Friday, December 31, 2010

Building Quality into an Education System

Education will be a key concern of many a parent as far as children are concerned but more than often parents make wrong decisions about education to the discouragement of the child and a possibilty of parent-child coflict at home. Very often the child is at the receiving end sometimes for the right reasons and sometimes not.

To the scourge of our educational system it may be pointed out that the education system per-se treats its receipients using a microscopic view of educaion in particular and life itself in general. That, we base our people decisions in Business organizations to a large extent to educational indices is fine but not completely incongruous. Well using such a format creates a system which might be working well but there is need to investigate if anything is amiss.

Many things are defanitely amiss if QUALITY is not maintained by an Educational enterprise. The fundamental mistake many time parents do with the process of education is to go with the brand of an institute- how foolhardy. Just because an institution is in existence for many many decades it must be good is the premise and this need not be true. Students simply drag on through these enterprises and get the education of experience and not the education of learning that they so eagerly desire. They might be better and skewed when they come out of the enterprise but have missed many things- they know: they feel: they comprehend and the dissappointment can last a generation.

How then can Quality be built into an educational process and what is quality? What is quality is largely what the student talks about the institute when he is out of it. What he talks depends on what he was looking for. But the index in all such situations is not the performing student but the student of an average kind who was not so good or not so bad but had crystal clear and lofty intentions from the institute and the question is Were they met! The average student is also called the reasonable individual and he is not highly motivated for anything but learning and is characterized by an above average attendance to the classes; good conduct and is in right company during his stay in the institute. The fact of the matter is that if an educational enterprise does not maintain and stand for quality it becomes a teaching shop and many a mediocre student will walk with laurels that he simply didnt deserve- he knows it very much to the possible dismay of the many who were and could have been the right choice. The system of education must always study the man it portrays to be its best and there could be nothing partisan or unequivocal.

No educational system anywhere in the world is of quality or strives to be so if it does not let students evaluate the faculty however erudite or qualified; I have seen serious confusion and mis direction on this front. The process of evaluation must be simple with possibility of one comment and the result says it all. The biggest mistake any educational institution however exalted does is not to have a semi-formal procedure for this purpose.The procedure can be dichotomous or trichotomous in its execution. Dichotomous means asking the student through a poll if the faculty is GOOD or BAD and adding a trichotomous would be to add an AVERAGE in between. This poll must be essentially conducted at the end of a session and not anytime in between the session. Student needs to study a faculty weeks together to get a right opinion. To prevent any form of manipulation in these procedures this test must be undertaken all of a sudden and with little or no prior intimation. Teaching and its various forms is the figure of an institute and it must be set right before anything else is attempted at. Whayt do we do with people who fail this test. Send and try the faculty at Administration and never ever let him in front of students. This rule must be followed as much as the situation permits.

The next step in the acievement of Quality is the so called Ground of the institute. Ground means the setting. The biggest problem in the setting of institutes is Co-education because it largely veers the imagination of students into not so imminent kind. If we could do away with co-education many of the ill on the floor of educational enterprises can be done away with. But the demand for education is so high such an approach would be far from practical and a co-educational institute must form the right kind of ground rules in the way the educational enterprise functions. For example full fledged uniform for men and women and at the same time strict rules regarding acculturisation and seating in the classes.

To make the ground well tuned the educational institute must be designed with some professional principles. It must have a garden and all the paraphrenalia that goes with education well placed and oriented. If proper planning is not done on this front adhocism will result which in turn creates confusion in the human populace. With appropriate effort a person must be able to move from one entity in the institute to another.

To make the ground progressive and give students the right verve in life all educational establishments must have a vision ; mission and operational statements. Nothing motivates any human being better than leadership. With a proper V M O statements the organization becomes well oriented and motivating. I have personally studied the vision and mission statements of various institutes and find them wanting in their fundamental content and context. These statements must have the capacity to fundamentally lead the student. They should be by the student; for the student and of the student.

The ground of an institute must be aligned vis-a-vis evaluation procedures. How to evaluate students ? It is in this context that a major confusion exhibits itself. Note that this question can best be answered by figure of the institute namely the teaching. If a faculty does not teach to the satisfaction of the student his evaluation is also likely to be erroneous. Assuming that the academician is doing a well informed job he must be given the autonomy of choosing his own methods of student evaluation and this procedure should not be questioned by administrative authorities by and large. The procedure must not only be fair but also must have subjective and objective content.
There is no doubt that the ground of an educational institute is better strengthened by high qualification and experience profile of its various staff and also the correct creation of organizational structures and designations. It is a collosal mistake if faculty are promoted solely based on qualifications and it must be a judicious combination of qualification, experience and the ability to teach. Acadamecians must concentrate on obtaining higher qualifications largely through a non-time bound procedure than strictly from a time bound one. But the greatest hindrance in creation of a good ground is the promotion of faculty based on academic qualifications alone to the exclusion of many other skills. This creates a wooden and non flexible structure to the disadvantage of the basic activity that builds spirit into the institution namely the teaching process. The economic heads of institutions where ever feasible must take multiple indices into account in their compensation procedures; age being one of them and so also the ability to teach and the academic and experiential components. Faculty must attend conferences too during the course of the year to get inputs on upcomig sectors and also the systems and procedures adopted by other institutes. I beleive at the end of the day any professor who is consistently performing as a teacher should never be designated and treated as anything below a Assistant Professor if not slightly more and this is the worst cut of all to the process of education and its stake holders.
The ground of an institute is propped by better IT infrastructure with control on its use and so is the high behavioral standards for all ; namely the students staff and support staff.
Together I think the world must look for creating the right kind of educational set-ups and systems for the many generations who would invariably embark upon the education process and remember as I read some where Education is for life and not just a passport to some kind of living.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


BMTC would gradually become a key mode of transportation for the populace of Bangalore. How the growth of METRO (Namma Metro) would influence BMTC is to be seen. The services of BMTC is by and large good and professional but needs improvement during peak hours where responsiveness of the entire network is put to a test on a routine basis.

What should be the aim of BMTC ? Basically it must be two fold. One; no commuter must wait more than five minutes at any bus stop for a bus. He may not get a bus precisely to his destination but must get one that takes him logically to a nearest node from where he must get a connection bus. Two; he must get a seat in the bus to sit down within five minutes; This means zero standing in the buses as much as possible. Well these might be ideals but this is where the system should strive. Bangalore unlike or like many other cities has tremendous collective potential that can be unlocked in many ways.

I find basic indispline at the bus stops itself with the drivers of buses not very clear where to stop the bus at a bus stop. More than often more than one bus vy for a parking slot with commuters being confused in the bus stops. This needs to be managed. Some times BMTC buses try to over take each other at the bus stops.

This situation can be managed forthwith if lay-outs are drawn at the bus stops for three buses to park themselves at one time in a queueing fashion which means buses have to invariably move into the slots marked for them at the bus stops which would clearly create parking boundaries for the BMTC buses on the roads and commuters know precisely where the buses are likely to halt themselves; I think this discipline is long over due at most bus stops of the city.

The traffic police of the city are doing great service; but traffic jams need management. A proper statistical study must be conducted to identify the pattern of traffic jams and the places where they occur; the time of the day when they occur; reasons for occurrence; days in the week when the traffic jams are due and possible suggestions of some simple solutions that can be implemented and also long term remedies.Some kind of proactive remedies must be undertaken to manage jams.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

B School student and choice of mid-term summer internship

A very important aspect of B school training is the "summer placement" also termed as "mid term placement" and is a unique aspect of a Business school.

What is the purpose of summer internship? The basic purpose is to withdraw a student temporarily from the class room format into an open learning format of an organization. During his or her short duration within an organization he gets a feel of the practical aspects of an organization in relation to the class room inputs during the first year of training. The student is expected to make a report of the training along with a certification from the organization to which he had been attatched.

One of the key espects of internship is that it generally ahould follow the following principles so to say for internship to be truly fruitful. When a student chooses summer internship he should do so with an open mind meaning;
  • place open
  • organization open
  • specialization open
  • methodology open

A student seeking internship should generally not have geographical fixation which means that I will only do internship at a particular place. It can technically mean anywhere around the country. Geographical fixation can be a characteristic of final placement and makes sense but not during summer internship. The best summer internships have been done by students from a place or town to which they were totally new and the experience so obtained is rewarding for all time.

Summer internship must be "organization open " which means the student must be willing to work in any kind of business organization. It could be retail; cargo;manufacturing; supply chain;banking; insurance etc as each of these sectors by itself can give a learning experience of a special kind to the student. In the present world it is an asset to work and get experience and learning from across various enterprises and the learning is priceless and applicable to situations in the future.

Summer internship must be " specialization open". There is and should not be a relation between the specialization what a student is likely to take and choice of internship. In fact the choice of final specialization is best done after the course of internship.It may not be the best of approaches to say that I would do work only in a specific area like marketing; this is counter productive. Be open to work and get exposure into various sectors of an organization.

And finally summer internship must be "methodology open" which means that the process of internship need not be tied-down across the board to any particular format and the methodology can be changed en course if need be. What this really means is that the frame work of training need not be rigid. What starts as a training on a rotational basic can be discontinued en-course if need be and made into a focus mode. Even if the training is of a rotational kind the duration of training in the various departments can be modified if need be.

Student must have a precise idea of what is expected of them during internship and the truth of the matter is nothing much. At a basic level spend eight hours every day watching the various activities of the organization. Also do not expect to be placed in the organization where you do internship and never show any inclination what so ever. It rarely turns into reality. You need not go overboard to do any tough work and prove your self. Summer Internship is not a platform towards this end.

Making the final report of the training can be better managed if the student types one page a day into a MS Word file about the activities on a daily basis. At the end of training this will turn out to be roughly 50 pages of written matter. Once you complete training on-site edit the text and create a front end and a back end. Front-end is you make a detailed description of the organization and the industry. In the back-end include findings of the study and conclusions. Use matter from the internet wherever feasible. Edit the final report in the final form in the way the institute to which you are attached would like to see it and interact with your faculty supervisor to achieve this end.

A word of request to organizations. Make use of your interns purposefully and your most important task is to watch them and not use them. Always treat them with the respect due and note that if you can leave a good impression in the mind of trainees you have possibly found a very ardent future employee. When the student finishes the training give an un-obtrusive and un-offensive feed back of what the person is all about and that would make a world of difference.

Finally, students should note that finding internship is not a difficult task. Enable yourself on this activity during the last month of your second semester and write and meet atleast ten organizations and lo you will find that you have atleast more than one internship to choose from.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Placement; Re-placement; Mis-placement and Mal-placement of a B School product

"Placement" is one of the key concerns of students of B Schools and other professional schools and not without reason not only in India but around the world. B schools strive to give student an apt placement and students themselves do their best to get placed through their institutions or on their own. But note that there is a lot of difference between finding a job and being placed.The fundamental difference being that an educated and professional person is placed and has to be concerned about being placed and a person who does not have formal education or more than anything a professional education finds a job and there is a wide difference when translated into reality.

To come straight to the point; How can a B school product be placed well and what does that entail. Note that working career is a key component of life and influences the economic and psychological well-being of a person in the long term. A mid-career blue is when a person at a fairly advanced stage in life is yet to find something he can do and do well on a continuous basis.To overcome such a situation is a difficult and straining activity and students must start on the right note to be placed in a niche groove and dimension wherefrom he can derive long term benifits and at the same time diversify into related areas on demand. The modern day business world is poised to develop into a more formidable employer with time and there could be many companies started and operated from around the world in the years to come.

To be placed well somewhere follow the following guidelines;

= At a B school do not be worried about placement during the first year of study but build a fairly strong academic base on the various subjects studied.

=At the end of the first year take a good stock of your skills and abilities as they become evident from academic performances and choose specializations around areas of strength.

= Build skills around these areas of speializations and have a fair exposure of cases in your chosen field of specializations.

= Attend all interviews as a matter of experience with an open mind. If rejected by any organization there is nothing to be diassappointed about; your skills have market value.

= It is the job of interviewers to do a very well informed and thorough and professional job about the recruiting process. They should send people who have vast years of experience and maturity.

= When made offers please clarify with the interviewing team about the location; package and the nature of work and training. Do not accept offers instantly. Always take some time to evaluate the offer and respond.

= Study the web site of the company; evaluate the professionalism of the interviewers and talk to atleast two present employees about the general state of affairs of the organization.At any stage you find the organization is not good think twice before joining the place.

=Always bargain for the correct kind of designation otherwise you will find yourself in a lop-sided situation. If you have two years of experience before your B school course always ensure you get the right kind of designation vis-a-vis your experience.

= Never pretend during the interviewing process of any skills or abilities you do not possess. This can lead to serious difficulties in the future.

= When young volunteer to go and stay in far-off places. Such experiences can be of help in the future. Do not always follow the home-town syndrome.

Placement is a matter of trial and error and is iterative in nature over a period of time. This means you start around some logical point and improve upon it over time by capitalizing on your skills and more than anything your strengths.

What is mis-placement ? Student had taken both Marketing and HR and appeared for both the interviews on these streams; The student liked HR more than Marketing but landed at a Marketing job and gets to know over a period of time that he would have enjoyed HR better and is struggling to take a lateral shift. Here there is likelihood of a long term crisis.

What is Replacement? Student did not do proper research and landed up on some vocation and understands there is an immediate crisis arising from cost-of-living issues or cultural issues and needs to be replaced on an urgent basis. Re-placement is worse than mis-placement. It is a short term crisis.

What is Mal-placement? This is a situation where the employer has to be blamed. He appoints the son of his friend who has just passed out of B School on some job to the detriment of both the lad and the organization. Getting into some position using influence-- a very dangerous thing but very much in vogue across the world. The pay is good and the environs are right but the lad simply does not perform from the huge responsibility shouldered on him leading to various conflicts.

The answer to all these situations is care ; preparation; self-profiling and astute understanding so that B school students build a long term career adding value both to themselves and the organizations they work for ,and the economy of the nation in the larger context.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Re-Manufacturing as an option in modern Production and Operations

I happenned to be a participant at a seminar on "Remanufacturing" conducted by CII(Confederation of Indian Industry) at Hotel Leela Kempinsky in Bangalore some where in the year 2010. Ganesh Iyer the ceo of Caterpillar gave a spirited talk on "Remanufacturing" and ever since I have been enamoured by the various possibilities such an approach should throw up in a resource constrained world.

What is Re-manufacturing ? The answer some where is simple. Take a 20 year old vehicle and re-manufacture and transform it into a new one and it should work for another 20 years as a new one. This activity must be taken seriously by manufacturers because some-where hidden in this concept is the ability to manufacture low cost products of tommorrow.

Across the board and across all product sectors we come across products at the end of the product life cycle with increased maintenance and operating costs with an inherent in-ability to perform; but the truth of the matter is that barring few components the rest of the product is in-tact. Take a car- the engine life is much much larger than the life span of few other components that might be inhibiting the proper function of the car. Note that it needs large scale effort to make an engine and to render the car as "unfit" for further use shrouds within itself large-scale and mind-less waste and some kind or pernicious disregard of various resources and capabilities that went into manufacture the product or car or whatever it might be.

The globe can be linked through re-manufacturing; the fact of the matter being that this concept may be irrelevant for certain classes of products and societies which is understood but a re-manufactured and re-configured product would defanitely have use some where in the world. The common man can contribute to remanufacturing by possibly sending back a product back to a re-manufacturing facility. All that is the need of the hour is understanding the importance of re-manufacturing both at a producer and user levels.

Re-manufacturing needs advanced engineering. I feel manufacturing needs engineering and re-manufacturing needs advanced engineering. Manufacturing happens as a matter of habit and flow in a conventional methodology with minimum deviation and you get a standard by-product from a system that gives scope for minimum and predictable quality problems; On the other hand re-manufacturing gives un-predictable situations and taking a used product studying what is weak and giving fool-proof solutions and making the product work is truly Engineering and a task which society at large must be thankful for the large scale less conspicious saving that happens through this effort which would run into millions of dollars when embarked around the world. The environment and sanity would be thanful to mankind that human beings are truly evolving in the right way and inventing methodiologies of conservation and use to the benifit of man-kind. Let us identify ten approaches that could make re-manufacturing a success;

  1. Every individual must take into cognizance the effort needed to manufacture a product, all the time ;energy and manpower.
  2. Theoretically all products can be remanufactured.
  3. Before throwing away a used product ponder its possible re-use by some one and clearly brief him about the problems to be overcome.
  4. Like we have the word servicing it is time we recognize rhe word "Remanufacturing" too around the world.
  5. Equipment manufacturers should create re-manufacturing facilities.
  6. There should be wide-spread research on re-manufacturing- its unique problems, challenges and constraints.
  7. Re-manufacturing must be made a cost-effective proposition.
  8. Re-manufacturing should cut across brands that originally made the product.
  9. Re-manufactured products must be put though stringent quality and reliability tests.
  10. Universities must incorporate Re-Manufacturing as part of their sylabbi to create awareness of its vast potential and possibilities and the realities that are likely to unfold in the economy of the globalized generation.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Telephones and Telecommunications in Bangalore City

I happenned spend my childhood near a major Telecommunication giant in ITI but the telecommunication scenario in Bangalore was as good or bad as any city in India of that time. Having a telephone at home was a matter of great prestige and only very few had it- less than a hand full. To get a telephone one had to wait years on years so much so that no one applied for one until he had some very pressing reason. Iam talking of the era between 1970 and 1985.

In the entire area of Durvaninagar I think the Panchayat chairman by name Sreenivasa Reddy had a phone with number 58702. Even he could manage a telephone only in 1982 or so or may-be slightly earlier. When I was at Calicut I used to very rarely call up this number and send message to my home. The sons of Mr. Srinivasa Reddy by name Raja and Babu were kind enough to come all the way and inform my father or mother - and Iam thankful today for the trouble they used to take. Note that strowger exchanges were the order of the day making it impossible to expand the telephone system beyond few connections.

Things began to change unexpectedly and drastically in the early 1990's and during the era of Shri Rajiv Gandhi. Sam Pitroda and his organization called C-DOT made sweeping cjhanges on the telecommunications horizon of India overnight forcing the country to shed its tag of a developing economy to atleast a quasi-developed one and the city of Bangalore has gone through these stages and adjusted to them very fast. What c-dot possibly did was to create electronic exchanges and with that exploded telephone connections to the surprise and surmise of all around. Every single nook and corner of Durvaninagar has a telephone connection and land-lines have become a thing of the past and might be getting fast discarded for mobile and wire-less telephony.

The interesting juncture in this metamorphosis would be the year 1997 when both the internet and Mobile telephony made in-roads almost at the same time or simultaneously. The mobile companies to start with were JT Mobiles and Spice telecom. A call from a mobile of that time was costly by any standards - around eight rupees for one call. Gradually companies like Airtel and many others hold sway over telecom all over India and Bangalore. The chaotic growth of Bangalore over the past decade can be attributed to the growth of Mobile telephony.

Compared to what it was......Telecommunications should be anything but world-class today in Bangalore and possibly sets standards for the world. Anywhere you find a coin booth from where one could make a call to any land-line or mobile anywhere around the world for a few coins. This developing country of one time must have developed and grown very fast when the world was asleep and its own constituents like me aghast at the churn; growth and change a swift and virulent pull which might make many cities and communities follow suit.