I’ve Got Class (Starting Next Week)

I head into the classroom next week to start teaching my HBS MBA course Managing in the Information Age (MIA). I thought I’d share the email I sent out to encourage students to consider taking the course. I sent it students whose educational or professional backgrounds seemed appropriate for course content, and have lightly edited its content to remove HBS-specific jargon.

MIA represents my attempt to teach non-technologist business leaders what they need to know about modern corporate information technology. I want to convey both what IT can do for them, and what they need to do for IT success. Is this a worthy goal? Is it a course you’d take, or wish you had? Leave a comment and let us know.

Graduate students elsewhere at Harvard, at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and at the Fletcher School at Tufts can take HBS courses if there is room. So if you’re eligible and MIA looks interesting, please inquire about cross-registration. It’s great to have many different perspectives in the classroom.

To:  Selected HBS Second Year Students

From:  Prof. Andrew McAfee

I’m sorry for the impersonal nature of this email.  I’m sending it to second year students whose backgrounds look appropriate for the course I’m teaching this semester at HBS.

I’m writing to encourage you to consider taking the course, which is called Managing in the Information Age (MIA).  It’s a 30-session course devoted to understanding how information technology is changing the business world, and how insightful business leaders use IT to create value and win competitive battles.

The course is not intended to train CIOs, and requires no technical background. MIA is not about hardware, software, or networks.  It’s about IT-enabled business models and IT-based capabilities —  the things you simply can’t do without technology.  It’s also about the critical roles played by business leaders outside the IT department — the decisions they make and the roles they play in order to be successful with technology.

If you liked the Zara and ITC eChoupal cases in the first year technology and operations management course, you’ll find MIA‘s content compelling.  We’ll look at:

  • Ducati Racing’s use of computers to help build the world’s fastest motorcycles.
  • Construction of an ‘Intellipedia’ across the CIA and other agencies that make up the US intelligence community.
  • How MK Taxi was able to offer better service in the crowded Tokyo cab market with a good idea and a bit of technology.
  • Google’s internal prediction market.
  • What happened when a Boston hospital tried to get its doctors to order medications via a computer instead of via paper.
  • Why Los Grobo was able to build a true ‘network organization’ in one of the last places we’d think to look:  the Argentine soybean industry.
  • Recent controversies on Wikipedia.
  • Why Cisco got into trouble because its managers liked IT too much.
  • How some companies are bringing Web 2.0 inside and creating ‘Enterprise 2.0’

We’ll have several class guests and technology demos.  We’ll also practice what we preach by using wiki technology throughout the semester.  In fact, students’ contributions to the wiki will be an important part of their grades, along with class participation. Students will choose for themselves whether they want wiki contributions or class participation to count more heavily toward their final grade. There is no paper or final exam for MIA.

The course will be useful for line managers, consultants, technology entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and active investors —  those who take a stake in existing companies with the goal of improving their performance and position.

If you’d like to get an idea of some of the course’s content, check out my blog and this Wall Street Journal article, or do some Googling around my name and/or ‘Enterprise 2.0’  If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.  And if you’re at all interested, please show up for our first class session, which will not be a case discussion.  We meet for the first time on January 15  at 10:05 and 11:40 in Hawes 202. Hope to see you there!