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Why Companies Prefer Rookies for Some Jobs

Sep. 24, 2014 Bloomberg Businessweek

There’s an old adage among engineers: If you’re trying to solve a problem, take it to freshman engineering students, not seniors. That’s because, after four years of learning about the limits of physics, they lose the ability to design solutions that ignore its boundaries.

It’s the same with innovation. It can be hard for those most familiar with the constraints of their business to “Think Different,” as Apple’s (AAPL) famous ad campaign once implored.

That’s why such companies as Brooks Brothers, Costco (COST)Siemens (SIE),Emerson Electric (EMR), and others are working with “training labs,” where MBA students come up with novel ways to solve some daunting problems—from turning around a struggling business unit to developing a retailer’s supply chain strategy for refrigerated groceries in India.

The benefits for MBAs are obvious: They get to experience real pressures, challenges, and deadlines in the workplace. Corporations don’t just do it for charity, however. At a leading health-care company, the students analyzed more than 4,000 knee replacement procedures to identify new best practices. Now the company is applying similar analytical rigor to other medical specialties and procedures.

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