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Your B-school won't teach you this
Pankaj Vaish | January 26, 2006
After my decades of experience in the real world of business after my MBA, I feel B-school education falls short on two counts. One, teaching you how to deal with people. Two, teaching the ability to make decisions in real-time, with limited information.
Given that business success is essentially driven by communication between people, this is a significant gap in the MBA curriculum. It is true that there is no "template" for acquiring this skill; each situation needs to be approached differently, in a manner appropriate to each individual.
Developing this ability may require experience in the real world, but B-schools can help by involving students in more realistic role-playing situations.
Sure, an MBA degree provides intensive training in analysing issues and problems. Sure, the ability to analyse is important in the decision-making process. But so is the speed of decision-making.
Let's face it, real-life business problems are a far cry from the ready-made case studies we read at B-school, where all the information is available on-hand. In the real world, you never have all the information at your disposal and it is never possible to meet everyone's expectations -- real-world decision-making is all about making judgements.
It's important to have a perspective on an issue rather than focus purely on logic. No doubt, the ability to think on your feet and weigh such options in a paradigm of imperfect information is an invaluable lesson that only experience can help you perfect.
Yet, I think B-schools can contribute to the process. Also, getting in more faculty from industry to talk about real-life situations would vastly strengthen B-schools' ability to link the make believe of the classroom and hard hitting reality of the workplace.
Pankaj Vaish is the India BPO head at Accenture. He completed his MBA from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, in 1985.