Showing posts from June, 2011

What Quality Means for An MBA Programme?

I am forced to think what quality means for an education programme through my day-to-day activities to develop and establish a high 'quality' MBA programme. The interactions with the Academic team tells me that better quality means greater resource allocation, more people, more computers, more books for the library etc. This may be correct up to a point and reflect the realities of the programme management, where one battle you want to win is the battle for the budgets. However, I am not convinced that once the resources are sorted out, 'quality' will happen itself. On the contrary, I have started believing that quality of a programme may not be linked to resources at all, once an adequate level of resources have been allocated. The example I shall use here is that there is an optimal class size. Let's say we throw more resources and reduce our class sizes from 30 to 20: I am unlikely to believe that this will mean better quality of the programme. Same goes for unde

Ted Talk: Malcolm Gladwell on Perfect Food

The E-School Approach

Nathan Furr makes a case for the E-School approach on his Forbes blog ( read here ) and against the traditional B-School approach. The key difference, following his argument, is seeing problems as opportunity and uncertainty as a given. While B-Schools keep talking about change, they have changed little (except becoming far too expensive) and collectively, the B-School world does not want the world to change. However, it is changing. We all know about technology. While the technological changes are being co-opted in B-School curriculum, it is not easy to cope with its social effect: The age of transparency. In the age of Wikileaks , it is important to be transparent: Instead, the B-Schools are trying hard to tell people that they must look authentic. The statement is self-defeating, indeed. However, that shows the key problem with B-Schools: They are too disconnected from life. The idea of E-School, hence, is important, and I would tend to agree that all Business Education must go tha

Preparing to Teach

I have taken on teaching responsibilities starting this week. I wish I didn't, as the preparation for this has now been added to my already crazy schedule; but, then, I wanted to teach. This is the first reason I took on my current job. From the small amount of teaching I have done over the last year, I know I enjoy teaching too: It gives me the excuse to prepare, and learn more myself through conversations with students. However, this week's teaching commitment is slightly different from what I have done so far. I am supposed to do a 'tutorial' as opposed to a lecture. Personally, I am not sure what the tutorials are supposed to achieve. We are teaching for an MBA, and the stated purpose of the tutorial is to ready the students for examinations. While I know this may be necessary for some of our students, who clearly find writing nuanced essays a challenging task, the idea of preparing for the examinations run counter to my belief what MBA should be about. I am trying

Another Update on My Life

Another weekend, but I have never had a quiet weekend when I have nothing to do. This time, I have to do two bits of coursework to be turned in next week, and also prepare for a class I am scheduled to take on Thursday. So, I would be busy. But, hopefully, once I am done with these two bits of work, my MA almost complete (except the dissertation), I can focus on other things in life. May be. I feel this deep urge to change things and move forward. About a year back, I wanted to live in a steady state: Stay home, and have a predictable life - that's what I opted for. I got what I wanted in good measure, and now it is boring. I seem to have come a full circle and life must now change again. I shall, indeed, look back at the past year with satisfaction. I have achieved a lot. I have put in real efforts at work and changed things significantly. I have learned a lot. I have met interesting people, at work and outside, who would probably now remain friends all my life. In a way, thi

On Greek Debts

The Greeks are at it again. It is not their fault: They, like everyone else, believed in the system they lived inside. But, if one cares to look, we have irreversibly reached the age of sovereign bankruptcies. This isn't new: This used to be common for princely states. But, succumbing to the same historical disease is mightily embarrassing for modern states, and for those economists who claimed to have seen the end of history. The world we live in, shall we now admit, isn't sustainable. What we are witnessing are not minor blimps, but the death pangs of an aged system which has been on life support for a long time. We are living with hope that an unlimited supply of oxygen, in this case, bail-out money, will keep us going. But we are very very close to bankrupting everyone. To understand what might be, and how we can get out of the mess, it may be a good idea to turn to, yes, Greeks. More specifically, to this ancient Greek statesman, Solon (638 - 558 BC). Solon, a worldly wise

Negotiating Change

Over the last 12 months, I have been doing some interesting work to bring change into a well-established organization. Indeed, the change that I was tasked to bring in was absolutely essential: The marketplace was changing rapidly and the company needed to move accordingly. I bore the title of 'Head of Strategy and Planning' for a while, as the key task was to interpret the change outside and formulate the change inside. At the end of 12 months, my job is still incomplete, but I have a perspective of the job: I look back with satisfaction with what we have achieved collectively, but also realize the task was full of surprises. In summary, I shall treat these 12 months as my life on the crust of change, a deeply satisfying experience if it is ever over. I think the key lesson that I learned being on the coalface of change is that it is messier than the textbooks and theories make it sound. Most of my frustrations - and I must admit that I had a fair share - came from anchoring m

Educating For Wisdom

Steven Schwartz, the VC of Macquarie University, Sydney, wrote a well-argued piece in Times Higher Education, on the need to 'educate' students rather than just train ( read his article here ). He is clearly right. As the universities abandon their responsibility to educate, the world has become a more dangerous place, full of engineers, doctors, lawyers, managers and statesmen who lack moral judgement of any kind. Besides, this failure, at the same time when an university degree is absolutely essential to get anywhere in life, subverts our ability to make rational choices: What a waste of time and energy it is to spend so many years collectively studying something that gives a formula which is already outdated and does not prepare us for any change in circumstances? The reason I think Professor Schwartz is right on the money is partly because the lessons I have learned dealing with universities over last few years. My impression is that for most universities, quality control i

Professional And Personal Identities

I have come across a number of people who are struggling to keep their professional and personal identities separate on social media. The challenges are common : Have two twitter accounts or one ? Have read so many stories , few with happy endings but a lot more lot less pleasant , of people mixing up their twitter accounts and sending wrong messages to wrong people . On a more involved scale, getting one 's work colleagues on Facebook , and the recent case of one of the jurors contacting one of the defendants , is something fraught with danger . However , another side of the story is that it is incredibly difficult to keep the two separate, and often , an honest effort smacks of dishonesty and manipulative behaviour . The point , indeed , is that this is all about an individual person and it is best to be as open and honest to the world as possible . However , it is equally true

Recalibrating Myself

I am in Rome , my first real break - not counting the almost depressing and lonely Christmases I spent over last few years - since December 2005. I needed the time away , to think over what I am doing now and what I want to do, and wandering around on the streets of Rome is proving to be a good way to do this . Besides , it is helpful that I am not too rushed - I am not with a touring party or doing a hop -on hop - off city tour - but can take my time sitting in a Bistro or take an afternoon off at the hotel ( which I did today , a break from the midday sun ). One thing I know about Rome is that I did not come prepared . If I contrast this visit to my visit to Paris , I knew what I wanted to see . I read Da Vinci Code just as I visited the city, and despite its flawed history and even geography , it told me the stories of the place and prepared my mind for it . I also knew

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