Learning that goes beyond the books

Learning that goes beyond the books

Learning that goes beyond the books

More often than not, we hear the “real world” is very different from the “book world”. Yes and No is what I would say. Yes, because the world of work is dynamic and the book may not capture all the iterations. No, because the book is a compilation of experiences and concepts that emerge from them and the learner needs to test, experiment and learn by revisiting the past. So, while the MBA students have been busy learning from the book, not many have taken to applying, experimenting and if need be, challenging it. With the way of doing business changing each day, new business models emerging and paradigms shifting, learning from outside the books is indeed integral and not an option anymore.

Changing games and rules

Today, multinational companies are learning the art of balancing the ‘big’ things but wish to retain the energy and verve of a start-up, so that they remain relevant. The new Google and Alphabet story is a testimony to this. It will therefore help MBAs to learn to work in both structured and start-up cultures. If you have a dream company, imagine that you are working for that organisation, and ask yourself what you would do to take it to the next level. Make a report on what you think the company should consider, share it with your faculty and if possible with someone at that organisation. Companies want people who are able to apply new knowledge to designing a new future. Taking up specialised courses that offer domain knowledge in new-age areas, such as agribusiness, energy, e-commerce, design and innovation and entrepreneurship will help you to apply your knowledge.

Learn to observe and get your hands dirty
Many ambitious power strategies in the boardroom bite the dust in the real market place. Thus, companies are looking for the bravehearts that have borne the heat, rain and dust and can then transform that experience into meaningful business models. So, the next project or case study you get at your B-school, make sure you go out in the market place, meet stakeholders for real and bring in solid observations to the drawing board. Companies are looking for such attitude combined with a beginner’s mindset and a sense of discovery as compared to being the solution master.

In totality, such projects and case studies ensure that MBA students go through a journey of discovery, observations, empathy, and ideation, along with real-time prototype testing and design of sustainable solutions.

Fail faster to succeed sooner
During the course of two years at MBA school, there is at least one point in time, when we believe our idea will change the world. So, go on, try it, put it into action, build the product, and test it, albeit on a smaller scale. Fear of failure is one of the biggest hurdles to innovation and entrepreneurship. The lessons learnt while executing a personal idea will teach you valuable lessons about the product, people, risk and scale. So, if you fail faster, the learning and wisdom will see you succeed sooner. Apart from this, it will augur well to participate in workshops that offer such possibilities too. Almost all business schools collaborate with companies to come up with practical workshops, seminars and competitions to let their students showcase their talent and also get a feel of the competition.

Emotional intelligence matters
Currently, corporates are looking at your attitude, your ability to connect with diverse groups, be it gender, caste, community or social strata, intelligently. Taking up a social project has the power to not only teach you many lessons on emotional intelligence, but you will soon realise that some of the most interesting or powerful ideas come from places and people you have not interacted with in the past. With almost every corporate having a big CSR agenda, this initiative can be a great plus point on your resume too.

Digital makes sense
Enough has been said about ‘Big data, Rich data’ and how they hold the key to breakthrough innovation. Taking a course or workshop to understand this new vocabulary and how it functions, can become a hygiene factor among new age MBA programmes.

Top five things to do  
n Take the assignment you get during your course seriously and convert them into interesting projects. This can project your specific capabilities of taking ideas to the next level.

n Try and take at least one idea to prototype stage and if possible, to testing and  product stage too. This will help you develop an ability to sense the market and experience challenges first-hand. Businesses need people with an entrepreneurial mindset to crack the innovation code.

n Work on at least one community or social connect project The best of innovation ideas come when we work closely with society. Besides, this is a great way of understanding how empathy makes business sense.

n Irrespective of which domain space you come from, technology will play an integral role in it. Picking up a course (say business analytics) or workshop to hone your skills and know the language  will certainly help in your career.

n Hear, read, see and interact with different people. Also, do read books, hear speeches on various topics, TED Talks, Ink for a diverse range of opinions. Watching movies and finding various connects with emerging changes in society is a fun and interesting way to improve visualising the future, and meeting new people through conferences or seminars and building connect can enrich your awareness on the latest developments.

(The author is group director, WeSchool)

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