Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Connect the Dots - Relating to what you're learning

In a previous post, I wrote about how an article about the accounting model at Apple helped me connect some learnings from FinAcct (deferred revenues) with something I'm interested in both personally and profession, since I work in the technology sector.  Amazing concept...personal interest in the subject, useful learning area...1+1 = 3!!  

One of the things I'm really enjoying about this semester is that every class seems to be very focused on including assignments that make you apply the current topic to an aspect of your current or former business.  Not only does it make you think about how it's relevant to your world, but it also forces you to go meet people outside your current functional area.  It's a networking exercise, which I believe is where at least 50% of the value of your MBA comes from. 

(btw - that value is a complete SWAG, so don't ask me to do an analysis of it....bad MBA student!!...not using objective numbers to justify a decision or conclusion)

But what happens when the course work covers an area where your company really doesn't focus on anymore?  This is somewhat of an exaggeration, but let me give an example.  In our OpsMgmt course, much of the focus is on manufacturing processes, the creation of physical goods.  We also cover service-centric businesses, but the majority is product-centric businesses.  I work for a high-tech company that sells products, but we don't "build" any of them anymore, at least not the finished good to our customers.  We write software, and then put it on commodity computing hardware, which is built and distributed by 3rd-party partners. Our product managers do handle aspects of this, such as forecasting, but it just becomes a number in a spreadsheet,  So as much as OpsMgmt is critical to business survival, it's a tougher connection point for me because it's not something I actively think about.  

So the $64,000 question becomes, what's the best way to connect with a new topic when the path for connecting is either very bumpy or non-existent?