I used to interview between 200 to 350 fresh MBA grads a year, and many barely understand the basic principles of management let alone strategy and organization design. Most people developed some functional skills attending B-schools but most fail to develop a senior management perspectives despite those case studies method of teaching. Here’s the 4Ps that they need to teach in B-schools.
Management 4Ps which I invented to train young managers: The Peanut Effect, The Peter
Principles, The Penis Theory, and The Perfectionist Syndrome. If you have not heard all or any one of them, don't worry.
The Peanut Effect can be best described when referring to the lottery. The main reason why so many people play the lottery is because they place disproportionate weight on small probabilities. People don’t realize the true cost of a lottery ticket is a “peanut” and they don’t realize how the cost adds up over time. The same can be applied to buying snacks, coffee, magazines and other “cheap” items. If you are marketing your product or services, what you can learn from this is that you need find a way to emphasize the big benefits even if the probability to reap them is low. This can apply to bringing a vision to the company. Think big. Think possibilities and not only probabilities.
The Peter Principle is a belief that, in an organization where promotion is based on achievement, success, and merit, that organization's members will eventually be promoted beyond their level of ability. The principle is commonly phrased, "employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence." In more formal parlance, the effect could be stated as: employees tend to be given more authority until they cannot continue to work competently. It was formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their book The Peter Principle, a humorous treatise. Make sure you promote people to a job that is beyond their level of ability no matter how they try to justify the case. It doesn’t matter how long people have been on a job, sometimes younger manager can rise to the challenge in a shorter time. Experience helps .. but not always.
The Penis Theory is about finding your core. Penis envy in Freudian psychoanalysis refers to the theorized reaction of a girl, during her psychosexual development, to the realization that she does not have a penis. Freud considers this realization a defining moment in the development of gender and sexual identity for women. In contemporary culture, the term is sometimes used metaphorically to refer to women who wish they had a penis – lucky you don't need one to succeed in business. What you can learn from this is that too many marketers are spending too much time trying to be someone else. Often companies try and emulate the “big-wigs” and try to be like Apple, Amazon, or even Google. These companies however are spending too much time and too many resources trying to be something they are not. It is more productive to understand who you really are – and what’s your core?
The Perfectionist Syndrome is common among high performance workplace. I have come across many high performers who are perfectionists – but not perfectionists in the true sense because when you look at their work, it is evident that they are too afraid to make calculated mistakes. And as a result, they often reach a performance ceiling. Perfectionism muffles our ability to hear, listen and learn and what you can lean from this is that perfectionism is impossible.
Let me tell you the dirty secret of management – forget about in search of excellence. There’s not a business anywhere in the world that is without problems or a business model that is perfect. Business is complex and imperfect. You can make a spreadsheet perfect but not the financials. Every business is managed by imperfect human beings and exists by providing a product or service to other imperfect consumers. Empathy makes up for the imperfection. Business is not a machine.