Road Side MBA

Three former students from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management who have since received their PhDs from Stanford and Princeton and are now professors at different colleges decide to go on a road trip after the following experience. They pulled into a shoe store in Maine and noticed that the sales help was unusually pushy. After a few questions, they discovered the store had a “secret shopper” program, in which employees would be marked down if they were not sufficiently aggressive with customers. A lightbulb went off.

Instead of teaching the tried-and-true case studies involving GE and Microsoft, these three wise men decided to pull their heads out of their ivory towers and go in search of insights about product differentiation, pricing, brand management, building a team, and a host of other topics. Why take your cues on employee compensation from Wall Street when you can learn from a Main Street company like Couer D’Alene’s best crime-scene cleaner? Want to learn about scaling a business? Come meet Dr. Burris, the flying orthodontist, who operates multiple, profitable practices in rural Arkansas.

I recommend this book to finishing MBA students as it pulls in the lessons of an MBA program but demonstrates how these lessons have helped small businesses become successful. In some instances the business advantage may have been planned, but in others it feels as if it was happenstance that occurred through experience. In the end, the major lesson is that you can apply your MBA to small, medium and large businesses and corporations and if you are going into business yourself you should plan on incorporating the business lessons you have learned to your advantage.

Speak Your Mind