Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First MBA months: summary

  First vacation and it's time to think about the four months I have spent at IE Business School. I have written quite a bit about the program and I laid out some concerns earlier, so this is mostly a summary. I am welcoming my classmate to agree or disagree on any of the points, but here they are:

  1. Helping others is bad. Aka "digging your own grave", "spitting upwards" (you know it will land on you sooner or later) or "sawing off the branch you are sitting on". The curve system discourages any desire to help others excel in their learning because a better grade for them might mean a worse grade for you. Thus, crossing teamwork out.
  2. Doing less you will get more. There is an inherent performance management system failure. Some of my classmates outright refused to take part in group activities, focused only on individual studies and got better grades. Important lesson: don't commit.
  3. If you don't bend the system, the system will bend you (and not in a good way). What is best for the school does not necessarily mean it's best for the students. We were lucky to observe that with a number of events (e.g. Segovia entrepreneurial conference or feedback/professor selection processes). Takeaway: watch out for yourself.
One last thought: MBA might also stand for:
   Mediocre But Arrogant
   Mighty Big Attitude
   Me Before Anyone
   My Bogus Achievement
   Master of Bullshit Artist
   Managers By Accident
   Many Brief Affairs
   Massive Bank Account
   Married But Alone
   Married But Available

...and it does not always work that well:


  1. Great post as always. I agree with you 100 percent ... some of the events of the first term were going through my mind while I was on break (thankfully they began to fade). In what universe is it *worse* to be a good team member? As we both know its far more important to be a good teammate in the "real world" even if our school hasn't properly figured out how to reward it. I don't think the curve necessarily precludes the possibility of having strong teams, but our current system clearly does.

    If the school can't figure out how to accurately make our grades reflect our performance then perhaps they shouldn't publish them or should emphasize to potential employers that the grades do not reflect organizational value.

    I'm definitely very bothered by the failure (in terms of accuracy) of our current grading system. The question is - what is the approach to fix it? Scrap the curve? Put a stronger emphasis on individual performance within the team?

  2. Thanks, Anthony. I would assume there are many suggestions:
    - formalizing team participation, i.e. when the team assigns each member a contribution percentage at the end of each term, so it DOES affect your grade;
    - removing the curve and moving to an absolute scale might be a good idea, but then can you imagine how many Cs and Fs IE will have to deal with? Nobody wants troubles with students who do not perform;
    - removing grades whatsoever from any official transcripts (like INSEAD). That would really be "don't worry about your grades and focus on the subject matter".




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