Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sweet melancholy and desperate happiness

We breathe deeper and our pulse recedes
Our body lightens to see the possibilities
Are we consciously dreaming or are we sub consciously reasoning?
If the melancholy seems so sweet why do people avoid it so much?
We see the relativity of time
It moves but that doesn’t matter
For us everything’s still and drifts forever
There is satisfaction in the sadness and pain in the joy!
Drifting consciously, not realizing what we see and what we don’t
Reality seems more like a dream
If dreaming reality is what’s demanded of us
Is it really dreaming or is our reality invading our subconscious
If receding from that should be, is not recommended
Can we see the spiral into which our life’s descended?
Will we not indulge in the desperate happiness everyone’s in?
The normal rules don’t apply
When I stretch the boundaries to wonder why
As I indulge myself in floating my mind
Music of Pink Floyd begins to unwind
As my body feels a slow, slow shiver
I consider not making an endeavor
For the desperate happiness everyone desires
And catch a fleeting glimpse of a dream that still exists
The dream is to drift, drift endlessly
Like a coffin in the ocean and not a log in the river
Stay afloat please, the hunger’s still unsatisfied
- Anand 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chasing the tail?

This post is in response to post on the UVA blog referring to the NY times article Is it time to retrain B-schools?

The article starts out by pointing at some leaders that have not come out in the best light in the current crisis and highlighting that they had MBA degrees. What's not pointed out is that these are executives who probably got their business degree several years, maybe a couple of decades back. I would assume its not just the B-school experience that has shaped their recent decision making. Another point to keep in mind is that till about recently most business schools were teaching the Milton Friedman's version of business i.e. business exists to maximise shareholder value i.e. maximise profits. While this perspective was popular in the 70s and 80s, chinks began to emerge since and new theories have been developed. I can say that at least at Darden, while we are taught about Milton Friedman's theories, the more prevailing thought is 'Managing for Stakeholders' not just maximising profit. 

On the other hand what is the guarantee that what we are being taught would be relevant several years from now when we have executive decision making responsibilities. Most likely several things will change. Fundamentals of business are more likely to remain the same though. Again I really value the case based education provided by Darden that drive homes the basics and asks us to think and examine the data, evidence and theories that we use to make our decisions. There is a strong emphasis on ethical decision making. Since the emphasis is on process, one step of which is what framework best fits the problems, we are less likely to hold on to a particular theory and more likely to examine the context in which the decision needs to be made. Hopefully this would help us make better decisions. 

Its interesting to see that though many schools across the spectrum were mentioned, Darden was not. While I cannot speak for other business schools I can highlight, and have above, on the things Darden stands for. Darden in my view would stand out amongst that group as school that values and teaches responsible and ethical decision making from General managers perspective over specialisation that some of the other schools do. There will always be a place for niche schools that specialise in certain areas that have a spurt in growth i.e. the finance and marketing schools. The  consistent ones will need to have a more general management perspective. The problems in the real world are not isolated by function. Though you may be aligned to a function you have to understand multi-dimensional nature of the problem before you take decisions. 

The recession is being studied and examined thoroughly in every business school. It makes for interesting discussion. On one end there are new elective courses such as "Hot topics in Finance" and at the other end all courses give emphasis to understanding the latest events. In addition there are many events such as speaker series and forums that expand and explain the concepts and lessons. While all these are good and must, one must not forget the overarching lessons for B-school. What are b-schools and MBA degrees for?

Hence, I was most intrigued by the section of the article that seemed to suggest that B-schools should alter the way they teach as a result of the current crisis. If this means that B-schools who were teaching theory-x and and placed many graduates in Finance industry should no start theories-y and z, then I disagree. This is akin to chasing the tail. I disagree not because change is not required. Change is most definitely required. However, B-schools must always teach ethical decision making. They should also teach the current theories, tools and techniques for decision making and what the  pros-cons and risks of those tools are. They should teach about risk-reward and the consequences associated with it. And they should teach about responsibility of a manager and a leader. The content in terms of theories will always change and evolve in the light of new evidence and research. If, however, author is suggesting that b-schools should alter themselves so that they produce responsible managers and leaders rather than a graduate with technical know-how, big ego and fat paycheck, I completely agree.  As a Second year student at Darden about to graduate I can confidently say that I am learning to be a responsible leader. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Home Strech

I can't beleive that its the last quarter already. Tommorow I start the final quarter of my 2 year MBA program. Its incredible how quickly time has passed by. Someone told me once that a good test of whether you are having fun is how quickly things passes you by. This method would indicate that I'm having the time of my life. 

Its been a great experience and I have done many more things that expected. Firstly, the inclass experience at Darden is great. By now we have almost done around 450-500 cases and I am still excited about the last quarter courses. I never dozed off in any of the classes which is not what I can say for my undergraduate years. Catching 40 winks in class is what I did back in the days. Outside the classroom, the darden community has been great. I have made some incredible friends and enjoyed all the groups activities, events and fun stuff I got to do with them. Charlottesville is not the most happening place but I did enjoy going out as well. I did my fare share of that! Last year I got to travel 3 continents. I went to Europe on 1-week program, then traveled again later on a backpacking trip for 2 weeks. I spent a couple of months in Australia for my internship and end of the year I visited home on vacation.

As I head into the last quarter, I fluctuate between elation and gloominess.  I am looking forward to graduating and moving on do some exiciting things, and the pay check of course. However, that won't be till November. Mostly though I am looking forward to the 3-month backpacking trip I plan to take soon after graduating. At the same time I know we'll all be moving away and I'll miss the close relationships I developed here. I, for one, am going to move pretty far away to Australia and am unsure how and when I'll connect with others again. That's life though, for many the meaning is in the flow.

For now I look forward to making the best of the last quarter and having a great time with my classmates. 

Friday, March 13, 2009


I visited Philadelphia over the weekend and I was pleasantly surprised by this cultural and historical city.  Its also one of the few US cities one can explore by walking around.  It seemed very culturally diverse with plenty of things to do as a tourist and a resident. Here are some pictures from my trip.

View of the independence hall where the declaration of Independence and US constitution were signed. 

Looking back at downtown from the park

View of the museum from the park. 

Elfreths avenue - some of the oldest houses in Philadelphia. Where the original settler stayed.

Found an interesting mural as I was walking in the streets

View from Downtown looking towards the Philadelphia Museum of Arts. The street is lined with flags from every country. Its the only city I know that has such a things.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A new war is emerging

Looks like a new war is brewing up and this time its not between religious groups but between Atheist and the religious. Most religions have been spending a lot of money of late on new media and have setup YouTube videos and channels. However, in the the past 3-4 years there Atheists have started their own campaign. To me its not clear as to what created this new Atheist counter campaign. Obviously personal initiatives of Christopher Hitchens (Author of best seller - God is not Great), Richard Dawkins (Author of best seller - The God Delusion) and Sam Harris (Author of End of faith and Letter to the Christian Nation). The fact that these books have sold as many copies(God Delusion - 1.5 M, #2 on amazon bestseller in 2006, God is not great reached #2 on amazon bestseller in 2007)  as they did is surprising to me as Atheist account for 3% of world population with other non-believers accounting for about 10-12%. 

Added later: Dawkins Interview

There have been atleast 2-3 books countering each one of these books but have not been as popular as the originals. However, many say that the fact that these books are selling does not indicate or prove anything. Atheist counter that if people are examining their beliefs and not taking them on faith is exactly what they want to see happen.

Several campaigns such as the Atheist Bus campaign, which was launched in response to the Christian organisation Jesussaid.org bus advert (which said all non-Christians will burn in hell for eternity) have taken off. It was originally launched to raise GBP 5,500 to run on 30 buses in London but has now raised GBP 140,000 and running on 800 buses. Similar campaigns have started in Spain, Italy, Canada, US in a total of 17 cities. There have been counter responses from Christian organisations in most of these locations. However, when it comes to financial resources the Atheist campaign is no match for the billions of dollars that the religious institutions command. 

I was going to touch on YouTube campaigns next and looking back the last sentence from previous para it doesn't surprise me that battle has moved to the Internet. being the great leveler that it is. What's interesting is that on YouTube the battle's not amongst institutions but individuals who have setup channels campaigning their cause. Again, Atheist channels and blogs are fairly new, last 2-3 years, as compared to religious ones. I assume these are probably inspired by the three authors I mentioned above.

What the result will be no one knows but looking at the trends I feel that the next 20-30 years of public debate is less and less going to be between religions and more between the believers and non-believers. The next generation, i mean the teens who were born in the 90s or others in early 2000s, are going to grow up in the midst of this debate. This will be a fairly new concept as in the past people were brought up with a certain view. We all know that once we are grown up its next to impossible for anyone to change their mind on core beliefs. So it would be interesting to see what the next generation ends up believing. 

To sign off I found some YouTube videos from channels with purpose to promote their view point. The war rages on.

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