Business school: Top MBAs for entrepreneurship

What is the best way for bringing non-specialists up to speed?

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Welcome to the FT Business school newsletter, a weekly serving of management wisdom, reading recommendations and business-related challenges. FT subscribers can sign up here to receive the newsletter by email every Monday. If you have any feedback about FT Business school, please email bschool@ft.com.

Andrew Hill’s challenge

Calls for diversity on boards tend to focus on gender and ethnicity, but the value of other types of difference is becoming more and more obvious.Take experience, or lack of it. As I write in this week’s column, when there are too many experts on a board, directors can become over-confident and even precipitate collapse. The goal should be what the French call “mixité” or mixedness — a balance of deep specialists and experienced non-experts.

One challenge for a mixed group is how to ensure the non-experts are able to address the important issues quickly. New MPs for French president Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche party — many of them new to the role — were given a weekend induction course ahead of last week’s first parliamentary session. Is there a better way for bringing the non-specialists up to speed? Online training? One-to-one briefings? Pairing experts and non-experts? Send your ideas to bschool@ft.com.

In answer to last week’s challenge, Alison Chappell came up with a range of possible policies to improve work-life balance, of which my favourite, by far, was this one: “Why not allow people to have allotments in the areas covered by boring shrubs in so many workplaces?”

I’ve written before about research by Adam Galinsky of Columbia Business School into the creativity that is triggered by international assignments. Jackson Lu of Columbia, Galinsky and others have now looked at intercultural relationships, romantic and otherwise, and reached similar conclusions. Just travelling won’t achieve the same effect, though. “People who had deep connections with someone from another culture experience growth in creativity — but not people with shallow connections to those from other cultures,” according to Galinsky.

Professor's picks

Every week a business school professor or academic recommends useful FT articles.

Oguz A. Acar, lecturer in marketing at City University’s Cass Business School in the UK, selects:

‘New and improved’ products drive sales, but sometimes in reverseThis article is a reminder of the importance and difficulty of innovating successfully. Innovation involves a great deal of trial and error, as uncertainty is part and parcel of the process. There is simply no way to avoid failure when creating something new. The key is to use failure as a source of learning and resist the temptation to play it too safe.

Being able to ‘fail smartly’ — a way to deliver improvements using insights gained from mistakes in well thought-out innovation projects — is perhaps the only way for business students (and managers) to succeed in today’s unpredictable business landscape.

Jonathan Moules’ business school news

Top business schools now trumpet their ability to teach entrepreneurship, so the Financial Times decided to assess which ones achieve the best results in terms of number of alumni choosing to launch businesses and, more crucially, how many of these ventures survive the critical first three years of trading.

You can have a look at the ranking here, along with an analysis of why an MBA can be helpful to someone with entrepreneurial ambitions. We also discussed the findings in our studio for a Facebook Live event on Monday morning in London.

The entrepreneurship ranking is an indicator of how attitudes have changed from not that long ago when dropping out of college was a badge of honour for tech founders in Silicon Valley.

Even Mark Zuckerberg, whose decision to quit his place at Harvard University to launch Facebook became an essential part of his success story, returned to his alma mater this May to accept an honorary degree.

Several of the founders featured in my Start-Up Stories podcasts have also achieved academic success, including completing MBAs.

A new series of Start-Up Stories will be starting this month, but in the meantime you can still listen to the back catalogue of conversations by going to the FT website, iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you usually listen to podcasts.

Ask the academics

Got a question for leading business school experts? Send it to bschool@ft.com and we will publish the best replies in future newsletters.

Test your knowledge

How good is your grasp of the news? Test your reading of last week's top stories with the FirstFT quiz.

Compiled by Patricia Nilsson — bschool@ft.com

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