The MBA Experience Curve

Time is Precious

It’s fair to say, that despite lots of warnings, most of us were at various stages during the first semester almost overwhelmed by the time constraints involved in holding down a fulltime job, completing an MBA and having some semblance of a personal life. We knew it was going to be a substantial commitment but nothing really prepares you adequately for it until you actually go through it.  As a result, many of us have been forced to significantly ramp up our productivity levels in order to meet our various deadlines. Fortunately we learned something about this in our first case study in Competitive Strategy. Well, sort of.

The experience curve is an idea developed by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in the mid-1960s. The more experience a firm has in producing a particular product, the lower are its costs. Bruce Henderson, the founder of BCG, put it as follows: “Costs characteristically decline by 20-30% in real terms each time accumulated experience doubles. This means that when inflation is factored out, costs should always decline. The decline is fast if growth is fast and slow if growth is slow”.

The ‘cost’ to an MBA student is undoubtedly time, which pretty much evaporates. However, all is not lost. The Christmas break, after the shock treatment of semester one, has allowed many of us to apply the various productivity lessons that we have learned. At our Christmas drinks party one classmate revealed that he recorded himself reading his notes so that he could listen to them while in the car commuting to work each morning and then to class that evening. Another classmate then revealed that she had discovered an app that reads PDF files to you, which she also listens to in the car, however saving her the time necessary to record herself reading those same notes. The MBA experience curve in action.

Conor Connolly ~ Year 1 Executive MBA