Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Competition AND cooperation

Sure there are teams that do not work out and the classroom is somewhat competitive (although personally I think I would like to see a bit more, not less competition ;) ). That said, it is always popular to stereotype MBAs as ultra-competitive, win at no cost people. I hear this argument regularly, but personally have never seen it. Either as a student (I got my MBA from the Simon School at Univ of Rochester) or teaching at St. Bonaventure or tutoring while getting my PHD at PSU. In all three cases I found MANY more cases of cooperation than competition.

From BusinessWeek (Kerry Patterson):
"All MBA classrooms are built as coliseums. They follow case methods almost universally across the country. Students come to class, where they get cold-called, and they're graded as much as half by how they respond. Teams of students meet -- and I've watched them for over 30 years now -- and they're brutal to each other. The professor plays the role of referee. "
After blaming professors and adminstrators, the article gets around to a very useful perscription:
" Become a student of human interaction. In the classroom, students should be paying attention to interactions that do two things -- get the problem solved or make the point in the classroom in a way that doesn't cause harm in a relationship. "

When people are in their working world and attending meetings, most people don't know that there are two things happening -- the argument itself and the process of how that argument's unfolding. The capacity to constantly be observing the argument at hand as well as the process people are using to make their points makes you doubly empowered. "
Which is a case of agreeing with the prescription but not the diagnosis!

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