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Home > Business > Special


B-schools don't teach you street smartness

Suman Srivastava | June 12, 2007

Business school taught me how to read balance sheets, but didn't tell me how to motivate people to give their best. It taught me how to structure the organisation for maximum productivity, but not how to deal with a person who thinks her boss is a creep. My management degree taught me how to create an excellent marketing strategy, but not how to sell it to a client who is insecure about his job.

Business schools tend to be very left-brained. Very analytical, quantitative and structured. Which is a good thing because the Indian education system is not very good at teaching us to be analytical, quantitative or structured. The school system basically teaches us to learn by rote. The best business schools force you to unlearn that.

In the process, they tend to put the quantitative approach to a problem on a pedestal, ignoring the qualitative and "feel" aspects of managing people. If management is both a science and an art, then B-schools teach the science but ignore the art.

Life, unfortunately, is all about art. Success comes to those who learn to deal with people best. Those who learn to understand the fears and motivations that people have, understand their joys and sorrows. The role of a leader is to inspire, provide direction and keep people motivated. Other professional skills are taken for granted.

One can argue, perhaps with justification, that nobody can teach the art. That may be true, but where business schools tend to err is in leaving their management students with a feeling that the art doesn't really matter.

I had to wait until my hair turned grey before I understood that the art does matter.

But perhaps, I am just a slow learner.

Suman Srivastava graduated from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, in 1987



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