Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back, and reasons to stay – The Dalai Lama
The B-Schools or institutes of management education have been providing professionally trained young graduates to industry 4.0 to fulfil its human resource requirements. In the current business and healthscare (not healthcare) scenario, which is now already the new normal, it is not just enough to have the required aptitude – what’s turning out to be more important is the attitude in the face of complex challenges and uncertainties.
Industry 4.0 has been facing unprecedented situations due to the pandemic and its continued effects in their operational, financial and human resources management. The situation appears to be getting more extended and complex. The administrative abilities of leaders and managers are being put to test as never before.
This brings into forefront the discussion on the purpose and pedagogy in management education. Just as companies are redefining their purpose, management education institutions also need to do a deep introspection and redefine its purpose and pedagogy. The traditional MBA degree – Master of Business Administration – is valid for normal and stable times. In situations of instability and uncertainty, it is more about Management of Problems / Challenges / Opportunities.
The biggest challenge for management education would be to develop subjects and pedagogy that builds ‘cognitive flexibility’ and ‘adaptive capacity’ of the students – a pedagogy that builds character, confidence, calmness and courage in the face of adversity and disruptive situations. An ability to work in teams with frugal budgets, and putting on their creative thinking hats to come up with innovative solutions, take decisions with minimum or incorrect available information. The speed of decision making is equally important – too much analysis does lead to paralysis. The ability to prepare ‘what if’ worst case scenarios should be built into their strategy curricula. The student should be able to appreciate the concept of ‘speed with stability’ in organizational decision making and implementation. An ability to develop good knowledge management systems in the organization so that ‘early warning’ signs of trouble can be flagged, to reduce risk, uncertainty and vulnerability. Additionally, good listening ability, with an open mind to listen to problems being faced by front foot and customer facing employees of the organization, helps. And how the interplay between organizational and individual factors can affect resilience power and impact the future and fortunes of an organization.
How should management education weave the above concepts into their curricula design? Since information is freely available at the click of a Google, the challenge is to contextualize knowledge and give hands-on experience to the students. The future of management education lies in integrating the classroom with real world situations.
The key is in strongly embedding experiential learning opportunities through live projects, summer internships, community engagement programmes that expose students to real life problems, use of technology to solve everyday problems that make life easier, industry speakers, international & rural immersions. An exposure to key lessons and managerial implications from our ancient scriptures (without being preachy) would bring in emotional maturity in thinking. Self-preservation through self-efforts – impressing upon students the importance of imbibing discipline through following a routine and any form of physical exercise like sports, yoga, walking, dancing, would do a world of good. The ability to cope with stress and uncertainty would only be possible if young budding managers are physically and emotionally fit.
At K J Somaiya Institute of Management, Somaiya Vidyavihar University, we are walking on these paths – ensuring that students get exposed to real life managerial situations – through live projects, case study discussions, industry immersions, guest lectures, international immersion opportunities, visits to rural areas, engaging with under privileged sections of society, inviting students from abroad for India immersion programmes, taking part in international conferences and organizing them at the institute, publishing research papers in leading journals and faculty development / exchange programmes. Students have access to world class sports facilities and the various clubs and committees are wonderful experiential learning platforms for the students.
Since 1981, the institute has evolved as among the few management institutes in India offering domain specific and multi-disciplinary MBA programmes. Apart from the core MBA programme, the institute offers full time MBA programmes in International Business, Retail Management, Financial Services, Integrated Marketing Communications, Healthcare Management, Human Resources and Sports Management, Executive MBA, Master of Computer Applications and the Part-Time MBA programmes in Marketing , Finance, HR and Information Management. Apart from this, the institute also offers Doctoral Studies in Management and has produced close to 50 PhD scholars in the past decade.
One of Einstein’s quotes is very apt here: “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.” So should be the case with management education.
Dr. Monica Khanna
Director, K J Somaiya Institute of Management
Dean – Faculty of Management Studies, Somaiya Vidyavihar University