Prime objective of typical MBA programme:
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 (stated on almost each B-School's website) 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. All this looks like a packaged tom-tom talk!
Ways B-Schools should impart knowledge and operate:
B schools teach management principles that are old and mostly developed during post-industrial revolution times to solve the large company management problems, not innovation problems. The focus was to transform the economic landscape through assembled line productions thus replacing small workshops by large conglomerates. These Goliaths demanded managers, not leaders to run the train of tylorian needs creating green pastures for B schools to flourish. They propagated knowledge and skills on how to coordinate and control, how to optimize activities and coordinate execution at certain times, not in an uncertain and turbulent business scenario.
The focus is more on how to capture value from customers, not how to create value. To understand this two approaches (B- School vs I-School) through a layman's perspective let's say- in a B-school when we study marketing, we typically learn in building and protecting our brand or doing quantitative analysis to identify customer segments, collect /get customer feedback. However, in an 'I -school', we initially ignore our brand and obtain feedback through direct interaction, by experience, observations or interviews or all mix together. The idea is not just to build a brand but to satisfy a wide range of customers through improved products. Thus it emphasizes the need to test low fidelity prototypes with small cohorts of customers, embarrassing both errors and opportunities to learn, unlike B-school. Similarly, when we learn Finance we are taught about marginal cost logic not full cost logic just to play safe, this makes us parochial towards making incremental innovation efforts. B-school basically does not encourage to look for opportunities to build something disruptive therefore discourages uncertainty.
Shifting between B- School and I- School approach:
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 a need to focus more on the culture of learning and reflection, achievement orientation, creativity, interdependence and respect for diversity. The recent Harvard and Marriot School research survey corroborates the fact that nearly 2/3 of our skills can be learned.
Innovation can also be learned through inculcating skills like questioning, observing, networking, experimenting, and associational thinking. Therefore, 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 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 maximize- 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 short of a 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 lunch new products that have disruptive potential; hence needs knowledge and skills for high uncertainty problem solving that are way far from the preview 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.