Conflicting Ideas from SJTU EMBA Program

Immediately after I came out of the class of SJTU EMBA program, Wendy and I went to a villa in Zhujiajiao. There are too much stress in the previous week that I have to find a place to stay quiet for some while.

During the class, surrounded by 60 executives in the eCommerce course of the SJTU EMBA program, I demoed how to blog with this entry: I am at an EMBA Class in SJTU. I showed how easy it is to create a blog, and helped people to understand that you don’t have to enter a file name for what you write…

The topics were around how to make money from blog, and why blogging. I feel I did a not-bad job explaining everything. To be honest, I feel a strong contrast of “old-fashioned” thinking in the class.

EMBA, and MBA programs in Shanghai

In Shanghai, there are three major places to go for MBA classes. The best, of cause, is the CEIBS (where the magic wall stays). The CHINA EUROPE INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS SCHOOL is among the top management school in Asia. It is expensive but if I have any chance, I will definitely choose to study in this school.

The other are SJTU (Shanghai Jiao Tong University) and Fudan MBA programs. As a new program, both school charges high for the program and I have many friends in the program. They typically have their classes taught in Shanghai or Suzhou or sometimes they go to other countries (I take it more as a tour instead of a class). :-D

SJTU and Fudan’s program are new and I hope the best to them. Harvard Business School started about 100 years ago and I can imagine with good strategy (it is one of their most important course), after 100 years, these two programs will be also be perfect.

Why Blogging? How to Make Money

Thanks for Andreas to invite me as a speaker to the class. After the one our session, I felt strong challenge from the participants about what we have just discussed. It was not easy for those CEOs (most of them are very successful) to understand the basics of blogging. Some asked “Can I open a blog?” and then got confused “why I can do it for free?” Being free, the most interesting economic phenomena seems interesting to them. Meanwhile, after they accepted “being free” is possible, some asked: “How can I make money if I blog?” They got even more confused when they were told that nobody is giving money to bloggers. “Then why I blog?”

Some directly challenged the course design that “Why not teach us something like B2B, B2C? Why does it make sense to tell us something that does not generate money, like blogging?”

Andreas’ Class

I don’t know how to tell the participants that Andreas is one of the best professor I have ever met. He jumps out of academic thinking and directly connects students with the latest technology and latest ideas. Not everyone has the chance to be exposed to the most advanced topics.

Andreas’ slide includes lots of great new sites that represents the future of Internet. For example: flickr.com, del.icio.us, technorati.com, wikipedia.org… and gives a strong thread “tag” to pointed out the common things. Later, the afternoon session is called “Architecture of Participation”. It is a great name, I have to say. This umbrella put all these concepts into a unified way to present. Yes. A much better name than “web 2.0″…

The Conflict of Thoughts

However, these are just too new for these EMBA class participants. It is very common that people asked the tough question. I totally understand what the CEOs are talking about. I wasn’t able to really understand why my students (about three years ago) asked “Tell me what Microsoft did when it is still small?” At that time, I was sharing the Microsoft “PM-Tester-Develop” team model with the CEOs of software companies. My answer at that time was: “When Microsoft is small, there were not much processes, but it does not mean that if you don’t implement something what Microsoft has created over so many years, you will become Microsoft.” Now, I understand them better since it was almost impossible to replicate everything into their company.

This time, I felt a strong gap between the two generations of thinking. For example, when bloggers take it for granted that no censorship is the beauty of blogging, majority of the participants in the EMBA program think no censorship of what a blogger write will cause big trouble to the society and is something unbearable. “Hey, does anyone read what you write everyday?” I was asked by one CEO. She was obviously shocked when she was told no one read, edited and censored what I wrote. “It is too dangerous!” She commented. Well. I kept silence.

I intend to think that they are right. The newest things do not always mean the better things. The conflict is just there. I appreciate their patience to be there, to smile at me, and to listen to what I told. This session at least helped me a lot to understand what the older generations of CEO are thinking and helped me to understand maybe 5 years makes a new generation of CEO in this Internet-speed world. I hope I continue to be a fresh CEO after 5 or 10 years.

9 Comments

  1. Regarding blogging and censorship, there’s an interesting article on Danwei about blogs being censored on certain Chinese blog hosting services.

    http://www.danwei.org/archives/002273.html

  2. maybe they cannot see the profit from blog now, they think that blog is none of business, so they will have the feeling that it is not necessary for EMBA class, I think that the reason for us to blog may not be understood by them.

  3. Well, when all these CEOs understand what blog is about, and how blogs might bring them business bla, bla, bla … I am sure by then there will be more NEWer things that the CEOs or newer CEOs would not understand the WHYs …

    Generation gaps will always be there. No matter what. And when it comes to technical vs. non-technical the speed is even faster especially in the ICT world.

    Perhaps this class has gone too technical for these CEOs? I do agree that some participants questioned the curriculum. To me, perhaps both better screening of the candidates + curriculum. But, it is a new programme, lots of learning curves.

  4. To me, blogging is a new way to publish/exchange information.

    When there is information flow, there is opportunity. Maybe there is no direct commercial profit today but there will be in the future, with well maintained blogs.

    Blogging differs from other ways of information flow in that blogging is personal. For a CEO, blogging could be a great tool for public relations, image building, and/or humanizing business relations.

  5. OH….that’s why when I was at SJTU MBA copy center, I saw they were copying an article about web 2.0. I’m very curious why they did this…Now I understand…it’s for you.

  6. “Money, Money, Money.”

    When someone’s mind is full of ONLY these words, how can he/she comprehend the true value of blogging?

  7. Blogging might be introduced as an introduction to the net. It is easy to learn and do, and invites learning more to do it better.

    Blogging is a tool to share and learn.

    It will also make money as part of an internet plan, just not easily alone.

    A great place to start, then use a blog to drive traffic to your “main purpose” site.

  8. I think the tough questions of the CEOs have their reason. Someone can tell me , How about the location of the bloging in market, How about the value of the bloging. Nowadays it is not easy to make a conclusion about that (Obviously not easy to make profit from bloging in the market of China in 3 years ).

    The location is blurry, the resource and use of bloging is less, it need to be standardized,and extended to other economic field, integrated the internet resource.

  9. Step back and its not about blogging. Its about the impact of technology on the established norm. Early Microsoft, in addition to being led by smart people, was just lucky.. in the right place at the right time. Blogging is having an impact on how information is getting distributed and what kind of information is distributed. Its both a blessing and curse. When change happens like this, there is always chaos for a time. There are always people who emerge as heros and the status quo is always challenged. It will find equilibrium. The challenge will be to harness technology in a way promotes a positive influence.

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