Re: MBA Strategy

Stephen Wehrenberg (
Fri, 18 Nov 1994 17:27:45 -0500 (EST)

I teach courses in the human resources track in an MA Administrative
Science program at George Washington Univ. About three years ago, I
developed a strategy course that the dean figured would work well as a
"capstone" course to tie together everything else in the program. That
didn't seem quite right to me (military background ... tell 'em what
you're gonna tell 'em, then tell 'em, then tell them what you told them),
but I had a hard time articulating my objections.

After a while, it hit me. Why not provide the skeleton up front, then
let them hang the muscle on it as the program proceeds? The result,
after three years, is a very different student, and I am impressed with
the difference. My strategy course exhorts hr majors to become business
partners, rather than assume the role of personnel specialist. A telling
piece of evidence of success ... I overheard a discussion where one of my
students was talking to an hr professional who was getting an MIS degree
... they were talking about the hr professional's company's compensation
system ... my student asked "So what are the objectives of your compensation
system, anyway?" The HR professional looked at her like she was from
venus ... "Well to pay people, of course!" My student laughed ... and
never did get a better answer.

I'm for taking the strategic planning course up front, but only if the
prof understands that the course has to make FORWARD references, not
BACKWARD references. If the school recommends that it be last, my guess
is that most students will listen, and the prof will assume the role of
capstone "summarizer." That might make it difficult when taking the
course up front. Depends on what kind of fire the prof has in his/her
belly ... you might try approaching him/her and talking about what you
have in mind ... you'll get feedback real quick ... either the prof will
be intrigued and excited, or caution you against such a course ... that
will be an important piece of information in your decision process.


Stephen Wehrenberg, Ph.D.
"Life is a jam session."

On Fri, 18 Nov 1994, Andrew Moreno wrote:

> Hi
> I know most of you seasoned experts probably don't care much about
> little points like this, but I was wondering about some stuff.
> I've got to take 9 modules for this MBA program. I can take any one
> I want to first. The school and prospectus recommends that strategic
> planning be taken last.
> I just bought and read The Fifth Discipline last night and I figured
> that I'd be better off taking strategic planning first and then take
> economics, finance, marketing etc. later. I think this would give me a
> cross-functional approach. This is the exact opposite of what the
> school recommends.
> So in a nutshell, is a cross-functional approach effective if the
> re isn't proficiency in the component parts or functions? I'm
> guessing that seeing the forest before I see the trees will help me
> see and understand each tree because it will provide a larger context.
> Does not understanding each tree first affect my ability to see the
> forest?
> Gee, I gotta work on my critical thinking skills.
> --Andrew