Sep 04, 2016

‘We Are On A Roll’

R Jayaraman

Trust the Dean of SPJIMR to come out with a very interesting idea. He asked all of us hardworking professors to study a book and make a presentation on what we learnt. Not a bad idea, but, initially, many of us may have felt that he is not helping us at all, what with the burden of carrying the academic and non academic workload. But, at the end of the presentations, one understood the power of the idea and the overall learning, which was equivalent to several months of reading. Let us see how this is an out-of-the-box idea.

The fact that as many as nine leading, currently relevant books were selected was significant – imagine how someone would have had to spend a lot of time going over many titles before justifying to oneself the selection, especially to a group of professors which thinks the world of itself, knowledge-wise! And then the learned professors were asked to volunteer to pick a book to read. Some might say this is a risky thing to do. However, to everyone’s surprise, the books were grabbed quickly by an eager group, which appeared to be raring to go.

How did this come about? Perhaps the last several months of work has changed the attitude of the group, to volunteer, although one might still wish that more had volunteered! There are no limits!

Kotter defines eight principles for transformation of an organisation. In SPJIMR, I think we have absorbed the principles quite well. Kotter would be proud!

Evidently democracy has its uses. To inculcate a spirit of involvement and engagement from an institution in which strong cultural and established traditions have taken firm root, into new areas of endeavour is a classic case for Kotterism.

Another organisational transformation which we undertook in Tata Steel many years back, albeit on a much larger canvas, comes to mind. Our then MD, Dr. Jamshed Irani, termed the effort “Turning the Titanic “. He was inspired by Louis Gerstner’s “Elephants Can Dance” effort in IBM. And in SPJIMR we had a cataclysmic event last year when the much revered Dean Dr Manesh Shrikant left us all in splendid isolation, after accomplishing so much. His was a hard act to follow. To take up a major revamp so soon after the “SPQuake” calls for guts, with no buts.

But we have found the ideal foil in the new Dean who has ideated and energised a faculty team used to Dr Shrikant’s administrative style. The last year has been full of new ideas to give a new direction to the Institute. Research, Design Thinking, Women’s Leadership, an Incubation Centre for start-ups, and so on. To top it all we have now re-imagined the flagship event, the SBAC, which has been a defining dimension of the SPJIMR–industry interface for some years now . To kick off the re-imagination the “out of the box” idea of laying a logical, well thought out, innovative foundation was revealed some weeks before. It was mentioned several times to test out the “waters”, so to say, if the faculty would “bite”. Bite it did and how! The culminating part was played out in the faculty lounge. I am sure that with this exciting beginning, we will soon see follow-up actions leading to a great SBAC. We are on a roll.

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