Is doing an MBA worth it?

I am expecting to get some interesting comments back on this, as I just did a search on my LinkedIN first connections, and 68 of you have MBAs (or a Master of Business Administration). The first thing I want to state is that I am in total awe of anyone who has done an MBA. It is a massive undertaking and you have to be a pretty smart cookie to 'get' alot of the stuff that is covered. 

Today I came across this video by Marshall Goldsmith on the Inc website, and I think that it really spelled out some key points. Sometimes people get an MBA (or any degree for that matter) to gain more credibility, and whilst in some cases, that might be relevant, in others it simply doesn't matter. It really depends on your own personal goals. 

Don't confuse getting an MBA with wisdom

In the video, Marshall makes this interesting comment and simply says, 'if you want a degree, get a degree, if you want wisdom, acquire wisdom!'

There are SO many ways you can learn, for example, check out this list of best Ted Talks (as an alternative to business school) again from the Inc websites. There is a massive shift in free content by universities, for example Harvard, by way of MOOCsoffers a mass of its material online. Our own University of Auckland and many other top universities world wide offer countless courses via Futurelearn. But the best way to learn, over and above targeted (and at your own pace) research and reading is to get out there and do it!

I am quite surprised that there is a degree in Innovation and Entrepreneurial-ism at Auckland university. If you spent the hours you spend on your study on actually creating a business, then I think you would learn alot more. Maybe this actually comes down to some perfection, distraction or avoidance. You either want to make sure you have gleaned a large amount of knowledge to minimise risk of failure, or prefer to study rather than get out there and be in business.

But let's get back to MBAs. If you are working for a large corporation, then Marshall claims that it might be a good idea (particularly if your employer pays for the fee!). You will learn some cool and complex stuff which is probably applicable in that domain, and it might place you in good stead for a promotion. The discipline it will take to complete this undertaking will certainly be an invaluable asset for you.

On the other hand, if you are an entrepreneur, just remember that nobody cares if you have an MBA! They only care about your services and products, and if they serve them. 

Focus on learning, not degrees

In China and India, groups of people now gather in living rooms (maybe with a mentor present) to share the learned experience of learning. If they get a degree great, but it's more about what they learn and how they apply it.

Please note I am not talking about whether or not you get a degree when you leave school. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that is a really good idea (although, again, there are countless examples of highly successful game changers who have never studied at a tertiary level).

But if you are considering it further down the track of your career, just think about what YOU want to get out of it, not how it is going to change the way people think of you.

Posted on September 23, 2015 .