How do you read and play with ideas in a book? Well, you pick it up and read it, page by page and reflect. How do you read 10 books at one go, in one sitting, in a span of six hours? You come to the SPJIMR faculty lounge!
That’s what all of us faculty members did last fortnight; we devoted an entire session of a regular faculty meeting, duly extended, and sat down to hear each other talk about a book read over the past 10 days or so. The plan came from our intrepid Dean, who opened it up as voluntary activity so that we could choose if we wanted to do it and pick the books we wanted from a pre-announced list.
One of them was Working Identity (by Herminia Ibarra), which discussed reinventing one’s career by reinventing one’s identity, a time when one wants change but doesn’t know how and exactly what to change. Talking particularly about Reinventing Identities and implications for SPJIMR, we try to put forth some thoughts.
Rethink Your Skills
Participants at SPJIMR have to choose their specialisation well in advance, even before admissions, mostly based on previous background, what they have heard or their preconceived ideas about the specialisation itself. Though this helps in keeping the participant focussed on acquiring skills of the named specialisation, it also creates barriers to cross-functional learning.
SPJIMR hosts a number of programmes for participants coming from diverse backgrounds, not only in terms of demographics but also in terms of age, family background, culture and work experience. This in fact is the very strength of our Institute. Rethinking your skills can be effectively implemented by promoting cross-functional learning at SPJIMR.
This helps at two levels. First, when participants from different specialisations work synergistically, it provides a holistic view of the management domain and makes them ready for all kinds of challenges. Second, participants of various programmes are at different stages of their life and career, which equips them to make significant contributions to each other’s career paths and life tracks, if their experiences are shared across common platforms and serve to provide ideas for many others.
SPJIMR is noted for its unique pedagogy, and one important aspect of this is our belief in ‘Learning by Doing’, through thought experiments and field work. This typically is planned, prepared and to that extent structured though there are vast elements of unstructured learning when the actual assignment pans out. But to reinvent one’s identity, one has to get as random as possible, and sometimes witty too. How about some ‘Ordered Randomness’ in the pedagogy, through innovative ways of participant-centric learning, which will be fun and at the same time learning too? The learning can get random by entering into the realms of arts and crafts, games, interaction with children, outbound activities and so on. We will be able to explore vistas of knowing and learning that many MBA participants haven’t had the opportunity to look at before.
Don’t Jump Too Soon
Reinventing is as thrilling and challenging as paragliding. Once one leaves the ground, bearing wings, however hard you try, you can never know where would you end up reaching. Risks are necessary in life, but safety cushions make them sufficiently bearable.
On similar lines, one should have the liberty to experiment with the existing work, while trying out new selves. One should have the freedom to get away from the routine, without actually getting away from it, to explore new possibilities of the self.
SPJIMR can give this liberty to its competent and experienced faculty, to hunt for their new identities, after they have seen several milestones in their life. In the long run, it can also be extended towards the participants of the programme, wherein they get a chance to get away from their hectic routine to explore new possibilities which may or may not be linked with management education. All this will strengthen learning.
SPJIMR has been the pioneer in many of its initiatives and can be considered to be an ideal model of continuous re-invention. On a journey to re-inventing its identity, SPJIMR will definitely find its alternate self, which could be strategically diverse but significantly harmonious with its current identity.