What you should learn today to succeed in business tomorrow.
The world is changing faster than ever. It is exciting and unnerving, inspirational and perspirational. Business defines the common language that crosses all country boundaries—it is the best route to global peace and prosperity.
During my travels on behalf of Boston University, a common question raised by alumni and friends is, “How can I remain relevant?”
At BU School of Management, we focus on four principles with our students as we strive to develop responsible and relevant leaders. They apply equally well to the broader community:
Understand the major forces transforming business. Digital technology, health and life sciences, and social enterprise and sustainability are at the forefront in terms of job creation and value creation in the coming decades. Even if you aren’t convinced that your business will touch them, gain a basic understanding of these sectors, because it is inevitable that the growth of your business will be directly linked to them; they will impact every business in every country in the world. It is no longer sufficient to have knowledge solely about the management functions, from accounting to marketing to strategy. Knowledge about the major transformative forces provides essential context for innovation, informed decision making, and growth.
Think globally, not locally. Name an industry that doesn’t compete with companies or buy products or services from companies that are outside of its home location. It is virtually impossible. Seek to understand cultural differences that impact how business is conducted around the world, and build empathy for other points of view. Treat the world, not just your country of residence, as your market.
Listen, learn, and teach. There is no substitute for interaction with others. After all, successful businesses are grounded in strong and trusting personal relationships. Seek the wisdom of others. Listen, then engage. Ask pointed questions and learn from others. Share what you have learned. Whether doing so the old-fashioned way, face-to-face or on paper, or through social media, the effect is the same.
Stay true to your values. In a chaotic world, there is one constant. Exercise informed judgment when addressing business problems. Seek to understand ways of thinking about vexing problems for which there are possibly right and wrong answers—and most often no clear “right” one.
Our founding dean, Everett W. Lord, said, “The great purpose of business is service to society.” As we begin our second century, SMG has recommitted to Dean Lord’s original vision in the contemporary words of the twenty-first century: “Create Value for the World” in educating the next generation of leaders.