Wanted: MBAs for innovation

Business schools should launch Master of Business Creation degrees – and companies install chief corporate entrepreneurs – to combat the lack of entrepreneurialism in companies

Philip Kotler, professor of international marketing at the prestigious Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, made the call for the newfangled degrees at the 8th Global Peter Drucker Forum, being held this week in Vienna.

“We are training people to run existing companies,” Kotler warned. “I’d like to see two different degrees offered in business schools, not one. We only offer an MBA. At Northwestern University, 20-30% of our students want a different degree – they don’t want to join a big company. The degree we should offer is a Master of Business Creation – an MBC.”

The MBCs would teach students how to test an idea that could be a solution to a need and raise money to experiment with those ideas, Kotler added.

Kotler’s warning was supported by a later intervention by Alex Osterwalder, cofounder of Strategyzer, who warned that companies were entirely structured to justify and execute proven ideas rather than explore and experiment upon new ones. “Business plans [for unproven ideas] are a waste of time,” he warned. “They are delivered on numbers which are based on a fantasy. [That’s why] innovation is career suicide in most companies. Admit instead that you have no clue [whether an unproven idea will work] but have a process in place to find out what is going to work.”

In a call that mirrored Kotler’s earlier proposal for MBCs, Osterwalder argued that companies should restructure so chief execution officers (CEOs) on the executional side of business had an equal counterpart on the experimental side called the chief corporate entrepreneur (CCEs) – both reporting to the executive chairman – so execution and exploration were given equal focus.

“We need to change organizations and their cultures to create ambidextrous organizations,” he said.

Dialogue is media partner of the Global Peter Drucker Forum.