If the answer is yes, when?  If the answer is no, what then?

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One of my regrets is that I did not apply to the Simmons MBA program 20 years ago when I was truly motivated.  I had attended the Simmons Leadership Conference yearly with members of my team, and was jazzed about all I was learning from the leaders I heard speak.  But I made excuses.  I had to commit 3 weekends a month to be in teams in person, and two nights a week in class for a couple of years.  I was traveling with my job, and in retail working many weekends, and I had a family I was not spending enough time with anyway…so I wimped out.  Would it have helped me in my career?  Yes, it would have given me confidence and bigger picture strategy skills. I did learn these on the job, but it just took me longer and I had to depend upon my mentors. So check…one benefit from an MBA is learning challenging skills and quickly get to apply them in your career. And you learn about other businesses which gives perspective.  So I challenged myself to learn many of these skills anyway…and did not spend $60,000.

Times are a change’in.  What do MBA programs look like today?  A recent article in Fortune Magazine, “Schools are unveiling courses in leadership, innovation, entrepreneurship, and law.  Online options emphasize user-friendly and group interactions.  Fewer class meetings accommodate students with busy work schedules.” Last year 38% of all course materials were delivered electronically.  Average tuition is now $73,000. Many companies no longer subsidize the cost, 41% of students pay their own way and 53% of executive MBA programs extend financial aid or scholarships.  Alumni networking is a priority too.

ROI- Is the Return on Investment a blueprint for success?  Yes, if the focus is on specialties and students go back to school with a purpose. Students who enter executive MBA programs these days have nearly 14 years work experience and 8 years of management, so they can apply what they are learning right away in the areas they already know.

The MBA was born at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School 114 years ago with a 4 student class. Paul Danos, dean of Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, is the longest serving leader of a major B-school, believes that business schools have grown because they have adapted to the changing needs of companies.

“Businesses have grown enormously in complexity and scope, and more than ever, they need ethical, skilled, well-educated, creative leaders who are global in outlook,” says Danos. “Business education in general and MBA programs in particular have adapted as these demands have grown, perhaps better than any other form of advanced education.”

So what does this have to do with my blog on retail?  I was happy to hear that the MBA average years in the job before B school is 14 because the experience in the trenches doing good work, working alongside the foot soldiers that make a company run and appreciating what slugging it out every day means.  Applying what is learned in school to the  job after the MBA and engaging their teams, asking questions, what does the data really mean, and…appreciating the people.

So what bugs me?

MBA’s that have all the answers.  Those that trust the analytics and don’t probe why.  Those that do not trust the group that is working hard, making decisions, and having the depth of experience and years doing so.

What is the appropriate amount of analytics?  When does experience with a company trump analytics?  What is the DNA of a company and how to keep it in this changing world?

Good management wisdom is asking questions, leading thought provoking discussions,  engaging everyone,  simple vs over-engineering.

MBA’s would be wise to have passionate discussions to come up with the best decisions, dipping down into the organization and sharing knowledge, not directing.  Practicing humility and not trusting they have all the answers.

Do I appear sour grapes, I hope not…I just hate big shots that make others who are smart enough,  and did not get the further education feel marginal.  And look at all those young people in Silicon Valley who didn’t get their MBA’s and started their own creative businesses discovering new products…aren’t they the stars?

I just might have to audit courses at the Boston University Evergreen program as an alternative.