Thursday, January 18, 2007

Are Core Courses brutal?

As I see P1s starting their core programme, and us having our last core courses, I believe it is a question worth asking now.
This valid issue was raised by a Professor of mine, during an interesting discussion, after which I asked some of my fellows about their own experience.
The Professor's stance (Core courses are brutal) was part of a larger reflection on INSEAD's strengths and weaknesses in a fast evolving BSchools world: INSEAD is not yet focused (vs. Harvard), does not play on its strengths enough, but is experiencing massive cultural change. Indeed there have been many developments around Tel Aviv, Abu Dhabi, even North America -although in that case I believe the project aborted. What is the strategy behind? Does the School has the means to do so?

What is the link with Core courses then. This Professor exemplified his position with Core courses. He found them brutal in the way that they were some kind of factory -all in the same boat with heavy emphasis on quantitative stuff. Interestingly enough, when I asked one P3 about this, whom I know struggled a bit on that aspect, the brutality he/she experienced was more on the Z-curve grading.
In my experience, I think that Core courses are essential. First, they build a common culture, and speed up the network creation. By sharing stories, in addition to knowledge, by establishing Section rules, Core enables us to get much more intimate to a greater amount of people.
Knowledge-wise, Core courses also are essential in building contents base that is so useful for Electives. I mean, even the ones that seemed so-so are relevant now. Strategy concepts can be used in business plans. Same for Marketing. LPG and LO are takeaways that will be useful all the time.
And I do want to emphasize that I found the Core classes to be well structured in their timing, ie. that they matched our learning curves in terms of intensity and insightfulness.

The Professor shared other nice views about INSEAD's strategy.
First, INSEAD must radically change its mindset. It used to think of itself as the best in Europe, and one of the best in the World. That is true. However, 20 years ago, INSEAD was one of the few MBAs in Europe. Now there are 10 or 15 world-class programmes out there. In that regard, the Singapore Campus did a lot to help the School change from complacent to conquering.
Global context seems to go its way too: "everything is about differences in the 21st century" claims that Professor, and the School is really good at preparing for that.

Anyway, while I was doubtful of the Singapore strategy before, and the Abu Dhabi, and the rest, I'm really convinced that these were the right moves, but that the School needs to go a lot further than that. It's a question of resources, of course, but there's always ways to deal with that...

On the classes front, everything is perfect right now. 3 electives, 3 top Professors... With the VOBM class going on, attended by the vast majority of students, there's a strange feel of "entrepreneurship lab" over here... I like it...

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At 12:31 PM , Blogger zanat0s said...

hey DOMODOMO.... i think that the Brutal facts are Brutal... not the core courses.
I wonder when you find the time to make this posts....

At 5:39 PM , Blogger doron said...


I am with you in VOBM and Shaping Consumer Behavior...
I wish I knew who you were....



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