Thursday, August 23, 2007

WHAT AN MBA TAUGHT ME - PART ONE

I always hear from alumni of BSchools how the education there 'changed their lives' and all that. Well, I found it kind of incredulous to believe... Because all they taught us in management school was, hell, common sense.

I mean, after two classes of marketing, I could identify the 'target audience' who uses Lakme products. Hell, I don't need a class in marketing to tell me that - I knew that when I was in the 8th grade, probably I called it a less-flashy 'people who use Lakme'. Now don't tell me I'm shelling out two years and 9 lakhs to learn fancy words. Or am I?

I'm not entirely sceptical about the whole system - I know there will be some change, even if all they're teaching is common sense glittered with nice 9-letter long words.

So what I want to do here is to attempt to track my own real-life progress... I mean, how I feel at certain points in my MBA education that I have changed or I feel that the stuff thrown at us in class has changed me... I'll attempt to do this twice in my first year and twice in my second... And see how I have changed overall... Now that may or may not make interesting reading, but hell, it's an interesting exercise and gives me something to blog about.

I slowly realised it's a process of building up, and structuring your thoughts in a particular line of thinking. Yeah, everyday, you learn pretty basic stuff, but somehow it all seems to add up, and the difference is not hugely palpable, but one can feel it happen.
It may be something as mundane as making better PowerPoint pressos, or using management jargon in the place of English... But then, these are small things. Bigger things, I'd like to believe, will accrue in time. I may be defensive of the fact that I paid quite a bit to be here, but hey, optimism never killed anyone. Well, almost.

SEPARATING THE WHEAT FROM THE PFAFF

We've also learnt that pfaffing (gassing, hawa maaring, call it what you like...) is an inescapable part of MBA life. Hell, how do you make a simple one-line statement sound like the greatest discovery since sliced bread and ribbed condoms? Pfaff, damnit! Devote a whole three slides to it, and suddenly, it becomes 'hot'! Perspective? Ah!

But seriously, we've learnt useful pfaff and useless pfaff. We know when to pfaff and when not to. We know how to separate the wheat from the pfaff ;)

But is it easy to pfaff? Gassing, as it was called back in Engineering days (ah!) was an art I picked up from my mentors and developed. It came to the point where I was able to write two whole pages in my university exam papers on topics that I never had heard of. Of course, this skill is perfected by many an artist. And it is invaluable.

However, some people overdo it - especially in PPTs where the onus should be on keeping it short and simple. Also, this epidemic of pfaffing helps us to appreciate a good point (if and) when it comes through!

DESPERADO...

And now comes the whole concept of DCP. I don't need to expand that. Yeah, we're usually a happy peaceful lot, gracious enough to let our fellow classmates do the talking if they have a pertinent point. But then, introduce the concept of points for each and every thing you say and you have pandemonium! And funilly, it's not a case of one-upmanship as one might percieve, but rather a case of people trying to get any arbit thought that forumlates between those grey cells, out of their oesophagii. Oh, well.

Does this have a lesson in the corporate world? Are things like this incentive-driven? Do we need POINTS to keep us awake in class? I'm a firm believer of the it-may-be-crude-but-effective method... And well, if the shoe fits, wear it (Uhm, running out of cliches here...)

THE WORLD OF CINEMA... THE REAL WORLD!

I never was a movie freak... The people who have tried to get me to watch films will know that... But then, our maverick prof, A F M, introduced us to what real cinema is all about... He's got some kick-ass ideologies and makes me proud to be an atheist. Disturbing thoughts into today's world, and some of his lines, and not just the funny ones, will stay with us forever. Thank you, sir, for some of the most open-minded classses I've ever attended. Sorry for sleeping in session 14 :

AND LASTLY...

A BSchool is all about the people. Learning to adjust in groups, dealing with personalities, having fun, dealing with lots of things at once, trying to keep everyone happy, creative ideas to celebrate a birthday amidst trying to work on a research proposal powerpoint... It's an incredible learning experietonce, and nothing can replicate that... Stuff like this cannot be written down even by fiteen generations of Kotlers... It's all got to be experienced.
And somehow, all that madness, all that rush, all that bathing-and-eating-in-two-minutes-before-class-starts and all that experience is what you REALLY take out of a BSchool... And not necessarily accounts and theoretical behaviour models and strategies.