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In their new Waves of Disruption course, Schneider MBA students focus on the latest technologies that will upend the ways we do business.

New MBA Course Offering Gets Smart About the Future

Betting on the future: It could be artificial intelligence. It could be blockchain ... self-driving cars ... appliances that talk to each other ... .

The winning gambit could be any or all of those – but more importantly than guessing the next big thing, Oliver Buechse (Schneider School) wants St. Norbert MBA students to adapt to whatever the next big thing might be. 

“Don’t be intimidated by the complexity or velocity of this topic,” says Buechse, who will be teaching a course titled Waves of Disruption in St. Norbert’s MBA program this fall. “I’m just a few steps ahead of others, because I’m committed to the journey.” 

Buechse, who lives in De Pere, moved to the United States from Germany in 2000 to work in San Francisco with McKinsey, a management consulting firm, and moved to Wisconsin in 2010 to be the chief strategy officer for Associated Bank.  

Now he runs consulting firm My Strategy Source, where he thinks about the future for his own clients. He’ll help students do so, too. “This is their wake-up call,” he says. It is a given that some technology will disrupt the businesses where his students are employed. Working with companies in the Green Bay area, the class will try to formulate a strategy that sees disruption as an opportunity. 

Because Buechse also co-founded Advancing AI Wisconsin, a loose collaboration of Wisconsinites interested in artificial intelligence, AI will be a focus of the new class. But, he says, that was one of the last things that he and Dave Wegge, interim director of the Schneider School of Business, decided upon. 

Advancing AI Wisconsin is made up of individuals working in the field who want to bounce ideas off each other. “You join us, you shape us,” Buechse says. “Every week, we find someone else who’s interested.”

In the Badger State, unlike the cutthroat scene in Silicon Valley, Buechse hopes that group visionaries can collaborate and work for the common good. 

One thing he’ll be impressing upon students is to beware of the “shiny object phenomenon.” Reading breathless articles about fields like 5G or blockchain, “it’s a challenge not to zoom in on an individual technology,” Buechse says. But in any situation that involves decisions about a company’s future, he asks, “What is the big problem? And what processes do we have?”

June 5, 2018