Sixty teams of School of Business Administration students are fanning out across the countryfrom Rochester, N.Y., to Santa Clara, Calif.to study business processes on site as part of their masters degree curriculum.
Multidisciplinary Action Projects or MAP, the Business Schools revolutionary method of teaching M.B.A. students the nitty-gritty of operations, puts students and faculty teams from several subject areas together in the work place. There the student teams develop a thorough, descriptive analysis of a particular process, such as new product development or sales management, and identify opportunities for improvement.
Dean B. Joseph White describes MAP as the most ambitious effort under way among leading business schools to prepare students to be leaders in the high performance work place.
MAPs goal is to help our students begin to apply what they have learned in courses in order to become proficient at increasing operational effectiveness, White says. The common focus of MAP projects is process improvement.
For 50 years, business schools have imparted knowledge through lectures, and encouraged students to apply it through problem sets, simulations, and case studies. These methods are no longer adequate. My forecast is that by the end of the decade, all leading business schools will provide some form of guided-action learning.
After careful preparation, all 418 first-year M.B.A. students will spend time at 48 firms such as Xerox Corp., Eastman Kodak Co., Coopers & Lybrand, Chrysler Motors, Motorola Inc. and General Electric.
During the programs pilot phase in 1992, teams of MAP students at Chrysler and Philips developed recommendations for improving purchasing processes that have an important impact on quality and cost; a group at Kmart recommended changes to the companys customer service-oriented accelerated merchandising program; and students working at the Ford/IBM Alliance looked for ways to step up the development and delivery of new computer systems.
MAP is now a core requirement at the Business School, and all M.B.A. students spend the final seven weeks of their first year in MAP assignments.