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Business School Blind Spots: What You Need to Learn Outside the Classroom

In 1984 Mark McCormack wrote a book called What They Don't Teach You At Harvard Business School. It became a best seller.


What tantalises about the book is its title. Harvard Business School is acknowledged to be one of the best in the world. You would imagine that it teaches everything you need to know about business. So, if you can learn something that they don't teach you at Harvard Business School you will have stolen a march on people that pay a fortune to go there.


What do they teach you at Harvard Business School? Well, as at all business schools they cover the whole gambit of running a business. A good proportion of the teaching is accounting and financial analysis. And then there is marketing, HR, economics, IT and the like. They also spend a lot of time teaching frameworks which is why this website and the book - The Business Models Handbook - is widely devoured by business studies students.


What they don't teach you, because it is almost impossible to teach, is business empathy. What does that mean? Some people have a natural ability at something. You see this on a football pitch, among musicians and at language schools. Some people take to a subject like a duck to water. There are sure to be people who have got business nous and others that are a bit lacking in that department.


Business schools attempt to unleash business nous in creative ways. They bring in actors to show how through breathing properly you can project your voice and develop a more authoritative stance. At Manchester Business School they have been known to show you how to whisper into the ear of a horse and improve skills that could be useful when communicating with nervy or difficult colleagues. Nearly all business schools invite speakers who have done remarkable things, exploring and enduring unbelievably difficult places or overcoming serious problems. The hope is that such inspiration will trigger something within the business school students to be become better problem solvers and leaders.


This feel for business may well be inbuilt and difficult to teach. However like any other skill, the more you do something the better you get at it. It is why I am keen on frameworks. Know them and use them and running a business will be so much easier. Half the battle is recognising which framework will deal with the problem. Once that is sorted out it is usually a matter of diligently collecting and analysing data and if this is done thoroughly an appropriate strategy will become apparent.

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