You know what really grinds my gears? No March Madness for B-School Rankings
Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 17:03
Try to imagine the following cover of Bloomberg Businessweek. The headline reads: Alaska Fairbanks Stuns Harvard Business School in First Round Upset! Pictured is a group of almost 30-year olds in professional attire jumping up and down hugging each other. Imagine the buzz that would sweep our hallways as we try to imagine how Sarah Palin’s nieces and nephews somehow defeated the blue chip Goldman recruits from Cambridge. Imagine how the business world would grind to a halt as executives of all shapes and sizes cringed as their MBA bracket was busted by the underdog from Alaska.
Now stop imagining. Just like the BCS deprives college football fans of a true national champion every year, the creators of business school rankings have a system in place that will never allow the Cinderella story mentioned above to occur. The MBA world will never have a Christian Laettner or a Butler University. None of the excitement surrounding March Madness will ever echo the halls of the Kaufman Management Center. And we demand to know why.
You are probably wondering how on earth business schools could compete against each other to determine the rankings each year. Not only is it a possibility, it is much closer to a reality than US News &World Report would ever admit. Beloved readers, we submit to you our framework for the International Business School Championship Tournament.
The tournament will include 32 teams. There are five rounds of head to head matchups after which a champion is declared. Each round tests a different element of the MBA curriculum. The tournament seeks to challenge each school’s IQ as well as its EQ.
In round of 32, a group of marketers are given a make believe brand they can promote only using Twitter. The team whose brand has the highest Klout score at the end of the week moves on to the Sweet Sixteen.
During Sweet Sixteen, consultants engage in a 72-hour marathon case competition. Judges will be professionals from a related industry and have no ties to either school engaged in the contest. If you are wondering what it would be like if the judges picked sides, watch Syracuse’s first round game against UNC Ashville.
We now move on to the Elite 8, during which the best finance minds from each school are put to the test as they are charged with managing a pension fund. Any equities that could be bought and sold in the real world are fair game. You aren’t just managing Silber’s favorite aunt’s money anymore. These are the big leagues.
The coveted Final Four round would be affectionately referred to as “The Damodaran Round” at Stern. Teams that face off are given identical companies for which their goal is to accurately provide a valuation. The team that comes closest to the actual valuation of the company will move on to the Finals.
During the Finals, the last test in our tournament will focus on an element of business that all MBA programs have in common. What truly unites our otherwise fragmented community of MBAs will determine who is the true Master of Business Administration. It therefore goes without saying that the Finals will be determined by a best of three flip cup tournament.
You are probably wondering, “Should a proprietary algorithm that seems to make no sense really determine who advances past the first round?” Our response: BCS. Or you may be asking yourself, “Why not leave it to the experts at the news publications that currently rank schools?” We’ll answer that one when you find us an expert. Finally, you may be wondering, “Why hasn’t such a brilliant, yet obvious idea been implemented already?” Our response: why is the BCS still in place?