The 12-Week MBA: A Book Review by Bob Morris

The 12-Week MBA: Learn the Skills You Need to Lead in Business Today  
Bjorn Billhardt and Nathan Kracklauer
Hatchette Books (February 2024)

How to accelerate your personal growth and professional development 

Whatever their size and nature may be, all organizations need effective leadership at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. Few of those who comprise a workforce can afford to commit the resources needed to earn a traditional MBA degree. However, many (if not most) of them can afford to purchase a copy of The 12-Week MBA.

According to Bjorn Billhardt and Nathan Kracklauer, “This book’s premise is that you can acquire the essential skills and knowledge to ‘administer a business’ at lower cost and in less time.  The teachings of a traditional MBA program aren’t fluff. But in an age where disruption is the only constant, it is difficult for the MBA to keep up.” Billhardt and Kracklauer have devised a curriculum based on material within two timeless and universal dimensions: THE NUMBERS, a company’s scorecard (“using the tools of accounting and finance to measure the value a business is creating”) and THE PEOPLE: “how to work with and through others.” For more than two decades, more than 100,000 aspiring leaders have used this ever-refined, ever-improved curriculum to accelerate their personal growth and professional development.

Billhardt and Kracklauer explain HOW effective leadership is essential to achieving strategic  achievements such as these

o Create shareholder value
o Strengthen whatever drives that process
o Differentiate market growth, market share, and expansion into new markets
o Define and measure risk in terms of investors’ faith in company
o Use a balance sheet as a record of both past transactions and future commitments

o Take an overview of cash flow statement (e.g. all-important distinction between accounting profit and cash flow)
o Understand what, how, and why a company’s cash flow chart can be driven apart
o Understand how a cost structure increases or lowers a company’s growth/profitability
o Describe the framework behind company valuation
o Work through others

o Commit to  “First, do no harm”
o Pursue two separate, related goals: profitability now and having what is needed to achieve profitability in the future
o Engage and motivate workers
o Align decision-making at all levels and in all areas
o Continuously improve collective decision-making

Billhardt and Kracklauer provide an abundance of timely and timeless information, insights, and counsel that can help almost any person to master the skills needed to accelerate their personal growth and professional development. Obviously no single volume — much less a traditional MBA course or even a program’s curriculum —  can possibly contain all of the information that is relevant to conducting a business.

This is probably the best single source I know of for those now preparing for a career in business or who have already embarked on one. I also highly recommend it to mid-level executives in need of a tune-up as well as to those who have direct-reports entrusted to their care.

In school, college, and then graduate school, I learned more and learned it faster when I discussed course material in a group with several others. I also recorded key Q&As on 3×5 file cards (based on course material, whatever the subject) with a Q on one side and the A on the other, held together by a thick rubber band. I carried them with me and reviewed the content whenever I had a few minutes to kill.

* * *

Here are two other suggestions to keep in mind while reading The 12-Week MBA: Highlight key passages, and, record your comments, questions, action steps (preferably with deadlines), page references, and lessons you have learned as well as your responses to key points posed within the narrative. Pay special attention to the end-of-chapter “Key Takeaways” at the conclusion of Chapters 1-19.

These two simple tactics — highlighting and documenting — will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent reviews of key material later.

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