This book review looks into The Future MBA: 100 ideas for making sustainability the business of business education by Giselle Weybrecht. I followed the ideas closely when Giselle was releasing them daily via social media and it is great to see how it has turned into a physical book.
I came across Giselle through her other book The Sustainable MBA. I thought that book was absolutely outstanding, you can read my short review of that book by clicking the link below.
The book opens with some really impressive recommendations by Paul Polman, Richard Lyons and others. The introduction sets the scene and lets readers know about the basis of the book, which was 100 ideas posted online over 100 days to explore what the business degree of the future should look like.
Giselle opines that “Each idea brings with it multiple potential benefits, for the school, the students and, in particular, sustainability in its broadest sense.”
I think that the criticisms and suggestions that Giselle makes are certainly relevant to other degree choices in higher education.
My intention is to pick out what I consider to be the best ideas and the ones that I found most relevant for improving the situation outside of business education.
I really liked this opening idea and the arguments that Giselle constructed around it. I liked her point below.
“Creating a more casual dress environment (within reason) may provide a better setting for the sharing of information and insights, drawn both from successes and failures. It may give students the opportunity to focus on being what they are and not what the sector wants them to be.”
13. Risk taking and failure
This was the next idea that really stood out for me. It is important that universities focus on turning out the right kind of candidates and not just candidates who can memorise information and write essays. A healthy relationship with risk and failure is one such skill set.
Giselle writes that “businesses increasingly need graduates who aren’t afraid of questioning assumptions or testing new ideas, graduates that can help create a culture and environment in business that supports risk taking in a constructive way.”
I found this idea to be very relevant. I have a big interest in the psychology of persuasion and it is definitely something that needs to be touched upon at university.
26. Plug and play
This idea definitely chimed with my own beliefs on how university courses should be run. It is now a few years since I finished university and with only abstract memories of the main lectures, my memories of the guest lectures remain largely intact because of how engaging they were.
Giselle writes that “in the future, a variety of organisations in particular fields will create regularly updated mini-lectures on the subject on which they specialize, which can be used within business school programmes globally.”
I liked this idea as it emphasises the importance of doing things and not just talking about things. Giselle’s idea is that “rather than bringing together groups of individual researchers publishing papers, labs will be much more action-oriented and involve a wider range of individuals.”
40. Turning off
This was an idea that made a lot of sense to me as I am someone who did not get a smart phone until January 2014. I find these devices to be useful, but extremely distracting, when for quality work concentration is required. I now have my phone on aeroplane mode for a lot of the time, so that I can receive notifications at my time of choosing.
Giselle’s idea is that “students will be asked to leave their cell phones, computers and all other devices at the door for courses where they are not necessary.”
71. Easily accessible
I found this idea very interesting. Ultimately, research is nice, but if it does not influence the real world then it has not been useful.
Giselle writes that “the challenge is not only that many of the publications in this space are not readily accessible to business practitioners, but that they are often not written in a way that is useful or relevant to the actual challenges that businesses are dealing with.”
90. Collaborative action
In this idea Giselle makes a good point about the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). While in the sustainability space, they have made a huge impact, in wider society I think people would be shocked about how little the general public know and understand about these ambitious goals.
On this subject Giselle writes that “few business students or faculty have heard of these but, due to their increasing influence over business practice, should be more widely discussed in business education.”
100. A change in language
I really enjoyed this point as I am very passionate about language and its ability to shape perceptions.
Giselle writes that “for many students, ‘sustainability’ and ‘business’ are two completely different concepts.”
What you need to know
This book review looked into The Future MBA by Giselle Weybrecht.
This book proved to be an interesting and impressive read even as someone who has not sat through a business education course.
I found the ideas within the book to be relevant for other university degree courses and society more broadly.
I would definitely recommend this book.
Thank you for reading,
By Barnaby Nash
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be changed about university education to improve sustainability?