Experiential learning is a vital component of management education. The first-hand experience gained, proves to be a better learning tool than the conventional textbooks and notes. Since the students of B-schools are all potential managers who would be handling day-to-day activities and complexities of a company, this method is particularly useful to them. The topics can also be better explained to the students, by using such relevant and live examples.
‘Behaviour in Organisations’ is one of the core subjects taught first-year students at any B-school. The curriculum at the Indian Institute of Management, Sirmaur, one of the new members of the prestigious brand of B-schools, the IIMs, is no different. In our first term, we were privileged to be taught by Prof. Somnath Ghosh, a veteran in this field. Prof. Ghosh, an alumnus of Jawaharlal Nehru University, has a vast experience of working as a consultant and teaching in various B-schools like IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Kashipur. As newbies to the B-school environment, we were naturally excited to have him as our instructor. In the first session, he had two classes, back to back. In the first class, he taught us the basic definition of Organisational Behaviour: “Behaviour has a pattern, it can be predicted and it can be manipulated”. In the 2nd class, he conducted a group exercise. Three groups were chosen, given a case and were sent to different rooms to discuss and solve it within 30 minutes. Prof. Ghosh was visiting the 3 groups and listening to the discussions, sometimes joining them, but didn’t influence them in any way. To the first group, he also gave another case and they were under the pressure of the clock to complete two cases in the given time. The second group was also given the second case, but unlike the first group, wasn’t compelled to solve it. The third group had no other case to solve. After all the groups came back to the class, he asked them to write their individual solutions on the board. Then, he handed over a sealed envelope to one of the students to read it aloud. To our surprise, it contained the solutions to the given case. What was even more flabbergasting, was the fact that, he could predict the solutions of each of the groups, individually and also the order in which they would come. It was as perfect as magical. To quell all our thoughts of magic and sorcery, he divulged the secret of prediction. The key laid with our instructor doing the rounds and joining the students in the discussion. The pressure of the clock on some groups, to solve two cases, or the mere presence of a second case affected the decision making ability of the students. Through this exercise, we had a hands-on experience of the different models of decision making and also witnessed a live example of the definition of Organisational Behaviour.
Such hands-on experience provides a lasting impact on the students, much more than any written material. The knowledge gained from the session would surely help us in our corporate lives, to progress further and grow as managers.
- Soumit Mukherjee (PGP 2018-20)