Global Executive MBA: Managing Growth (Stanford University, USA)

By Jonathan Wu, current student in the Global Executive MBA

gemba-jonathanRecently I have returned from the United States where I took part in the Global Executive MBA module, Managing Growth, at Stanford University. While being nervous about what learnings the US would bring since the last time I visited was 15 years ago (3 months before the 9/11 tragedy occurred), I was pleasantly surprised.

My first impression of the Palo Alto area (where Stanford is based) was innovation on steroids. The speed at which things were moving and the affluent nature spoke volumes about the monetary rewards being reaped from the aforementioned innovation. Throughout the two weeks, we heard from successful venture capitalists, and their strategies on how money makes more money (many of which made their first pot of gold from a radical innovation and used that to then leverage their returns). We also gained some impressive insights from Dr. George Schultz (Secretary of State under the Reagan administration) about global politics and where to from here for the world at large.

While looking into growth strategies for businesses (including my own), there was a strong underlying theme which came out, that being incremental innovation/improvement vs disruptive innovation.

Many of the businesses we looked into over our time were the large MNCs, which while large, also found it very difficult to bring to the market disruptive innovation, and could only really achieve it by acquiring small businesses with the right characteristics. To me, this seemed like a defensive strategy for the large MNC to defend its place in the market by buying out the still “small” player before they got too large and disrupted their key revenue drivers.

The US definitely is a highly adaptable economy and the module certainly did not disappoint. Next stop on the Global Executive MBA, the maturing nature of the European market!

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