R. Glenn Hubbard, dean of the Columbia Business School, wants his students to make connections — and not just through networking.
He blames the recent financial crisis on a failure by leaders to successfully see the big picture, focusing instead on their area of expertise. Not connecting the dots, he says, was disastrous.
WSJ: A number of schools are tweaking their programs to prepare students for jobs with broader responsibilities. How do you give your students a holistic education?
Mr. Hubbard: It’s not simply a matter of drilling people to become greater experts, but [teaching them] how to bring it together. People were functional experts in individual areas but not seeing patterns fit together.
In the first year of the M.B.A. program [we] read a case that teaches students how to ask questions from different angles. We [focus on] General Motors because GM’s problems really did unfold over a 20- to 25-year period. It enables students to spot slow-moving train wrecks or slow-moving opportunities.
I always say to the students there are three things you’ve got to do to be a successful leader: Analyze, decide, lead. First, you’ve got to be able to analyze a problem. And that, frankly, almost any good business-school student can do. Then, you’ve got to be able to make decisions when you don’t have all the information, because in the real world you never do. The third is you’ve got to be able to persuade other people to go along with the decision you make.
Point well taken: Connecting dots is the only way to prevent future crises, not through scientific research that is limited to a mini setting hoping to be generalizable to outside world. The only way is to do real life observations and to increase number of people doing that and sharing their points. Together we made a web of knowledge!