It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.”
Talk about a great movie line! Delivered with cool aplomb by Michael Corleone, the line embodied a swath of 20th Century American business. Here, work and community were often divided, as swashbuckling rainmakers rationalized their “all’s fair” ethos by arguing, “If it wasn’t me, it’d be someone else.” In this world, the natural order, also known as the law of the jungle, required winners and losers. It wasn’t who they were, they’d lament, but what the world demanded them to be. It was a role to be played, shed when they returned home to their loved ones — a means to end in an impersonal and uncertain world.
“If not me, then who?”
That’s become the mantra for the new generation of business leaders. For them, business is deeply personal. It is an expression of their values and aspirations — a means to serve a purpose and re-shape the world to what it could be. You’ve probably heard plenty of labels for this phenomenon: social entrepreneurship, social innovation, social impact, social responsibility, and social ventures. It’s no accident that “social” leads each one. For these pioneers, business is a way to bring people together, to move beyond narrow competitive interests to feed the greater good.
Alas, the triple bottom line sounds good in practice. How can you factor in social and environmental needs when it is hard enough to stay out of the red? That’s the inspiration two of the most interesting MOOCs arriving in October.
The first is Social Impact Strategy: Tools for Entrepreneurs and Innovators. Taught by the University of Pennsylvania’s Peter Frumkin, regarded among the foremost experts on philanthropy and social entrepreneurship, the course is a step-by-step primer on how to build a financially sustainable enterprise. In particular, students are introduced to Frumkin’s four stage framework for turning an idea into reality: Define, Design, Pilot, and Scale. By the end of the course, students will develop an understanding of how to identify a problem, test a solution, and measure impact.
Copenhagen Business School’s Social Business Model and Planning for Social Innovation takes a more hands-on approach to forming a social venture. Here, the course hinges on writing a business plan. After identifying a need and a potential solution, student teams will evaluate various for-profit, non-profit, and hybrid models. From there, they will build in strategies for creating awareness and generating revenue. In just a couple of weeks, students will possess a blueprint for launching their own enterprise.
This month, students and professionals can choose from a wide range of courses. The Wharton School, for example, returns with Entrepreneurship 1: Developing the Opportunity, where top professors show students how to identify a viable opportunity, research the market, and develop a quick prototype to gauge their solution’s strengths and weaknesses. For students intrigued by globalization, Georgetown University is launching a Global Business in Practice course, where students can learn how Fortune 500 firms ranging from Blackstone to Audi have successfully navigated the risks and reaped the rewards of global expansion. In addition, Emory tackles an underappreciated area of strategy in Managing Uncertainty in Marketing Analytics, to help leaders better forecast sales and impact.
Finance is also heavily represented in the coming month. For example, Wharton is opening up another section of Accounting Analytics, to provide a wider view of where organizations are underestimating opportunities… and risk. In a similar vein, Wharton’s Modeling Risk and Realities comes out on October 3rd with the goal being to increase precision and minimize assumptions in models. The University of Michigan’s Gautam Kaul returns to oversee new sections of Principles of Valuation: Time Value of Money and Principles of Valuation: Risk and Return. Not to be outdone, Rice University will also be introducing a new course: Portfolio Selection and Risk Management.
To learn more about these courses – and register for them – click on the links below.
FINANCE AND OPERATIONS