What Should B-Schools Teach?

Technology is changing how a business operates and B-Schools must prepare the students for the 'unknown risks' of tomorrow


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Many organizations are connecting everyone, everything and everywhere. Organizations are also becoming capable of delivering instant, intimate, incremental value on a large scale which is also personalized. They are creating a world in which people, insights and money interact quickly and at ease. Technology is changing how a business operates. Are B-Schools preparing the students for the 'unknown risks' of tomorrow? Let's unravel.

One aspect for several Indian B-Schools is the fact that career and growth in a business school depends more on research than on teaching. The growth depends more on the number of papers and citations that a professor has, than his or her capability to strategize and run a business or even teach in a classroom. Getting into a class, teaching a group of graduate students is being seen as a punishment by some faculty members as it is not rewarding them in equivalence to having one or two publications in Australian Business Deans Council's (ABDC) Journal Quality List, be it the ranking agencies or even the regulatory authorities; everyone is running the race of publishing so that they can publish papers. Research is good and is necessary only when it adds value. Several Indian B-School professors are publishing papers for adding quantity and are not focusing on the quality, utility and value. If they don't do it, they are left out and hence even cats are running the rat race, today!

Many business school's professors have no management experience required to manage a business which is technology based and also does not understand the strategic management aspects required for implementing and managing the new paradigms of business. Also in many Indian B-schools, professors have never worked in corporate sector or have never been a part of a start-up, never taken consulting assignments to solve real-world challenges of organizations but are teaching the students on how to face the challenges thrown by the corporate conglomerates. Doesn't that sound crazy? There are some skills, knowledge and competencies which must be taught in B-Schools.

Facing Failure - B-Schools assume that all students will keep achieving success and will never fail! This can never happen in reality. Many millennials who are entering the workforce, break down miserably when they face failure. Hence B Schools must teach students on how to face failure. They must also teach them to cope up with failure and educate them on how to get going in case they face failure.

Adapting to Change and keep learning – Change is an integral part of any growth experience. With technology becoming obsolete at a faster pace and companies like Amazon, Apple, Alibaba, Airbnb, Facebook, Google, Spotify, Tesla, Uber, etc. are constantly innovating products, services and even the business models. B Schools students must be taught to adapt and learn fast.

Learning from others failure – Many B-Schools invite corporate gurus who are successful and those who have achieved fast growth rates or those who occupy Chief Experience Officer position. Not many B-Schools invite failed start-ups or those entrepreneurs who didn't succeed. This must be an integral part of the B-School curriculum where the students must be exposed to such people so that they can learn from others mistake.

Sales - Sales is a core function and is one of the prime aspects of every business. There are a few electives in Sales and students are taught sales techniques which give only theoretical knowledge. B-Schools assume that the organizations will put the student through a sales training program all by themselves. This is a blunder; hence B-Schools must teach, train and equip every student to be a sales expert by giving them the appropriate input for the same.

Cutting edge tech – B-School curriculum hardly has cutting edge tech-tools training included in it. Taking an example of 'Microsoft Power BI', which offers a wide array of services for data management and is considered an integral tool of financial management is not taught in more than 95 per cent of Indian B-Schools. Another example can be 'Tableau' which is a powerful data visualization tool used for Business Intelligence, is taught only in a handful Indian B-Schools.

The soft skills – B-School must ensure that aspects like empathy, ability to be highly communicative, intuitive and analytic, inventive ability along with strategic orientation are ingrained in every student. The habit of reading books which can make them develop diverse interests should also be mandatory.

Will B-Schools have the right mentors to do this job? Will the regulatory agencies make the necessary changes? Required measures should be taken accordingly.

Dr Ramakrishnan Raman & Dr Justin Paul

Professor and Director Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune; Professor University of Puerto Rico, US

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