When the delegate feedback form a course you run comes back with, “So much more than an MBA”, you should examine who said such a thing and why. When several delegates say such a thing (“like an MBA design just for us”, “so much more relevant than my MBA”) then you need to think even harder about what is going on. Either people are blowing smoke up the proverbial or there is something special going on.
These actual comments come from a recent series of programs I have been running, aimed at decision-makers and directors.
My suspicion is that people aren’t comparing my relatively short programs with full-blown MBAs so much as the apocryphal list of anti-MBA comments that exist. For instance, the MBA is known to be theoretical, case study-focused, broad, numbers and research led. And it may well be many of these things because it is an MBA, a Master’s degree. I have an MBA and I have taught on several MBAs and I have run several businesses so maybe my role as poacher turned gamekeeper gives me a privileged perspective. It is unfair to compare apples and pears and I think that is what has happened here.
So, at the off I am discrediting my fans by saying they are misinformed and being unscientific. However, I will continue to explore what is going on.
The programs I refer to are based on the work in the Check-in Strategy Journal, which contains what I describe as a triple espresso planning section which helps you to create and design both your business and your personal plans and goals. Next, it gives the tools to plan and monitor your activities on a year-by-year, quarter-by-quarter, week-by-week and day-by-day basis. Incorporating a review/preview process at every stage, the participant is actively involved in every stage of “making it happen”. In rugby, they call it “going straight down channel one”. And I suspect that’s why the program seems to be so popular compared with the MBA.
But at the risk of repeating myself, we are comparing pears and apples. And pear lovers are not best equipped to evaluate the qualities of apples and so forth. I doubt a Liverpool supporter will give an unbiased review of a Manchester United team.
I think we have isolated that the Check-in Journal appeals to a certain audience (who may or may not be MBA lovers – I think that the MBA thing is really a red herring).
What it does is give simple yet powerful tools to the user.
It hands over ownership and control to the user.
It is as free of empty rhetoric as is possible and free of all the business nonsense that is often attached to that.
It is a set of inter-locking and inter-connected models that create a simplicity, focus and clarity that many tools fail to achieve.
Is it the best thing since sliced bread? Is it the universal antidote to all problems? Obviously not.
Is it bordering on a cult or a religion? Clearly not. (This reminds me of the Life of Brian quote, “He’s not the Messiah, he’s just a naughty boy.”)
I think we still need to think through what is going on.
What is special about either an MBA or my program is not the content. Content is relatively innocuous. What is powerful is how it is presented and how it gives the user the opportunity to exploit it to their own benefit. And that is what I think is the secret sauce here: a set of simple and incredibly effective tools that can be applied in a highly meaningful and relevant manner.
What I am talking about is the journey and not the plane.
The fans and ambassadors love the journey that the toolkit has enabled them to take. They love feeling in control. More importantly, they love using tools and techniques that work. That do what it says on the tin; no silver bullets and ridiculous promises.
What’s on offer is a set of effective tools that help you exceed your targets, in your business and your personal life. And some people want just that. Horses for courses, I say.