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Is your MBA more of a jazz band than an orchestra?

An interviewee recently posed this thought to us in a discovery conversation about better aligning an MBA to business school strengths and planning for its future development. The programme involved lots of individuals doing their own thing well, but some siloed working reduced the harmony of the experience as a whole.


Quite by accident, I recently saw Snarky Puppy at the Lucca Summer Music Festival (for those curious, see comments). I have to confess I had no prior idea who this American Grammy award-winning jazz band were, but they managed to skilfully fuse Jazz with Rock and Funk and produce a pretty phenomenal concert. What I found particularly interesting was how effectively they balanced showcasing the expertise of each individual musician while also playing in harmony as a band.


We should also note here the importance of improvisation: while in some circumstances improvisation can be a very necessary and a wonderful way to showcase individual talent, if it is improvisation without communication and some sort of boundaries to return to the team effort, it can leave those trying to harmonise lost, even in the wrong key.


While I can’t say I was actually thinking about #MBA programmes in that floodlit Italian piazza with a glass or two of chilled Prosecco, the concept did strike a chord with me, as it seems that this approach might be something worth thinking about further.


Consider challenging your whole MBA team, both faculty and professional staff and maybe some of your advisory board too, to work together on programme strategy, programme re-design, or a review and implementation of embedded themes or of specialist pathways. By going through this process together, you should achieve greater buy-in and start to break down existing silos. While the programme will still showcase strengths and expertise, it will become much more cohesive, delivering to its audience a seamless harmony, lifting the experience of the students and improving the involvement of the MBA faculty and the professional team working with them.


I wonder, have your accreditors challenged why your MBA is the way it is, and asked you to articulate and evidence it?

Do they want you to tell them:

  • how it is aligned to your business school’s strengths and values

  • if specialist themes are truly embedded and

  • what the future plans are to develop the programme?


If you are not sure of the best place to start, need to understand the views of different stakeholders or simply don’t have the capacity to focus on these important questions, then we can help. Working collaboratively, we are skilled at bringing everybody together, sharing our experience and market insights to enable you make informed decisions, and together, finding creative and harmonious solutions.




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