When children are taught how to play tennis they first learn how to prepare their racket — and their minds
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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 feedback about FT Business school, please email bschool@ft.com.

You can view current and previous editions of the newsletter online.

How to Lead

David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, talks about how he is tackling an unprecedented migration crisis, and a Brexit campaign, in our weekly series How to Lead.

Andrew Hill's challenge

The FT's management editor sets a weekly test of your business, strategy and management skills.

The death of author Philip Roth last week sent me back to his last novel, Nemesis, and the wonderful, elegiac final chapter in which he describes an afternoon when his tragic hero was "in the flow", demonstrating javelin-throwing to his students.

As I point out in my column, plenty of consultants would like to think there are ways to trigger such hyper-productive "flow states" and keep executives and workers in the zone. I'm doubtful, but for this week's management challenge I'd like to hear your (legal) tricks and tips for sustaining a workplace high. Send your ideas, in brief, to bschool@ft.com.

I asked for some illustrations of better corporate structures last week. Huw Morris produced this "honeycomb" structure, which he said he had used to emphasise "the strength of multiple linkages across an organisation" and reduce the silo effect.

In further reading, Carl Richards' short "four-step guide to ranting productively", in the New York Times is on the mark. I like his idea of finding a (non-work) "rant friend" who is ready to soak up your ire: "Make a ranting buddy Rolodex, and invite the people in it to use you for ranting purposes as well," Richards suggests. 

Professor's picks

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

Janet Smart, reader in operations management at University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, selects:

Brexit could yet be stopped at customs The article mentions that “the May government’s determination to give Britain the freedom to negotiate its own trade deals after Brexit has led it to stress repeatedly that it intends to leave the customs union. However, the government’s opponents argue that this kind of ‘hard Brexit’ is folly because it will disrupt trade and industrial supply chains with Europe.”

But let’s not forget the practicalities of operating a hard border, with queues of lorries and cars, transporting time-critical goods and foodstuffs to factories and supermarkets between the UK and the continent, and within Ireland. Factories will have to set up new logistics centres to manage the extra inventory that will need to be held to cope with possible delays.

The customs union is imperative for Britain’s future prosperity This story argues that “after Brexit the UK must keep its borders open to European trade” and that the only workable option is a customs union. There are currently about 600 UK companies that have been given the “authorised european operator” status, sometimes referred to as “trusted trader” status. HMRC does not have the capacity to authorise about 100,000 exporters who would need this status in the time left. Politicians can’t defy logistics.

Jonathan Moules's business school news

Declining application numbers to US schools is a concern in what is still the largest market for MBAs in the world. At the heart of the issue is the perception among outsiders that they would be better off studying in another country, according to research among schools in the Financial Times global MBA ranking.

The challenge for US schools is complex, however. The market is also undergoing a flight to quality, with several US schools at the top of the FT ranking enjoying record numbers of applications this year.

What is clear is that if US schools continue to lose overseas applicants they risk a vicious circle of decline. Classroom debates are enhanced by having more diversity within the student cohort. Fewer nationalities means fewer different cultural points of view.

Visa restrictions are often blamed for being at the heart of the US problem in attracting overseas students. But it is not the only issue – the availability of jobs is a connected but separate concern for many business school students – and the US is not the only country facing such challenges.

I wonder whether you have any suggestions about what will restore the fortunes of the US MBA market? Is it a change to course structures perhaps? What are other countries doing that the US can learn from? Email bschool@ft.com.

Extra reading

In case you missed, take a look at How to win a business plan competition.

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.

Edited by Wai Kwen Chan — bschool@ft.com

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