Deborah on mastering real-life business

Deborah on mastering real-life business

TEAMTALK | In the year prior to joining THNK, I completed a MBA degree at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada. Now, with those three magic letters officially behind my name, this is my perspective: business fundamentals do exist and it is valuable to study them. But the real world simply requires much more creative thinking than traditional MBA programs tend to offer. In my current role, there is a lot of MBA un-learning for me to do. I am convinced that there is a real need for an entirely new type of education embodied by the programs that THNK is developing.


I had more than 12 years of professional management experience at companies in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. I had collaborated closely with professionals with MBAs and advanced degrees in Finance, Accounting and Economics with no problems. Nonetheless, I always had this nagging doubt that I wasn’t truly in the ‘club’ because I didn’t have a firm grasp of the formal business theories, frameworks and models that influenced their thinking and actions. I also viewed MBA study as helping me to acquire stronger skills and behaviors associated with creativity and innovation.


I’m very satisfied with my MBA learning experience. I have acquired a much more solid foundation in business fundamentals. But at the same time, I have realized that most MBAs do little to increase innovation and creativity abilities or equip graduates with the mindset, skills and behaviors needed to successfully handle today’s business challenges. Most MBA programs teach subjects as individual pillars, with very little focus on how they blur together. But this blurring is precisely why the business world is so messy and professionals are struggling to cope.


Globalization. Shifting economic patterns. Rapid technological development.  Evolving communication networks. The days of static business models and one-hit wonder businesses are over. The successful business professional of the future is a creative leader who can manage increasing complexity, champion continuous innovation, engage in radical collaboration and develop and lead new creative processes which transform business models, governance structures, service delivery and customer relationships. The world needs a new breed of businesspeople who speak languages other than ‘business speak’: professionals who can communicate and collaborate effectively with people from a variety of disciplines, industries and cultures to trigger new ideas,challenge the status quo and generate unexpected innovations.


Don’t just take my word for it. A recent IBM survey of 1500 global CEOs identified creativity as being the number one leadership asset needed in today’s world. The business world is catching on. Brace yourselves. It’s going to be quite the ride.


Deborah Carter is THNK's Director of International Marketing.