Play OFMOS - An Innovative Casual Video Game by Cristian Mitreanu

Ofmos is a casual (think Tetris) video game that mimics the basic actions taken by a CEO when deciding what the company should offer and to whom. The game mechanics are based on the theory that I detailed in the book "Spointra and the Secret of Business Success" and in the presentation "A Fundamental Theory of Business." You can download the prototype at And, of course, any feedback would be highly appreciated.

Powerful Quick-Fix for the MBA by Cristian Mitreanu


Criticism of the conventional MBA program is nothing new. For years, Professor Henry Mintzberg of McGill University has arguably been the champion of this movement. In the 1992 Harvard Business Review debate “MBA: Is the Traditional Model Doomed?,” he describes the product of such programs as “people [who] are committed to no company and no industry but only to personal success, which they pursue based on academic credentials that are almost exclusively analytic, devoid of in-depth experience, tacit knowledge, or intuition.” Later, in his 2005 book “Managers, Not MBAs,” he writes, “Using the classroom to help develop people already practicing management is a fine idea, but pretending to create managers out of people who have never managed is a sham.”

Some may disagree with this stance. And considering that the demand for MBA degrees continues to remain high (as illustrated by the New York Times article “Bank Crisis Shifts Demand for M.B.A.'s” and the Graduate Management Admission Council’s own records “Total GMAT Tests Taken by Testing Year”), it does appear that employers do value these graduates. So, could it be that the conventional MBA program has become more of a recruiting tool that supplies employers with strong employees rather than future managers? Hard to tell.

On Harvard Business Review’s blog, in early 2009, several thinkers discussed problems and potential solutions on the forum “How to Fix Business Schools,” followed later by more posts on the same theme. Things are moving, nonetheless. Most schools seem to be hard at work refining their MBA programs by either tweaking their respective curriculums or their approaches to teaching, or both. A group of Harvard Business School faculty has even documented some of these developments in their 2010 book “Rethinking the MBA: Business Education at a Crossroads."

Unfortunately, the biggest problem, as it was articulated by Prof. Mintzberg (you can’t create managers in the classroom), is inherent to the conventional MBA program. In general, a lower graduating age means more time available to advance up the corporate ladder, which further means an increased probability of a successful business career. In addition, an increased number of success stories means a larger applicant pool (which also tends to push the average age lower, where managerial experience is low). And so, as long as schools can show some sort of causality between the MBA degree and a successful career, this cycle becomes self-reinforcing.

The advent of the Internet has made this causal relationship increasingly elusive. Not only that the knowledge taught in school has a lower value due to its widespread availability, but the limitations of our general understanding of how businesses work is becoming more apparent. And this, as one of the main drivers behind the value proposition of the conventional MBA program, will prevent the current revamping efforts undertaken by many schools from having any meaningful impact. A true overhaul will only occur when the business management body of knowledge successfully makes a significant leap forward.

However, as we wait for a new theory that would allow us to integrate currently disparate concepts and generate a more realistic business big picture, there is one easy and powerful solution for the MBA program: introduce a mandatory class of history of business and economic thought. 

In spite of the underlying implication of the word “history,” this class should be more about thought and historical circumstances, than about the completeness of the record. If developed and implemented in harmony with the rest of the program, the “history” class could have a significant impact on three dimensions. First, it would help students acquire not only a dynamic perspective of the business world, but also a better understanding of how various concepts are related or fit together. Second, the class would provide a platform that would “nudge” students into thinking critically about existing concepts, and further into creating their own. Lastly, the new capability of providing students with the more advanced skill of understanding the big picture could be a significant source of competitive advantage for any MBA program.

Image: Herbert A. Simon, author of the 1967 essay, "The Business School: A Problem in Organizational Design."

UPDATE 3/15/2011: This idea was also submitted as a "hack" at the Management Innovation eXchange (

Quoted in "Lasting: Webster's Quotations, Facts and Phrases" by Cristian Mitreanu


I was quoted in "Lasting: Webster's Quotations, Facts and Phrases." Cool!

Here's the book's description on

Ever need a fact or quotation on lasting? Designed for speechwriters, journalists, writers, researchers, students, professors, teachers, historians, academics, scrapbookers, trivia buffs and word lovers, this is the largest book ever created for this single word. It represents a compilation from a variety of sources with a linguistic emphasis on anything relating to the term “lasting,” including non-conventional usage and alternative meanings which capture ambiguities. The entries cover all parts of speech (noun, verb, adverb or adjective usage) as well as use in modern slang, pop culture, social sciences (linguistics, history, geography, economics, sociology, political science), business, computer science, literature, law, medicine, psychology, mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology and other physical sciences. This “data dump” results in many unexpected examples for lasting, since the editorial decision to include or exclude terms is purely a linguistic process. The resulting entries are used under license or with permission, used under “fair use” conditions, used in agreement with the original authors, or are in the public domain. Proceeds from this book are used to expand the content and coverage of Webster’s Online Dictionary (

And here is the actual quote:

Mitreanu, Cristian. Author of “Is strategy a bad word?: the frequent failure of strategy might lie in its very definition which historically implies short-term victory over competitors rather than long-term vision and lasting success,” published in MIT Sloan Management Review, vol. 47, no. 2, p. 96, in Winter 2006.

TEDxUIUC at the University of Illinois by Cristian Mitreanu

As some of you know, I am the Producer/Director/Curator of TEDxUIUC, a TED-licensed event scheduled for April 10, 2010...

TEDxUIUC aims to provide a venue for some of the world’s top thinkers and most remarkable doers to inspire and create a better world. Scheduled for April 10, the event will take place at the College of Business in the Business Instructional Facility. The first edition of what, we hope, will become an annual tradition for the University of Illinois community, TEDxUIUC 2010 will showcase an array of thought-provoking content under the overarching theme ‘Bold – Ideas, Innovations, Performances.’ Through over 20 talks, demos, and performances, as well as several interactive experiences, TEDxUIUC will inspire, surprise and delight an estimated 300 select participants. The event is organized by a group of MBA students led by Cristian Mitreanu.

The Value of an Internet Business by Cristian Mitreanu


Here's an "old-school" rendition of a framework that shows how the customer value of a web-based business (a venture built around one main offering) evolves under the pressure of innovation and commoditization, respectively. Feel free to use the image as wallpaper or poster. (Also available, PDF version here and TIFF version here.)

The BizBigPic T-shirt, Version 1.0 by Cristian Mitreanu


BizBigPic is a business venture -- "a knowledge-and-technology platform that supports and empowers individuals in their quest for enduring success in business" -- on which I have been working for the past few years. Its first stage of development has been completed, encompassing the introduction of a new fundamental understanding of how businesses work... Now, the very first incarnation of the BizBigPic t-shirt is here.