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Home > Business > Special

3 lessons B-schools miss teaching

Nalin Garg | May 16, 2007

Business schools are great! They add value to students' education by actively providing insights into the learnings and practices of some of the world's best theorists, academicians and business leaders. B-schools certainly do teach you a lot, but then there is more that needs to be learnt.

Initiative and risk-taking: Learning from others' experiences is wise. The successes and failures of individuals and companies have shaped current-day management courses.

Each of those instances was pioneering in its time. There were a small percentage of risk-takers who lived to tell the tale, instantly defining newer paradigms. Each perspective comes with its assumptions and constraints, and it is up to the individual to challenge and break new ground.

Adaptability: To roll with the punches and come on top each time, an individual has to assimilate the operating environment and conditions and, using that as a base, act!

That is easier said than done since the environment itself changes so rapidly - be it politics, the economy, competition or consumer preference. A motley combination of various, seemingly unrelated, factors interact to create this environment.

Each instance of variation has a counterbalancing impact on some other factor, with a resulting change in the operating environment. The skill to succeed in this ever-changing, always evolving environment resides in the person, not in the B-school he or she went to.

Application: B-school courses use models, metrics and terminology to get potential entrants into corporate roles off to a flying start. They speak of and relate to events in the same way, using the same jargon.

However, the correct application of a model or tool is usually an individual's discretion; it is his or her interpretation of the situation that forces a judgement, accurate or otherwise. The application of learning is the proof of the pudding - a realisation of the latent knowledge in an actual business context, which rests squarely on the individual's shoulders.

B-schools, too, work continuously trying to bring in the best inputs possible, in terms of trends, preferences and principles, though the introduction of such knowledge in course curriculum happens only after it has been published or, at least, documented.

This involves significant lag time, and given the breadth and speed of change, this is an uphill and never-ending task.

In sum, a B-school is the basic foundation that equips individuals to get a firm footing in the corporate arena, but there are several other skills that one needs to assimilate to survive and succeed there.

But most important of all - don't forget to live and have fun. It is too easy to get caught up in the rat race; stay out of it. Spend the first few years of your corporate life with your nose down, bury your ego, enjoy every moment of your work and make sure that you do the best you can. Success will follow.

Nalin Garg graduated from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, in 1992

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