Steering the enterprise in the digital age

wrecking ball

For the visionary, the MBA is about the sweeping themes of truth, unity, and possibility. For the shrewd, pursuing an MBA is a means to changing role, industry, location, and increasing salary in the process. 

In the digital world, what it means for the organizations who hire is much less direct and much more important: MBAs are silo-wrecking-balls. Ideally, digitization means companies communicate fluidly, pivot quickly, and make evidence-based decisions. In practice, it means that those firms collect more data or scale existing departments more quickly. This could also be adding a new department, then adding an R&D branch to help them integrate with “the way things are done.” 

It’s a way to create two organizations: one lunging ahead to future possibilities and the other manning the sails and guns of the ship that has sailed steadily for years. They might run in disconnected parallel — or be completely divergent in the execution of the vision.  

If these organizations are not operating in harmony, leaders hear the groans of inefficiencies and missed KPI targets. By the time the problems of the sailors echo their way up the chain of command, it may be too late, or the cry for help may be garbled. More information and more personnel can encumber as well as enable. A field of vision for any leader will always be limited; they need someone closer to the sailors.  

The reason to pursue or to hire an MBA graduate is simple: the kaleidoscope of agendas in a large organization cannot all be heard and heeded by the captain at the helm, despite the most intentional effort.  

As students, each of us entered with an industry and a discipline. For one year, we were forced to view the truth through one pair of fresh eyes after another, from finance and analytics to competitive strategy and organizational behavior. In moving from color to color, we were ultimately forced to see the kaleidoscope for what it truly was, and what it should be. The truth is messy.  

The value in the multidisciplinary approach of an MBA is that it helps students to see this truth through a new lens and bring a unique perspective to work for enterprise leaders. Gaining an understanding of KPIs and terminology by department empowers students to ask tough questions, and take a different approach to risk. Simply because two business leaders should talk does not mean they do. Just because two departments collect nearly identical data does not mean they work from the same database. Finding these gaps in a forensic fashion is what makes an MBA valuable.  

Technology is moving fast; industries are being reinvented. To stay afloat, companies will need to integrate a fresh perspective, closer to the eyes that saw potential at the company’s genesis than to the eyes that have kept the ship on course for decades. It takes an eye for possibility and the big picture, two perspectives employed by ESMT to cultivate the leaders of tomorrow.  

Big organizations wield great power, but small cracks can leave them taking on water. Hiring an MBA graduate can help to find and fill those gaps, and keep the future bright for investors, customers, and employees alike.