If we look at the changes that have happened over the past two decades, one would realise that right from booking movie tickets to buying groceries to sharing information — everything has dramatically changed. With the advent of technology and trends of Industry 4.0, the changes are going to be much faster than ever before.

If we now ponder over the question—Has every engineering college and Indian B-school changed its curriculum to cater to the needs of the future? The answer to this question is debatable. The skill set needed for the next decade is going to be drastically different from those needed a decade back. According to the reports released by the World Economic Forum, one must need skills like the ability to solve complex problems, critical thinking, people management, judgement and decision-making, creativity, and emotional intelligence to survive and succeed in the next decade.

Hence in the next decade and beyond, one would need excellent mental elasticity and complex problem-solving ability to survive and succeed. Also, the importance of critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving, interdisciplinary knowledge across domains and skills to deal with people and intelligent machines would be much needed by any and every organisation. This forces us to think — Should B-schools rethink, recreate and reinvent courses that can make Master of Business Administration (MBA) relevant for the next decade?

Reinvent

If one takes a look at the curriculum offered by B-schools, then there are very few schools which offer design thinking, critical problem-solving and global megatrends as subjects in the curriculum. Also, experiential learning is not given due credit by many B-schools. Analytics and related courses are still being treated as a separate specialisation and have not been integrated into the generic MBA curriculum. The managers of tomorrow will have to work in different cultural set-up and also will have to be sensitive to the beliefs and traditions of people across the globe. Are these being taught to management graduates? Does the curriculum address these needs? It’s a topic for debate and discussion.

The rapid technological advancements and the Industry 4.0 trends are transforming every business function including marketing, finance and human resource management. As every industry adapts to these trends, B-schools must rethink and recreate the curriculum. In the next decade, the industry would necessarily expect a few skill sets from an MBA graduate. Here are some of them along with the possible curriculum change that would be needed, which can help in building the same.

Analytical mindset: This is one of the most important skills set that an MBA degree holder must possess. The ability to unlearn and relearn would be critical in order to adapt to the changing requirements which would be happening faster than ever before. For this to be instilled in the students, the curriculum must have a lot of focus on the science of decision-making and analytical thinking along with the aspects related to managing change.

Problem-solving: The ability to solve problems which do not follow the textbook rules would be expected from those managing teams and projects, who are generally qualified MBA graduates. Hence it is time to modify the MBA curriculum to focus on dealing with real-life projects and experiential learning.

The curriculum must also emphasise creative thinking, which can help in educating MBA graduates to think outside the box and orient them to find solutions to real-time business problems. The case competitions launched by corporates could be given credit by B-schools in their curriculum, as this is an ideal platform to educate them on a creative problem-solving domain.

Ability to deal with change: Change is constant and will continue to remain so. The ability to deal with change and accept the same across functional areas would be an important need for any corporate. Hence change management as a subject – not limited to human resource function but having content relevant to all functional areas must be included in the curriculum which can certainly equip MBA graduates to face the future filled with dynamic changes.

Social sensitivity: Managing people across cultures and the ability to communicate and negotiate business deals would also be an important skill set required in the next decade. Hence the curriculum must include practical aspects of managing cross-cultural issues that help them develop the ability to deal with people with divergent beliefs sensibly.

Innovation and creativity: Being innovative and creative would be an expectation of each and everyone working in the organisation. Hence courses like design thinking, creative communication and problem-solving must be brought into the MBA curriculum, which can help in imbibing these skills.

Use of technology: Several organisations now use analytics, and it has come to an important aspect across all functional areas including Marketing, Finance, Operations and HR. Using tools of technology for creating business strategy would be universal and MBA graduates would be expected to have the comfort of using and dealing with technology. Hence an MBA curriculum must include technology and application of tech tools in creating a business strategy. This can enable students to appreciate, understand and acquire knowledge about the same.

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