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Google Executives: Traditional Business School Training is Stupid

If you think getting an MBA from a prestigious school will guarantee you a job at Google, think again.

If your dream is to work in project management at Google, perhaps you should think twice before devoting yourself to the MBA style of business. As Gregory Ferenstein writes over at VentureBeat, Google’s higher-ups “[don’t] give much credit to college degrees in the hiring process.” The reason? Advanced degrees don’t guarantee anything.

Ferenstein’s piece highlights a talk held late last year featuring Google’s former Senior Vice President Jonathan Rosenberg and co-founder Larry Page. During the discussion, the two men call the MBA approach to doing business “stupid”:

“Rosenberg had been hired early on in Google’s history to help transform the company from a scrappy startup to a mature multinational. He thought this meant his MBA mattered. ‘The way you do project management is the MBA comes in and writes the plan…’”

Rosenberg soon learned that Google’s approach to business and development can be encapsulated in the most un-MBA of sentences: “Design things for unexpected results.”

“Google prefers to design for the unexpected and work with engineers in an iterative fashion. If managers don’t leave room for the unplanned, they can never be pleasantly surprised.”

It’s not that Google necessarily thinks MBAs and the people who hold them are bad. It’s that their philosophy in hiring and in business operations places a higher value on skills than knowledge. Google is very much a “do” company rather than a “think” company. Actions, after all, are much more interesting than abstractions.

Photo credit: Ismagilov / Shutterstock

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