I, The Absolute

Archive for April, 2006

Respect Facts

Posted by itheabsolute on April 29, 2006

A very important attribute usually associated with an MBA and more so with a consultant is that he is fact based. While developing an intuition on one’s own business is an important way of managing business, doing so at the cost of facts is a dangerous path.

Facts reveal a lot of things, including the biases and prejudices that people operate out of. There was a presentation being made by a consulting firm to us when we were at ISB. The firm was mandated by a board of directors of a company to give a plan to reorganize the company. The consulting firm gathered all facts only to realize that there was no way to bring back the company to be competitive. If at all the shareholders had money, they are better off investing the money in starting a new company rather than investing in the current one. The facts gave out such story. The consulting firm made a presentation to the board suggesting that the company be closed down. If the company itself were to do a similar exercise there was no way the board would have come to such conclusion because its biases and incentives would have come in the way of reaching the optimal and fact based decision. The fact based decision, in this case the closure of the company, will only mean one thing – not wasting any more of the shareholder money.

Respecting facts is an important way of adding shareholder value.


=I am not saying that the implications of a decision such as closure of a company would be as easy as making a recommendation / presentation. The repercussions could mean laying off a number of people, maybe violating industrial laws of the country, losing the company’s brand equity (if any) in the market, et al. But the issues of continuing with running the firm will bring its own set of problems.

=Gathering facts also is not easy. We can never get all the facts. We usually sample. What samples and from whom we collect them are again not necessarily fair; the process can be driven by our biases.

= I am also not saying that intuition needs to be ignored. I have made many personal and professional decisions on intuition, but over emphasising on intuition can be a wrong game. i have learnt this during my MBA program. Also, accepting whatever is given to you as facts is pretty naive. Questioning is one of the most important of skills.

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Posted by itheabsolute on April 28, 2006

I have been a firm believer in that networking is not about collecting business cards, being at every meeting worth its name, accosting every member of a club/student body / professional group or knowing (the names of) more and more people.

Networking starts with working on oneself. One has to be able to add value to others to become acceptable in a network. To be able to add value one needs to know more about at least one thing (anything!*) than others can know. To be able to let people know that one has some value to add, one has to participate in meetings & parties; take every opportunity to speak in public; take some position of leadership (need not be formal). People will orbit around those that have gotten recognized as someone who can add value (through special skills or position).

Networking, at its best, is when people want to get in touch with you; not necessarily when you want to reach out to people.

PS: * You can even know a person who can make a difference

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You are what you hide

Posted by itheabsolute on April 26, 2006

It is never possible to know another person completely. If it is ever possible to know anyone at all, that is.

This is because people never open up completely. They will always have a secret which they cannot share with anyone. Anyone. This secret will be the true self of the person. However much one may deny this truth but as long as the secret remains undisclosable – at least to one person – so long the person will just be the secret that he holds.

Though this may appear as a very cynical view of people, it is never far from the truth. Having said that, it is not practical to reveal everything. It will get people into troubles; it may mar relationships; it may hurt others. I am also not propogating that people should open up fully. All that needs to be said is that people cannot be fully understood if they have secrets. And people represent their secrets more than what they disclose.

The quadrant ‘I know, Others don’t know’ of Johari’s window is always the most profound and the truest.

PS: the title and the idea are courtesy Mahesh Bhatt

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Fruits of labor

Posted by itheabsolute on April 26, 2006

It is hard…… why hard….. it is not even desirable to keep working and not expect any result out of it. The fruits of labor are what make the labor easy and interesting. Having said that, one should keep expectations realistic considering one’s own skills and efforts. The epsilon factor, of which i am quite fond, plays its role and any mismatch in results and expectations can be attributed to this epsilon factor.

Desirable is one part. Happiness is the other, which emerges when the results are positive.

Just in case you feel that I am boring you with some philosophical stuff, here is the news.

Clearadmit announced its Best of the Blogging results. I made it to the top 10 – to the 6th position to be precise.

This should keep me motivated to continue blogging.

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A new ISB

Posted by itheabsolute on April 22, 2006

One good thing while we were at ISB was the meeting with the Dean. Some of us from the Class of 2006 felt that there were certain things with the school which could be better if people – the management and the students themselves – were a little more proactive. The class of 2006 made a few mistakes

1. not electing the proper student representatives.
2. not making them accountable to us
3. not demanding transparency
4. not putting enough emphasis on the initiatives from CAS and the coordination between the placom and the CAS
5. not demanding enough action from certain offices of the school.

The school is still in an evolving stage and it is right now that we need to bring changes which can take us into a different orbit.

The school has made great progress in the following

1. we have some great student profiles
2. we have international students
3. we have some students with very interesting finance backgrounds
4. the students seem to be a lot more participative. the response to the sessions by the alumni was one indicator.

We had requested the Dean that he meet students regularly through ‘lunch/tea with Dean’ schedules. Hope the new class follows up with Dean’s office and makes this happen. A meeting with Dean will be a great opportunity to give honest feedback and also take his advice.

This morning I came to know that the Dean has announced a few changes and I am glad to note them. A few of us were quite delighted because we were at least in small measure responsible for this positive change.

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On Campus

Posted by itheabsolute on April 18, 2006

On campus. It is a good but different feeling. We are here only to pass the baton. After that though we remain the stakeholders we no longer belong here. The school actually only belongs to the current batch and once they graudate no longer to them.

The current batch is much larger in size but no different from how we were. Same enthu, more or less same questions, same interest in consulting, same doubts, same fears, same determination…nothing much has changed. However, the diversity within the batch is quite interesting. I believe that every batch is a random sample and when you pick a random sample you get to see all types. Diversity of sizes, thinking, backgrounds, intellect, outlook, interests is something which the students are going to quite enjoy.

Life would not be very interesting if i knew what will happen tomorrow. To keep life interesting, it is better to leave the details for the current students to discover themselves. All that I may want to talk about on campus are

1. Start making your resume. Today.
2. Be Organized.
3. Be disciplined.

The rest will all be easy and fine.

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Business is no science

Posted by itheabsolute on April 16, 2006

Not that I am a novice to the business world. I have had nine years of experience in banking. I have made decisions. I have been appraised for both my behavior and the outcomes I have managed. But in the busyness of doing my own job, I did not have time to reflect at length about my own decisions and decision making process.

Now that I am working with my friend on his business, I get to see the business and decision mking process dispassionately.

Business is hardly science. Despite the fact that today many disciplines within management use huge amount of math. Business involves decisions to be made by “people”. People are hardly fully rational. People are emotional. They are a-rational and in some aspects, irrational.

When such is the state of human beings, recommendations which are based on facts may not be implemented. My friend told me that there are certain decisions he ‘does not’ want to make. This may mean that the decisions are constrained and may not bring the optimal results. He is fine by them. There is a self-image element to his business. He cannot overcome that. Mind you, my friend is an entrepreneur and a much smarter person that I am. But still he is a human being. At the end of it, just thanks to small improvements in processes and products, his business would surely look better than now.

The point is that all that we read in a b-school tends to presume that human beings are rational. In fact, my first argument with Prof Krishna Kumar (macroeconomics professor at ISB) was that man is not (necessarily) rational. In the last few years, most of the Nobel Prizes in economics have gone to people who have worked in the behavioral economics.

Management education and its professors need to build new theories with a new ingredeient in their formula. That it is people who make decisions and that people are not necessarily rational. I guess we can achieve far more efficiency and profitability than we do now.

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Beyond ISB

Posted by itheabsolute on April 13, 2006

Context, as I believe quite strongly, is a powerful influencer of our thinking and actions. Now that the context that is ISB is now behind, what thinking and actions keep my company needs to be observed.

I will be joining my employer on June 1st. It is difficult to be completely purpose less and wander about. Or even just laze around till then. As of now, I have engaged myself with some assignment where I am helping a friend reorganize his business.

During the last days on campus, I was checking the fotos of most of the colleagues to see if there was difference in weight when they joined and leaving. Almost 90 % of them have put on weight. I checked my weight and found that I have gained about 2 kilos during the last one year on campus. The problem with campus is that, despite all the squash, swimming and gym visits, people tend to put on weight because there is no other physical activity. Studying is at the top of all sedentary activities. Have found a place to play squash….and time to bring down the weight.

I will back on campus on 16th night for orientation. Hope to meet a few friends and the class of 2007, some of whom I have come to know through interaction on the blog and mail.

Btw, the certificate we received from ISB is signed by the Deans of ISB, Wharton and Kellogg.

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Can blogs be purpose-free?

Posted by itheabsolute on April 8, 2006

Today I received my certificate for Torch Bearer Awards during an Award function. The core terms and elective terms best professors also received their awards. A small video was shown covering almost all the professors. I should say that some professors did not match our expectations only because that term would have had much better professors. As we saw the video, we felt that almost all the professors were brilliant. It is only that some were more equal than others.

Tomorrow, we graduate. It is a moment I have been waiting for. I had to make many tough decisions to realise this ambition of getting a management degree. But as i look back i can only pat myself for these decisions. Status quo is always an easy decision, but the repercussions need not be easy to handle.

I believe that blogs are purpose driven. I had started this blog when i received the amdit letter from ISB. So, in a sense, the underlying purpose of the blog was ISB.
I have tried not to make the blog an online diary. I have tried, in the manner I felt okay, to question, to argue, to share, to discuss, to convey my opinions/views/what i learnt/knew through my blog. I may not have reached truth, but then I never aimed at it too. (there are only two truths in the world (uncertainty & relativity)). I hope the blog had served some purpose and helped a few people see or think more than they did before. I enjoyed doing the blog.

Now that I graduate from ISB, I am not sure what I should share and who would be its audience. But I know that I need to reinvent myself and find a place. Maybe, I will share my thoughts about what i read in books; what i see in the business world; what i observe about people…..

If someone is rejoicing that this is the end of the blog, please pause. I am going nowhere. I will continue to blog. I cannot but blog.

PS: Thanks to GPRS and Bluetooth, I am able to connect to internet from my studio.

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Fact Sheet

Posted by itheabsolute on April 5, 2006

For those interested: Fact Sheet – Placements 2006 (Log on to http://www.isb.edu for detailed info)

Record International salary : USD 233,800
Average International salary : USD 120,700

Highest Indian salary : INR 30.34 lakhs
Average Indian salary : INR 11.77 lakhs

As you will read in newspapers tomorrow, the main points on which the entire ISB management and the ISB students focussed were the overall experience (learning & network), the career shifts and entrepreneurial roles. Money is important but it always chases good roles. So those were what many people at ISB were trying to chase.

PS: Laptop is unformatted, which means that i cannot access internet from my studio. Which again means that I cannot blog from there. I guess I will do one more post before I leave ISB.

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