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Monday, October 24, 2011

The MBA Oath is just making me Swear

The MBA Oath was started in May 2009 by Harvard Business School students. The Oath was intended to serve as a Hippocratic Oath for MBA's, encourage students to start local Oath or Oathian clubs on their campus, and promote the emphasis on greater societal good. I blogged twice about my assessment of the Oath's progress and this post represents the eagerly anticipated third installment of the series. This is probably similar to how the public eagerly waited the second Chronicles of Riddick since they had no idea that a first version was released.

How is the Oath doing? It might even be similar to the Chronicles of Riddick
  • Since 2009, 6,303 students have signed the oat and the MBA Oath states that it has been embraced by about 300 schools and institutions. 37 schools were highlighted as working on significant events which I guess is kind of like getting past first base. 17 schools were highlighted as significant contributors which I guess is second base. Either the MBA Oath doesn't put out or it's not getting any action. Given that hundreds of programs graduate 150,000 MBA's per year, this is looking like less than 5% market share. From a volume perspective, it's not looking like it's impactful, making impacts, having an impact, leveraging, optimizing, or transforming. Value is not being created but at least no value was harmed in this process.
  • In my first post, I praised it's slick website which is the equivalent of a corporate business card in this day and age (not saying that I consider corporations to be people since Occupy Wall Street clearly disagrees). That's good when your website is in good shape. When your website's blog and media page haven't been updated since the last World Series, that's a pretty clear out of business sign. To be fair, it looks like they moved their activity to their Facebook page which I guess is either really a savvy move or lazy move. Since moving to Facebook, most of the MBA Oath's activity has been from one very critical poster who is riding them harder then then headless horseman rode Ichabod Crane. Based on that, I don't think that it's working out too well.
  • The MBA Oath's best opportunity was to position itself as a requisite for MBA's as part of a hopeful movement to provide some form of license or ways to guarantee that all MBA's come with some minimal standards. If they chose to position themselves as a resource and driver for socially minded MBA students, they would compete with Net Impact. Net Impact has a long track record of providing resources and opportunities to this segment. They seem to be trying to compete with Net Impact which is duplication of services at best but really an example of a lack of clear goals.
The last bullet point is what made this post timely for me since Occupy Wall Street is being charged with a lack of focus and having no clear goals. I have no shortage of snarky posts about wellness, ACO's, resumes, and job interviewing so it's not like I needed to make fun of the Oath for material. The parallels between Occupy Wall Street and the MBA Oath became fairly clear to me as I got more interested in the Occupy movement.
  • Both are good examples of excellent marketing campaigns that captured a key movement of their times. They both are good shorthand for these movements with Occupy representing angry leftists trying to salvage the American middle class and the Oath representing socially minded MBA's trying to salvage the reputation of their schools.
  • Both had clear goals but no clear way to get there. Occupy is about the end of corporate personhood (note the foreshadowing), boycotting national banks in favor of local credit unions, and a "Robin Hood" tax on investment transactions. They are trying to get there with human microphones, face paint, and funny hand gestures. The Oath is about doing financially well while doing good, responsible corporate behavior, and encouraging their classmates to take an oath to do these things. They are trying to get there with a petition. I would recommend adding face paint.
  • Both face a backlash from those who should be their most ardent supporters for appearing to be a marketing campaign with no clear goals that is capitalizing on popular sentiment
From my visit to the Occupy Portland camp, I have to say the main difference between the two movements right now is their personal hygiene of their participants. However, I am rooting for Occupy Wall Street's legislative agenda and hoping that the rate of voting in the 18-29 segment rises above 50% in the next election.

1 comment:

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