Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Management experts on Dhoni

I wrote yesterday that I lived in fear of management experts wanting to derive mileage from Dhoni's success. Alas, my fears have come true. TOI today carries a story on Management lessons from Dhoni. All of it is just hindsight. Here is a selection:

Adi Godrej: "He sets stretch goals and works determinedly to achieve them by getting the best out of his team." By "stretch goals", Godrej presumably means winning the World Cup. Is he implying that other captains did not have such "stretch goals", that they took part in the World Cup in order to lose?

Harsh Goenka:
"He led the attack from the front and was not afraid to make this change" (promoting himself in the batting order). Yes, and if it had not worked out, I am sure Dhoni would have been faulted with tampering with the batting order and not letting in the best player, Yuvraj Singh.

Santrupt Misra (HR head, Aditya Birla group): "A leader should maintain his calm. He should know his business well and take appropriate decisions in changing contexts". Can't quarrel with that, I suppose. Except that we know whether the decisions were "appropriate" only after the outcome.

There is more in this vein. I would have bought all this if even if one them had said prior to the final, "Dhoni is somebody who observes the following principles of management. These principles lead to success. I expect Dhoni to succeed". They didn't. Instead, I heard people say that Dhoni was flouting the one management principle necessary for success: leading by example. Had Dhoni failed with the bat in the final, I am sure this management principle would have been tom-tommed to death.

What is it about management theory that it reduces so quickly to the level of drivel?


Anonymous said...

Aptly said. But man per se, learns only from lessons. You take any management learning, all learnings comes only after occurrence of some or the other event. Take example of Corporate Governance today - whatever learnings we are having on subject of 'Risk' and 'Governance' are by virtue of some risk event already taken place in the past. For that matter, man should be thankful to catastrophe like Enron, WorldCom, Satyam - they gave us so many lessons of governance (Independent Directors, Audit Committees, Remuneration Committees, Whistle Blowing etc etc). Just rewind 20-25 years before - there was no Enron, no Satyam - would have we propogated same Governance learnings in the IIMs classes...Perhaps no...atleast not all.

The same applies to any management principle. Few are the visionaries who propogate a theory before its occurrence...and if you observe, these visionaries have been criticised immensely when they propogated a prescient theory or concept, that was unconventional or iconoclast...world called these people 'eccentric' or 'incongruous'.

It's sad but true. Pity on Human Intelligence (for which Humans often take pride when compared with other species) that learns only from mistakes...that makes Oracle statements only after its occurrence...that builds a sophisticated Portent only after happening of a massacre.

A quote from Taleb's Black Swan - Risk becomes obvious only after it has become a FACT...but by then, it no longer remains a risk...it becomes a FACT..a History.

Anonymous said...

Hindsight is 20/20 as they say. But I am surprised that your are surprised. Isn't most management practiced in the world today is like that? Everyone claims to be an expert but no one takes a bold call. Take for instance the idea of diversification in investment management which all the pundits extoll. If the so called experts are really experts, why do they suggest diversification to reduce risk and average out risk adjusted returns. Should they be putting their money where there mouth is and not do diversification. Instead reduce risk by real good understanding of the asset and then making an investment.

Same holds true with most of the management theories. They cannot be tested and are clear only in hindsight.

What is refreshing and interesting is to read views from a b-school professor on management experts. Wonder how do you get along with your peers and institute?

T T Ram Mohan said...

Anonymous 2,

Don't get me wrong, some of management theory has obvious value, eg. the hard stuff. As for your query, well, I can't say I am the most popular guy around.


Dilip D'Souza said...

I would have bought all this if even if one them had said prior to the final ... [etc]

Which is a question routinely asked of astrologers who jump up and claim to have predicted, oh, I don't know, the Japan quake, an election victory, etc.

What is it about management theory that it reduces so quickly to the level of drivel?

And therefore one might ask, is management theory much like astrology?

Anonymous said...

Dear Prof,

Sincerely you're a breath of fresh air; please keep it up; for those, amongst whom you're not a popular guy around are hiding behind a mask; unfortunately for them, people are able to see through.


Postmortem is the easy thing. Success has many fathers. We have case studies and books galore on success in every library. Buy tips on every channel.

How many books and case studies on failure?

Few. Yes. They are available....

Sandip Dev said...

Your posts are as awesome and witty as some of your quotes during lectures...