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Home > Business > Special

Lessons learnt at B-schools

Gautam Thakar | August 18, 2006

The years spent at the business school were very rewarding, largely for the lessons learnt from teamwork, working under pressure and competition.

However, after working with Procter & Gamble, and eBay, I realised that a B-school merely provides a good start, but seldom prepares you for what it takes to make a business succeed.

I have realised that it is important to make choices and stick to them. Ambitious managers want to meet business goals by doing it all. And more. It's better to make few bigger bets and focus on doing everything to make them work. Just as the classic marketing trap of "being all things to all people" needs to be avoided.

This is hard to follow because we do not always know what will work. But those who can champion the power of making choices will be the leaders, the ones who will be able to drive disproportionate results from their people.

The next learning from my experience is - feed the strong and starve the weak. Knowing who your people are and helping them deliver better makes all the difference. We tend to focus on improving our weaker managers and working on development areas.

Unfortunately, while doing that we leave ourselves no time to help our stars grow. Thus, never hire second best, even if it means waiting longer. However, once you hire, if you assess that it's not working, cut your losses early.

Further, in large corporations there is a need to build consensus as it allows you to align programmes in a manner that will tie up all loose ends, which can otherwise lead to delays that kill projects.

Thus, it is important to involve all stakeholders in the early stages of the project. This can only be done if an organisation is able to build a culture where execution is driven at a point when failure is considered as a learning experience.

While I believe that applying these will increase the odds of business success, there is clearly no one right answer. So, it's important that we don't stop learning.

Gautam Thakar is country manager, eBay India. He graduated from the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, in 1996

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