Thursday, January 9, 2014

Education and Enterprise

In the Mahabharata, Abhimanyu entered the Chakravyuh but could not make his way out. He was not short of valor or intent but lacked knowledge on how to tackle it.  Business world is replete with examples of people who made it big by the sheer dint of their hard work. Education was often not their primary strength. Dhirubhai Ambani’s success is a case in point.  
There are two schools of thought - one that feels education has no bearing on one’s capacity to setup and run an enterprise, the other which believes education to be the very foundation element for successful enterprises. The issue is completely debatable and there will be enough examples to prove both thoughts.
However, companies like the Reliance Group did not grow simply due to the sharp business acumen, instinct and common sense of its promoters. They systematically developed a professional team to take on the world. Every successful MNC or small business today has educated and experienced people at the helm of affairs.
Chanakya’s role in establishing the Maurya Empire by methodically defeating the Nanda Empire is historical. He was the advisor to Chandragupta Maurya and his son Bindusara. A learned man in the field of economics and politics, he guided the emperors to their success. 
The most important function of education at any level is to develop the personality of the individual and the significance of his life to himself and to others. ~ Grayson Kirk
Building an Enterprise
Setting up an enterprise requires a vibrant skillset and intellectual capacity to navigate the system by complying with each and every aspect.
Theoretical knowledge to practical application
Suppose the enterprise is setup to make DC motors. One will need to understand the science behind DC motors, its application and how to make good quality motors.
Functional Knowledge
What are the various functions necessary to run an enterprise? What skillset will be required to complete the functions? How many people will be needed to manage the function? These are generic concerns.
Accounting, Legal and Statutory Compliance
Every enterprise however small or large has to compulsorily adhere to each applicable legal and statutory requisite without fail.  We cannot claim ignorance as the cause for any non-compliance. The legal hassles in such cases can often lead to closure of the enterprise altogether. The onus is always on the entrepreneur in-charge.
Management Skills
Certain people have very good idea and knowledge of say automobiles and can setup a good garage to fix vehicles but might not possess the necessary management skills to run the establishment successfully. Decision making is an everyday aspect of a business. Not all decisions can be made on gut feel, guess work or biased assumptions.
Without education, one can start a venture but will most definitely need structured learning and knowledge to scale-up and sustain.
Value of Education
In school, we were taught a Shloka in our Sanskrit class which encompasses the true subtext of education.
vidyA dadAti vinayaM, vinayAdyAti pAtratAM |
pAtratvAddhanamApnoti, dhanAddharmaM tataH sukhaM || 5 ||
Translated into very layman terms it means knowledge gives discipline, from discipline comes worthiness, from worthiness one gets wealth, through wealth one accomplishes good deeds and from that derives joy. All these are necessary for enterprise to succeed.
We often confuse between literacy, education and knowledge. They are not frivolously interchangeable. Literacy means able to read and write, while Education is developing a skill through accumulation of knowledge through learning. It equips us to think. Knowledge is the outcome of our perception, learning and reasoning. Education helps us to understand our surroundings and often invoke innovation.
The one real object of education is to have a man in the condition of continually asking questions. ~ Bishop Creighton
With education we build a compendium of theoretical knowledge. There is a logical flow in our education system which structures the knowledge brick by brick and not in random packets.
Simulation is a new method for learning. It is used in medical science, for learning to navigate aircrafts and trains even in case of financial modeling. This use of technology is quite contemporary and helps develop strong conceptual clarity.  
Learning through case studies is another method which can train people to improve their though process and cognitive skills.
Many curriculum have compulsory factory visit and training to expose students to real life situations and motivate them to get a first hand feel. This is like a driving school where one hones driving skills.
With education our plinth is made stronger and prepare us to face the challenge of operating an enterprise successfully. We learn to understand markets, consumer preference, change in technology trends and global economic fabric where our enterprise finds its existence.
In German society, it is said that the education system is designed to create thinkers and doers. It is the job of the thinkers to learn, create plans, allocate resources, create backup plans and basically provide for all possible outcomes of any event. The plan is created in such detail and split down to sub-segments that comprehension is effortless. The doers are expected to use their skills to simply execute the plan without improvisation or questions. This is often said to be the attribute which gives them supremacy in many fields.
Education opens your mind to seek answers, to more questions, or philosophy in life, about our approach towards the enterprise, our customers and their wants, how we treat our suppliers and employees, respond to the environment and create a sustainable venture. We can create an enterprise without education but will not be able to sustain for too long.
The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done - men who are creative, inventive and discoverers. ~ Jean Piaget

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