Jeffrey Pfeffer

Think about what business schools do:They train people to talk about ideas and concepts and to solve problems. But the one thing they typically don’t do is train students how to actually do anything – not just analyze problems but implement their solutions in the messy world of real people.

Ask yourself this question:Would you undergo heart surgery if the surgeon had been trained in the same way that business-school students are trained? Imagine that the surgeon had sat around in medical school discussing heart-surgery cases, watching heart-surgery videos, and listening to great heart surgeons talk about what they did – and now you’re lying on the operating table, as that surgeon’s first real patient.Would you let that surgeon cut you open?

The truth is that business school is more about talking than doing. After graduation, many B-school students take jobs in management consulting. I’ve always found the job market to be perplexing for this reason:You can be a plant manager – actually have what it takes to run a plant – and make up to $100,000 a year. Or you can talk about plant management and make twice that. Why do people get paid more for talking about things than for actually doing them? The message from the job market is that it’s more important and more valuable to be clever than it is to have the ability to make something happen.

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