Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Links For Wednesday

Limited edition.

This story in the New York Times smashed all previous records of "number of people who emailed/Facebooked me the article, saying something to the effect of 'DUDE, you HAVE to put this on your blog'". You guys are so predictable, first in thinking that I would be interested in a couple of Karachi businessmen making dildos for a living, and second in sending me the same thing. Why don't you mix it up a bit? Come on, people, surprise me.

The Israelis are pissed. No, not at the Palestinians. At swine flu. Actually, they're not even pissed at swine flu. They're pissed at people who call it "swine flu". Their suggestion? Click here to find out. (Via Andrew Sullivan)

One of our readers (Karachi Khatmal, whose blog you can read here), alerted us to this absolutely amazing blog. It's written by a bit player in the IPL, and he has all sorts of gossip and insider tidbits to offer. The names will take a while to get used to, but desis will understand it by the second or third post.

Slate analyzes the Arlen Specter switch.

Steve Walt has a must-read post on Benjamin Netanyahu, and the fast-evaporating possibility of a viable two-state solution in the Middle East.

Juan Cole is not worried about Pakistan falling into the hands of the Taliban. I don't agree with everything he says -- and may elaborate in a future post -- but you should definitely read it.

Please, please, please check out the photograph linked to in this Paul Krugman post.

Speaking of business types, here's a really interesting discussion on management and corporate culture and business schools and what their role is. (Courtesy Adeel)

Have to run to class, so that's it for today.

13 comments:

Razz said...

LOL @ the Israeli suggestion. I suppose calling it 'Mexican flu' is less offensive? :P

GIGI said...

Don't you think MBA bashing or sneering is a bit unfair?

bonobashi said...

@GIGI

Could you say more? Why do you think so? As an MBA of more than 35 years ago, I'm afraid I rather tended to agree with the article.

bonobashi said...

@Ahsan

Re. the false IPL player and his nicknames: I think Appam Chutiya is the best. The guy is such an absolute c**t (that can be read two ways, Anglo-Saxon and Desi; in an act of remarkable linguistic confluence, both apply).

Gigi said...

@Bonobashi It is interesting to hear viewpoint of someone who has 35 yrs of experience in this profession but won't you agree that this generalization ‘MBA is a worthless degree’ and ‘all MBAs are unsuccessful and stupid ’ is unfair. Have you forgotten about Warren Buffett or Indira Nooyi and Vikram Pandit who are also MBA and are successfully managing their companies even during this crisis time? Of course, there are many failed CEOs who have MBA degree.

However, we both know that in order to correctly manage an organization, you need extensive knowledge of how that organization operates and the markets it serves and for that, MBA degree is a great help. MBA's not just for "the craft of management" or to make our CV impressive or to access to Wall St. It's also about learning financial models, marketing tools, supply-chain management and strategic analysis.

I think right now people are angry and therefore this hate is coming from the fact that we are going through bad economy.

Kalsoom said...

The NY Times vid definitely has made its way around facebook, lending to the very slutty nature of the subject at hand. In all seriousness, I have to applaud the two brothers for their capitalist instincts. Who would have thought that 70% of their customers were Democrats? Who would have thought customer satisfaction surveys would have that as a question?

Ahsan said...

Kalsoom:

Yeah, that bit was hilarious, but for me, the funniest was the last couple of lines in the article:

A major perk, they say, is attending international fetish shows to see how their products hold up in action.

“I go to Sin City every year,” said Rizwan, referring to Las Vegas in a sheepish laugh. It’s all business, he said. “Clients know our country and culture, and they don’t invite us to participate. We’re a little bit shy.”

Ahsan said...

Bonobashi:

Not if you spell choot correctly, since it requires two o's.

But yes, the Sreesanth nickname is top-notch.

bonobashi said...

@Gigi

Let's start by agreeing that all generalisations are incorrect, including this one [cf. Russell's Paradox, if you ever have the time ;-)>].

We do get taught a set of very useful tools. I have used the Quantitative approach used at my school, which didn't care a shit about case studies, very effectively during my working life to analyse situations, to build models that helped me and my colleagues understand what was going on (within the limitations of modelling: now you've got me hedging every dam' sentence!!) and so on. This is no place to put up a laundry list of techniques taught. At the end of it, I found most of us, the huge bulk in fact, did nothing with this learning.

Most of us concentrated on managing our environment, and our bosses, and rarely the business. As a result, it wasn't very common to find answers to those situations where there was a discontinuity, where we needed new ways of doing things.

My crib: so what was the point of teaching all this stuff if people can have perfectly adequate careers without using any of it?

I've lots more, but I'd like to hear you on this one before going on to the next 415 points (OK, Ahsan, just kidding).

Gigi said...

Many thanks for starting this debate. I will be graduating next year. So, I don’t think I will be able to debate with someone who has valuable experience of 35 years in this filed.

However, I am sure you will agree with me that
MBA teaches us to think very, very critically, a skill that I believe, lots of educational programs (e.g., my engineering) omits in a variety of ways. You can't be critical if you don't understand the basic material, and lots of our time during the school both in and out of class is spent in understanding a topic first (e.g., leadership, Organization Behavior, strategic,process and change management), then critically analyzing various approaches to driving change in a multinational organization.

MBA also helps to strengthen our presentation skills, as most of our courses are graded to no small extent on interaction with mostly critical and hostile audience.
MBA is all about networking and making connections. Much of the modern business is all about relationships and who you know. You meet people and friends of friends and form a network that keeps you going forward.


Therefore, I don't think MBA is a waste of time or money. I had no clue about Accounting, Finance, Marketing, leadership and Strategic Management before attending B’school. I still don’t have all the answers but I know the right questions to ask at least and a way to think about getting the answers.

I hope, I answered your question but keep in mind that i am still a student. Thank you for sharing your interesting point of view with me.

bonobashi said...

@Gigi

I don't agree with your second paragraph, but it strikes me that this is not a good moment, when you are about to qualify and start your career, to go into the pros and cons of the MBA as a starting point of how to learn a business. Just a few words from my personal experience:

1. Try to join one organisation and stick to it; there's really not much premium to changing, long term.
2. If you can't, try to join one industry and stick to it; even if you move around between different companies within the same industry, you get a deepening point of view which is invaluable.
3. Learn the basics of the business. Analysing things comes only after you get a firm grip on the business.
4. Presentation skills are useful, but only peripherally. At this moment, I have complete mastery over presentations, and have realised that comes from knowing what the business is about. You can then talk about it to an audience of thousands, with perfect confidence, and answer questions from them with perfect confidence, because you know what it's about, right? And what's that other than a damn good presentation?
5. It's the product that counts, not the numbers. People will tell you different, you will be evaluated on the numbers, you will have to compromise, but keep this clearly in front of you, and you'll make it. The numbers are just an MBA thing.
6. Try not to do point forecasts. The real world doesn't go point to point, it goes range to range. Try to avoid forecasting unless you know what you're talking about, thoroughly, but if you have to forecast at all, do ranges. It'll make a huge difference to your decision-making quality, and you'll keep yourself out of serious trouble if you do this.
7. Don't take yourself too seriously. Remember you have a life outside work. Keep the work-life balance going.

If you follow all this good advice, it won't make the slightest difference; chance plays the biggest role in your career. I'm sorry. But if you're wondering how seriously to take all this, I personally managed only 3, 4 and 5. Maybe if you do the opposite, you'll get to be like Indira (same institute, btw, about 2/3 years junior).

Good luck.

Gigi said...

@ Mr.Bonobashi,

Thanks for all the valuable advice.I appreciate it a lot.I will definitely keep your advice in mind especially 1, 3 and 7. You are also from IIM Calcutta.It is a great school.Are you also working in Pepsi? Do keep in touch. Thanks again.Have a great weekend.

Butters said...

I considered the defense that the mean (average) of any set of responses will have to be interpreted differently if there is large variation within the set than it would if there was little variation; but then I considered ths following:

Why did he put the 'unmarked center' at the White responses? Couldn't he also have said: 'his unpopularity among white voters makes him look less popular than he actually is'?