In Age Of Trump, B-Schools Brace For Upheaval

Harlan Beverly: In 2017, “nearly all top business schools will start teaching lean startup”

DISRUPTION, INNOVATION, AND ‘A HUNGRY FIRE’

Harlan Beverly, assistant director of the Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs at McCombs, sees 2017 as the year that will bring about the rise of a new concept. “2017 will see the death of the startup and the birth or rebirth of a new concept, the lean startup,” Beverly says. “Most of the startup world has already embraced the customer-first attitude, calling it lean, market validation, or bootstrapping, and UT-Austin has had a class on lean startup for two years already. In 2017, nearly all top business schools will start teaching lean startup, and giving students real, hands-on experience getting customers first, and business plans second!”

Beverly also has thoughts on what won’t happen in the new year. “Each year we see newer and crazier ideas from our students, from AI to VR and on to new business models in every possible configuration,” he says. “The only thing that won’t be new in 2017 is the hungry fire burning in our students’ hearts to change the world.”

Carlson’s Parente sees 2017 as a time for more online hybrid programs, more global partner programs with online components, and more specialized MBA or MS programs focused on different industries.” Kenan-Flagler Dean Doug Shackelford agrees, saying, “There will be big breakthroughs in technology-enhanced education in 2017. We’re on the cusp of changes that hold the same kind of potential for learning that driverless cars hold for transforming society.”

‘DISRUPT THE CONCEPT OF DISRUPTION’

Bill Boulding

Fuqua Dean Bill Boulding wrote about the potential for innovation and tech to change business education in huge ways in the new year at LinkedIn, a piece that contributed to his being named among LinkedIn’s Top Voices of 2016. But while he agrees that innovation and tech will be pillars of the B-school landscape, he adds that schools must give thought to the displacement they will cause — and what new opportunities might arise for the displaced.

“My hope for 2017 is that we evolve the role of business: continuing to disrupt and innovate, but also thinking through the consequences of that disruption and how to be part of the solution for the people displaced as a result,” Boulding wrote. “For example, could companies set aside resources not just for philanthropy, but to create new opportunities for those affected by the massive changes being brought about by technology and other innovations?”

He added: “Business has always had the power to be a transformational engine, not bound by limitations like those of governments. Now more than ever it should recognize the power it possesses to help move the world forward. Maybe it is time for business to disrupt the concept of disruption itself.”

DIVERSITY AND INTERDISCIPLINARY ED ON THE RISE

Stanford’s Sarah Soule

Stanford Graduate School of Business Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Sarah Soule also focused on the likely continued evolution of education technology, including what she expects to be an increase in the quality of online education offerings in 2017. “It’s truly astounding,” Soule says, “to witness virtual reality, collaboration tools, and mobile learning platforms bridging the gap between the virtual and physical classrooms. I’m excited to see these technologies remove barriers to accessing education and knowledge.

“I anticipate we’ll see an increase in individuals with diverse professional backgrounds — such as engineering, education or life sciences — pursue business education,” Soule continues. “As innovators develop ideas and products, it’s important to understand the fundamentals of business in order to move these ideas forward.” She cites Stanford Ignite, a certificate program for professionals who do not have graduate-level business degrees, as among the ideas that will make great strides in 2017 as professionals from all backgrounds pursue training in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Roni Michaely, Rudd family professor of management and professor of finance at Cornell Johnson, points the opening of the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island in the fall of 2017 as a sign of things to come. “It means,” Michaely says, “that students from the Johnson Cornell Tech MBA program will be joined from time to time by our two-year and one-year students from our Ithaca campus, and will experience meaningful learning from not only business school professors, but also cutting-edge computer scientists. In addition, they will have learning interaction and joint projects with students in computer science, data science and health tech.”

That kind of interdisciplinary learning will become a hallmark at Johnson, adds Amanda Soule Shaw, assistant dean for student services: “MBA students will keep pushing business schools to create opportunities for them to combine strong general management education with courses and activities that expose them in a real way to concepts and tools from other disciplines. At Cornell University this means that each year more of our MBA students will seek out opportunities to interact with other top-ranked areas at Cornell like computing and information science, law, real estate, hospitality management, labor relations, and agriculture.

“The future of the MBA,” Soule Shaw says, “is interdisciplinary.”