Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Of International Advisory Boards and Dabbawallahs

Two interesting news reports today from the world of B-schools.

Today's Economic Times reports:

The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) board on Monday decided to form an International Advisory Council (IAC) — the first by any Indian B-School — to examine, discuss and recommend IIM-A’s long-term strategic orientations. [...]

Several reputed universities and business schools have such councils. Such bodies do not have any decision-making powers and they function purely as advisory bodies. The mission of IAC, which will be a body of leaders from the fields of education, business, management and academia with wide international experience and perspective, would be to examine, discuss and recommend IIM-A’s long-term strategic orientations.

This is a great move, and I hope it catches on. In a post from a year ago, I noted two similar initiatives: an academic audit at Mysore University, and an (external) scientific advisory board at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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ET also reports that the Indian School of Business (ISB) invited the dabbawallahs of Mumbai to lecture to its students:

When ISB invited the dabbawallahs to speak to their students and share some of their trade secrets, the least they expected was a power point presentation . But Raghunath Medge, president of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Carriers’ Charity Trust and Gangaram Talekar, the secretary, showed how deceptive appearances can really be.

The budding management graduates sat riveted as Medge explained that the 5,000-strong workforce that confronts traffic and crowds in Mumbai everyday to deliver about two lakh lunch boxes is actually illiterate or semiliterate. [...]

“There were three main things that I gathered from the lecture. The first one is, keep things very simple; do not complicate stuff. Secondly, make use of the available infrastructure. Do not try and do things out of the box, things that are not available to you, and thirdly , always have a back-up . That is the best resource,” said Indira, an ISB student .

The dabbawallahs also discussed how their organisation had become a subject of study in top B-schools in Indian and abroad, and how they recently secured Six-Sigma ISO certification.