Are Business Schools relevant in the VUCA World

Most of my friends on the business side who have employed a campus hire from IIMs complain of the mismatch between the expectation and actual performance of the recent hire. A typical, IIM graduate thinks they know it all and doesn’t want to get in the trenches and get their hands dirty. Their expectation is to be a manager after the prestigious IIM degree. They expect a rosy, cushy and secure job where everything will be laid out for them and that they will get all the perks that come with it, like traveling abroad and so on. It takes a while for them to come to terms with reality and that’s why most of them are not able to hold on to their first job for more than 12 months.

After an 18 month grind post IIMB, where I am involved in solving employability at scale, I strongly believe that B-schools in their current form and shape have become redundant for corporates to hire from.

I am questioning both the selection and transformation process of students at IIMs. If it’s garbage in then it will be garbage out. If more folks are selected who just use IIM as a placement agency then basic existence of the transformation process at IIMs is challenged.

A typical curriculum at IIMs focuses on imparting a whole lot of direct (functional/technical) skills in various business functions like strategy, HR, marketing and so on. I urge all of you to take a moment to reflect back on the skills required to do your professional work. Do you really require an MBA degree to do the work you are doing today? Today in the Volatile, Uncertain, Ambiguous& Complex (VUCA) world – what you and I require to succeed is a mixture of some direct skill related to our job and a whole lot of behavioral/soft skills. Rather than calling the latter as soft skills, we call them “Core” skills as it is core to every human irrespective of the job/function esp. in the VUCA world! While multiple core skills are required and the importance of a particular core skill varies based on the business situation we are in, some generic core skills always hold. Pro-activeness, Openness, Curiosity & Perseverance are the four shields in the VUCA world – none of which are taught in classrooms. So if it’s just a matter of learning direct skills, then with MOOCs of the world – can’t the relevant and best of direct skills be picked up? And with regards to core skills – students currently pick up many of these skills through the various extra-curricular activities. A good time to do these extra-curricular activities is in the more formative years of school (K12) rather than under/post grad days where a lot more unlearning is required making the outcomes more risky! So then what remains of the B-schools – the best of the direct skills can be picked up through various online channels – and classrooms don’t impart core skills. So then are B-schools producing the right output for the corporates to hire?

At iPRIMED while we skill the world, we skill our colleagues first. We have handpicked intelligent kids with the right core skills from various NITs and imparted them the relevant direct skills. I can boast that in few months’ time with iPRIMED they will be better than most IIM campus hires. So while you decide whether or not to do that campus hiring at IIM, we @iPRIMED might have just cracked the model for you.

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