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What they don't teach you at B-School

By B K Chaturvedi in New Delhi
October 03, 2007 09:53 IST
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While B-school education helped me realise some of my strengths as I stepped into the corporate world, I also felt somewhat inadequate.

It took some soul-searching to become aware of the areas where I was lacking. These areas had little to do with knowledge and more to do with skills and attitude.

This was many years ago, but I see B-school graduates still face such issues. It makes me feel that certain things are still not taught sufficiently at B-schools. Whether they can be taught or not is, of course, debatable. Let me share four gap areas:

Collaboration versus competition: Typically, management students are fiercely competitive and self-focused. But business organisations require a high degree of interdependence among workers.

Working in an organisation requires the willingness to help others to succeed, even without any tangible gain to oneself. However, the question "What is in it for me?" comes to most people's minds.  It took me time to get over this attitude.

Accepting uncertainties: Real life situations operate under higher uncertainty than what classroom discussions or cases can generate.

In times of uncertainty, I would look for perfect data to eliminate the uncertainty, but while I would be still searching, the situation would change, requiring new data. Such situations can be frustrating.

Often blame went to my superior for not giving me the complete picture. It was only later that I realised that business decision situations will always have uncertainties and there will be more variables around it than one can imagine, and that I need to accept them and do my best, rather than constantly fight them.

Living with ambiguities and organisational politics: Organisational politics and game-playing may sound unethical, but they are unavoidable. An "informational" organisation is always a part of a formal organisation.

Understanding informational organisation is important to influence the system. It is not sufficient to be right to get things done, it is also important to get to agreement on it, even if, at times, it means sub-optimisation. Consensus-building skills are not given much attention in B-schools.

B K Chaturvedi graduated from IIM, Ahmedabad, in 1971

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B K Chaturvedi in New Delhi
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