Professor Ranganathan (Prof Ranga), called me a month back and briefed about this interesting inclusive initiative : Goldman Sachs 10K Women Entrepreneurship Development Program. Now into its second year, the program is world’s premier program for providing holistic management perspective to women entrepreneurs.
Professor Ranga approached me to be the Resource Person for Operations Management and conduct a one day session for the 2nd Batch of Women Entrepreneurs. I could not refuse.
The 2nd Batch of Women Entrepreneurs enrolled in Bangalore region, comprised a class of 38 entrepreneurs, from as many varied domains; food, garments, ice-creams, herbal products, electronics, electrical, software development, construction, engineering, online sales, stockists, chocolates, education, floriculture, gift, media, training, bakery, beauty parlor, farming etc. Their businesses varied from a size of single entrepreneur to over 60 full time employees, with a revenue of a few Lacs of Rupees to a few Crores of Rupees. The age of the organizations too varies over wide range.
I have been now handholding entrepreneurs and promoters for almost a decade, but thus far it has been mostly one to one interaction with one enterprise at a time. Managing 38 entrepreneurs at a moment was a big challenge, especially in a discipline of “Operations” that forms crux of entrepreneurial behavior.
Fundamentally, as I learnt from my own entrepreneurial experience and by handholding others, a new and small self-owned business is highly resource constrained. And therefore an entrepreneur is most of the time in operating mode. You would talk quite a bit about business idea, strategy much before you really take a plunge. After wards, you are driven to building your organization brick by brick through ‘learning by doing’. You actually do not get much time to sit separately, review your strategy and update your business plan. For resource (expertise, time and money) and your own managerial bandwidth being limited, you tend to grapple with numerous disruptions that come on the way to your progress. You are often 24×7 person. You are full of actions every day; and every moment is something you and your team need to do. This is the native operational characteristics. And that is why, entrepreneurs are most of the time in operational mode.
What do I do and how do I manage expectations of such a diversity of audience on a subject that they live and breathe. Of course, I myself do not have an academic degree in operations but needed to put my arms around the overall scope of operation management while retaining the freshness that comes from my ongoing research in operation excellence…..
I had a month and I did the needed preparation and it only added to my experience of working in operations. But the issue of diversity of audience still remained. I thought that if I pick what is taught in books and MBA schools under traditional pedagogy or for that matter I cover their syllabus, it will be too generalistic ( and the consequence of the entrepreneurs never excusing me for wasting their time) and hardly anybody would be able to relate with their business. On the other hand, if I pick up a few case-studies, it will be difficult for them to build workable concepts.
I also knew that normally in programs like this, (and as in MDP programs), Faculty members would normally give a framework or a set of instructions, and would ask the participants to use them when they get back to work. However, I knew from my experience that asking entrepreneurs to read and write, while they are busy firefighting in their business, is a sin. For that matter, to anybody in operations.
I reflected upon this. Soon a thought occurred to me if I could blend the two, theory that covers enough scope of Operations Management and the practice that the entrepreneurs are doing. I thought of co-creating the one day session with them. Subsequently, I prepared my presentation by referring some pedagogical content and books. When I went through it, I did not like it a bit. It looked like I was going to teach undergraduate students. I slept over the slides for a few days.
So what was the ultimate shape of the session and how did it go with the Entrepreneurs.
For full details check here…
wish you happy reading.
31 March 2014