The Harvard MBA Syndrome (HMS) is where a company’s early success attracts highly entitled new employees who don’t contribute very much. They have little application experience or knowledge but seek to take prime positions in an up and coming company with gradually sucking the energy from it with self-centered actions and behaviour. This causes the company to meet the extractive needs of the MBAs and leads to it refocusing away from what made the company successful, such as creative software development and on short-term approaches to increase revenues that, over time, convert the company into a technology laggard.

How Do You Know if You have HMS?

One of the best indicators of HMS is when individuals are brought in at senior levels with no direct reports. These people look around for empires to build and trying to see if they can get subordinates assigned to them. This causes the environment to become more political as any company can only tolerate so many senior resources that do not add value.

The Bozo Explosion Effect?

It was later pointed out to the author that this same pattern goes by a different name called the “Bozo Explosion Effect.” The Harvard MBA Syndrome and the Bozo Explosion Effect are synonyms.