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 is a full-time instructor for Kaplan Test Prep and he loves preparing GRE students for Test Day. The classroom is Lucas’ arena. When he cannot be found in one of Kaplan’s cage matches of learning, he is very likely dancing around DePaul University’s College of Commerce/Kellstadt Graduate School of Business in Chicago professing various courses offered by the Department of Management, up to and including monikers such as: “Managing for Effective and Ethical Organizational Behavior,” “Entrepreneurship Strategy,” “Strategic Managements and Analysis,” “Human Resource Management,” “Recruitment and Selection,” and “Foundations of Business Thought and Theory.” (Although that last one was cancelled just before the quarter started and he’s still not gotten over it.) Lucas spent most of his formative years in North Carolina, but hit the long road as soon as he was able. A world traveler with a currently expired passport, he has lived on and wandered around three continents with the expressed intention of finishing the job. He holds a BFA with a concentration in sculpture as well as an MBA with dual concentrations in Entrepreneurship and Finance. When not challenging standardized tests to a duel or wondering how to corrupt the business students of America, Lucas can be found brewing delicious beers, riding-then-fixing-then-riding his motorcycle, hanging out with dogs, pretending he’s a good cook, and feeling like the luckiest guy in the world to have such a fantastic wife and endlessly amazing young son. He’s in Milwaukee now, but is in Chicago often. Email him anytime about anything at:

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