I, The Absolute

Archive for July 26th, 2005

Two Lessons

Posted by itheabsolute on July 26, 2005

Both the courses and classes were interesting. The professors gave new perspectives to think about entrepreneurship and operations management

Entrepreneurship – the class discussion revolved around the case of Ruth M Owades (a popular HBS case study). Prof wanted to know our views on what she should have done – retain her well paying job, take a jump into entrepreneurship (she had an idea with her and had done some basic work) or wait for sometime before she took a jump. Most of what we spoke reflected our own views on entrepreneurship. As one would expect, most of us turned out to be conservative.

The key take aways – do not get into ‘Analysis Paralysis’. The more analysis we do, the more information we need to do further analysis. We can never make decisions. It makes sense to take leap of faith. The entire study of the market can be done while doing business. The second, but more important, take away was, try to minimize the investment required so that there is an option to exit, should the venture fail. This requires transferring of risk to other supply chain partners in the business. This of course needs tremendous negotiation skills and efforts. The entrepreneurial aspirant needs to have pedigree, intelligence, network, etc, to be able to translate the idea into a venture and make it successful. Ruth managed to start her business with close to zero investment.

Though one does not become an entrepreneur by doing a course, the course can provide some pointers to what to think about and what not to do. Does not say what to do or how one can succeed. Entrepreneurship is more a mindset.

Operations Management – the key take away is that much of improvement strategies such as TQM, BPR, ERP or Six Sigma look at improving the process per se. But, much of the goods spend more time waiting than getting processed. Same is the case in a service industry. Trying to reduce the time in waiting should be more important than making the process per se more efficient. Say, Railway Reservations – people spend more time waiting in the queue than at the counter. Just computerizing the counter did not improve speed and reduce queues. Allowing people to book tickets over internet was definitely a better option. It is important to focus improvement at the right place.

The operational structure and process should be guided more by the corporate mission, vision or strategy of an organization. If one has a up-market restaurant, one cannot build the processes in the restaurant with cost as a basis. Every process has to be built around quality. Wal-Mart’s mission to offer the lowest price. Hence, its entire processes are built around reducing costs. Variety of offerings, time (speed of delivery), cost and quality are important variables in process improvement.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »