Showing posts from May, 2012

Sheryl Sandberg's Address to HBS Class of 2012


The Question of Return

Someone remarked about my recurring conversations about returning to India some day: I saw it as an unremarkable everyday conversation of any migrant's life. Identities are indeed transient, but home isn't. I may adopt a certain lifestyle and work in a certain way, but having spent the first thirty years of my life uninterrupted in one city, it would not be easy to make some other place my home. This is what it really is: As long as I live elsewhere, I see this as a life out of a suitcase. I am not tired yet, and I see my identity as a traveller, but I am not resting till I finally return home. It is usually a recurrent conversation every morning, when I shall meet other expats on my regular compartment on the 833 to London Bridge and talk about nuances of going back to India: Our realities may be different, but the desires are similar. There is nothing new to talk about - the conversations follow a similar arc, the tremendous opportunity, the stifling corruption, the lack


I am coming to an end of one distinct phase in my life and starting another. I have spent two years, exact to the day, learning about Higher Education. This is what I wanted to do: I enrolled myself in a course studying Higher Education and got myself a job in a Higher Ed college, and spent every waking moment reading and talking about it. After two years of doing this, I feel as if I have forever been here. Eye-opening is a cliche but it does indeed happen. I can easily claim that the two years of pursuing a Higher Ed career deconstructed the industry for me. The voodoo of instruction design now looks more like Highway Code than mind-reading; the very impressive monastic rituals that mark university graduation ceremonies look more like retrospective identity building than following an unbroken tradition.  I am starting to talk the talk, in a way. Grey hair in place, I try to be slightly eccentric-sounding; I am also discovering the value of scruffy dressing and being arro

Would Independent Colleges Disrupt The British Higher Education?

It doesn't seem so at this time, when the British Government's discriminatory treatment of private sector higher education institutions driving the sector to extinction; however, from the experience of other industries, one can see that this is precisely the time when winners, and new business models, emerge. British Higher Ed, right now, is at a crossroad, but is leading towards a blind alley. The ever more bureaucratic state is trying to shape the higher ed agenda, and spawning a generation of ever more compliant university officials disconnected from the reality of the marketplace and with heads hidden in the sands of already bankrupt politics of grants and funding. The celebrated triple helix is being torn apart, almost by design, as the state tries to disentangle itself from the crisis of confidence, the industry continues to deal with the fall-outs of global recession, and universities try harder to please their ever more demanding, and ever more stingy, masters. What we


Indeed, there is no such word as Consumerization - I just made it up to describe the process of us turning consumers. One can argue that we are all consumers now, already, the process of transformation is already over before I made up the word. However, while the consumer identity is all pervasive, the process of turning into consumers isn't over yet. Just as it seems that everything that could be 'consumerized' has been 'consumerized', a new area opens up, and the process starts in all earnestness. However, I am not trying to arrive at a value judgement, whether it is good or bad, or should we keep doing what we are doing. The point is it is happening: Numerous transformations, citizens to consumers, students to consumers, patients to consumers, pensioners to consumers, is going on around us all the time. Zygmaunt Bauman bemoans the waning of 'producer ethic', the deferment of consumption and working to produce, and the rise of 'consumer ethic'

What is the College for?

It is indeed time that we ask this question and seek an answer. After all, we live in the age of, what some observers claim, an education bubble. Who would have thought, only a couple of decades back, that more education could be seen as a bad thing? However, as the college debts soar in America, and graduate unemployment keeps rising, it seems that some people will indeed go bankrupt for their education, and there is a real fear that it may pull an economy or two down. It is therefore pertinent to ask what the college does to a person, and see if it has, as an institution, any ongoing relevance in the modern society. But, before that, let us acknowledge that it is indeed one of those big hairy questions that no one wants to answer. College is a good thing, we have come to accept. We live in a knowledge economy, we have come to accept. More education means greater productivity, and only a moron can question this assumption. Education has become key to employability, and this shoul

The Art of Change

I have been intimately involved in a 'project' to change an organisation - a complex one in a highly regulated space - and I speak of the mechanics of change usually referring back to this experience. While it lasts, this has been the most demanding, frustrating yet exhilarating work I have done so far: Progress as in one step forward, two steps back was all very common, and often, we seemed to have taken forever to resolve even the most straightforward issues. Indeed, by writing about it, I am not trying to claim any breakthrough success or mastery of the art of change management. On the contrary, this is more like the dispatches from the fault lines of an organisation in transition. I learnt to hate organisational politics for no particular reason other than because people said so. In today's cynical democracies, people in politics are typically sleazy ones, those who try to be everything to everyone, with the sole objective of making themselves rich. Statesmen are a

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