Sunday, October 01, 2017

Should you rubbish your business diploma from a private institution ?

My last post on private education has received many eyeballs. Unfortunately, it had zero engagement or comments. One possibility is that it's relatively well argued and so hard-hitting that readers probably spent more time contemplating their personal life choices rather than pick a fight with me to disagree on details.

For today's bombshell, you can relax.... As of now, I have YET to be able to conclude that a business diploma from a private institution deserves a better place in the rubbish bin.

But I think I'm objectively closer to that goal this week.Remember in my article on private qualifications that a business qualification is possibly the stupidest decision you can make :

  • 48% of private degrees are in business administration, making those with a private business qualifications a dime a dozen in Singapore.
  • In the US, there is already conclusive evidence that such a qualification can be a "negative signal of value".
Last week, the Economist delivered another bombshell that is so juicy, I have to share it with blog readers. A group of academics (one with ties to NUS so I'm super proud) performed an experiment in Togo Africa, it divided a large number of entrepreneurs into 3 groups. 
  • One was a control group. 
  • One group was given traditional business training such as those found in marketing, economics and accounting training programs.
  • A final group was given psychological training. 
It was found that for the entrepreneurs that received business training did not experience any significant gains in the running of their small businesses. However, those that received psychological training had such massive gains that the cost of training can be covered by increased profits within 2 years. Note that small business in Togo only generate revenues in the hundreds of USD a year.

A clear conclusion can be made about the value of psychological training over business training for  entrepreneurs. But the results do raise interesting questions :
  • Is business training and skills really useful for entrepreneurs ? 
  • At which point of business growth do these formal business skills become useful ?
  • Are MBAs being hired purely based on their talent and innate intelligence and not for their skills in business administration ? ( Remember that companies that hire MBAs can put them on management associate programs that train them in actual work tasks. )
  • If those with business diplomas are going to be hired by an SME, would their skills make a difference in their jobs ?
Of course, the big elephant in the room now is what constitutes these psychological skills that made such a huge difference in an entrepreneur's business results. I actually dug out all the original research papers with the training outline and I then mapped training objectives to some books I have read before so you can read up on your own to develop these skills in your spare time, so do enjoy  :

  • How to be a Self-starter - Stephen Covey's Seven habits of Highly Effective people. Anthony Robbin's Awaken the Giant Within.
  • Innovation and Opportunity Identification - Blue Ocean Strategy by Chan Kim. Another book on creativity but avoid Edward De Bono unless you want to cure your insomnia.
  • Goal Setting -  Try something by Brian Tracy. This comes so naturally to me, I don't have a book to suggest.
  • Action Planning - Getting Things Done by David Allen
  • Feedback - Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone
  • Overcoming Barriers - Adversity Quotient by Paul Stolz or Grit by Angela Duckworth
  • Bootstrap Financing - $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. I personally do not like Chris Guillebeau even though I read most of his books. I don't think this book is good enough so appreciate any other suggestions. This topic is super important so I made it a section on its own.
The original training is, of course, way better than just merely reading books because you get hands-on practice, networking and even a capstone project on how you can enhance your current business.

If you read until this point and you are absolutely fascinated by ideas here, I actually think that entrepreneur training that is based on credible research data will be a killer app in Singapore and I might even want to either receive this training myself or even make money training others. 

If you are also interested and may even want to back this idea up with money of your own, drop me a line privately because I think we're onto something that is not just big here, it can have a massive impact to our small business ecosystem in Singapore.

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