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054: MBA - Intro

Curious what people learn in b-school?

Jeremy Finch
Jeremy Finch
4 min read
054: MBA - Intro

Over several episodes, I'll discuss some of what I learned at MIT-Sloan*.

Expect a mix of practical takeaways, curated links, illustrated graphs, and heady academic theory (without the jargon). Zero tuition required.

* Opinions and perspectives my own

I'll aim to demystify parts of the MBA experience and explore how certain ideas have wide applicability beyond the business world.

Who this is for

Maybe you've kicked around the idea of making a career shift, and you've heard that people go to b-school to do that. Perhaps you want to decipher more office jargon?

Maybe you just enjoy hand-drawn comics!

Why I'm making this

I think every person should have free access to this foundational knowledge: Finance, operations, negotiation, org design, pricing etc.

These subjects are widely relevant, no matter your profession.

Over the next few months, I'll explore concepts like throughput, time value of money, and ZOPA. I promise they're far more intuitive and transferable than they sound 😬

Things people say

About MBA programs :

"You must know how to invest / make money / sell."
"Ugh. Untethered capitalism is destroying the world."
"Can't you just learn everything online now for free?"

All valid perspectives.

Still, none feel exactly right.

My experience at Sloan was challenging (intimidating) and valuable.

I met hundreds of smart, hardworking, ambitious people from around the globe. Some of them became close friends (and Fire Jar collaborators).

What do students learn?

The three secrets to business 🤫

  • Speak about "pivots" and "innovation"
  • Show only charts that go up and to the right*
  • Support every claim using three points

* And if they don't, just reverse one axis  📈

My actual view of b-school

It teaches a specific way of thinking in systems :

🔬   Decompose problems into component parts
⚙️   Apply logic to a few common issues
📊   Maximize specific objectives

It's a useful way of thinking.

But it also comes with blinders.

Limitations :

Some things can't be neatly categorized or reduced. Organizations are run by humans, who are shaped by relationships, narrative, and serendipity.

And there are many legitimate objectives beyond profit optimization or efficiency.

MBA experiences vary widely, as students prioritize totally different things.

People ask: "Is it worth it?"

I think so. But it's still early.

Some of the degree value has already revealed itself in surprising ways. I expect much more to emerge over time. Ask me in ~30 years.

Next steps

Exact topics and order still TBD.

What would you like to hear about?

Send questions / feedback!

Email Jeremy



The series is live (and ongoing) :

069: Tech Epochs (II)
Frameworks for technological change.
059: Operations (II)
Five ways to keep your systems running.
057: Negotiation (II)
Follow-up to Negotiation - Part I.
063: Team Dynamics
A summary of “The Four Player Model”.
075: Communication (I)
Ten communication notes to self.
058: Operations (I)
What is “Operations Management”?

Filed under 📂

Season 2Business

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