Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Ram Mohan's fears come true!

In to-day's post, he says:

I wrote yesterday that I lived in fear of management experts wanting to derive mileage from Dhoni's success. Alas, my fears have come true. TOI today carries a story on Management lessons from Dhoni. All of it is just hindsight. Here is a selection:

Adi Godrej: "He sets stretch goals and works determinedly to achieve them by getting the best out of his team." By "stretch goals", Godrej presumably means winning the World Cup. Is he implying that other captains did not have such "stretch goals", that they took part in the World Cup in order to lose?

This and other such gems (and he probably has not even seen this) drive Ram Mohan [who, remember, is a professor at IIM-A] to despair:

What is it about management theory that it reduces so quickly to the level of drivel?

I know his question is purely rhetorical, but I think Management Myth by Matthew Stewart is worth another link! [Bonus link: Johann Hari on a related topic: The management consultancy scam].

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[Thanks to Raj for the Rediff link via this comment].


  1. Yayaver said...

    It is not about taking lessons from Dhoni's win, more people are just interested in counting and giving lesson to others.

    Abi Sir, I have read Management Myth a long back given at your blog only. Thanks again for a brilliant reminder of Matthew Stewart article.

  2. gaddeswarup said...

    I think that Dhoni did some experimenting in the shorter versions of the name, like sending Yuvaraj Singh before Virat Kohli in early games which semed to have paid off. See also Mike Atherton's comments. If management people think that they can learn from it, why not? I am not sure about Dhon's captaincy in the test matches. Often he seemed defensive and let the games drift and probably could have won a few matches which ended in draws.
    I do not understandwhy many academic blogs which went gaga over Venkatraman's Nobel prize are grudging Dhoni and the Indian team some credit. After all the game does give pleasure, pride and hope to deveral millions in the country. People like Dhoni came from middle classes (Dhoni was a ticket collector in the railways for 3 years) and that probably gives hope to several. Education and science is a more long time enerprise and should not be neglected. But what give pleasure and hope to many also should not be ignored and may be the challenge is how to extend it to other sports and enterprises. Have you see Anirudha Krishna and Eric Haglund paoer on 'effectively participating populations' which tries to study India's lackof success in Olympics and Nobel prizes at the same time?

  3. Abi said...

    @Swarup: I'm sorry that my posts have come across as 'grudging' the success of Indian cricket. While I did celebrate the World Cup win, I didn't want to add to the extraordinary (and jingoistic) hype around it. This post is more about shot-gun wisdom-peddlers (exemplified by Adi Godrej), and their shallow theorizing.

    It's interesting that you mention Venki Ramakrishnan. At the end of his talk at IISc, he was asked, among other things, advice for Class XII students, and about his value system. His response was refreshingly blunt (and I'm paraphrasing here): "I don't have any message. I may have solved the ribosome structure, but it doesn't mean that I can advise people on this or that. I'm not a prophet!" I think he would be appalled if someone started using his Nobel to peddle his / her pet theory of how to run organizations, or to become 'world-class leaders'.

    Given the enormous power, reach and influence of Big Sports (cricket in India, football in Europe, etc), I'm all for academic engagement with it. I presume the article you refer to in your comment is one such attempt. I also agree that there's a lot of value in creative, interdisciplinary work that applies findings and insights in one field to other areas / domain.

  4. gaddeswarup said...

    Thanks for the response. Since I a living outside India, I missed most of the hype. The link to the paper I mentioned:

  5. Dilip D'Souza said...

    I remember that Management Myth article with enormous pleasure! And with apologies to my innumerable MBA-holding pals, I remain terminally suspicious of the virtues of the field.

  6. Dilip D'Souza said...

    More grist to your and Ram Mohan's mills: Jobs Dhoni could excel at.