Caveat Emptor! What’s the Default Hypothesis – H0 H0 H0 – Etched onto Your Tablet

“Tabula Rasa”

For the ignorant it is Latin for Blank Slate

For those who are still in the dark, it is an epistemological theory that human beings are born without any prior knowledge and therefore learn from their experiences and/or from what they are taught to believe.

The Romans used wax tablets to take notes. When they needed to erase the tablet for reuse they would heat the wax and remould it to give a tabula rasa.

Tabula Rasa, therefore, really means -‘erased tablet’ kind of like freeing up the RAM or disk(/tablet) space.

As is the case with any device, what matters is WHO controls it.
If the individual is in control of their own tabula rasa, they will decide what content they will believe, which content will be suspect and what they will choose to reject.

In other words they will use their own experience, perception and judgement to develop their worldview.
The trouble comes when OTHERS write on an individual’s tabula rasa either by
a. persuasion or
b. coercion or
c. a combination of both

Furthermore each of these methods might be
a. acceptable to the individual
b. unacceptable to the individual

All forms of human organization – nations, cultures, economies, societies, companies, institutions, clubs, communities seek control over the individual’s tabula rasa

Bureaucratic rationalization lends them the logical right to do so. Although this is done for the common good – it can also do evil because survival (that of the individual as well as that of the group) critically depends NOT really on WHO writes on the tabula rasa, but WHAT is written on it.

Sometimes the individual’s H0 can be superior

Which H0 – the default hypothesis – should we believe?

In a world where nobody has all the answers, all we have are hypotheses

In a world where we have to be able to act under conditions of uncertainty, Action cannot wait upon Knowledge (Bounded Rationality)

Which course of action should one pursue?

What shall we-choose-to-believe-unless-we-have-evidence-to-the-contrary?

It is important to recognize that H0 – the default hypothesis does not need proof before it is implemented.

On the contrary, it is what will be imposed, unless there is proof that it will not work. If accumulating proof takes a lifetime, in the meantime H0 will reign – maybe for a lifetime

Without proof!

It is therefore critical that we choose our H0 carefully.

It is critical that we be careful of what we etch onto our tabula rasa

We need to be careful who we allow access on to our tabula rasa

It is imperative to understand that organizations are responsible for the H0s they etch onto tabula rasas.

A true researcher, therefore, should not allow a default hypothesis to reign while he/she collects data and evidence to displace it.

A true case teacher, therefore, should not allow his/her answers to reign while the students seek their own answers.

User Beware! WHAT is being etched on to your tabula rasa?

Periodically erase your slate. Keep an open mind.

Dr. Siva V. Gabbita

10 Skills an Mba Program Should Give You

Right education helps people grow.

Aim of professional education is to impart knowledge and skills, using which an individual contributes to work and society and earns his/her livelihood.

A good MBA program/management education should enrich you with following skills.

  1. Academic Skills: A basic understanding of business and business environment, high market awareness and tools and techniques used in business. Ability to put these skills to use for results.
  2. Communication: Yes, the industry expects an MBA pass out to have a strong hold over communication. He should be able to listen, speak clearly and write in fluent language (English is always an advantage) internally as well as with the external customers (clients, vendors, government).
  3. Decision making: Ability to take decisions after carefully weighing all the options. Their efficiency in decision making will result from their ability to gather information and then have clarity of purpose and courage in taking decisions.
  4. Analytical Skills: The ability to find information and troubleshoot continually, being able to separate the relevant information from what is not required.
  5. Result orientation: Ability to design and undertake activities / processes that are result oriented. Setting goals for self and team and achieving them in time.
  6. Commitment: Sincerity towards work and identifying the purpose of it. Doing and getting things done as promised or as they ought to be.
  7. Perseverance: Being able to understand that success demands a lot of work. Putting efforts continually and not giving up. Looking at ‘what’s possible?’ all the time, working on opportunities, creating opportunities, being self driven – not waiting for instructions.
  8. Team Work: Crucial for organisational and individual success. Ability to work with other people in the organisation. Appreciate cultural, ethnic differences and synergise team activities. Having the capacity to identify talent in other people and placing them at the right place.
  9. Technology Skills: Thorough understanding of various IT tools and technologies and ability to use them for gaining a competitive advantage. Being able to use various statistical packages (like SPSS), PowerPoint, spreadsheets and databases.
  10. Leadership: Ability to inspire others and keeping others motivated. Identifying talents and using them appropriately for their individual and organisational growth and development.

Good luck!

How to present like Steve Jobs

You need good communication skills to excel at work.

Those with mediocre communication may work and move ahead. But people with solid communication skills will have an edge. Professionals need to understand that they will always be selling something or the other even if they are not in a sales role.

If you are a finance executive you may need to sell a financial plan to your boss or colleagues. At times, you may need to sell an idea or your viewpoint. In doing so you may need to present you idea or logic to other party.

This presentation may be informal or formal, but if it is good – people will be more likely to buy what you are trying to sell.

Steve Jobs’ name comes to mind when we think of excellent presenters.

People used to look forward to his presentations. His presentation of products, features and benefits made the audience crave for it almost immediately.

Famously, he worked for months on his presentations before presenting it to the audience. His presentations were simple and classy, and at the core of Apple marketing efforts.

Here are some ideas on how you can rock your presentations like Steve Jobs.

1. Decide the content. Think about what you are going to communicate. Do it before you open PowerPoint or Keynote.

2. Keep it simple. One word or one small sentence per slide. Large font size (32 is ok to start with).

3. Idea is most important. Focus on selling on your ideas and not your presentation slides.

4. Rehearse. Fix a timeline and stick to it.

5. Take up opportunities to present. “Practice makes a man perfect”, goes the old saying. If you are in a job take initiative and make presentations. If you are a business school student, you will have ample opportunities to design and make presentations. Grab them.

6. Use the power of software. Do not let it overpower you. Draw a line about how much graphics or multimedia content you are going to use. Have a backup plan ready in case software does not work.

7. Give away notes. Do not handout the print out of your slides to audience. Good slides have minimal content so that will not help your audience. Instead give notes. It can be an essay focusing on ideas you presented.

“Less is more”, works well in case of a presentation. Do not overburden your slides with animation effects in slide transitions. Do not use sound effects. They are outdated and annoying.

Just share your ideas, with an evangelistic zeal if you will, and who knows you will become the next presentation rock star.

Good luck with your next presentation.

Posted by Uncategorized | 1 Reply

The Abc of Networking

Networking is one of the key skills for managers these days. Organizations expect people to connect and establish contact with people they work with. This may include business partners, clients, vendors, government officials. Many business opportunities are passed out to people in someone’s network. So networking becomes an important skill for someone in a business building scenario.

It is a win-win relationship for both the parties and hence a must have skill for all.

2 years of MBA offer ample amount of opportunity to network. In fact most of us start our journey using some network sub-consciously. We ask for references for an institution from people we know.

As future managers, MBA students can start networking while still in campus. Sharing some steps on – how to start?

  • You need to start by breaking the myth that networking is hollow or manipulative. People worldwide use it ethically to promote mutual business interests.
  • The next step as mentioned earlier to approaching people to develop a business network. You may or may not like it, but the truth is that you have to reach out. Make a start by strengthening your connections with people you know. Just a casual mail now and then, a thoughtful message or phone call will ensure that you stay in touch.
  • The next step is finding out who is doing what. You need to be genuinely interested in the lives and stories of people. Again, this may not come naturally but you have to make a start and once you do, you will like it. Just know where to draw the line.
  • Reach further; once you have completed the first step of just reaching out you now need to join some club, some activity group. People with similar interests, who meet on a regular basis.
  • Listening is what you learn to do next. This means you be generous by way of giving people those patient ears they need. This will strengthen the bonding. You will find it work wonders for you. Generous gestures and returned by people without you even asking for it.
  • Test you groundwork by starting to ask people for help whenever required. Remember doing this is an art. Do not be cunning but just be straight in communicating what you want from other person. Keep at it, you will improve with practice.
  • Follow up and be in touch. If you really listened to the other person you will know what appeals to him. Don’t send a mass mail, message to everyone. That will not work. Make everyone feel special.

Happy networking.

What Does Industry Expect from Mba Hires?

We operate in an era of cut throat competition, where split second decisions push organisations out of the competitive landscape and bring others in. Tom Peters sums it up beautifully in two words by saying that either you are ‘quick’ or you are ‘dead’. Evidently the industry expects MBAs to be business ready people!

Although we can have an endless debate about what the industry expects from MBA hires, right from talking about technical skills, to people and business skills to basic human values of responsibility, commitment and integrity etc. The discussion can go on and on and yet all of them as mentioned above are useful, we need a set of qualities that have a universal appeal.

Listed below are 10 skills, that the industry expects from MBA hires and which you can develop in yourself.

  1. Strong Work Ethic: Strong work ethic means that you take charge of your work, are self motivated and assume responsibility of getting the work done by yourself, no matter what; your learning ability, ability to take feedback positively and readiness to put your best foot forward in every circumstance.
  2. Positive Attitude: Positive attitude connotes your enthusiasm about the work you are doing. You must be able to create good opinion about yourself and the organisation in the minds of your consumers and your own people.
  3. Communication Skills: Good communication skills begin with a good listening ability and ability to articulate your thoughts clearly. An ability to speak in a language such that you are able to build relationships with your colleagues, customers and vendors.
  4. Time Management: Knowledge of how to assign priorities to tasks and juggle a number of projects / tasks at the same time.
  5. Team Working Skills: Industry expects people to work in teams, promoting harmony, cooperation and ability to assume leadership role as and when required.
  6. Self Confidence: Faith in one’s own capabilities to handle the assigned task well. Ability to empower others and having the courage to question established wisdom.
  7. Take Feedback: Fresh MBA hires are supposed to emotionally strong to handle criticism from people they work with (clients, colleagues, seniors and even juniors).
  8. Flexibility: Flexibility refers to the ability to accept new challenges, change with situations and openness to new thoughts and ideas.
  9. Handling pressure: People who can work with deadlines and get done in time. Handle crises and manage resources well against a set timeline.
  10. Financial Literacy: All businesses look at the outcome in terms of numbers. Industry expects MBA hires to be financially literate so that work with numbers well and study growth / de-growth patterns.

These are the elementary skills the industry looks for in fresh MBAs.

Good luck as you move ahead.

For Extraordinary Dreams

An ad for TC Bank – takes a very interesting perspective on risk and reliabilty. It’s never too late to (re)capture things we want to do. A story about a bunch of old men and women out to recapture their youth and vitality. The bank sets the tone for reliabilty. Interesting ad that’s long and doesn’t tell you what it’s about till the end of the story – “For ordinary people with extraordinary dreams”. Doesnt say anything about what the bank does though, but appeals quite indirectly. In class we decipher it as the peripheral route of processing since we are not elaborating on critical points for assessment of a bank, but on the peripheral as against central issues.

 

Prof. Srividya Raghavan

Hertz Car Rentals

Most of us are familiar with the “We are number two” classic ad campaign that Avis had launched to beat Hertz. We have scant heard of advertising for Hertz, which continues to be the Numeruno. Here are a new series of ads for Hertz executed in retro style.

What’s really cool about them is a) The clean lines and bold colours that simplify and yet defy normal contours creating the retro look b) primary use of Hertz brand colours – yellow and blue c) Interesting use of type across the series – again bold, simple and retro d) Different value propositions of Hertz in each ad and tying it all together with “Travelling at the speed of Hertz”. Theoritically, big impact because it integrates as well as keeps gets the ads to propose different points – such as no need to wait for car and no need to wait for reciept. Follows principles of integration and encoding variablity theory. Neat work!

 

Enjoy them. Such layouts are becoming a rarity.

Prof. Srividya Raghavan (IBS Hyd)

 

 

A Travesty of Education

Current Scenario

From my experience of working in the education industry, living in three different countries and meeting students from a cross-section of universities across the world, I can safely observe that the current state of education is in a deep state of disarray. I believe that richer countries like America and Australia can somehow live with this trend because they have built a certain level of efficiency and productivity into their societies and systems but countries in Asia (I will not comment on Africa as I have never been there) will pay a big price if the policy makers there keep playing deaf to the call of the day. Even in countries like the US and UK, which are so advanced in terms of human development compared to the rest of the world, it is deeply troubling to see many schools survive and prosper with sub-standard curriculum’s and callous faculties. Whether private or public, these schools have survived mostly because the world economy has been growing post-WW II. Except a few hiccups in the 70s and 90s, mostly the world growth has been positive, till now. Post 2000, the world has been growing exponentially, thanks to China entering WTO in 2001 and India bidding adieu to Hindu rate of growth. This has prompted corporations (mostly based out of US/Europe) to expand and get a large share of their revenues from the growing Asian and Latin American populations, which compensated for the slow growth in their home countries. This has further led to the demand of managerial talent and hence management education. Which has in turn led to the growth of business schools across the world. Entrepreneurs in the private sector and public schools under the aegis of incompetent Government bodies, took advantage of this demand. While some of these schools, a minuscule, are truly thought-leaders, most others are just shops. Public business schools are under-funded and hence under-staffed. They make do with a nonchalance attitude to education. Living life on a quarterly basis with no focus on the longer term aspects of what they are imparting, these schools seldom try sincerely to hear what the travails of students are. Private schools are better equipped to deal with these issues because they are financially independent. But they often care only about the “success” of their alumni and how large the checks these alumni would cut in the future.

Current Trends

Modern education is evolving into a beast. The objective of real education is not to confer degrees with fancy titles. Education, in any discipline should be about kindling the fires of the mind and not filling it with nonsense. Curriculum’s should lead students into a direction that allows them to explore the world and see things that are above and beyond the grasp of text books and case studies. It must be about teaching humility and honesty and live a life with fulfillment and contentment. It must fire the imagination and awaken the creativity that has led to so many great innovations in the past few decades. Is it pure chance that most of such innovation came from the streets and not the schools? Is it just a constant coincidence that creativity comes from areas one least expect?

Concerns

But modern education instead instills either pride or self-doubts in the minds of the student. Pride comes from association and exclusivity. Self-doubts are born out of delinquent pedagogy. From the course structure, to the assessments and the mode of teaching in between, everything has gone wayward and misdirected. Business education is in a bigger state of disgrace as compared to other non-mainstream disciplines. Media is busy with ranking schools based usually on the cliched metrics of salary levels achieved and placements generated while accreditation companies are filled with people who seem disconnected from reality. It does not matter if the top management of the the Enron’s, Global Crossings, Lehman Brothers and Satyams of the world were educated at the best schools in the world. Were these people not imparted with values that should have stopped them from doing what they did? Accreditation companies fail miserably in gauging the efficacy of their accreditation just like ratings companies fail to properly predict the bankruptcy of a AAA rated company. Life looks good when these people look down from their high-rise glass buildings but the reality in the schools/companies they rank, rate and accredit is different. Back in the olden days in India, apparently good kings roamed the streets at night, in disguise, so as to see how their citizens are living and what their problems are. Maybe accreditation companies and journalists should enroll as students to see what a travesty modern education has become.

In India, the emphasis in most schools is on rote learning rather than building analytical skills. It is surprising to find that a similar model is followed in most schools in the UK and the US as well. Scranton tests are the enemy of creativity while being a matter of convenience for the faculty. Such tests destroy the soul of education. One can get A’s in these tests and fail in the real world. This model of education is akin to missing the forest for the trees. The point of good education is help a person do their job with diligence and propriety while staying within a framework of ethical and moral respectability. This requires analytical skills and a sense of what is right and wrong. Multiple-choice tests cant teach this, only interaction can. It is the duty of the teacher and his/her discretion to think through these issues. Its the job of the teacher to develop values and real knowledge (lets forget wisdom, it cant be learned in a school) in a student. Teachers are responsible for inspiring or destroying the students. Why don’t teachers take this to heart? Why do elite schools fail to instill values in their students? Why don’t lesser than elite schools focus differentiating themselves by creating such niche?

Big picture

The problem is not in the schools but in the way society has come to evolve. Focus, from childhood, is put on being “successful” in life, which usually means making money. Big businessmen and successful actors are the role models these days instead of people of character, integrity and selfless leaders. Greed has come to replace altruism, which fell out of fashion decades ago. Media reflects (through movies and fiction) these trends by portraying success as the be all and end all of human life. Every person I talk to, these days reflects a sense of dissatisfaction with his/her current situation regardless of the fact that they have a job, a car and a house. They all want to be somewhere else, do something else and look like someone else. And yes, these are also men and women who come out of good schools and even elite schools. Why does this happen? While elite schools instill “bragging rights” in their students, lesser ones often are left feeling inadequate. Regardless of professional choices, both seem unhappy about their lives in general because they are not “successful” enough. Somebody else has more than you, always. This stress and the ensuing pressure cracks families, neighborhoods and finally nations. Everything begins at the schools. If teachers did their jobs well in the first place, there would have been more secure people in the society. Kids growing up in single parent homes have lesser opportunities to be nurtured compared to kids who grow up with both the parents. But fathers and mothers these days are busy earning bread and promotions so where do they have time to talk to kids? That leaves the teachers to do this job. But sadly, teaching, just like all the other professions, has become a wage job so nobody takes it passionately. If this is the bottom-up analysis for the breakdown of modern education, the top-down looks even more disturbing.

Education is NOT business

The deans and heads of private and public schools treat their schools and universities as a business. They act and behave like modern day CEOs. You could ask me what the trouble with this attitude is. Here is what is wrong. Education is NOT business, and it should never be. They are two totally separate fields. While business schools impart students with a set of heuristics on how businesses are run, education is actually about uplifting the soul and ennobling. Its another question whether business education can ever be uplifting, but it surely can be ennobling. There are capitalist philosophers and men/women of vision who made this world a better place through merchandise. Whether public or private, elite or street, its about showing such light in the darkness of daily din. If universities are run like businesses, their focus is on profits, growth and power. To obtain these ends, universities will make any compromises. Such compromises could be in quality or in morals. Complete this quarter, update the roaster and file away a few more students, irrespective of how we taught what we taught or why we taught what we taught. So from the teacher to the university, there is nobody who truly cares for the student, which they can do by taking some time out to understand what this individual actually wants. Humans are treated like sheep with no respect paid to their independence and personality.

Conclusion

A large part of my essay is trying to expose the current problems, hence you could ask me what the suggestions are. I do propose a few. More specifically, business schools should revamp their curriculum’s to include brave courses on sociological issues and philosophical subjects, not just the usual accounting and marketing rigmarole. There has to be a cross-pollination of ideas in curriculum’s. Business schools should include a few art classes to encourage the students to think out of the box for solving business problems. Inter-disciplinary studies are important for enhancing a person’s critical thinking. Furthermore, universities should ONLY and STRICTLY be run on a non-profit model and any profit made should be sunk back into building libraries and sports facilities. Teachers should be regularly evaluated irrespective of whether they are tenured or not. Likewise, feedback should be 360 degrees and not just students ranking teachers. Finally, for the younger section and maybe not at the graduate level, home schooling could be an alternative and this is already becoming popular in the Western world. Children could be exposed to classical education and this will enhance their worldview in a way, current curriculum’s cannot. While its true that experience is the best form of all educations, its equally important to have a basic training in the functioning of the world. “Ipsa scientia potestas est” or knowledge itself is the real power. All forms of power corrupts, but real knowledge liberates.

Posted by Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Timeless Ventures

Recently I read a book titled Timeless Ventures. It is an English translation of an original book in Japanese written by Professor Haruo Funabashi and published by Tata McGraw Hill.

The author is a professor at Hitotsubashi University Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy. The title of the original book in Japanese is “Mohameda EL-ERIAN – When Markets Collide” which translated in English means principles of corporate strategy. The title Timeless Ventures selected for the English translation gives insights into the philosopher’s thinking for selecting   success stories of selected 32 Japanese companies which have a history ranging between 200-1400 years. Prof. Funabashi has made a detailed research and has studied the factors beyond the motives and success of these companies. He has gone through available records of the companies , he has interviewed and had detailed discussions with the top management personnel and has produced a very interesting book. The book presents  the principles of which these companies have operated and thrived, throws lights on their thinking and the work culture of the people who operated the companies successfully. One common factor he has observed after such extensive study is that these companies have not kept “profit” as a sole motive of all along. They have functioned with a deep sense  of responsibility towards the community in which they operate. The factors which make these companies successful over the centuries are the vision, principles, honesty and professional excellence. Along all these, the companies have strongly displayed their willingness to support the community in which they operate and thrive. Their actions show that the companies considered it as  their duty to support the community.

The book has identified eight principles over which these companies have been time tested. The same factors  of success are evident in the Japanese religion, culture and ideology. Owing to such a philosophy one can note that there are over 20,000 companies inJapanwhich are over 100 years old. The number of companies which are in existence over 200 years are approximately 1,200. There are 600 companies which have been successfully performing  over 300 years. There are 30 companies which have thrived for over 500 years. What is more interesting to know is that there are five companies which have a successful legacy and history of over a 1000 years.

Social responsibility of the commercial organization is a much talked about subject these days. All the companies which have been talked about in the book  “Timeless Ventures” present an altogether new, fresh and different view point on this. The Japanese way of doing business and thinking about it is quite unique. Individual ownership of the company and profit is not the thinking. Guiding principle is to preserve the company, to ensure its growth and offering it to the future generation is considered as the primarily responsibility.

After extensive study of the 32 companies in different sectors of business and located in different geographical regions inJapanit is observed that the companies  engaged in provision of food; shelter and clothing have survived the days of longevity. Secondly , it is seen that the companies that have family ownership and the once with the influence of Japanese culture and religion have been successful over centuries.

These companies may not be very big or rich but they have been successful over a period of decades and centuries. The companies mentioned in this book are the manufacturers of products like soya-sos, starch, cake, medicines, salt, chopsticks etc.

The factors contributing to the success of the companies who proved the stiff tests of longevity are  as follows

  • Leadership driven by clear values , vision & mission
  • Long term viewpoint & strategic approach
  • Customer oriented & building the economy
  • Socially minded & building the nation
  • Continuous Innovation & Improvement
  • Frugality & efficient use of natural resources
  • Efforts to embody and generate culture/legacy

(by Dr. Dhananjay Keskar, Director, IBS Pune)

Posted by Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Ipad Art

Check out these interesting pieces of art, created by Jagrook Dawra on an iPad.

King of the Jungle

iPad-art-king-of-the-jungle

A lone Wolf

iPad-art-a-lone-wolf

iPad-art-a-lone-wolf

 

Posted by Uncategorized | 1 Reply