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Create A Learning Environment

The consequent challenge for B-schools is to instil these values in students so that one develops alertness and agility to respond as is required

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It is often said that B-schools, especially in India, given the changing digital environment, are facing and providing for a VUCA world. VUCA stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. My own view is this is an overstated context for B-schools, often leading to a concern as to whether the curriculum is in keeping with the times, rather than focusing on the more important issue of how we deliver the curriculum.

Talking of VUCA, there is nothing new about it since at various points of time, almost in a continual manner, we have been subject to VUCA. Whether it was at the time of independence, changing licensing policies, liberalisation, digital technologies, changing government ideologies or recession, VUCA is always there.

What is more important is to turn it around and enable one to look at it positively. As a Bard said, “We need a VUCA, which is defined by vision, understanding, clarity, and agility.”

The consequent challenge, for B-schools, is to instil these values in students so that one develops alertness and agility to respond as is required.

On a similar note, I am often asked what would Industry 5.0 look like, given that we are now facing Industry 4.0, defined by the influence and opportunities of digital technology. My answer is that I would not even speculate. In fact, I am not comfortable with structural characterisations like Industry 4.0. Again, my outlook is to view these as evolving changes and what we need is alertness and agility to respond as is required.

Hence, to make Indian B-school education global (I would rather say relevant), what is important is to provide a learning environment, where the student develops critical thinking, problem-solving and design orientation. This is best done, not so much focusing on the ‘what’ of the curriculum, but more on the ‘how’, which is the delivery.

If some of the top-rated B-schools in India have remained relevant and created leaders and change agents, it is because the focus is more on the engagement between the faculty and the students. In fact, the faculty is not really a teacher, but a learning facilitator. Creating a learning environment, which includes detailing a course outline, assignments, group work, project-based exploration, pre-preparation before class, “listening” to students for any course corrections, and being sensitive to feedback, is the important piece. Connect with the local environment, with a perspective on the Indian reality will enable an open learning ecosystem. This automatically will bring in global excellence.

To enable this to happen, B-schools need to focus on the faculty, in terms of giving them academic freedom, sufficient non-classroom time, and setting values and incentives for research and writing. The leadership in Business Schools should primarily focus on enabling such an environment for faculty. The faculty will then create the learning environment for students, who will then demonstrate the alertness and agility required in the real world.

This will then set the platform for Indian B-schools to be truly global.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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G. Raghuram

The author is Director, IIM Bangalore

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