Love and embrace change! Lessons from the Top 10 innovative MBAs in the world | Inquirer Business

Love and embrace change! Lessons from the Top 10 innovative MBAs in the world

Q: We’re a virtual community made up of 12 business executives who all graduated from AIM (Asian Institute of Management). Aside from connecting via the Internet, we meet over dinner once a month. During a month’s dinner, we talk about what’s new in each other’s industry and competition.

We’re also regular readers of your column. We like your series on innovations. Several of us attended a conference where you spoke on “continuous innovating.” You had a column that predicted how continuing executive education will take over the MBA. You even said that the MBA will serve only as a “launching pad” for continuing executive education that companies themselves will eventually conduct. What then will happen to business schools like AIM?  What sort of innovating can business schools undertake to avert their eventually dying?


A: Thanks for your question but please stop thinking that the MBA and MBA schools are dying. Again, what is happening in organizations and business schools is a matter of segmentation. There will be a segment of businesses that will rely more on continuing executive education than on the MBA.  Another segment will take the opposite and more traditional view.

Both will exist. And as in a cycle, what’s up in one period will be what’s below in another.


So what innovating can business schools do to get back on top again?  One of our most requested talks has been about “continuous innovating.”  In those repeated occasions, we’ve been asked that question.

Top 10 “Business Schools for Innovation”

From the years 2000 to 2010, we liked benchmarking against the top 10 or 20 MBA schools.  We’ve studied what innovations in courses, learning methodologies, thrusts, and professors were pursuing. But starting in 2011, we found that the highest-rated MBA schools are not the most innovative. There’s a good rating agency which conducts an annual ranking of “Top 10 Business Schools for Innovation.” This is the Quacquarelli Symonds Inc., a British company specializing in study abroad information and producing annual guides for post graduates across 35 countries.

Here’s the 2012-2014 QS “Top 10 Innovative MBAs” in the world:

1 Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University;

2 Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT);

3 Harvard Business School, Harvard University;


4 INSEAD in France;

5 The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania;

6 The London Business School;

7 IE Business School of IE University in Spain;

8 The Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University;

9 is tied for The Stern School of Business of New York University and IMD in Switzerland;

10 is also tied for The Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, India, and IESE Business School, University of Navarra in Spain.

What can we learn from benchmarking against what these innovative MBAs are doing in developing and managing innovative academic programs?

Innovation: responding to and loving change

At the Sloan School of Management at MIT, one major reason for their top 2 ranking is the school’s anticipating and responding to the clamor among students to have entrepreneurship as a core program. Illac Diaz, a good friend and mentee of the JuniorMrx-er, went to Sloan and experienced participating at the school’s G-LAB or Global Entrepreneurship Lab program where MBA students gain hands-on experience working overseas for four weeks. Illac was able to bring home several innovative social entrepreneurship models for his MyShelter Foundation (including the Liter of Light program that has provided hundreds of thousands of electricity-free lighting for Filipinos using discarded Coke or Pepsi litro bottles. See Illac also participated in the annual MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition with his classmates and won this competition.

Developing innovative academic programs is about embracing and loving change. It’s about responding to changes in business innovations, as well as even anticipating if not triggering those changes. Managing those innovative programs is about doing well presently and growing the programs that have been developed.  Next, that process of developing needs comes with managing processes in order to flourish. Innovations will prosper if those involved in managing processes will give feedback to those in charge of determining needs.

‘Toughest MBA in the world to get into…’

This synergy between developing and managing is particularly noteworthy in the case of the 3 IIMs (Indian Institute of Management). The first IIM in Calcutta is private sector-oriented and known for turning around India’s business sector. The second IIM in Ahmedabad, which is also private sector oriented, is known for its pedagogy’s depth and rigor. It has the reputation for being “the toughest MBA in the world to get admission into.” The third IIM in Bangalore is public sector oriented and is known for its social entrepreneurship program and as the “Silicon Valley” of Asia.

Our benchmarking study also uncovered these two related insights. If developing is about responding to changes in business innovative practices and anticipating, if not triggering them, then developing is mostly about research. It’s about researching the opportunities to grow from those changes.

HKUST: preparing students for research

The HKUST Business School of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is outstanding in this regard.  HKUST has a Ph.D program that’s thoroughly research-oriented. Its program is designed to prepare the students for a research career in universities, research institutes, government, and business organizations. The program’s perspective is global but with a focus on the Asia-Pacific Region. Incidentally, the new AIM president, Dr. Steve DeKrey, was a founder of HKUST and responsible for getting HKUST’s EMBA program ranked no. 1 in the Financial Times rankings for three straight years since 2009.

What about in the local scene? There’s something like HKUST that’s going on in the College of Business at De La Salle University. We’ve run out of space. So we’ll get into that next Friday. Happy Valentine’s! Love change and think of innovative things to love your family!

Keep your questions coming. Send them to us at [email protected] or [email protected] God bless!

To discover how to get FREE mentoring from Dr. Ned, visit

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