Prime objective of typical MBA program: The Objective of an MBA programme is not only to train the students in the specific management science but also to equip them to hold leadership positions to drive and lead organization/ institutions, contributing meaningfully as change agents and creating 'good' wealth for the society while remaining socially responsible and ethical. The objective is to create change agents. The necessary abilities for such change masters would be strategic thinking power, ability to work in teams, excellent communication skills, empathy, wholesome view, creativity, technical competence, humility, and people-related skills. And this needs a shift from B-School Model to l(innovative)-School Model based on the premises of questioning, observing, networking, associational thinking, and experimenting.
Ways B-schools should impart knowledge: In India, most MBA class compositions have an average age of 22 years. Majority of the class is likely to be freshers - those without any work experience or entry-level work experience and undergraduate class would be composed of absolutely no work experience at all. The real-life workplace needs reflective thinking, inductive perspective, and team synergy. Case study method provides the space to think to a great extent. However, it depends on the choices and quality of the specific cases that the mentors arrange and orchestrate. Though the case methods can be very effective that is basically influenced by Harvard School Model yet there are proponents of mixed method model mostly encouraged by those who follow Wharton School Model. They feel the latter is more effective as not all cases can give you the exact feel of the situation and the decision may vary in real life situation. The real-world scenarios that cases present broaden our knowledge of business problems, but used in isolation, they have real potential to create misguided case-solvers rather than informed and astute decision-makers, and here's why context matters. No two companies are alike. Each has distinct characteristics- industry, leadership and competitive landscape that make every decision and its outcomes unique. The danger lies in students' inclination to interpret a case's takeaways as universally applicable to companies with similar profiles or to those operating in a similar environment. Rather a mixed method constituted of both cases and simulation may be more effective as it mitigates the above risk.
Relevant course curriculum: As the business world is becoming more uncertain day by day, there is a great need to foster those values that would bring a sync between 'I-School' and 'B-School'. Thus, there is need to focus more on the culture of learning and reflection, achievement orientation, creativity, interdependence and respect for diversity. A synthetic approach can be a great help. Apart from the wisdom of Tylorian B-school perspectives, B-school should also emphasize on how to switch to innovators method (I-School Approach) and leading through experimenting, setting the grand challenge, building a broad deep expertise and removing the barriers during uncertain times. The skill to switch from executing in certainty to experimenting in uncertainty, from protecting existing resources to circumvent resources, from maximizing- optimize to minimize and suffice, from vertical teams to horizontal teams from marginal fixed cost logic to full cost logic. Management theories are mostly developed to solve the large company management problem and not the innovation problem. And business schools emerged to train this breed of managers to be effective at solving the problems of large corporations, such as how to tweak around to add a new feature? Or how can we reduce the cost by some percent- a sort of method known as low uncertainty problems calling for incremental changes to existing product or processes? In contrast, most start-ups and corporate entrepreneurs trying to launch new products that have disruptive potential; hence needs knowledge and skills for high uncertainty problem solving that are way far from the purview of B-school wisdom.
As the age of uncertainty develops the relevance of I-School model becomes more profound, pragmatic, immediate and indispensable to market needs. At Sona School of management, we are not only the first to coin an' I-School Approach in India but also have floated a course "Innovator's Methods" as a part of our course curriculum.
Author: Prof. Dr. Swarup K Mohanty,
Director & Senior Professor, Sona School of Management