Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Teaching an elephant to dance....

I came out of a class on IBM's transformation; which began under John Akers, matured under Lou Gertsner and is now being continued by Sam Palmisano. IBM is one of those classic companies that everyone knows but nobody knows about. I was struck by the fact that Gertsner's 'piece de resistance' was not turning IBM into a 'solutions oriented company', cutting costs and becoming more customer focussed. It was to realise that IBM's competitive advantage lay in the fact that it had the scale and the stability to be a one-stop shop that no one else could be. Its vaue lay in being IBM as opposed to Akers' plan to carve it up into 16 different parts....

Leading Teams...

A recent case on actively managing conflict as part of leading teams piqued my interest...

Substantial research of the best performing teams in sports, business, arts etc found that ACTIVELY MANAGING CONFLICT leads to HIGH PERFORMANCE. Teams that performed poorly acquiesced too soon or too easily. Good teams identified and treated apathy early and didn’t confuse a lack of conflict with agreement.

HBS starts much needed India resource center!

The following news article appeared in the HT. Good for HBS and great for India.

Harvard B-School to Open Research Centre in Mumbai

By Shalini Narang23 February 2006

To extend its global presence and aid the varied research projects of its faculty, Harvard Business School (HBS) of the prestigious Harvard University will open the India Research Centre (IRC) in Mumbai next month.The formal inception of the centre will include a one-day colloquium to bring together the Harvard alumni in India and a keynote by Harvard President, Lawrence Summers."The new Mumbai centre will help us expand our ties with prominent business leaders, universities, and researchers throughout India," said Professor Krishna Palepu, the School's Senior Associate Dean for International Development."Our presence in the region will not only increase the breadth and depth of our faculty's research and case studies and thereby enhance the learning experience for our management programme students and executive education participants, but also cultivate a constructive dialogue between India and other business leaders within the global network," he added.Research is expected to mostly focus on Indian companies pursuing new opportunities to excel in a globalised economy, on international companies and investors seeking opportunities in India and on policy makers working towards a milieu that facilitates national competitiveness and economic growth in India."The India Centre will enable the myriad HBS faculties to study one of the world's most important economic regions during a time of significant transformation. I would like to see about 30 to 40 faculty members engage in some sort of long or short term case studies or project work pertaining to India." Says Richard Vietor, Senior Associate Dean and Faculty Chair for Asia.Some of the current projects in progress by HBS faculty on Indian businesses includes Professor Palepu's research on strategy and governance focusing on the globalisation of emerging markets, particularly India and China, and the resulting opportunities and challenges for western multinationals and local companies with global aspirations in these countries and the research on entrepreneurship in creative industries by associate professor Mukti Khaire.She is studying the evolution of the fashion industry in India to provide insights into how entrepreneurs individually and collectively deal with the multiple levels of uncertainty inherent in being entrepreneurs in a new industry, with little socio-cognitive acceptance and no established norms of behaviour. It will also enable an understanding of how industries evolve by borrowing institutional norms from other contexts and adapting them to suit their specific needs.The India Research Centre would be the latest addition to the School's network of international research centres in Latin America (Buenos Aires), Asia-Pacific (Hong Kong, Tokyo), and Europe (Paris). Besides coordinating research within these regions, the centres also form a global network for comparing businesses and business practices from around the world."As an increasingly important player in the global economy, India will continue to drive the social and capital markets that shape our world," says Ajay Mookerjee, an alumnus of the Harvard Business School and the Executive Director of the India Research Center."The region's burgeoning population has a high proportion of educated workers who will significantly impact important developments in many enterprises. Beyond that, the mere size of this skilled workforce will have substantial buying power in tomorrow's economy. Therefore, it is essential for Harvard Business School to have a presence in India and contribute to increased understanding of key issues in the area," he opines.Launched in 1996, the Global Initiative is a major effort by the University to enrich the Harvard Business School's long tradition of international research activity and course development by building closer ties with companies, academic institutions, alumni, and other resources worldwide to expand its ongoing commitment to creating intellectual capital.

Thought for the day....

I just came out of a class on leading teams where we discussed the inspirational coach K. The follwing quote caught my attention...

‘There is no greater thing that you can tell someone than, I believe in you, you’re good, I’m there for you’. Coach K
Coach K, is the most celebrated college basketball coach in the world. He coaches Duke university basketball.

Conventional Photography faces a premature death?

I've been talking about whether conventional photography could be facing a premature death for a few months now...the follwing snippets appeared in a recent Economist.

- THIS has been a bleak year for conventional photography.
- On January 12th, Nikon announced that it would no longer make most film cameras.
- A week later, Konica Minolta said it was quitting the camera business.
- These developments follow last year's bankruptcy filing by AgfaPhoto and Kodak's decision to stop making black and white paper.
- Digital is clearly king, and the silver-gelatin process that dominated photography for more than a century is in its death throes.
- But Such evolution is natural!

Monday, February 27, 2006

The sun sets on Summers....

Larry Summers has resigned as President of Harvard University. The time that I have been at HBS, the dean (Kim Clark) resigned in office to fulfill a higher calling from his Mormon Church by becoming the President of the University of Utah at Provo. The dean of the largest academic community at Harvard - the Faculty of Arts & Sciences (FAS), Dean William Kirby resigned in the aftermath of Larry Summers' comments that innate ability may explain why few women reach top science posts. Larry Summers became embroiled in several controversies early in his tenure, among them the departure of prominent black studies professors such as Cornel West — who left after a falling out with the university president.

Last year's comments to an academic conference on women in science grew into a broader debate of Summers' management style, which some considered brusque and even bullying. The discontent prompted a 218-185 no confidence vote from Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences last March — the only known instance of such an action in the 370-year history of the university. Faculty votes are symbolic because the seven-member Harvard Corporation has sole authority to fire the university's president.

Many have considered Larry Summers to be one of the brightest minds of our times. Larry Summers' parents were both economists, he is the nephew of two Nobel Laureates and giants of Economics - Paul Samuelson (father's side) and Kenn Arrow (mother's side). Summers did a BS in Economics from MIT at 16 and a Phd in Economics from Harvard becoming the youngest tenured Professor at Harvard (then) at age 28. He then won the John Bates Clark medal from the American Economic Association which economists consider to be equivalent to the Nobel Prize. Summers' career went up like a rocket as he then became the Chief Economist at the world bank, the Secretary of the Treasury and eventually President of Harvard University.

The reason I have bored you with Summers' biography is to make a point. Alas these are my professor's words.... He said that highly intelligent people are born with a great gift and they can choose to use that gift in one of two ways - they could choose to use it to uplift the people around them so they come out of the interaction with a better self image and a better understanding of the problem on hand. Or they could use it to dazzle others with their intelligence to belittle and diminish the self image of the others around them. Summers chose the latter especially in the case of his remarks against minorities such as African Americans and Women, which I believe are unfounded, and he paid a heavy price with his head. The second lesson I got from this was that when you in a position of public leadership you speak for the whole university (whether you like it or not) and you cannot afford to say anything that potentially affects the legitimacy of the constituents you represent. That is the price you pay for accepting such a public position of leadership......

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Summer 2005 Puerto Rico Posted by Picasa

Friday, February 24, 2006


This is my first attempt at blogging....but hey its a start. Bear with me i promise it'll get better with time.