Tag Archives: news

A structured rant

2 Feb

About two month ago I attended my first Ignite session.  Well, it was loosely based on the Ignite concept, which is now a global event where hundreds of people in several cities pitch ideas to thousands of their neighbours.  We were doing it on a much smaller scale, getting together with about 50 classmates to share entrepreneurial ideas or concepts they were interested in working on as part of an entrepreneurship project this term.

One of the organizers suggested that a great idea might arise from something that you were passionate about, or better yet, that makes you mad. Something that just bugs you, and might for example, cause you to start a somewhat obscure WordPress blog, as an alternative to yelling at the radio!

Although I highly recommend the cathartic effect of blogging, it might be argued that doing something to pound on, um… I mean work on, the thing that makes you mad might be somewhat more rewarding.  And since I’ve been practicing structured approaches to problem solving, I thought it would be appropriate to make a list of some of those things that have really been getting on my nerves:

  1. Mis-pricing – blame it on my first brush with economics last term. As the saying goes, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing! But it really bugs me that chronic mis-pricing of resources, and therefore the things those resources are used for, means that we have ended up not valuing things appropriately.  We need better ways of measuring those so-called “externalities” that traditional accounting systems have been unable to tackle.  We won’t have any incentive to manage resources differently until we are paying our way.
  2. Using old ways to solve new problems – enough of this! Doesn’t it make the tiniest bit of sense that new problems need new ways of thinking and responding? I am happy to acknowledge that there are lots of people in the world who get this. Sadly, it sometimes seems that only a few of them are actually in a position to do something about it.
  3. Climate change nay-sayers – I know, I know, I have a bias – but this is my list! Get off this bandwagon, seriously! Do you honestly believe that 7 billion people, and all the development that about a third of them are doing, will have no impact on our planet’s climate and ecosystems? Ever?

So these are my top three. It’s been really helpful to think about these things, particularly at this point in time, when I’m thinking about the rest of the MBA program still to come, and mapping out what I’d like to do post-MBA.

One final note. There is one more thing that made me mad (and not a little sad) as I’ve watched the ever-changing news coming out of the Middle East recently. I don’t know much about the history of the situations that have led to the events of the past several weeks, but it completely floored me to think that one young man thought his only option was to take himself out of the game by setting himself on fire on a street in Tunisia. It makes you wonder how many more people are on the brink of such desperation, whether in the Middle East, or somewhere much closer to home.

So, what makes you mad? More importantly, what are you going to do about it?

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So this is what diversity looks like

26 Sep

240 students, 48 countries of origin.  These were the stats for last year’s MBA class, and from the looks of it, our class is poised to match them.

Over the past few days, we’ve been accumulating in Oxford in ever-increasing numbers, from just about every part of the world.  This week, we spent an intensive 2 days together at a career “bootcamp” designed to introduce us to some of the possible career options post-MBA.  This was our first chance to meet a significant portion of the class, and it seemed that all we did was ask and answer the “four questions” – what is your name, where do you come from, what were you doing before the MBA, and what do you plan to do after the MBA.

The “where do you come from” answers are my favourite. So far I’ve met people from Belgium, Canada, Nigeria, United States, England, Scotland, Norway, Costa Rica, Spain, Russia, Mexico, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, Chile and India.  And lots of us come from more than one place, having worked and lived and attended school in different countries from those where we were born.

What’s even more interesting is looking at our various backgrounds against the landscape of media coverage, political and popular opinion about who our countries’ “friends and enemies” are at any given point in time.  The backgrounds are extraordinarily diverse – the person who flew helicopters for the US military, the investment banker from Saudi Arabia, the clean-tech entrepreneur from India, the UN agency staffer most recently back from Africa.    We’ve been connecting online and in person, socialising and finding common interests, and already planning how to grow this energy into productive study groups, student clubs and other activities.

It’s tempting to wonder whether things will evolve over time into less aggregated groups, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. As one classmate said to me yesterday “When you get to know someone one-on-one, you can’t help but find the similarities between you.”  So far there are a few things that stand out that we all seem to have in common – we are excited about being here, we are determined to do well, and we are ready to change the world.

Oh, and we all like English pubs.

Meet my hero for a day … Charlie Brooker

30 Aug

Time sure flies when you are (not) having fun moving and packing up your life.  I’ve been aware in the background about the on-going debate regarding the infamous “Ground Zero Mosque”, but wasn’t really paying attention, since a) it’s a reno of an existing facility, b) isn’t a mosque and c) isn’t at Ground Zero.  Seemed pretty simple, so I really haven’t done a whole lot of reading or thinking about it.  Until today.

Paging through my Huffington Post highlights for the day, I came across this link to an article by one Charlie Brooker, a journalist with The Guardian in the UK, who originally posted it online about a week ago. Mr. Brooker makes some interesting points, but I think his best work goes to the heart of the matter – the fact that the US media is feeding this non-drama, and that the average American (and lots of others besides) seems to be content to take sound-bites as facts.

I mean, seriously.  Are we so busy doing insanely important other things that we are content to let the media, owned by a small and ever-shrinking group of folks with specific agendas of their own, do our thinking for us?  And if that’s the case and we’ve given up thinking about what’s going on in our newsrooms, what are we doing exactly? Figuring out climate change, curing AIDS, stopping wars? We better be pretty darn busy.

One can only hope that this issue dies the quick death it deserves.  Although maybe we won’t notice, busy as we are with all that other stuff.