JTBD in Business School

Series 2, Episode 14 | 11 April 2023

Show notes | Transcript

If I were to change anything, it would be to make sure that students understand why they’re there and what progress they’re trying to make. That will actually help set the curriculum in the right way for how much and what they should be learning.

In today’s Circuit Breaker episode, Bob and Greg explore an interesting topic from an audience member: How would the curriculum in business schools change if JTBD was more widely understood? You’ll learn what changes they’d propose to integrate the JTBD context into business school.

Bob will explain why JTBD should be introduced as a supplement to the curriculum rather than being the core of it. You’ll learn about the downsides of full learning and the impact of Bob’s book Choosing College. You’ll also learn why Bob abhors the term “best practices.”

Join Bob and Greg for this thought-provoking discussion on JTBD in business school.

Enjoy!

What You’ll Learn in this Show:

  • Why the case-based approach is the best teaching style.
  • Understanding who, when, where, and why can transform the way you process information.
  • The key thing JTBD teaches us.
  • Why it’s your responsibility as a student to understand the different contexts.
  • And so much more…

Resources:

Choosing College: How to Make Better Learning Decisions Throughout Your Life

Hosts

JTBD in Business School transcript

Bob
You know, I have a bias towards the people who go to school like on the weekend and get their MBA because I feel like they have an application of whatever you’re talking about, they can go back and see it in action where the full time students have almost disconnected from context. And so they’re, they’re almost playing it back through the imagination of what they used to experience or what they could experience. And so it’s more like I feel like it’s not as grounded to reality.

Welcome to the Circuit Breaker podcast where we challenge the status quo of innovation and new product development. We’ll talk about tools and skills and methodologies used to build better products and make you a better consumer. I’m Bob Moesta, and I’m the co founder of The Re-Wired group and I’m one of your co hosts. And we’re joined by Greg Engle, who is my co founder and chief Bob interpreter. Join us now as we trip the circuit and give you time to reset reorganise and recharge your brain to build better products.

Greg
So today, we’re taking a question from the audience, someone has reached out through through LinkedIn, and asked a question. And it’s an interesting question. It’s actually a very hard question for us to answer, not because we don’t have an opinion, but more because there’s a lot of different answers to that question. And you could take it from a lot.

Bob
I don’t even know the question yet. So I’m not you’re building it all up and getting excited and nervous at the same time?

Greg
I won’t say that because some people know what it means for us to argue and I will I will not set that expectation. So the question is, if Joss Whedon was more widely understood, and accepted, quite frankly, that wasn’t part of the question, but as accepted as well, how would it change business school curriculum? So this is somebody that’s going it’s going to be starting business school, they have been very high up in the higher level of management, from startups and stuff like that. And the question in one of the things that he had said was, look, I understand how it fits in like marketing, per se, because we can change the narrative from just feature and benefit marketing to actual demand marketing with with context and with customers. But how would it change things like, you know, finance, or some of those other courses that they have to take those core courses they take in business school.

And as I started thinking about it, I’m like, okay, my first response was, Well, it shouldn’t change curriculum at all, because business schools don’t have a job to be done or things like that. But then I started thinking about a little bit deeper, and I’m like, okay, so if it were more widely understood, people that going into business school would have taken jobs to be done, or there would be a genuine course, for them to understand that different contexts require different situations. And we’ve talked about in the past, we’ve talked about disruption, you know, how do people make the decisions they make?

Well, if I’m in certain context, I make decisions based on those contexts. So the idea would be that there would be a course where people come in with the with the understanding that different situations yields different approaches, different things, like if you’re talking about finance, I could look at the, you know, probably more Accounting I could look at, I’m going to use different accounting rules and or methods based on the context of in some do cash, accrual, some do whatever, all those types of things. And it’s why do I do them? And understanding those things? So as I thought about the question, I was born, the camp of well, if it was more widely accepted, people go in with that knowledge that those things happen, and they wouldn’t just teach the theory they would teach. What context is that theory work? And where and where doesn’t it work? That’s right. Right. So it wouldn’t be I’m changing curriculum totally. But I’m changing in a way of just having my discussions less about the what the theory is, and the why the theory works in different situations or not.

Bob
I would say that most of academia works on this, you know, what it is? How does it work? How much do you use it, like this skill of some of those tools, right? But they don’t do a really good job of understanding who, when, where, and why. And, and so I think the thing that would change is that there would be and I wrestle, it’s, it’s, again, I’m just hearing it, but I wrestle whether it’s a foundational course you put in the first year, to really get people to understand what and define progress. And to realise empathetic perspective, from different perspectives around the issue or whatever you’re doing.

Or you put it at the end, as as a as a course that really helps people then say, all right now these are all building blocks, how do you put them together and that jobs is really like an integration tool. It helps pull all of it together, and helps you understand where it works and where it doesn’t work and like is it the context of the outcome and I think there’s a big separation between learning the skill of doing a balance sheet and making it work. And then being in the context of a startup, or m&a and trying to actually figure out what how we should look at this in order to use the balance sheet. And so you start to realise that it’s that these contexts that are really, really important, and that I feel like if it was really widely accepted, they’d have kind of a set of, here’s where this is best use. Here’s some of the anomalies, and here’s where this shouldn’t be used. And that would be part of almost all the different curriculums. Yeah.

Greg
Or like you said, and I actually said, you beginning to do at the end? Or do you not do it at all? And you just and your case studies in your class discussion, you talk about, well, when would this work or not work? What situations if I gave you this scenario, that you’re a corporate company, and you need to grow your stock price, and you do these things? And you don’t want to do a stock buyback? And you all these types of things? Would this work or not?

Bob
Right? And I think that that’s, that gets back to kind of the teaching style as well. I think the case method is one of the best methods of teaching because it forces everybody to have discussion and talk about the concepts they’re dealing with. But to me jobs is that, at least for you and me, I feel it’s like our it’s our compass. It’s our orientation to Alright, like you can tell me about something but like, where is it? When is it? Who’s there? Why are they doing it? Okay, now, I know I answered it. But if I don’t have that orientation, it’s kind of like, you know, do you like pizza? I’m like, Oh, my God. Okay. Like, I can’t answer that question. I mean, of course, I like pizza that like there’s different situations where I didn’t pizza. And so you start to realise that it’s, it’s the other part of the story that most of the time we’re missing.

Greg
I think the other thing that we talk about a lot internally, and that we don’t talk about a lot externally is the big thing, I think it could change in business school, but any college is if people know why they’re going, because that actually frames the way you listen to the lectures, that’s currently frames, the way you…

Bob
…the progress you’re trying to make. I think that’s exactly I think if I was to change anything, it would be making sure that students understand why they’re there, and what progress they’re trying to make. Because then it will actually help set the curriculum in the right way of how much and how and what to actually study it.

Greg
Because I think you’re the person that asked the question, right? As as he sits in the classroom, and listen to the lecture, here’s why he’s could change the way he listens to the lecture or takes the information. If he’s going into Katherine’s – Katherine that works with us was working through her master or her Masters of Business School while working. So if there was a subject that could could fit with what she wanted to do in her job…

But she would more be more willing to listen to that. If it was something really boring, and she didn’t really care about maybe less, so just want to pass the class. So how do you put her in a context that actually all of this stuff is interesting, and all this stuff is in by knowing that job to be done and why she’s going, what would help you do that? Now, that’s putting a lot on the professors. So I don’t know if they have time to do that.

Bob
But if they want to do that, that’s a different story.

Greg
But if we gave that power to the student, to say, Okay, if you’re in this job to be done, if you’re running away from your current job, and helped me escape, and you want to go to business school, because you think it’s a reset in your life, you’re more apt to hear things like this and less apt to hear things like that.

Bob
And we kind of know what those are, versus I need to get my MBA, so I can be a partner, and like to ask, it doesn’t matter where I get it from, I just gotta get it, and I gotta put it in and get it done. You know, I’m gonna have some fun and just kind of do what other expect to me and get it so I can get become…

Greg
…a partner. So I think, as I again, as I heard the question, it’s like, I had this, I had this knee jerk reaction, oh, I don’t know, whatever. But then as you start on peeling that onion, I think there’s many different ways it could help change. But I think the biggest way it helps change is if you are self aware of why you’re doing it. Not only does it help you get more out of what you want, like if you’re going there because your your startup is struggling with financing or getting money or that type of stuff, direction, or you’re more apt to hear those things.

But by knowing your job, you also know you’re less apt to hear certain things. And maybe you can actually challenge yourself to actually learn more in the things that you aren’t interested in, which helps you because that problem is gonna go away, and a new problem is gonna come up. And if you can get yourself to understand those different things and apply yourself in a different way of hearing all of it, but then knowing when to pull out what tool and that’s I think what we both were talking about is can we can we talk about a theory and talk about well, it works here because of these contexts and things like that, but if you’re trying to use it over Hear, it might not work as well. But know that you probably going to in both situations in your work life. And if you keep trying to do a, eventually a is not going to work, you’re gonna have to go to B. So I think that’s the I think it’s the openness, the willingness to, to understand that you’re gonna ebb and flow in life. I think that’s the the key thing that jobs teaches us.

Bob
Yep. I think I think the thing to me is that with business schools – the simplistic way to look at it is it’s, it’s, it’s giving me a toolbox of a lot of things, right? How to set up my sales group, how to how to actually look at strategy, how to do my balance sheet, and p&l, how to do my cap table, like there’s stuff that’s going to teach me how to do. But the hard part is that it when you’re armed with all these tools, but you aren’t armed with a lot of context, it’s kind of like, you’re walking through Home Depot and going like, I need this, and I need that. And I got this and I got that I was like, okay, I can go build a home like, No, you can’t go build a home.

Greg
So you went to Home Depot this weekend? Oh, you’re telling me?

Bob
No, but no. But I think the point is, is that part of this is that there’s there’s the aspect of understanding the skills and the and the thinking required to apply the tools. And I think more and more, it’s over the years, it feels like it’s gotten more towards being discrete sets of tools, as opposed to ways to think. And so I don’t think jobs should be the centre of any kind of curriculum, but more it should be a supplement to the curriculum to help people understand what progress they’re trying to make and to empathise, and understand the progress other people are trying to make as you try to integrate all these things. And so most people feel like, if I just know, the tool sets, I can actually, you know, I can do just about anything, but the reality is, it’s like when to your point, when do I pull it out? Who do I use it with?

What like what, you know, where is it not going to work? Where’s it where’s it versus simpler set of tools, like there’s, it’s becoming the the Craftsman or the crafts person of kind of figuring out the use of the tools that I think is the most important part. And that’s why, you know, I have a bias towards the people who go to go to school, like on the weekend and get their MBA, because I feel like they have an application of whatever you’re talking about, they can go back and see it in action, where the full time students have almost disconnected from context. And so they’re, they’re almost playing it back through the imagination of what they used to experience or what they could experience. And so it’s more like, I feel like it’s not as grounded to reality. So

Greg
…is it the school responsibility to put them in context? Or is it their personal responsibility?

Bob
I think it’s the students’ responsibility to put themselves in context. And part of it is, is what I would say is the luxury of going full time, right? has its benefits. But at the same time, the fact that it’s not like anything else, there’s some there’s some dangers with it, as well. And so there’s a lot of people who’ve learned a lot of things, but can’t can’t really apply any of it. Right, I’ve met quite a few MBAs that way. And, and vice versa. There’s a lot of people who who can apply, who never studied in at all, and figured it out.

Greg
Right. And I think it’s, it’s one of those things where, if you understand why you’re there, if you understand why your IP is a school, you understand what you’re going to learn and you have a problem to solve. It’s actually very easy to learn. If you’re there just to get a bunch of information, then you have to go figure it out. It’s very difficult, right? So it’s actually your responsibility to as a student, as a student to understand what kind of different contexts and things like that.

Now, what I would say is, it is a little bit on the on the schools as well. And I think things are changing with schools as more working people go back to school, where they used to think they would just impart knowledge. And if I gave you all this knowledge, you will, you’ll go figure it out. Where I think now they’re, they’re a little train a little bit better of why do you need the knowledge, different ways to seek the knowledge and stuff like that? So a little bit, but I don’t think it’s changing completely. And, and we can’t count as students as As humans, we can’t count on the institution changing? Yes, we have to know how to take information from the institution.

Bob
…and figure out how we can consume it. And so this is why it’s a plug for the book. I wrote a book called choosing college it talks about the jobs of why people choose to go back to school. And you know, is pretty extensive. Michael Horn, I write it I wrote it in I think 2016 So that’s, however all that is that would be almost seven years old. I think the reality is, is that has helped people like Paulo blanket SNHU it’s helped, you know, other small, small schools actually use it and to be honest, it’s helped a lot of parents with with their children in terms of helping them figure out kind of where to go. So it’s helped a lot of students as well. But I think the reality is like, there is a responsibility for the student to choose the progress they want. At, and to actually find the programme that fits, as opposed to going where all my friends go, or I’m just gonna go to the best school in the end that I can get into. And that will be that’ll work out. And typically it doesn’t.

Greg
So hopefully we’re answering the question that the the listener had. And I’m trying, I’m not using the name because of different reasons. But as he hears this, I’m hoping that what he’s taking away is that that, well, it’s on him, but it’s also he can push the instructors that professors, his fellow students to help if he understands the context he’s in and things like that. But also that we can’t count on everybody to give us spoon feed us information. We have to figure out what those are. And I think the key is, and I think this is the way rewired just about everybody and rewired approaches.

The problem is, we know that there’s different solutions for different contexts. So as you’re sitting in the classroom, when you’re learning, a think about the different contexts that it would work or not work or, or if you’re learning something, if you’re learning something like disruption, that that actually feels. Whenever we talk about disruption, it’s like, you almost you almost think of well, that company was stupid? Well, no, they were in a context that forced them into a certain way, and probably made really good business decisions for the time, but maybe not for the long term.

Bob
I mean, you look at digital equipment. I mean, they had the smartest, they were one of the biggest companies in the smartest people there. They just follow the system. And the system told them, they couldn’t actually go build the things that so as

Greg
…you learn new theories, be okay with questioning of why does it work? Why doesn’t it work, ask questions to the professors ask questions that your student fellow students, and figure that out, because what’s going to end up happening throughout your career is you’re going to be in different situations, you’re gonna be at a startup, which trade offs in a startup is very different than trade offs in a corporate environment. So those are the types of things that I want people to be aware of is why are they there? What are they? What are they trying to learn? And if there’s things that you’re taking a class that they’re like, Well, I don’t really care about that challenge yourself, and why would it be important later?

What types of things am I going to learn from this? That will help me in the future in different contexts? So if I’m going to start up now, if I go to a corporate company, how might this help me? If you say, Oh, I’m going to start up and we grew 10,000x 1,000x? Or whatever the question would be, how will this help me because I’m talking about HR, HR in a small company is very different than HR in a large company. And I make very different decisions of how I put somebody on an action plan, how I talked to people, what’s acceptable, and not acceptable, all that kind of stuff changes, as we mature, as a company in different things. So think about those types of things as you’re learning.

Bob
That’s right. And I think I think it gets back to like when I’m running a startup, and then it’s not a startup anymore, and then it’s now a big corporation, there’s different phases that you go through, and you have to actually modify the systems to fit the context you’re in. And so it’s knowing when you have to pivot or when you have to adjust the system and why you have to adjust the system, and what’s the outcome you’re actually seeking from the system. And so you start to realise, like, this is where there’s like, this is why I hate the phrase best practices, because it’s like, oh, I’m going to put in a best practice. But best practices only makes everybody say, Okay, this is the best practice, Okay, leave it alone. And the reality is like, it’s just, it’s actually a really bad strategy. So I’ll leave it alone, I’ll let that one die slowly on the vine.

Greg
As we give homework, as we always do, this is a little tougher, but I think the homework is if you’re going back to school, or reading a book, or whatever it might be you seek trying to seek but you need to understand what are you and what’s your context? What’s your outcomes? What are you worried about? You know, what are your habits? And understand why are you doing that? Because when you read a book, for example, and it’s it’s not as much of an investment as going to business school, but my context of why I want to read that book dictates the information we get out of it. If I’m reading something for even if I’m reading a business book, and I’m reading it for enjoyment, I’m going to take different things out of it than if I’m reading it, because I’m going through a particular problem. In my business.

Bob
There’s books I listened to every year and I get something different every single time because I’ve my context has changed. The book has literally not changed at all.

Greg
So I think the homework is just go through, you’re forced to progress kind of why are you why are you going to PA school? Why are you reading this book? Those types of things. So you understand the information you’re getting out of it, maybe even challenge yourself to say, Okay, this is why I’m doing it this information, I want to have it, but what other information is there?

Bob
And is this the best way for me to do it, because there might be three other ways to do it that’s either different. It’s better.

Greg
So I think that’s kind of where we end today. And then as always, thank you for listening, and we’ll see you next time.

Bob
Thank you. See ya. Thanks for listening to the circuit breaker podcast you If you haven’t already, please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. If you know somebody who’s stuck on the innovation treadmill, please share it.

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