Crowdsourcing An MBA Revamp

Open Innovation

These days, you can crowdsource nearly anything. From ski resorts to precision medicine to commencement addresses, not much has escaped the grasps of the fledgling way to source information. And soon, you might be able to get a crowdsourced MBA.

Last month, the William and Mary Mason School of Business announced a new idea contest and open innovation platform that could potentially influence the redesign of its MBA curriculum.

“About every five years we take a good, hard look at the curriculum,” Ken White, the associate dean of MBA and Executive Programs at the Mason School tells Poets&Quants on a phone conversation. According to White, the idea of sourcing outside opinion always comes up during curriculum redesign discussions. But this time, White says, the idea of going beyond alumni and key stakeholder opinion came to fruition.

“We wanted to look at what do our employers say,” White explains. “What do the corporate partners say? What do—as we’re calling them—the users of the MBA think we need to go in the future?”


So the Mason School created a website called Tomorrow’s MBA: Co-Creating the Future of Business Education. Essentially, it’s an open innovation, or crowdsourcing platform, where anyone in the world with an internet connection can create an account and give their opinion on what an MBA curriculum should look like. “We’re not saying whatever comes through the website is exactly what we’re going to do,” White adds. “It’s simply to generate ideas and discussion.”

And so far, it has done just that. Launched at the beginning of November, there are already nearly 200 ideas being discussed and about 200 registered users. White says they’ve had 2,000 unique visitors from 53 countries. The platform will be open for new ideas and discussion until the end of the year and then a panel of “jurors” will review the ideas and award the best. Faculty members will review all ideas and could even use some to influence curricular changes.

“We see how many Fortune 500 companies and global businesses have had success with open innovation and crowd sourcing,” White reasons. “It has led to new products, innovative services. It has taken companies that weren’t succeeding and suddenly, they are succeeding. This was more of something the corporate world has already embraced. Why wouldn’t we do the same?”


Once registered on the site, users can offer their own ideas or comment or vote on others. The ideas can be searched by “most liked” and “most valued,” among other filters. So far, the most liked idea is titled, “Soft Skills Teaching through Video Feedback” and focuses on curriculum to instruct MBAs how to better manage people.

“My idea is to video group sessions and presentations that the students do and have an optional small class sessions where students can watch video footage of themselves and others and critique them,” the idea reads. Other top ideas include better “cultural intelligence,” various alumni community suggestions, and “MBA Hackathons.”

“When you see great companies like BMW and Proctor & Gamble rely on open innovation, why wouldn’t we as well,” White reasons. “Because they’ve got some great results and we think we will too.”

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