Monday, February 1, 2010

MBA Vs. Real World Experience

I've read plenty of opinions in the MBA vs. Real World Experience debate. The whole argument is starting to bug me. For some reason, the discussions always become polarized, and then this happens:
The two experiences and the knowledge gained from each are separated from one-another. Then there's a lot of debate about which is better, which is more useful, whether the degree is valuable, etc. The arguments deteriorate quickly and people start yelling.

In reality, the situation is something more like this:
These two things are not mutually exclusive. The knowledge and experiences overlap. In fact, there is lots of stuff that I'm re-learning in my MBA program that I learned at my previous job. Of course, There's also lots of stuff that I'm learning from the MBA program that I didn't know before, and plenty that I learned on the job that I doubt that my classes will touch.

Now let's take a look at the bigger picture:
The fact is that there are people who use each type of knowledge when they conduct business. If you know both, you can deal with people in both camps, which is extraordinarily useful. Rejecting an MBA education because it's "too academic" is silly - there are plenty of real world applications for the academic tools. Likewise, rejecting a non-MBA for lack of credential is unreasonable - a degree is obviously not necessary for success in business.

What matters is 1) how open people are to new knowledge, ideas, and practices, and 2) what people do with the knowledge and skills that they have. Let's not forget that.