9:00 am. We were 15 minutes into our Operations Management class. Almost all the seats in the class were (surprisingly) occupied given the absolute indifference of the majority of the class towards operations. I vaguely remembered the slot 3 class of OM-1 when the other OM professor, in his first class, had taken a quick 1 min poll on what field of profession the students preferred. The finance/consulting and marketing bandwagon was enthusiastic in their responses while only a handful had raised their hands for operations with deep reluctance written on their faces. The rest of the class had given them looks mostly reserved for rebels/Naxalites.
It was the slot-4 of PGP1 @ WIMWI. Slot-4 was much-celebrated as the slot which was considered an oasis in the desert called PGP1. It was supposed to be short and with courses which were known to be less painful. This had earned it the reputation of the most “chill” slot. Tuchchas would often warn fachchas not to be too complacent, often quoting their own experiences and inability to exploit this slot to push their GPAs up thanks to the “extra-chill”ing.
The academic pressure of the last 3 slots and the just concluded summer placements had taken its toll on us. My sleep deprived eyes begged to close. Bolly, who sat to my immediate left, was already in the midst of his sleep soujourn, using his Business taxation case material as a pillow. Dhikchik, on my right, whispered in my ears “ Agar main sone lagu, mujhe turant jagaa dena aap (Please keep me awake)”. I nodded my head in the affirmative, more so out of sympathy for his blood-red eyes which almost freaked me out. His face had almost fallen on the desk for the fifth time.
There are times when you should be really grateful to your parents. Especially if you have a name which starts with one of the ‘end’ letters like a ‘U’, ‘V’ or ‘W’. For a class where students are arranged in alphabetical order from the “well” of the house to the back benches, it is immensely rewarding to have a name like Vishwanath. It gives you access to the most strategic of positions in class (the extreme left back benches), which doesn’t lie within the vision radar of most professors.
“Good morning. We will continue with the Toyota case which we started yesterday. What do you think were the key gaps in the strategy?” Prof P enquired with an air of sagaciousness. He was easily the youngest of the Profs, possibly in his mid-30’s, bespectacled with a smiling face and everything proper about him.
A few hands went up after a time lag of about 45 seconds. Just to let you know, A lot of decision-making happens in these 45 seconds, in the 80 odd heads, enough to put the Intel P5 to shame.
For instance, when the question is thrown open to the floor. This is what happens inside the average WIMWI brain:
Step 1: “How much is the CP (class participation) component in this course worth?”
Less than 20% - to hell with it! I have better things to do in life. I will escape with a C in this.
More than 20%
Step 1 a) “ What were my prior experiences of putting CP in class like?”
No one in class spoke to me for the next 2 days. 3 guys had to take aspirins.
Nothing unpleasant as such
Step 2: “ I need to talk somehow. Have I read the case?”
Still shuffling the pages of the case material trying to figure out which case.
Yes, read it/skimmed through it in the break. Someone in yesterday’s class was cold-called by the Prof.
Step 3: Market survey “Who else in the class will try to talk?”
CP Queen, Globe master, Class Muggu, I-schol…etc … Loss of enthu due to crowding in!
Everyone is lost in their casemats. Great!
Step4: “Do I have anything sensible to tell from the case.”
Ans: Random case facts known to all and completely irrelevant to the question asked by the professor. “ I do not want to pain my class mates with arbit CP”
Yes somewhat, plus a little bit of my own common sense to fill in the gaps.
Step 5: “What time is it?” (Looks at the clock)
10:00 am. Yippee!!! I can’t put CP, in the interest of the whole class and to save my a@$ from being kicked.
At the start or middle of the class
Step 6: : “Should I raise my hand or start off spontaneously”
Who knows (look around the whole class), someone might cut me in between. Better to raise my hand to avoid the embarrassment of being interrupted.
No one gives a rodent’s backside!
Student from the mid rows decides to put a CP finally.
Student: “Sir, I think the problem is more in the manufacturing system. Toyota’s lines were not equipped to deliver a customized, differentiated product.”
Professor: ( Look stunned for a while) “ English, please.”
The class wakes up with a burst of laughter.
- Vishwanath Hariharan
The author is a second year PGP student at IIM Ahmedabad (Class of 2013). He graduated from NIT Trichy in 2007 and worked for nearly 4 years in Mahindra & Mahindra, Automotive Sector in the vendor management function. His blog page is http://my-newsense1.blogspot.com.
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