, and trust builds on values.
Research by my colleagues Mary Sully de Luque and Nathan Washburn shows that CEOs who frame decisions in pure economic terms tend to be perceived as more autocratic and less visionary than leaders who express concern for a broader set of stakeholders through, for example, a commitment to public good. And the more visionary a leader is perceived to be, the more willing employees are to go the extra mile and consequently deliver higher performance. [...]
Corporations may have “no body to kick and no soul to damn” as the old adage goes. But their leaders do. In fact, it is followers’ perceptions of a leader’s “soul” that can make or break the deal. One of the greatest challenges of any corporate leader is to convince everyone else that they will not compromise the interest of the corporation, if not society, for their own benefit.
My colleague Mansour Javidan, also in attendance, discussed how crucial Global Mindset will be in the future of leadership.
Leaders with a strong stock of Global Mindset know about cultures and political and economic systems in other countries and understand how their global industry works. They are passionate about diversity and are willing to push themselves. They are comfortable with being uncomfortable in uncomfortable environments. They are also better able to build trusting relationships with people who are different from them by showing respect and empathy and by being good listeners.
August 4th, 2010
From my latest contribution to the Washington Post On Leadership panel (the notion of “carbon lock-in” was first proposed by Thunderbird professor Gregory Unruh):
[...] we’re stuck with carbon-producing fossil fuels because any alternative would create an immediate loss to many actors, private and public: from energy companies to automobile manufacturers, transportation operators, regulators and even consumers, who have developed a fossil-fuel dependent lifestyle. The pain of any tax on carbon would be certain, personal and immediate, while the benefits of a shift towards alternative energies would be long-term, uncertain and shared.
via On Leadership Panelists: Stuck with carbon lock-in – Angel Cabrera.
July 30th, 2010
By Will McDonald, Director EMBA Europe
Bonjour de Geneve! I wanted to share a “truly Thunderbird” moment during Dr. Nelson’s Contemporary Business in Latin America course to our Executive MBA-Europe students. As you know, Roy Nelson’s case study on Intel’s Site Selection in Latin America (Costa Rica) and his recently published book feature President José María Figueres prominently. Roy was scheduled to teach his Intel case in his final course session tomorrow.
Thanks to the invitation by one of the EMBA students in Geneva, Farid Saffar, and Pres. Figueres relationship with Thunderbird as a Board Fellow, President Figueres joined us at the Graduate Institute today to address the EMBA cohort, sharing his insights, wisdom and personal anecdotes about the Intel story. Roy Nelson prepared the group with a case discussion and debrief in the preceding class session, and President Figueres gave an informal yet riveting talk, town-hall style, spending over an hour with the group (on a range of topics), just hours before he had a scheduled flight to Singapore.
President Figueres could not have been more gracious–nor more effusive in supporting and validating Thunderbird’s mission–coincidentally on a day when we also had a few prospective EMBA students in attendance.
We thanked President Figueres with a copy of Dr. Nelson’s book and a hand-made Thunderbird soccer ball (from Afghan Project Artemis). We did not have time to arrange for a professional photographer, but a few pictures (thanks again to Farid!), are attached.
Bon weekend a tous & regards from the EU team!
July 26th, 2010
Positive reaction of financial markets to European stress tests highlight the value of transparency. Markets respond more negatively to uncertainty than to bad news that are certain. Spain went out of its way to include all of its banks in the stress test (other countries didn’t), disclose all positions in sovereign debt, and apply some of the strictest assumptions of GDP and real estate market declines. Even though five of seven failing grades went to Spain, markets have celebrated this increased level of transparency. My quote and others (in Spanish) from EL PAÍS:
La mayoría de analistas ven con buenos ojos la reacción de los mercados a las pruebas hechas públicas en la tarde del viernes. “Estos ejercicios van a tener resultados positivos, sobre todo para España, que se beneficiará de la mayor transparencia. Se podrá recortar la prima de riesgo que paga por su sector financiero, pero no la parte que se explica por sus mayores dificultades económicas. Se acercará a los 100 puntos básicos, pero sin llegar a tocarlos”, señala el catedrático y consultor de la Reserva Federal Santiago Carbó. “Es verdad que el efecto es positivo. Aunque continúa el debate sobre si las pruebas son lo suficientemente duras, o si los supuestos sobre la evolución del mercado inmobiliario son razonables. El mercado ha celebrado sobre todo el aumento de la transparencia. España ha sido hasta ahora de las más castigadas por los inversores. Y, por tanto, para convencer tenía que ir más allá en transparencia y dureza de las pruebas. La respuesta de los mercados corrobora que fue una decisión correcta”, añade Ángel Cabrera, director de la escuela de negocios estadounidense Thunderbird.
via Premio a la transparencia española · ELPAÍS.com.
July 26th, 2010
Needed: SuperHUMANS not superheroes
Q: Tony Hayward, once credited for BP’s “green” turnaround, is forced to resign in disgrace. Michael Dell, the revolutionary high-tech entrepreneur, is sanctioned for misleading investors. Wall Street titans, once lionized, are now reviled. Where have all the CEO heroes gone?
Taking BP out of the whole it dug itself into will require a leader who’s part experienced oil & gas executive, part government relations specialist, part statesman, part crisis manager, part credible spokesperson, part cheerleader, part trusted coach. On top of that, whomever replaces Hayward will have to perform these tasks while being subjected to an unprecedented level of public scrutiny. This will be, without a doubt, one of the toughest management jobs of our era.
via On Leadership Panelists: Needed: SuperHUMANS not superheroes – Angel Cabrera.