Is Elon right? “There’s the M.B.A.-ization of America, which I think is maybe not that great. There should be more focus on the product or service itself, less time on board meetings, less time on financials.”

Musk made the comments during The Wall Street Journal‘s CEO Council Summit. Business school Dean’s can’t be too happy with his outlook. He went further, “I think there might be too many M.B.A.s running companies.“

The degree isn’t really the issue. The issue is that Musk feels that today’s executives are too focused on spreadsheets and powerpoints. They need to get out of the boardroom and spend more time on the factory floor. The Japanese [hat tip to Adrian Swinscoe for alerting me to this practice] call it the Gemba. The Gemba is an opportunity for execs to step away and walk the floor of their workplace. The objective of Gemba Walk is to understand the value stream and its problems rather just results.

Takeaway – There is too much of a focus solely on the bottom line. The problem is that this pursuit can begin to neglect the product and take the customer for granted. Jack Welch had it right. There are only 2 keys to competitive advantage. Learn about your customers faster than your competition . . . and put those insights into action.