Building an Institution : B-schools to search within – A session with Prof Rishikesha T Krishnan

Rishikesha T Krishnan, Chairperson Corporate strategy & Policy Area, IIM Bangalore
Rishikesha T Krishnan, Chairperson Corporate strategy & Policy Area, IIM Bangalore

Rishikesha T Krishnan, in the last two decades, has been very active in the spaces of strategy and innovation, and championed on how they can be made integral to the systems to enhance the competitiveness of organizations on one end to nation building on the other. He is a member on the boards of various government, quasi-government bodies as well as editorial boards of prestigious publications. His silent work has found space in the public domain in the form of research papers and books. His last work From Jugaad to Systematic Innovation: The Challenge for India caught the imagination of policy makers, intellectuals and students of innovation alike. He has been showered with many awards – Dewang Mehta Award for Best Teacher, Jamuna Raghavan chair in Entrepreneurship at IIMB, IFCI award for best thesis at IIMA etc. His complete profile can be perused at Prof. Rishikesha T Krishnan

Prof. H Chaturvedi inviting and introducing Rishikesha T Krishnan, Prof A Sahay, Prof P N Mishra, Prof Rishikesha
Prof. H Chaturvedi inviting and introducing Rishikesha T Krishnan, Prof A Sahay, Prof P N Mishra, Prof Rishikesha

I thank Prof. H Chaturvedi, Director BIMTECH, for inviting me to be part of the invigorating session by Rishikesha at the campus. I was thrilled to be there listening to a thinking individual and was also nostalgic about meeting a professor from my alma mater, IIM Bangalore. Rishi moved into IIMB the very year I graduated (1996), hence missed being in the same learning spaces. I have had a few interactions with Rishi in the last few years at our Alumni get-togethers or over the phone, but this was the first time I was in a session of his. I was more delighted because the session was about institution building and building of self that go hand-in-hand, which is of great interest to me personally. I invest a lot of my time in these spaces.

The session was chaired by Prof P N Mishra, Director and Dean, Institute of Management studies, Devi Ahilya University, Indore and anchored by Prof Arunaditya Sahay, Dean (Research), BIMTECH.

The session with Rishi is in first person as I documented while the session was underway. I sought his permission to blog this. Here it is.

We as a nation are known internationally in the strategy and innovations space because of the two stalwarts, Late Prof C K Prahlad and Prof Sumatra Goshal, whose contributions have impacted organizations and nations.

Revisiting the B-School Curriculum and program Design

As part of understanding the shifts being made and envisaged in the B-school curriculum, I was a member of team that visited a few campuses in the US, like Kellogg, Stanford. MIT, Cornell, Wharton and Yale

Key lessons from US business schools

  • MBA has become more of business analytics than administration
  • Does not foster professional dimensions, especially ethics and governance
  • Promotes most of theoretical framework, we need to move towards applied discipline

US schools response

  • Dire need to link theory and practice
  • Can we think of labs for experiential learning
    • sustainability lab, ecological outcome; work with start-ups
    • work with consulting companies to anchor the. Courses exposing to real problems
    • people come with different background and levels of understanding and analytical thinking; build on people prior experiences
  • Integrated approaches to managerial problem-solving
    • can we look from stake holder’s perspective – customer, investor, partners etc
    • Eg: Yale looks at raw cases and is not packaged in most of the cases; internal portals eg. All related articles regarding an issue and keeps updating (eg Maruti unrest, can I compile are reports and articles historically to the current situation)
  • Focus area on leadership
    • Kellogg : values and crisis decision making
    • Sloan : intensive Leadership workshops
    • Stanford : capstone leadership course
  • More attention on career planning
    • most have no access to unbiased view of careers, industry and companies
    • passport seminars
    • active immersion : going through the whole course
    • Mintzberg’s matrIx ..will to manage vs zest for business (I will update this with the matrix soon)
Prof Rishikesha in his flow
Prof Rishikesha in his flow

What are the priorities for the Indian business schools?

  • Building business acumen
    • can we build more insights from traditional businessman’s acumen – cash, profits, assets, growth, people etc
    • Using simulation tools actively in our curriculum
    • What does it mean to be a professional
      • people are watching our behavior patterns – authoritative etc, how do we take care
      • Learning by doing (eg.)
        • businessmen teaching, real life issues, evaluation
        • managers supportive of innovation and change – can we give more opportunities to explore
        • Collaborative skills- need to really help future managers to work on this,
        • Sustainability – A key to future course world-wide
        • How to keep all Stakeholders perspective

Institutional building – Curriculum building is taken care of if we do institutional building

  • Matrix on – relevance and practice Vs research, conceptual rigor
  • IIMA must have been a pioneer in India, but what next – the recent cover story in a magazine talks about IIM going back to B-school?!
  • ISB, Hyderabad, started just a decade ago has walked into the IVY leagues of the world. Why?
    • People with strong wherewithal backing it
    • clear vision
    • strong international partners
    • now capable young resident faculty
    • Scaleed to recruit 570 students
    • New campus in Mohali now
    • resources,
    • flexibility,
    • determination to make it
    • Matrix – theory of business V (I will update this with the model soon)

IIMB Trajectory : There has been a significant shift even at IIMB in the last 7 years

  • Focusing on research capabilities
  • Enhanced support of internal research projects
    • use of internal resources to push faculty to excel
      • incentivizing for high quality research output; when you incentivize other things why not research
      • inviting more and more people to visit Campus and take seminars
      • First Research and publications report has come out – target the most reputed Financial Express 45 journal’s list
  • LEARNING FROM THE STRATEGY AREA EXPERIENCE – we have been consciously working at it even more assiduously
    • can we recharge the faculty to take initiatives in the right direction
      • vibrant doctoral program in management
      • largest number of doctoral programs (15 at any time); 9 of 13 alumni are faculty at other IIMs
      • Emphasis on that get invited for – Awards, seminars and proceedings
      • faculty research and student research programmes have to be synergistic and synced
      • students work published in SMA
      • One of our senior most professor, Prof Ramachandran, teaches his courses with his own cases
      • We do Outreach programmes – Strategic Management teachers programmes – foundation course for faculty from other institutions
      • Shared committed to excellence at the dept level
        – strategic plan for the department has been created

Each one of us can be invaluable to an institution, if we are clear on what we are here for. Have we got our plan right? So questions to ask for, is –

    • Have got strategic goals for self
    • what am I bringing here
    • how much am I driven internally

As an institution we need to ask a few questions

  • Can we create supportive environment
  • You cannot buy innovations. How do I promote constituents to take the initiative
  • Money can play a role to some extent. In fact, we should take money off the table. Yes, raise the compensation base to a comfort level
  • Can we create research platforms
  • Encourage and recognize excellence in all that we do
  • Could be a good practice – CAN I TAKE OATH THAT I WILL EXCELL IN WHATEVER I DO

I wind up by showing A MODEL OF ENGAGED SCHOLARSHIP – source Prof. Ramachandran (I will update this with the model soon)
Q & A

1. What do you think of Qualitative research and relevance in our country? How do people perceive it?

A. Internationally, they shy away. But there has been many a development of late. Now QR is being made rigorous – understand and incorporate


A lot must be happening, considering the popularity it has gained. (quite a few people shared)

  • perception handling : influence and impacts – Look at the Arab spring, Occupy movement, the recent incidents in India
  • information warfare : being used extensively; very potent way of creating panic
  • education : A lot being done.

3. INDUSTRY’s understanding of research and how to apply

Yes, we need to work on educating them and making them partners in many ways


ISB is a success story; Though they had a lot going for them, I am sure every institution if determined can make it happen.

Prof P N Mishra’s Concluding address :

  • Research : relevance and context are very important
  • Look at Japan and Korea Vs the US and UK : The oriental philosophies of building nation is very different from occidental. Each one has succeeded in own ways, at the same time failed the world in many
  • A real good teacher is one who endeavors to create students better than oneself..

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