Saturday, November 27, 2010

Linchpin: Giving It Away (Equitable Consulting)

As a complement to the post on giving away our ideas in line with Linchpin concepts, I am instituting an effort to give away ideas to solve interesting business problems with the hope of learning through a meaningful exchange with our partners, which I will document under equitable consulting features in the future.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Linchpin (Page 1): Giving Up On Instructions, and Giving Away Ideas

As posted previously, Seth Godin has agreed to contribute up to 15 pages from his newest book Linchpin. Below, is the first page excerpt (two partial pages adding up to one page) from Linchpin. Read below pages from Seth's book before reading this post-Seth's a better writer anyway :)

Since the start of this project, I wondered how to best approach a Free MBA Program. Until I read Seth's incisive insights in Linchpin (see revised Curriculum Page). So now, the Free MBA focuses on solving interesting problems by applying conventional business ideas in unconventional ways. By solving interesting problems, we can leverage the shared knowledge available with a simple Google search, to make new connections that change people, which allows us to challenge the status quo and cause change.

We cut ourselves short. We follow the instructions, focusing on knowing all the right terms and latest business trends, which inhibits us from synthesizing and shipping ideas because we are paralyzed with indoctrinated mediocre obedience.

So we have to learn to stop following instructions. We can learn what is pertinent to solve the current interesting problem. And solve it!

Or we can choose to follow instructions, apply cliched business concepts and terms. Diagonosing sysmptoms without getting to the heart of the problem, and avoiding meaningful change.

So, to solve our dependency on following instructions related to ideas and sharing them (see Poverty Mentality in excerpt) we'll strive to give our ideas away here, the opposite of traditional business concepts, and create win-win situations.

I only want in return the opportunity to learn, and ship my ideas.

Note: Didn't have a scanner for the pages above, so used my camera. Not the most ideal method, but the idea shipped. Also, keeping in line with the free nature of this project, I checked this book out of the library. Learned a lot, and only had to invest my time (not my money).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Linchpin: Assembly Line Education

In the assembly line factory system for goods and services a company's profits are the difference between what it pays employees and the value of the output.

On an assembly line to maximize profits, workers need to be complacent and interchangeable to achieve the lowest possible cost ( mainly wages paid to employees). To ensure a ready supply of cheap labor the education system has been designed with an assembly line approach (you know what I mean, all those countless hours memorizing useless facts).

You and me have been indoctrinated with "mediocre obedience" as Seth Godin so succinctly pointed out in his newest book Linchpin:

"Mediocre Obedience
We've been taught to be a replaceable cog in a giant machine.
We've been taught to consume as a shortcut to happiness.
We've been taught not to care about our job or our customers.
And we've been taught to fit in."

In line with this doctrine, our education has taught us to show up on time, rush through subjects and follow teachers' instructions, don't ask questions or question authority, cram for tests, pass tests, get a diploma, and with the hope of getting that dream job. That seems to be the reason so many people want an MBA. The want the letters, not an education because to them its just another box to check.

The difference between the traditional MBA student and the Free MBA student is that rather than only memorize and regurgitate definitions from a variety of subjects (e.g., economics, accounting, finance, marketing, etc) here we are attempting use modern means to access the same knowledge (why memorize it, when we can just Google it) then use that knowledge to learn to solve interesting problems (more to come) and lead (more to come). Isn't this what companies need, people who can solve problems and lead, rather than complacent works?

We have a choice, to move away from being dispensable to indispensable, which is achieved through becoming a linchpin.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Second Semester: Preview

Just wanted to announce there will be an exciting future course! Seth Godin has agreed to contribute some social capital content from his newest book Linchpin.

Stay tuned. More to Come!

First Semester: Revisions

One beneficial perk about taking charge of your education is that it is one your own terms, and time. So, I want to focus on one course at a time, to truly learn the material. Initially, I was concerned with quantity of coursework and speed, but the Free MBA allows you to take your time and learn however is best for you. So for now at least, I will focus on cutting the cheese, and later move into counting the beans.

Do It All and Accompish Nothing

Often, we get caught up in saying yes, and forget how to say no. So while we work tirelessly to do everything to our best ability, we seem to spin our wheels unable to gain traction. Economics teaches us that while we sacrifice our time to try to help everyone else by doing it all, and this is detrimental for all parties involved.

For instance, you could be the best at everything, and get the best results (the concept of absolute advantage), but while you work on one task there is a cost of what you could have been doing (opportunity cost). So to be truly effective, you have to focus on what no one can do truly like you and then everyone is better off (the concept of comparative advantage). The economics text uses the concept of comparative advantage in relation to trade between two parties, but really, it applies to all facets of our lives. The idea states that two parties can produce more if they focus more of their efforts on what they give up the least to produce, and as a result there is more for everyone involved.

The kicker, of the concept of comparative advantage is that even if you are not the best at anything, you can have an advantage in the market over competitors if rivals give up too much to compete with you (even if they are better!).

Source: Principles of Microeconomics, third edition (Found in pile of donated books), pages 45-57.
Author: N. Gregory Mankiw

Friday, November 12, 2010

First Semester

The first semester will focus on cheese and how we cut it (the field of microeconomics) and good old bean counting (accounting 101), and hopefully by the end of this semester we will be able to better understand how cutting the cheese and beans are related.

Beans 1.01: Why Do I Care?

Bean counting has a stigma for being boring, but once you realize that it's a tool to help you accomplish your dreams, then how could you not be excited to learn more about it? Think of it as a skill with which you can do whatever you like. For me accounting is not boring because it's a means to accomplish my Free MBA Dream. Once you realize this, the rest is all tasty bean flavored cake.

So let's start with the purpose. Accounting helps you answer two important questions: (i) how is the business doing, and (ii) what resources do we have to get where we need to be? That simple, anything else is just extraneous.

As we continue through our survey course in accounting 101, we'll focus on the ideas. Once you know the concepts, it's just a matter of layering fancy terms on top of what you know.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

2 + 2 = 5 - Mathematicians Make Lousy Accountants

Its true, not saying accounting is too complicated for mathematicians. It's just without an understanding of basic accounting, the numbers may not seem to "add-up". With this in mind, I plan to start with the equivalent to a survey accounting course where I seek to understand why sometimes math and accounting seem to diverge.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cutting the Cheese

Imagine two adorable mice at the dinner table (mouse sized of course), and there is only one piece of cheese on the table. At the table sit a very skinny mouse and another portly mouse who moments earlier single-handedly finished off two more than generous slices cheese. And you are tasked with distributing the remaining cheese. So, how do you best cut the cheese? Should you equitably allocate the remaining slice among the two mice? Or, would you be doing the larger mouse a favor by not cutting the cheese, and feeding it to only the skinny mouse?

This scenario is my interpretation some my recent reading of a work from a well-known economist, Gregory Mankiw. He defines economics as the study of how society manages its scarce resources, much like the cutting the cheese scenario above.

Recently I came across Mankiw's microeconomics textbook (references below) that was in a pile of donated books near my apartment. His introduction in the book was a refreshing way to look at economics:

How People Make Decisions

Principle #1: People Face Tradeoffs
Principle #2: The Cost of Something Is What You Give Up to Get it
Principle #3: Rational People Think at the Margin

How People Interact
Principle #4: People Respond to Icentives
Principle #5: Trade Can Make Everyone Better Off
Principle #6: Markets Are Usually a Good Way to Organize Economic Activity
Principle #7: Governments Can Sometimes Improve Market Outcomes

How the Economy as a Whole Works
Principle #8: A Country's Standard of Living Depends on Its Ability to Produce Goods and Services
Principle #9: Prices Rise When Governments Print Too Much Money
Principle #10: Society Faces a Short-Run Tradeoff between Inflation and Une

These principles are a great starting point for understanding the field of cutting the cheese (economics) as part of my MBA. I realize this material is Mankiw's intellectual property, however, I wonder if he would donate some social capital to fund this springs enrollment :)

Principles of Microeconomics, third edition (Found in pile of donated books)
Author: N. Gregory Mankiw

Latent Potential

Through small concerted efforts, we can change our circumstances and prove even ourselves wrong. That's what this project is about.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Social Capital

The cost of admission to any MBA program these days is well--staggering. So that's makes me think, "what is my cost of admission to this Free MBA project?" The most apparent costs are the investment of my time and energy, but there is also the monetary costs of any potential learning materials (books, subscriptions to publications, etc.).

But, the driving force behind this idea is too use modern means (be that scavenging online articles, ebooks, tutorials, etc) to synthesize a truly great business education. So in a sense, these forms of social capital in essence fund my tuition. So from out outset of this journey, it is important to learn from the resources which are available to everyone with an internet connection.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Recently read Rajesh Shetty's When You Can't Earn an MBA and Seth Godin's Why you need an MBA post all of which were new to me.

This project could be the exception Seth spoke about and Rajesh mapped out.

Both two thought-leaders we can all learn from

By the way, looks like people appreciate the project :)

Looking forward, I will outline a one month planned learning regiment, an extension of Rajesh's suggestion in his free ebook (above), which just became part of the curriculum