At least we don’t ask “Should we?”

Business Plans are an important and highly debated artefact in entrepreneurship. Since I teach and research this subject, I get asked this very often. I am one who believes that “planning” is more important than “plans” and have advocated this to all my students. There are enough opinions for and against writing business plans, but I think this article caught my fancy. The main message is — don’t plan early; don’t plan for too long; and keep planning alongside other activities.

Link: https://hbr.org/2018/05/when-should-entrepreneurs-write-their-business-plans?

I liked this article for a few reasons:

  • It moves beyond the “should we?” debate
  • It is a research based work and not an opinion
  • It shows that it pays to plan
  • It shows the pros and cons of planning for entrepreneurs

I think entrepreneurs must read the article. More importantly I think entrepreneurship educators must read this article.

Hope you enjoy reading it.

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Creating an innovative organisation

I am pretty curious about what makes certain organisations sustain an innovative culture while most others struggle and stagnate. This led to me to explore Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship as one of my research areas.

Since teaching is a good way to learn, I also teach topics around my research interests. One such new course is what I recently taught titled “Designing and Leading the Entrepreneurial Organisation” for the post graduate students of The Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII). Since the course refers to a lot about how to create and sustain entrepreneurialness within organisations, our discussions revolved around two problems — stopping bad habits (those that stop innovation) and cultivating new habits (ones that catalyse innovation)! While most courses discuss the latter, very few discuss the former. Without taking care of the former, the latter may not really work. Is that really why many new initiatives to sustain corporate innovation not result in results?

Though the course is formally over now, here are links to two articles that I would have (will use in the next edition of my course) shared with my students:

How to banish bad habits from your company? — Link: https://www.strategy-business.com/article/How-to-Banish-Bad-Habits-from-Your-Company

Creating a culture of innovation — Link: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/creating-an-innovation-culture

While many of our readings are from journals and magazines, both my students and me keep sharing newer materials to supplement our learning. These also help us enhance the quality of our discussions inside and outside the classroom.

I thought it might be useful sharing it here so that we could hear from what you, the reader, thinks as well.

What according to you helps create an innovative organisation?

I am a Fellow in Entrepreneurship

What?

Thats what my friend asked me when I told him that!! 🙂

Here is my rather boring explanation: Fellow Program in Management (FPM) is a doctoral level program offered by various institutes in India. The FPM is an All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) approved four year doctoral program. When you complete the program successfully – which includes coursework, thesis and viva-voce/defence; you become a “Fellow”. The Indian Institutes of Management have been a pioneer in granting this title. In recent times many other institutes have been offered permission to run these programs. Note: All FPMs being offered are not AICTE approved. Kindly check.

Since I recently completed my FPM from The Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), Ahmedabad, I am now officially a “Fellow” of the institute. Prof. Sunil Shukla (Director, EDII) was my research guide. Prof. Amit Dwivedi and Prof. Lalit Sharma (Faculty Members, EDII) were my thesis advisory committee members. Prof. Sasi Misra (Institute Professor, EDII) was my FPM Executive Committee Chair. Prof Mathew Manimala (earlier Professor, IIM Bangalore) was my examiner for the final viva-voce. Raj FPM Viva PhotoCompleting my FPM in front of an august group of Indian researchers, was both an honour and privilege. The photo on the right is a happy memory captured after the defence and viva-voce with my Thesis Examination Committee (the five people who sat in my viva-voce).

EDII was the first institute to start a FPM (doctoral level program) in entrepreneurship in 2014. Since the institute’s FPM is focussed only on entrepreneurship, I think I can tell people that I am now officially a “Fellow” in Entrepreneurship.

My thesis was titled “Corporate Accelerators: A grounded study of motives, manifestations and measures”. I have a couple of papers based on my thesis under review in “Top Tier Academic Journals in Entrepreneurship”.

Thanks to all of you who helped me go through this long and arduous journey. I am now ready for a career in academics.

Creating Great Choices

Title: Creating Great Choices – A Leader’s Guide to Integrative Thinking

Authors: Jennifer Riel and Roger L MartinCGC Book Cover

Life is spent making “Choices”, or at least we believe so. At times we do not make choices and wait until only one option is left in front of us At times we make compromised choices. Rarely people are able to make the much needed “trade-offs” between options. While “making trade-offs” is what makes choosing options difficult, Riel and Martin suggest in this book that there is a third possible way – a method to mix the best of two opposing options and thereby create a third option.

Integrative thinking was introduced by Roger Martin in an earlier work. He suggested that integrative thinking was a useful solution when the trade-offs to be made was painful to make. But his earlier work had given an impression that integrative thinking was an innate skill possessed by a few. Building on Martin’s earlier work on integrative thinking, the authors break this myth by providing a four-stage approach to practising integrative thinking. While the various stages are filled with subjective actions, the overall approach gives a sense of order to an otherwise art-like activity. Part one of the book also provides the theoretical background to the four-stage model being developed in the book. Briefly the authors review design thinking and behavioural decision-making. They also provide some key works that interested individuals can look up if they wish to learn more about these two subjects. They build a case for why three missing components (metacognition; empathy; creativity), if built, can help overcome the inherent limitations in our decision-making. These also are the basis for the four stage approach.

I am a big fan of Martin’s writing. I have reviewed, used and recommended his book “Playing to Win” innumerable people. I think this book does to thinking, what “Playing to Win” did for strategy. The book details the four-stage approach to integrative thinking:

  1. articulating opposing models
  2. examining the models
  3. generating possibilities
  4. assessing prototypes.

The second part of the book details the four stages with clear instructions on the sub-stages involved, tools required and practices to be followed. The book provides numerous templates for practicing the specific sub-stages. There are also number of suggested exercises under the “Try this” feature.

The book has numerous stories of individuals and organisations who have practiced integrative thinking. This gives both credence and inspiration for anyone to try using this approach in their lives. In an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, when making trade-offs becomes painful, integrative thinking can be a handy solution.

The One Right Answer

We are all taught from our schooldays that every problem has “one right answer”.

As good children we learnt it really well. As we grew up this was reinforced by the high school teachers; undergraduate lecturers; and even by our post graduate professors. So we formed this mental model firmly in our heads. We made it stronger every time by listening to only those who reinforced it. Every time someone would question it or force us to think (basically question it) we resisted it (unconsciously).

But pause and ask yourself this question: Do situations in life have one right answer (really)?

You know the answer but your mental model makes you go for the opposite. Why?

Ask? Question? Think? Redeem yourself!!

SMS India Conference 2018

The “Strategic Management Society” Special Conference in slated to be held between 15-18 December 2018 in Hyderabad, India. The Indian School of Business (ISB) will host this wonderful conference. The conference is not just for academics. It is also for SMS India Conference 2018practitioners, leaders and managers interested in “all things strategy”. It will also have number of interesting workshops aimed at pre-doctoral candidates, doctoral students, junior faculty, scholar-practitioners amongst others. It appears that anyone interested in strategy and entrepreneurship will find something in the conference.

Many good conferences are geographically distant for people in India. Good conferences are where the people whose papers we read, visit and spend time. This makes the above conference especially important for doctoral students and young scholars in India. It is a chance to meet some of these seasoned scholars of Strategy and Management.

It is special for me since I have been a member of the SMS since a long time and reviewed papers for the annual conferences. The “Entrepreneurship” track of the conference is especially interesting to me as it relates to my area of research. The chairs of the track are interesting scholars and good human beings. I met them recently at the AMJ PDW and it was really fun interacting with them. I am so sure that you will learn much through the interactions.

I hope many of you will make use of this wonderful opportunity. For conference related information please look up here: https://www.strategicmanagement.net/hyderabad/overview/overview

Best wishes!

Khalil Gibran’s “On Work”

A student of mine shared a poem with me early this morning. I started my day with a smile for two reasons: (a) a student thought to share it with her teacher (blessed); and (b) what i read was plain truth.

The below extract is from that poem. It is one of the many philosophical prose / poems of Khalil Gibran. Among the many famous works of Gibran, I am particularly a fan of “The Prophet” for it gives answers to many of our daily (so called) struggles. From the very interesting  piece titled “On Work”, I found myself reading the below passage over and over again. It captures in poetic form what many philosophers struggle to communicate. I couldn’t help but share it! Is that the power of Gibran has “on work”?

Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

This is only a small part of the poem / prose “On Work”. If you are inspired buy a copy of Gibran’s work and immerse yourself in the truths of life.

But remember “Work is love made visible”