I was delighted to learn that The Economist ranked the business school where I got my MBA (University of California at Berkeley – Haas School of Business) as number one in the United States.
This makes me proud, even though there are a few minor differences in the program compared to when I attended. For example, the classes are now held in different buildings. The coursework is different. The textbooks are different. The entry requirements are different. I attended the evening program. And all of the professors are different. But the name of the school is totally the same! I’M NUMBER ONE! WOO-HOO! GO BEARS! I think this moves me one step closer to that Nobel for economics.
The rankings of business schools are highly reliable because they are derived by asking the opinions of students who have attended upwards of one business school each! You might think someone would crosscheck this sort of survey result with the psychology departments at those same universities. But on the face of it, I don’t see any problem with asking students if they made (cough, cognitive dissonance, cough) wise decisions.
Kidding aside, I do credit Berkeley’s MBA program for my success with Dilbert. It trained me to think more like a business person than an artist. For example, an artist listens to his inner calling and hopes the public agrees. A business person listens to the audience and gives them what they want; that’s the approach I took. In 1993 I opened a direct line to Dilbert readers through e-mail, and adjusted the content according to their feedback. That was one of maybe a dozen key business decisions that helped Dilbert break through a crowded field. I joke about getting an MBA so I could become a cartoonist, but business school was literally the competitive advantage that made Dilbert a success.
You are what you learn.