View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Operations Mismanagement 

I've been in business school now for just over 2 years, and should be finishing up this year. I'm getting a dual, MBA and MS Finance degress, in preparation for a career change.

I just finished a final exam in Operations Management, and I can truly say that I've never taken an exam quite like it since the invention of the laptop. Most of our courses require laptops, and many of them require some Excel proficiency. There's a reason for that. All sorts of neat, built-in functions. Plus, spreadsheets are kind of state-of-the-art at this point.

This professor proceeds to give us a heavily computational, multiple-choice exam with no partial credit, where calculators are encouragd and Excel is banished to the waiting room. I felt like I was taking an exam in how to use my calculator. If I had volunteered that I knew how to use a slide-rule, he'd have probably made us use those, instead. It was like teaching your kid how to drive on a 1922 Hudson because you want him to understand how the crank works, and to appreciate the airbags.

I don't complain about professors too much, but this fits in with a pattern of his not wanting to work too hard. He's nearing retirement, I think, having fought in Nam as a navy pilot (no, I didn't ask if he air-dropped Kerry into Cambodia), and has come to class a number of times completely unprepared to discuss the homework. He writes whole tables of numbers up on the whiteboard, forgetting about Excel again. For our review, we spent 10 minutes trying to persuade him that a linear programming homework problem needed an extra constraint. We were right, he was wrong.

I'm sure he's a nice enough guy. But when you're paying $700+ per credit hour, you don't want nice. You want content.

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