The Cranky Product Manager was just thinking back — oh so nostalgically — on her MBA years.
Ah yes, what a joy it was to devote herself full-time to the study of BUSINESS…. so different than her undergrad years as an Engineering major at a random institute of technology.
No more studying seven days and nights a week and working endless hours in the lab, all to get a lousy “B” or “C”.Nope.
Business School couldn’t be more different than Engineering School. Ah yes, the easy A’s. The off-da-charts drunken parties, multiple times a week. The hot men who worked out, showered, AND shaved EVERY single day! The random hook-ups with the aforementioned hot men. The four black tie events per year. The exotic vacations “study trips,” funded by federally guaranteed student loans, to international locations with hot locals and lots of alcohol in need of the MONSTEROUS brains and awesome business expertise possessed by a gaggle of privileged 28-year-old MBA students.
What a time it was! Those were the days!
The Cranky Product Manager took classes on marketing, finance, accounting, organizational behavior, strategy, operations, statistics, etc. All that standard MBA stuff. Especially the marketing and the strategy. She ate that stuff up.
But in all her time as a drunken and downright slutty full-time MBA student, the Cranky PM never took a SINGLE class on developing products and services. She doesn’t even recall such a class being offered. (see footnote)
…which is ODD, when you think about it. After all, EVERY SINGLE BUSINESS IN EXISTENCE sells either a PRODUCT or a SERVICE.
Why would a Top-10 MBA program essentially ignore the CORE of all business?
Perhaps it is because MBA types, including the professors, think of product and service development as being the realm of engineers? Did they think the engineering curriculum was covering it?
Maybe. But if so, what a horrible misjudgement. The Cranky Product Manager’s computer engineering education consisted of a lot recursive loops, mathematical proofs, Turing Machines, oscilloscopes, FPGAs, and exhaustingly insane late nights (once stayed up 54 hours straight), trying to get some effing wire properly situated on a breadboard, or debugging a mind-bending multiple inheritance issue in some code written in an arcane/academic language.
The end result was that the Then-Engineer-Future-CrankyPM could probably build a product if someone told her EXACTLY what to build. She learned NOTHING about how you decide WHAT to build, how you determine if it should even be built in the first place, or how you get ideas. And that’s probably pretty typical of most Engineering educations.
Aren’t these questions absolutely fundamental to any business: how you decide WHAT to build, how you determine if it should even be built in the first place, and how you get ideas???
Footnote: Sure, the Intro to Marketing class touched on the “product”, but as only one of The Four P’s: product, price, promotion, placement. The Marketing Research class talked a bit about products too, but it wasn’t truly central to the class.