Aug 21, 2011
There is a perceived dichotomy between one who ‘grew’ up in the startup world and one who enters it via an MBA. Its easy to see the origins of this divide as there undoubtedly will be a cognitive friction between those who see themselves as being in the trenches,rubbing two sticks together just to survive and those who would approach the same problems via the quantification, and structure that business school teaches.
In reality, one should be wary of making generalizations of either. An MBA who brings nothing more than a well-refined set of powerpoint frameworks is as useless to a startup as a developer that eschews clear product design. While a startup’s problems may look to have nothing in common with something somebody once half-drunkenly read in a HBS case study, there is some value in bringing the lessons that history teaches, along with well-developed and established patterns that solve some of the more uninteresting tasks of operating a business (i.e. accounting) .
Like many of society’s divides, stereotypes drive much of the negativity. While there are many MBAs who fall very neatly into the “tool with a spreadsheet” box, it would be unfair to write off those MBAs that are able to straddle the classroom and real-life and create real value for an organization.