Creating decision-ready MBAs

January 16, 2012
Lucas Weingarten

GMAT Blog“I want to see MBAs who can jump in and make decisions, not jump in and learn to make decisions.”

– Henry Kravis, co-founder, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts


If you haven’t already, at some point during your MBA you’ll catch wind of the case study controversy.  Well, controversy might be a tad hyperbolic, but there is definitely a strong contingent that derides their use and usefulness in training effective managers.  Columbia Business School entered the fray in 2008, not to add more verbal fuel to the fire, but rather offer an actual solution, or, at minimum, an alternative.

Led by Columbia’s dean, R. Glenn Hubbard, the institution devised an approach which utilizes a “decision brief” rather than the traditional case study.  Unlike a case study, decision briefs provide limited information from which students must make a decision.  Only after their decision is made do students receive the rest of the information.  This information packet includes the reasoning and results of the decision as it was actually made in the real-world instance from which the brief was drawn.  Then, students may endeavor to compare and contrast their efforts and final call with reality.

The decision brief approach was launched in the summer of 2008 and Columbia’s CaseWorks initiative continues to crank out new offerings.  Keep your eyes peeled for these decision briefs in your eventual curriculum and decide for yourself which teaching technique is more effective in creating the types of MBAs Mr. Kravis refers to in the opening quote of this post.

Lucas Weingarten Lucas Weingarten teaches students how to beat the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT for Kaplan Test Prep and is proud to have earned “elite instructor” status. Lucas writes extensively for Kaplan’s GMAT blog, and in addition to the GMAT and business school as primary subject matter, he regularly explores topics within higher education, economic systems, sustainability, and current events. Lucas spent his formative years in North Carolina and currently resides in Milwaukee, WI, though he has not yet found the part of the world wherein to bury his roots. He has an MBA with a dual concentration in entrepreneurship and finance from DePaul University in Chicago and is fortunate to have secured an adjunct teaching position there out of the department of management. Family, friends, and a seemingly endless stream of new hobbies keep Lucas busy and happy outside of the classroom. You can reach out any time by email ( or through the comments thread after his blog posts.

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