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How to keep an open mind

September 16, 2006 13:03 IST

The most important thing that B-schools try to teach you is 'survival of the fittest.' However, this principle, is more theory-based, with an emphasis on ethics and the right and wrongs of the business.

Although this teaching is also important, it lacks focus on future trends. These trends basically teach you to defend yourself from people who violate the rules of business.

B-schools should teach their students to face such real-life situations or problems and work their way around them without being demotivated or disillusioned with their jobs.

I also accept that a lot of this can't really be "taught" and management students (later executives) will have to devise their own ways to tackle such situations. But a basic lesson on facing reality will help management graduates get a better hold of the situation.

The most common gap between the MBA and real life, which all B-school graduates realise sooner or later, is the lack of people management skills. Management programmes focus on these skills through role plays and theory, but they fail to give practical guidelines on the best ways to manage the biggest asset of an organisation.

In real life, managers may have to unlearn the processes taught at B-schools and re-learn them through old-fashioned trial and error. Of course, this also helps managers develop their own style to manage their organisation's human resources.

Further, management students must be taught to keep open minds and be prepared to adapt to different styles and theories of different organisations. I have realised from my experience that B-schools teach you to be versatile in a way to understand new sectors or domains, but fail to teach how to adapt to and accept real-life situations.

Still, a B-school is important to gain theoretical knowledge and develop strong foundations. But you must realise that graduating from B-school is only the first step: there's a lot more to people, organisational cultures, theories and the application of management education.

It's like clearing the fourth grade with flying colours and entering the secondary section, only to find there's still so much you need to learn.

Sandeep Aggarwal is vice-president, sales, solutions and transition, Intelenet Global Services. He graduated from the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies in 1996.

As told to Meghana Biwalkar.

Sandeep Aggarwal
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