January 12, 2011

Innovation In Management Education

Call it a fad, call it a necessity, call it essential, but Management Education is something that each student aspires for. Each one of us is a natural manager, the extent to which we learn to manage is what is important and in this quest some of us pursue formal education in management, while some others emerge as self taught. What I will be concentrating upon is this pursuit of formal management education.

The system of education in the country has a strong foundation. Talk of the `Guru Shishsya Parampara’ that has existed from time immemorial, or what is also being talked about as the mentoring concept. We know about Dronacharya- Arjun; Dronacharya-Ekalavya stories from the epic Mahabharata. The reason I am quoting these two examples is to focus on the pursuit and the self taught. That Arjun was recognised as a great archer is no secret, but that he emerged greater than his Guru was a result of the true grit of pursuit, practice and perseverance to excel in the art imparted by the guru. While Ekalvya is a true reflection not of a Guru Shishya but a Mentoring concept, he considered Dronacharya as his mentor and showed his excellence through the act of practice and perseverance. Just goes to show that he lacked only one factor that of pursuit and expert guidance. Now I say this just to reflect the need for formal education in the modern times.
From the time of village economy, wherein the Guruji’s of the kingdom would impart education to their subjects in the famous `Guru Shishya Parampara’, a model more relevant to the self sufficient village economy of then to the current state wherein technological progress has made the world a global village. With international barriers shrinking, and the world becoming a smaller place, it is a prerequisite for business schools to meet global standards. B-Schools have to endeavor continuously to create an atmosphere where the students can learn, explore and emerge of custodians of today so that they can grow into well-groomed leaders of tomorrow. That the country has seen nearly a decade of liberalization, investments by so many transnational companies, continuously searching for talent in the country and looking for able managers who can take on the challenge and become the `Make It Happen’ Guys.
Are lectures (monologues or dialogues); coupled with case studies, interactive sessions, workshops, seminars and presentations the ideal form of teaching. This is the traditional method followed across most institutions. Some have innovated with Guest faculty who give a firsthand experience of the happenings in the corporate world, so that the students can remain updated of the recent developments. It is becoming imperative for B-Schools for effectively combining tradition with modernity and innovates.
Let us examine the traditional methods followed by most of the B-schools in short listing the students for Management education. The objective oriented written exam, followed by Group Discussions and Personal Interview. Many leading B-schools have innovated and incorporated factors of psychological performance through innovative management games and response tests for judging the students true outlook for pursuing management education.
B-schools create leaders and revolutionary thinkers in the business world but they have not been thinking or taking any innovative steps as far as their own brand building is concerned until now. The wish list that one might want from B-Schools may be endless. However, as a benchmark B-schools should strive to provide an infrastructure that will incorporate the state-of-the-art facilities aimed at strengthening the conceptual, technical and human skills of the managers that emerge from the institute. The overall set up should be futuristic with features of intelligence building that will be cumulative effect of Technology with knowledge partners (faculties from India and abroad) from across the globe. Thanks to rapid progress of technology for this will be a systems driven set up in the age of digital era. These facilities should include Plug and Play classrooms equipped with videoconferencing, video data LCD projectors, audio playback facilities with high speed internet connectivity; Centre for Global Networking; E-centre and Entrepreneurship Guidance Cell; Hi-tech Management development centre; Case Study discussion hall, State-of-the-art CD ROM based library, and the likes.
Before a student joins the institute, along with the parent and the peers they tend to be the customer; once the student joins the institute, he is still the institutes’ customer as there is an input of knowledge on this raw material. This raw material is processed to emerge as a product and at this stage; the prospective employer is the customer of the institute. Moreover, the erstwhile customer has turned into a product. However, the Institute continues to be the product, as it acts as the production line with experts in the respective fields imparting knowledge. Looking at the product and the customer for a management institute is like a `Clay Pigeon’ event in a game of shooting, but one has to continue aiming at the target and striking it right.
Now what if the target aims at the gun!
Turn the whole model around and you can look at a pool of dynamic professionals who can foster `Knowledge Development’ in this age of Knowledge Management. This is participatory management for it involves not just the resources of the faculty, but also the students, alumni and corporate professionals on a single platform thus further enhancing accessibility of this knowledge resource base for individuals and corporate.
B-Schools have to look at the concept of building quality students, transferring them to the corporate world, as well as support managers in their future endeavor by transferring of the professionals to the corporate world. They ascending the success ladder are a reflection of their ability to adapt to the ever-changing business environment. Learning an ongoing process by providing students with facilities and the opportunity to upgrade their skills at the various stages of their lives, hence, Pursuit is a second act of victory, in many cases more important than the first!

Article Authored by
Prof.Dr.Uday Salunkhe,
Group Director
Prin.L.N.Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research, Mumbai



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