Learning & Skilling During Management Education

Sunil Kumar Moudgil

Brig (Dr.) Sunil Kumar Moudgil (Retd),
CEO, Moudgil Learning & Development Solutions

It is a narrative of the past and virtually archived, when the businesses used to operate with domain knowledge, understanding and insightful capabilities. The predominant view of operating a business was mostly hierarchical. People at the top of the pyramid of power, at work or in the corporate world, were making decisions and employees at the bottom of the pyramid were simply following them. In today’s world, with the advent of new-age business environments, characterized by flatter organizations, faster innovations and explosion of the internet – managers often rely on many individuals and number of organizations over whom they exercise no direct control. These days’stakeholders including employees want ownership, impact and recognition, rather than to follow instructions. To get what the managers want, they must look in for different kinds of proficiencies to tide over varied and complex environments. Thus, businesses are discovering that an open and agile organization is adept to respond faster and more effective to these developments than organizations where all insight and direction comes from the top. Hence, people managing businesses in the new-age, digitally enabled and hyper-connected market environment, hinge onto learn skills through management education that can support their actions successfully. 

 There is a lot written about competencies that need to be learned to successfully navigate invariety of challenging situations such as Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA). Each situation presents unique risks, problems as well as opportunities for managers and organizations. In such disruptive & challenging business environments, traditional teaching approach of management schools that involves learning by memorization and repeating information & knowledge for a better grade appears to be an outdated model. Therefore, the formal management education learning should include fundamentally robust academic content, higher order thinking & collaborative skills, and learning dispositions. Management education should also empower students by pedagogy which involves analyzing, creating, evaluating, innovating, working with others, presenting and sharing both the learning experience and the learned knowledge or wisdom.

Analyzing numerous frameworks of development of management education, one can undoubtedly assume that beside domain knowledge, additional learning abilities be incorporated in curriculum. These may possibly be Critical Competencies, Collaboration, Digital Proficiencies and Life Skills. Viewpoint on each of these is elucidated.

Critical Competences

There is a famous quote by Albert Einstein, which encapsulates the significance of critical competences in increasingly fluid business environments. He said, ‘The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking which caused them’. How true it is, cannot be contested while dealing with today’s disruptive & exciting global business environments. Thus, critical thinking & creative thinking should take the center stage of management education. There are numerous models such as Mind Mapping. Brain Storming, Reverse Brain Storming, Cause & Effect, 5 Why Analysis, Gordon Technique, Synectics, decision grids etc.which can be made part of curriculum. Case studies, assignments or projects etc. involving use of such models will help comprehend business problems & their solving techniques, decision making by evaluating alternatives against essential/desirable factors, opportunities & risk analysis. 

Collaboration

It is always said that ‘None of Us is as Smart as All of Us’. That clearly brings out the significance of ‘Collaboration’ as another learning skill. Businesses do not exist in isolations. Managers must collaborate with internal as well as external customers to create winning stories. The projects, assignments, experiential learnings etc. along with the domain knowledge, should be focused on understanding the worth & relevance of collaboration to lead businesses effectively. The learning abilities must include aspects such as importance of being a team player, synergy and leading teams, supporting and trusting cross-functional players, overcoming personal & professional challenges, delegation, feedback, conflict management, time & stress management, communication with an emphasis on listening skills etc.  

Digital Literacy

A quote from JP Morgan, though he said in a different context, but it is so apt apply when we apply to present day literacy proficiencies. He said, ‘Go as far as you can, when you get there, you’ll be able to see farther’.From the management education viewpoint, by the time students graduates and face the real business environments, the world out there would have moved farther. The way now information is produced & consumed, media platforms are accessed, and technologies are exploited to give impetus to businesses, would have become less significant in near future & thus replaced/upgraded. However, strength, scope and depth of different aspects of digital proficiencies need to be learned & analyzed, by students of management, to understand its larger role & impact in business communication.  

Life Skills

Some people for the sake of getting a living, forget to live. Thus, to live, the solution does not lie in how to create ‘Work-Life Balance’ but it lies in how to build ‘Life Balance’ in its entirety. Life is not only meant to run after money or targets or businesses, it also has different facets to cherish i.e. Sound health, family & friends, financial goals, academic & spiritual growth, fun, creativity & passions to pursue, adventure etc. Thus, another skill, the management education must focus is ‘Life Balance’ as a whole. On one side, management education needs to put stress on learning abilities like leadership, flexibility/adaptability, initiative & resourcefulness, co-operation, trust, teamwork, handling conflict etc. from the business point of view. In the same breath, it should also focus on nitty gritty of creating life balance. Thus, it must include topics like time & stress management, emotional intelligence, values & ethics, gender equality, harmony and other related social skills to cherish a complete lifestyle.

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