15 November 2022 15:18:55 IST

Why today’s B-schools need to be agile  

Technological agility can decide if a B-school sinks or swims | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Are B-schools agile enough for change, which they constantly grapple with? It could be either a rapid transformation or disruption due to digitalization and that demands agility. The onus is on business schools that produce and supply talent capable to adapt and confront an agile world. This article explains how B-schools can become agile while gaining competitive advantage.

Respond quickly to environment

Many market-sensitive B-schools have included ‘agile management as a part of their curriculum. Projects and experiential learning assignments are designed to support agile management by its letter and spirit. But, agile B-schools need to stretch beyond curricula to serve a larger audience by creating collaborative quality experiences that are meaningful and scalable.

The speed at which a new course is conceived, tested and implemented; and, the effectiveness of the course and the ability to include learning agility, play an important role in gaining a competitive lead. Learning agility is the ability to gain multiple correct perspectives that are unrelated and is derived from questioning the status quo and traditional practices

To quote examples of agile course/programmes, sports management and analytics, offered by a few business schools, have integrated real performance data, virtual reality contexts, e-sports gaming, mobile technologies in their curriculum and pedagogy and have succeeded in producing talent suiting industry requirements. So is forensic accounting, that helps analyse financial frauds. Such strategic academic inclusions have created new learning avenues

Learning agility is also exhibited through well-thought out immersive learning programmes like being mentored by CXOs which help students gain real-time understanding of decision making and strategic thinking.

Strong leadership

Agile leaders bear the onus of creating flat organisations and empowered teams that are innovative, mission-directed, high-performing in bringing corporate experiences and research to classrooms.

Agile B-schools with a shared mission (of course also the vision), encourage accountable and participative free flow of information for effective planning and transparency in decisions. The principle– policy–practice integrations promote academic, and administrative excellence and ease of productive operations.

Technology agility

Agile B-schools augment their strength when their measurable missions are supported by technology. Technology enables faster streaming of communication, transparency, collaboration, and obviates unproductive work. Imagine having a digital clerk and full-fledged data archiving system, which reduces human errors while on data hunts that consume productive time and energy.

Technology agility also helps the teaching fraternity and students connect to clusters of similar interests across the globe. Brand presence in the online landscape elevates a business school’s brand awareness, attracts organisations and research councils for partnerships with mutual benefits.

Collaborative culture

This paradigm of collaborative culture has three simple dimensions. Firstly, internal transparency to foster a collaborative environment that creates mutual trust among members and intellectual security - facilitating free flow of expertise, research knowledge (say exchange of unpublished white papers and working papers), healthy exchange of experiences.

Secondly, the convergence of industry-academic interactions and research plays a significant role in creating a ‘corporate classroom’. Thirdly, well-designed overseas experiential learning programmes ensure that student and faculty mobility firmly enriches the values of diversity, global management practices and cross-cultural learning

External perception

When agility is a habit, the brand promises and perceptions attract ambitious contributions from a B-school’s own stakeholders, supporting entities like edtech companies, publishers, policy-making bodies, and even from the competitive markets

These perspectives are the thoughts for transforming B-schools into agile institutes of excellence. The aspects such as agility in the curriculum, leadership, technology, collaborative culture, and managing external perception are carefully chosen components for significantly deriving valuable and cutting edge benefits.

(The writers are Dr Subhashree Natarajan, Dean, College of Management, SRM Institute of Science and Technology and Dr Sabari Shankar Ravichandran, Assistant Professor)