IMD Promotes MBAs with Self-Awareness

IMD campusAs the global economy struggles to right its course, more and more B-school students are looking for direction through classes related to morality, spirituality and even psychotherapy, today’s Wall Street Journal reported.

MBA students at the Lausanne, Switzerland, business school IMD (pictured) are clamoring for a personal-development elective that features 20 hours of in-depth analysis with a psychotherapist. The school has offered this course for the past ten years, and today demand is higher than ever.

Here are excerpts from WSJ’s conversation with Jack Denfeld Wood, a professor of organizational behavior at IMD and a psychotherapist in private practice, who has been the driving force behind the course.

WSJ: Why did the school introduce this course?

Mr. Wood: The original idea came about in 1999 because [the MBA program is] a tough program for the participants and partners; it’s so intense and heavily focused on group work. I was training at the Jung Institute at the time, and saw there was an opportunity for MBAs and their partners to talk about what their lives were like and for diploma students at the [Jung] institute to come down from Zurich on weekends to provide supervised analysis. It took a couple of years for me to talk the school into doing this. I offered to do the work pro bono in collaboration with others from the Jung Institute, and ended up with 36 participants in the very first intake.

WSJ: What is the influence of the psyche on managerial decision-making?

Mr. Wood: There is no decision-making without the psyche. Let me explain it this way: In all internal decisions, there’s an angel and a devil on each shoulder, and the ego in the middle trying to make sense of the process. You see the same thing in groups externally. There’s someone representing one opinion, someone representing another opinion, and a third party in the middle.

Decision-making, whether managerial or otherwise, is a psychological process. You can’t get away from it.

WSJ: How difficult is it for M.B.A. students to think in Jungian terms?

Mr. Wood: Thinking in Jungian terms is simply working metaphorically and symbolically.

Why do we watch scary movies? Why do we see the same Little Red Riding Hood theme replayed over and over again in film, theater and other genres? Why is it important to get that sense of fear in entertainment? It’s a way to have a dialogue internally: Each of us has a little of [Little Red] Riding Hood but also the wolf and the hunter in us. You can see the interrelationship of the three. And it’s not difficult at all to get a discussion going with the MBAs about the broader patterns we can see in human actions and relations related to that.

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