It was kind of the Asian School of Management to invite me for a motivational chat today with a batch of fresher’s as part of their induction program.  I was delighted as the topic given was very special for me -‘Values’ and so I based my talk on a highly inspirational HBR article written by Prof. Clayton M. Christener. It was he who coined the term ‘disruptive technologies’ in his 1995 article Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave. The term is described further in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma and its sequel The Innovator’s Solution. Special thanks to my friend Manish Thakur (ex-student Tasmac) who so thoughtfully drew my attention to this article.

Diversity in action

I was thrilled to know that these wonderful young people come from so many different states of India – Haryana, Maharashtra, MP, UP, Punjab, Kerala, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal.

Eager & enthusiastic! Raring to go!

Prof. Clayton’s thoughts

The article is based on Prof. Clayton’s talk to the HBS graduating class of 2010 – not on their post-HBS careers but something much more profound.  The students wanted to know how to apply his principles and values to their personal lives. The Prof. shared with them a set of values that have helped him find meaning in his own life – How will you measure your life?

I will touch upon Prof. Clayton’s three questions that I found most inspiring and meaningful.

“On the last day of class, I ask my students to turn those theoretical lenses on themselves, to find cogent answers to three questions: First, how can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career? Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness? Third, how can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail? Though the last question sounds lighthearted, it’s not. Two of the 32 people in my Rhodes Scholar class spent time in jail. Jeff Skilling of Enron fame was a classmate of mine at HBS. These were good guys—but something in their lives sent them off in the wrong direction.”

He believes   more and more MBA students come to school thinking that a career in business means buying, selling, and investing in companies and that’s unfortunate. Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people. “I want students to leave my classroom knowing that”. More and more of his HBS classmates from 1979 are unhappy, divorced and estranged from their children. The reason according to him was that they didn’t keep the purpose of their lives front and center as they decided how to spend their time, talents, and energy.

Clear purpose of life

For him having a clear purpose in life has been essential. But it was something he had to think long and hard about before understanding it. I am certain you will love Prof. Clayton’s article at – http://hbr.org/2010/07/how-will-you-measure-your-life/ar/1

It was rewarding to observe the keen interest and debate generated by the new students.  The discussion today may provide the right context to them for their module on ’Organizational values and Ethics”. So guys walk cautiously with your values. Start today! I am glad that B Schools are now making this as the capstone course in MBA programs.

“Try not to become a man of success but a man of value” – Albert Einstein

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About dilipnaidu

An open mind! Love to share my thoughts and a keenness to learn. An engineer and a MBA I had a wonderful innings in the Army and later moved to consultancy and teaching. My current interests are reading, music, growing culinary herbs, playing golf and yoga. I am serious on "Living life less seriously". A warm welcome to you be well and be cheerful always.

27 responses »

  1. girish says:

    Respected sir,

    Doing MBA is living your life to fullest and reinventing yourself for your growth, development and awareness of our real self and try to excel and love the field wherever we are in pursuit of excellence.

    With best regards,

    Yours faithfully,

    Girish kohli

    Like

  2. Sriram says:

    Dear Sir & Raja Beta (Vivek),

    the MBA is perhaps the only ‘generalist’ course which also doubles as a Post Graduation! It is something like the concept of GOD. What we make of it is our own reality and therefore each one values it differently and so what we think is what we get out of it.

    There are people who think that the MBA program is a placement program and they get a ‘job’ out of it, others think its an opportunity to indulge in some serious self reflection (because fixing the self, fixes the world) and use the tools taught in the program to understand themselves a little better and therefore go on to shape the world too (as extremes of it).

    So its not what the course has to offer but what the individual takes out of it that matters and taking out never stops and is a continuous work in progress. perhaps this the reason why a lot of MBA alumni think back fondly on their program with greater respect for it rather than when they are at it!

    Perhaps the crux of an MBA program has to be to inculcate if possible an ability – “learning to learn” because this is one magical wand that aids growth and development.

    And this fundamental ability is what Vivek is referring to as the ability to see things as simple as they are – because only one who knows how to learn and is seeking learning will always look at the ‘complexity’ and seek ‘simplicity’ in it.

    Ignorance is layered and complex – whereas wisdom isn’t. Just as the single spark of light is capable of removing darkness, this single ability of ‘learning’ demolishes layers of ignorance and brings out the simplicity of reality.

    So what Vivek is referring to as “intelligent fool” is basically the person who is intelligent enough to know that he doesnt know and learning is the only way to be ‘intelligent’….

    the question then is – the motive of the student who comes to do the MBA determines the outcome – there is an interesting study by Rashmi Bansal which concurs with this premise – so u take what u want!!

    Cheers

    Sriram

    Like

  3. Vivek says:

    Dear Sir & Raja beta (Sriram),

    “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

    Albert Einstein

    With the above as my context… I think MBA as we have come to know it & as a matter of fact many other things in life is churning out the Intelligent fool by the second. In a age where making things complex is synonymous with high value, what then of true ‘Values’

    I hate to admit it, but many a times I myself have found some strange joy in being the Intelligent fool. But then I solace myself with the fact that even Diamond requires polishing, cutting etc. to be what it is… and yea the metaphor not because of its perceived monetary value, but simply because the more we polish the flaws surface out n the more we polish…

    Anyways I stop it here n as always its been a pleasure to debate, discuss etc. etc. with the 2 of you… (I can already visualize a long response from Raja Beta for my above rantings…)

    Regards,
    Vivek

    Like

    • Dilip says:

      Hey Vivek,

      Wow the Einstein quote is so meaningful. Tells us where exactly we tend to slip. So it is best to follow the – Keep It Simple,Stupid principle!

      Wonder what Sriram has to say 🙂

      Cheers & many thanks for the visit!

      Like

  4. Amey Poyekar says:

    hello Dilip Sir,
    First of all thanks for commenting on my site and sharing your blog, since I had no idea what a great thing you have created here. I am an MBA student with focus in strategic management and HR.
    We have studied the cases of Enron,WordCom so many times in our ethics and other such classes. Well they became a classic , but in a very wrong manner. I think that the values are something that need to be inculcated not only by the B-schools but also by the business firms.Those are the places where most people lose their control,whatever may be the reason!
    I think that business firms, especially the corporate citizens, have a greater responsibility since they have a larger impact on society through their activities.
    It was a great pleasure to meet you in here.
    Hope to hear more from you.
    Thanks
    Sincerely,
    Amey Poyekar

    Like

    • Dilip says:

      Hey Amey,

      How nice to of you to visit and pen your views. Its all the more nice to know that we share the same interests – Strategy and HR. You seem to be doing MBA in Texas and as such it will be nice to know your perspective on some topics from over there.

      Yes most certainly I will be following your posts with interest in fact you write so well.

      Cheers,

      Dilip

      Like

      • Amey Poyekar says:

        Sir,
        yes I am doing MBA in UNT in Texas.
        I would love to share my thoughts! Also I am planning to have some blogs on these topics as well.Will let you know and would like to request your expert comments on the same,
        Sincerely,
        Amey

        Like

  5. Sriram says:

    Dear Parthiv,

    just as it took just a moment for the panda to transform into a grand master – so it is with realization.

    infact the great sage Ashtavakra proves to King Janaka that the estimated time to realization is the time taken by a person mounting a horse to put his leg over the horse!

    So – Maslow’s hierarchy is not exactly an orderly hierarchy / unidirectional; people can move across stages, decline , skip stages etc.

    Western thought cannot accept NON LINEAR logic. EASTERN logic thrives on the ‘may be’. and should we say we are already advantaged being born by ‘chance’ in the MAY BE??

    Sriram

    Like

  6. Sriram says:

    Dear Sir & Parthiv,

    it is interesting that we are discussing self realization in the context of an MBA.

    the fundamentals of values, beliefs etc have to start with a WHY? question. if the why is sorted out then the how follows automatically.

    every aspiring MBA needs to ask this question WHY. why am i doing this course – is it for ‘competitiveness’? is it for job security? is it for a never ending knowledge hunt of which this is a part?, etc. because the why determines the how – how we go about the course, how much we take from it , how much we change because of it / inspite of it , etc.

    and so it is with life in general.

    let’s take businesses – we are all constantly bothered about how things are done – how this company became successful, how this company collapsed etc. or how this person became a leader or how this person became successful. the how answers only the process part – and processes thrive in contexts. once contexts change the process must follow.

    for example – cooking rice – procedure – 1 cup rice, 2 cups water, wash rice, heavy bottom vessel bring water to boil, add rice, cook with closed lid – this procedure works so well that it has become person independent.

    now – the same process you follow in the himalayas – what happens? the rice doesnt cook well!! but u had followed the process to the T!!!

    now is the question to ask WHY? – so the first question is – why does the rice cook in boiled water? then automatically you will know that the boiling temperature of water is sufficient to cause the change in the physical property of rice (may be chemical composition as well) and makes it soft, etc… and in hill stations the water boiling temp is lower hence, though water boils the rice doesnt cook!

    so it was not the boiling water that cooked the rice but the HEAT of the temperature of the boiling water!!

    similarly with any process we apply in personal / business life….

    but what happens is the how dominates because it has made the whole thing ‘doable’ by anybody. and we like such things!!

    so the utility of the how is to ‘reduce’ effort, etc. but it PROMOTES MEDIOCRITY.

    our brains have this funny thing – more you use it the more sharper it becomes & vice versa.

    so if we become ‘how’ oriented – we disuse the brains & hence even when opportunity is thrown up we CAN”T use our brains.

    hence the focus on WHY! WHY keeps our brains alive and ensures that we evolve.

    but the limitation of WHY is that too much of it leads to paralysis.

    that’s where the WHO AM I becomes ultimate.

    WHO AM I is the cookie cutter question that dissolves the paralysis of WHY’s and is the one question whose answer answer’s all questions!!

    that brings me to Kung Fu Panda. the secret ingredient of the secret ingredient soup – NOTHING or if you look at it – it is EVERYTHING – it is what you do with YOU ….

    just as the Panda realized “WHO AM I” and after that nothing could stop “it”, so is the case with all of us.

    We keep looking / seeking “outside” for that secret ingredient seldom realizing that all that was required has been provided. only One has to realize it and use this tool well….

    So MBA students also should realize like the Panda that NOTHING is going to get them jobs, NOTHING is going to make their CAREER, NOTHING is going to bring them RICHES & GLORY, its what THEY DO WITH WHAT THEY HAVE is what is going to make the difference.

    If a PANDA can become a KUNG FU grandmaster, why can’t every MBA be ‘successful’ in his/her own right?

    Cheers!

    Sriram

    Like

    • Dilip says:

      Awesome Sri … your last para’s has much meaning for our young MBA grads … many thanks for this enrichment … and thanks to Parthiv for rekindling this line of discussion invoked by you 🙂 My Namastes to you!

      Like

  7. Dilip says:

    Hey Parthiv,

    So nice of you to share your thoughts on the ‘purpose of our life’. I believe if we align ourselves to our life’s purpose our daily actions and decisions get a direction & life becomes meaningful.

    My mentors say that enlightenment need not always be a step by step approach – even people who had few worldly possessions became self-realized.

    Thanks for contributing and best regards.

    Like

  8. Parthiv Dave says:

    Wow…! What a discussion… As I read more and more about this topic, I start wondering my purpose of life… Self Realisation…

    But I like the line from the movie ‘Kung fu panda’:

    Yesterday was Past,
    Tomorrow is Mystery,
    But today is a Gift – that’s why it is called ‘Present’…

    Also, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is quite visible in above discussion. Be it prof from HBS or our very own Khushwant Singh… Self realization is the last stage once all needs are fulfilled. And I believe that is when a human can stay happy eternally…

    Regards,
    Parthiv.

    Like

  9. Sriram says:

    One more – this time a MANAGER – from india infoline – and his service is to the dead!!

    http://news.rediff.com/slide-show/2009/aug/26/slide-show-1-extraordinary-indians-s-sreedhar.htm#contentTop

    If we read the book ‘the professional’ by bagchi, it profiles an unknown undertaker in bengaluru and calls him a professional. Here is another undertaker who wears two hats…. he also is a finance manager….

    Sriram

    Like

  10. Sriram says:

    Dear Sir,

    here is an MBA who has followed purpose over profit. And has he live upto his name Ravi – Sun – illuminator !!

    http://news.rediff.com/slide-show/2009/nov/05/slide-show-1-extraordinary-indians-ravi-gulati.htm#contentTop

    Hope his story inspires us naysayers and become believers of the fact that all it takes is ONE UNREASONABLE man (no gender bias here – human) to change the world.

    Cheers

    Sriram

    Like

  11. Sriram says:

    Dear Sir,

    There are millions of Padmaja’s even in the heart of New York City being transformed by micro finance, thanks to the revolution initiated by Mohd Yunus.

    Coming to the question whether B Schools can draw inspiration, its a big Yes. Does it translate into action the answer is a Big NO. The translation error is thanks to the perspective of the students who come into B Schools. For some reason they think that the skills they are being offered to hone at B Schools is limited only to make themselves ‘rich’. This is a limiting perspective, little realising that if they put their skills to use for bettering the society, they automatically get richer and elusive happiness will chase them….

    But its not as bleak as it appears, though. With advances in Behavioral Economics & Finance and their application in Human Resource management, everyone is coming around to the view that the MBAs need to build a FOR PURPOSE career and profits will automatically chase them!

    The Science of motivation has now confirmed what the Bhagwad Gita declared ages ago – to lead a purposeful life, one must focus on the what needs to be done rather than the end result, as there is joy in the doing not in the getting!! So we are now experimenting with models at work where employees take charge of what to do, when to do, how to do called ROWE (result only work environments) …..

    MBA’s need to realise that they have in them the power of Hanuman (they are ignorant of that) and Jambavan’s like Naidu Sir are required to remind them that they can take that leap across to Lanka; stretch beyond the obvious and seek out to far reaching goals they haven’t even dreamt capable of dreaming, leave alone achieving!

    So chase the purpose thats larger than life, maxing the ‘touching’ the lives of millions factor, profits has but to follow …..

    Sriram

    Like

  12. Sriram says:

    Dear Sir,

    Came across this Bschool with a difference – a Bank running a BSCHOOL! an stellar example of what B Schools can do – bringing about change in the lives of 17000 families in their 4-5 yrs of existence!!

    http://business.rediff.com/slide-show/2010/jun/15/slide-show-1-how-illiterate-women-became-entrepreneurs.htm#contentTop

    Lots to ponder about the ‘value’ of B School Education!!

    Cheers

    Sriram

    Like

    • Dilip says:

      Dear Sriram,

      (a) What can be more inspiring than Chetna Sinha’s success in empowering women & transforming lives of lakhs through the Mann Deshi Bank. A somewhat similar story of Kudumbashree a innovative micro finance program is happening in South India – http://tiny.cc/vkx7a

      The big question that arises – what can our B Schools do to draw inspiration from such real-time case studies.

      (b) Khushwant Singh’s eight points – I attach highest value to Health, Lack of Envy, Cultivate hobbies and introspection. I wonder if I can add one more point – I am aware of some rare cases where a person has none of the eight – not even health but yet remains cheerful and vibrant. I am sure you understand.

      Best regards & many thanks,

      Dilip Naidu

      Like

  13. Sriram says:

    Dear Sir,

    Here is a piece written by Khushwant Singh. He happens to expand on Prof Clayton’s thoughts and adds a few good ones! the last line says it all ….

    EIGHT CLUES TO HAPPINESS – By KHUSHWANT SINGH

    Having lived a reasonably contented life, I was musing over what a person
    should strive for to achieve happiness. I drew up a list of a few essentials
    which I put forward for the readers’ appraisal.

    1. First and foremost is GOOD HEALTH. If you do not enjoy good health you
    can never be happy. Any ailment, however trivial, will deduct from your
    happiness.

    2. Second, A HEALTHY BANK BALANCE. It need not run into crores but should be
    enough to provide for creature comforts and something to spare for
    recreation, like eating out, going to the pictures, travelling or going on
    holidays on the hills or by the sea. Shortage of money can be only
    demoralizing. Living on credit or borrowing is demeaning and lowers one in
    one’s own eyes.

    3. Third, A HOME OF YOUR OWN. Rented premises can never give you the snug
    feeling of a nest which is yours for keeps that a home provides: if it has a
    garden space, all the better. Plant your own trees and flowers, see them
    grow and blossom, cultivate a sense of kinship with them.

    4. Fourth, AN UNDERSTANDING COMPANION, be it your spouse or a friend. If
    there are too many misunderstandings, they will rob you of your peace of
    mind. It is better to be divorced than to bicker all the time.

    5. Fifth, LACK OF ENVY towards those who have done better than you in life;
    risen higher, made more money, or earned more fame. Envy can be very
    corroding; avoid comparing yourself with others.

    6. Sixth, DO NOT ALLOW OTHER PEOPLE to descend on you for gup-shup. By the
    time you get rid of them, you will feel exhausted and poisoned by their
    gossip-mongering.

    7. Seventh, CULTIVATE SOME HOBBIES which can bring you a sense of
    fulfilment, such as gardening, reading, writing, painting, playing or
    listening to music. Going to clubs or parties to get free drinks or to meet
    celebrities is criminal waste of time.

    8. Eighth, every morning and evening, devote 15 minutes to INTROSPECTION. In
    the morning, 10 minutes should be spent on stilling the mind and then five
    in listing things you have to do that day. In the evening, five minutes to
    still the mind again, and ten to go over what you had undertaken to do.

    RICHNESS is not Earning More, Spending More Or Saving More, but
    …”RICHNESS IS WHEN YOU NEED NO MORE”

    Like

  14. Sriram says:

    Here is part one of the case which sets the tone of the discussion.

    http://businessworld.in/bw/2010_07_09_Case_Study_Supporting_The_Weight_It_Must_Bear.html

    Are students being prepared for the ‘real world’?

    Can students ever be prepared for the real world?

    What the case fails to bring out in its discussions is that the only solution to a problem that is to have a education system that inspires students to GO FIGURE out on their own….

    So time to get to the root of the problem….

    Sriram

    Like

    • Dilip says:

      My dear Sri,

      You are just awesome. Me gonna enjoy these case studies and host a post with the link’s you have provided for a open discussion. Thanks plenty for enriching my blog! BTW for the spirited comment on Prof. Clayton’s article/ talk . We’ll chat on this.

      Regards and Namaste!

      Like

  15. Sriram says:

    Dear Sir,

    Your BLOG has found echo in a case study in the Business world.

    http://businessworld.in/bw/2010_07_24_Case_Study_The_Education_TeeterTotter.html

    Nice case and perspectives by ‘experts’ proferred as analysis!

    Sriram

    Like

  16. Sriram says:

    Prof Clayton, with due respects to him, is actually quoting, but not from the right sources & reference – anybody who has watched the business sutra series by devdutt patnaik on CNBC TV18, will agree that his epiphany with Andy grove of INSPIRING him to think is what his job is all about – our indian tradition of teaching.

    Further, his questions are very superficial and reveal a very western concept, which the eastern philosophers have rejected (Even the westerners have rejected these ideas – if we read recent (since 2005) research emerging on behavioral finance & economics – happiness has been proved to be elusive in the western way of life) and have shown that the path to ANANDA or bliss – begins and ends with just one question. – WHO AM I?

    This is the great question asked by all our seers and all our Masters since time immemorial and is a part of our tradition. This simple question leads to an inquiry of the sort that is required for anyone claiming to find happiness in life. All other questions fall by the wayside, because they will only lead to further questions and perhaps temporary moments of joy and happiness.

    Who am I peels off all our layers which are not truly us and seeks after a permanent source of existence. It is precisely because we are fooling around with the superficial aspects and not getting to the core of the issue that there is so much ‘unhappiness’ inspite of such great advancement in physical and material comforts.

    Since Happiness is a matter of experience, our Masters were always seeking methods that lead to ‘experience’ rather than a conceptual ‘understanding’. Understanding is objective, whereas experience is subjective. Hence if at all the disciples must learn, they must learn it their own way, to experience it and to make it their own. So the methodology was simple – Inspire the disciple to think, to find his/her own ways to learn & hence come to experience ‘it’ in his/her own way.

    An MBA program is one such program where mere logical & conceptual understanding hardly helps when it comes to application & practice in the real world (though it is perhaps the only course in education that can claim to be closest to real life practice!). One must be ‘experienced’ to apply and hence the teaching methods are inspirational, discussion oriented and learner centered and allowing enough room for the learner to take ownership of the learning.

    Happiness cannot come from a successful career or a good family life or a life outside of jail and there are enough anecdotal experiences we have all been exposed to, to prove this. Because any happiness that is BASED on something else is bound to be fleeting / temporary and lasts as long as those conditions exist. So searching for happiness in the temporal is as foolish as searching for a lost ring in a lighted area when the ring was lost in the area which is dark!

    This secret of happiness was well known to our grandparents and somehow our generation seems to have lost this wisdom to translation errors! But it is through Gurus like Naidu Sir that we get the opportunity to engage in debates on the true purpose of life and its true meaning and these debates will ensure that we will all reclaim our lost wisdom and we will all realise ‘happiness’ in our lifetimes!

    Thank you sir & Best Wishes,

    Sriram

    Like

  17. Lubna says:

    Dear Dilip Sir,
    I am so glad, it was you, who took this class. Have you read Po Bronson’s book: What Shall I do with my life. It is worth a read.
    Best regards,

    Like

  18. Geetha says:

    Sashi’s comment moved me to tears and am at a total loss for words right now. Sir, your students are really fortunate to have you as their friend, philosopher, guide and Mentor.

    Thanks and regards,

    Geetha

    Like

  19. Hi Sir,

    I have remember that first induction class in July 2007 based on “Organisational Value” in ASOM. I was little nervous in that time due to lack in communication skill. First time I was out of Orissa. I was not able to speak a sentence in English. Language was a major problem for me.I always ask the teacher when I don’t understand. And without clarification I don’t feel comfortable. Due to language barrier, I was not able to ask the question. In that class, I couldn’t understand the meaning of culture. Through out class there was a puzzle in my mind that should I ask or not. I convinced to myself and during the class, made a question and at last I asked – if you remember.

    You answered nicely and also encouraged me. That encouragement was like a capital for me for the start of my MBA degree till finish. So It is nice to hear the induction program started by an excellent topic and taken by can say one word Inspirer of young minds. People like your kind are really needed by the young mind.It took me three years back which day is memorable for me , sir. Missing your association in class room.

    Warm regards,

    Your dear Sashi.

    Like

  20. Manish says:

    Hi Sir, how r u! Thanking you is not enough .. for having taken the message all across to a wanting audience… This article and the message is so very close to my heart. It’s like having found a treasure that leads towards a happy n content life.. not driven by the worldly associations but more so …self fulfillment n inner thrust.

    I wish luck and best to the new class ..towards fulfilling their dreams in life and a wonderful learning experience!!

    Like

  21. In factl sir you are live example in my opinion that we should learn matter of value from your experience and ethics based nature. I am really impressed with your Knowledge empowerment skill based content which will be really important for a good and true student in each and every stage of life with high extent.

    Like

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