Business school: Management games and MBAs vs hackers

Do you have ideas for a simulated game to show how to handle people issues at work?

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. Click here to view previous editions.

Andrew Hill's challenge

Simulations are an integral part of many business education courses and often use online tools to add to the realism of the scenarios discussed. I’ve written this week about the history of the “National Management Game”, an early computerised simulation, and the risk that dependence on computer simulations may distance would-be managers from human problems.

In this week’s challenge, I’d like to hear your ideas for a simple business simulation or game that would give players insights into how to handle people issues at work. Two conditions: your game must be entirely analogue — no gadgets or gizmos — and you must be able to sum it up in no more than three sentences. As usual, please send your thoughts to bschool@ft.com.

Last week, I asked you to suggest ways in which business could help raise children’s aspirations. MBA student Sehela Simin came up with a range of ideas. My favourite was the suggestion that big technology conferences should “include a children’s segment … so kids can accompany their parents to these conferences”. (This would, of course, have the side-effect of exposing the fact that many parents attend conferences to get away from their children.)

I’m fascinated by motivation at work and this week I’ve been looking at a paper just published in the Academy of Management Journal that suggests that if you view your work as a calling, you risk burnout. Researchers studied employees of animal shelters, many of whom failed to cope with the disappointments and trauma of the job, because they had invested too much emotion in their job. Let that be a lesson to those who incessantly encourage us to bring all our “passion” to work.

Professor's picks

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

Eve Poole, adjunct faculty, Ashridge Executive Education at Hult, UK, selects:

David Brent and Basil Fawlty personify Britain’s hapless managers This article suggests Britain’s productivity crisis has been caused by mediocre management. It usefully frames the argument around motivation and skill, since often business schools focus too much on the former.

Managers, like leaders, are made, not born: created by their experiences and what they learn from them. So if we want better managers, we have to train them in the skills they need. Looking at what motivates people is necessary, but without managerial training, it is not sufficient.

Diversity at the top pays dividends This article mentions the error of tokenistic board-level appointments which do not address the need for a pipeline of credible women and other minorities in senior roles. That's why we need effective leadership development, to encourage minorities to consider top jobs.

Creating a pipeline requires years of hard work.The learning and development functions of companies will need to offer much more focused on-the-job leadership training, rather than assuming it can be effectively delivered through e-learning and off-site courses.

Sexy and super bland: the rise of the office uniform This article despairs over the trend for expensive and uninspiring office attire that seems to show no employees dare look individual. Ask any group of business women to draw a 'senior woman' in their organisation, and the images will look the same.

Dressing for work is not about looking good or fashionable: it is about looking appropriate. You take your cues for what ‘appropriate’ means by playing ‘follow-my-leader’ – senior people will have developed a dress code that works in that organisation, so emulating their style is a good career strategy. I don’t approve of it, but it is essential advice if you want to prosper in your chosen setting.

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.

Jonathan Moules' business school news

Gone are the days when the career prospects for MBA students were largely limited to roles in investment banking and management consultancy.

The tech industry is now the biggest employer of graduates at several top tier schools today, which prompted my conversation with Amazon’s head of recruitment recently. But there are also specific job descriptions that relate well to the skills taught by business school professors and we have been assessing some of these in the pages of the FT.

This week we look at hacking, not those doing it, but those MBA graduates engaged in preventing security breaches online. They include entrepreneurs seeing an opportunity for a fast-growing market, such as Nuno Sebastião, founder of Feedzai, a company that spots fraudulent transactions online for their corporate clients.

Mr Sebastião recently spoke about growing his company for the entrepreneurship podcast series I present, called FT Start-Up Stories. You can listen to his story and that of other founders on the FT's podcast page, or via your favourite podcast platform, such as iTunes, Stitcher and Acast.

Further reading

An article by McKinsey aims to help leaders spot opportunities by clarifying nine major global forces to watch out for. Read what they are in The global forces inspiring a new narrative of progress.

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 Wai Kwen Chan

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't copy articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.