Friday, June 26, 2009

Ahead of the Curve?...

Yup, you are right, I am not talking about 'The Curve' (in front of IKEA) at Damansara Intan..hehe. On the inside jacket backflip of the hardcover edition read 'published during the one hundredth anniversary of Harvard Business School, Ahead of the Curve, offers a rich detailed and revealing you-are-there account of the institution that has, for good or ill (evil is more like it , if you ask me..hehe), made American business what it is today.' Written by Philip Delves Broughton, a journalist who had served in New York and Paris as bureau chief of The Daily Telegraph of London, one can imagine the wordsmith skill, satire, wit, sarcasm and spin job, seasoned newspapermen are capable of delivering (wink). I was waiting for the book even before it was published. I was not disappointed. It has sixteen chapters beginning with 'Lets Get Retarded' and ends with the chapter on ' A Factory of Unhappy People'. Chapter Two (Starting Over) begins with a quote from the HBS Admissions website by Theodore Roosevelt - Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat...Chapter Five (Who am I) talks about personality tests candidates were required to take. One was Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the other was CareerLeader. Reminds me of that same MBTI we went through in great detail, when I did my MBA (HRD), not at HBS of course, but Hull is a fairly good European MBA school ok? (wink). I like the recommendation letter Philip's boss wrote (which reminds me of the recommendation letter I wrote for Wadi when he applied for the British Chevening Scholarship..hehe). Here goes:

From: Quentin Letts
Re: Philip Delves Broughton
Dear Professor,
Thank you for your email. You ask me to help my former colleague Philip Delves Broughton with his exercise for your course. I am naturally happy to do so, even though we emotionally restrained englishmen are generally hopeless at self-examination - for that matter, dwelling on the nitty-gritty character strengths of our confreres....

( didn't think I was going to reproduce the full letter, did you? c'mon, go buy the book and read it yourselves ok? hahaha). Ok ok let me give you a little bit more to tease and excite your interest. Chapter Sixteen: 'A Factory of Unhappy People' where Philip records some of the comments of his classmates and HBS alumnus, and about how to make the right choices coming out of HBS would require real intestinal fortitude,a real functioning moral compass, because the forces pushing you to pursue success in a very specific way were so overwhelming. Philip spoke to his classmate Justin. "If you want to change the world, get on the plane to f****** Darfur, he said tersely. "HBS is about making money. There are going to be a small handful of terrific people in our class who actually do good stuff, but most of us are like everyone else in business. We talk about it because it makes us feel better. How many people in our class wrote in their applications that they wanted an MBA so they could do micro-financing in Uganda and are now going into investment banking?"

In the century since its founding, Harvard Business School (HBS), has become the single most influential institution in global business. Its graduates are Fortune 500 CEOs, private equity titans, venture capitalists, even presidents of the USA! They include many of US's savviest entrepreneurs (eg Michael Bloomberg) and canniest felons (eg Jeffrey Skilling). Top investment banks and brokerage houses routinely send their brightest young stars to HBS to groom them for future power. To these people and many others, a Harvard MBA is a golden ticket to the Olympian heights of American Business... or is it still? (wink). Philip (the author) and his classmates over two years, were inundated with the best -and the rest - of American business culture that HBS epitomizes. The core of the school curriculum is the "case method" - an analysis of a real business situation from which the students must, with a professor's guidance, tease lessons. Over the years, the Harvard Case Method is not short of critics and detractors (we shall not go into that hehe). Philip in his account, also exposed the less savory trappings of b-school culture, from the 'booze luge' to the pandemic (no, not swine flu ok?) obsession with Powerpoint to the specter of depression, which stalks many overburden students. With acute and often uproarious candor, Philip assesses the school's success at teaching the traits it extols as most important in business - leadership, decisiveness, ethical behaviour, work/life balance. I most recently co-signed a cheque sending 3 of our chaps to attend the forthcoming ASEAN HBS Malaysian Alumni Senior Management Program at Awana Genting. Good luck and have fun guys (wink). So? there you are...Eddie Murphy - go get your own copy if you have been contemplating ya?....hehe

1 comment:

Eddie Murphy said...

Gonna read Jim Collins' "How the mighty Fall" first. More relevant in these difficult times : )