Concepts and Pragmatism: Applying original thinking in a Manchester Method way

February 12, 2015

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Vikram Madineni

Applying theory to find practical solutions in professions like engineering is well-known.  The Manchester Method approach in the field of management comes from  applying the learning in one’s professional life and, leveraging trust and current experiences.

 

The Global MBA program at Manchester Business School gave me a platform to self-reflect and grow professionally, to learn the importance of communication and also to shape my future goals and ambitions

Personal Growth

I encountered many of the nuances of business management early in my professional life, but at first I had a hard time relating to decisions being made from a professional and personal perspective.

The dynamic nature of the Global MBA course work, diversity of people, need for team collaboration and applying theoretical frameworks to understand “why” and “how” part of the decisions, all have shaped my personal growth over the last 18 months.

The focus on teamwork is paramount and there is a regular need to improvise based on dynamics of team members. I have dramatically improved my group negotiation and implementation strategies. For this, I owe much to the information exchange with other students in multiple workshops across countries and partly to the self-reflection of my creativity reports.

By using theoretical frameworks of economics, marketing, operations, accounting, and leadership when answering individual assignments, I gained a better perspective of various factors influencing decisions being made within my own organization.

Manchester Method

The emphasis on “managerial oriented” application of concepts rather than academic discussions has been advocated in all courses. I got a better understanding of the principle after receiving feedback for my final marketing assignment. My thorough research was appreciated, as was required in an MBA course, but both examiners explained the importance of also arriving at practical solutions that could benefit the company.

In the induction session the program director [mention name] explained the importance of networking, teamwork, the value of working within a diverse cohort and building relationships.

This has been an enriching experience and it has helped me to manage assignments and projects in a more efficient and productive fashion.

Chartering the future – Social Responsibility

I dreamed of being an entrepreneur since I graduated from college and I got a new perspective after reading an inspirational book about the TOMS company written by Blake Mycoskie – Start Something That Matters.

I chose the book for my leadership assignment and published a post about TOMS and its CSR in Leaders We Deserve.

Around the same time, I became aware of the amazing work being undertaken by the Gates Foundation and within my own company, Ingersoll Rand, in providing opportunities to serve a social cause. I was inspired and motivated to change but also identified the lack of management experience in handling strategy or operational needs of social organizations.

Johnson. W (2012), “Disrupt Yourself”, discusses the concept of disrupting oneself to stay ahead or charting one’s profession career.

I embraced the opportunity to do the Global MBA program, and over the last year I have opportunities to learn and understand the business system at a functional and a strategic perspective. As I progressed through my learning I gained knowledge in operations excellence and insights of marketing for a non-profit organization.

I had to do considerable amount of research on TOMS for my leadership and marketing course assignments. I gained a deeper understanding and need to embrace social responsibility; and also the power of words, advertisement of conscious consumers, and era of storytelling successful companies. I discussed this concept with our company’s marketing team to rethink branding and customer connectivity. We needed a story; a story that connects with our customers and makes them our passionate advertisers.

Original Thinking Applied

One of the most enjoyable workshops and one that I can vividly recall is the Accounting workshop! Marketing, Operations, CIB and all other workshop assignments helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the fundamentals but Accounting was very focused on one particular aspect of the organization or situation. I probably have never spent 6-8 hours analyzing just 3 sheets of papers before, the Balance Sheet, Cash Flow and Income Statements! It was a workshop in which I truly realized the potential of applying the thinking – understanding what financial ratios really mean, challenging whether the numbers are really telling a true story, what should the company or an investor be looking for.

Our group spent hours endorsing and debating each other perspective. I remember our professor being intrigued by the new metrics and ratios that we identified and how we linked them with a balanced score-card strategy. The level of analysis and realization of the importance of certain metrics all helped my immensely in applying the learnings in the business simulation course.

The business simulation course was another opportunity to bring all our learnings together for the first time and I enjoyed the challenge of managing and competing against my peers. Managing finances, building on equity, improving net margins, borrowing cheaper capital were all a result of application of deep analysis of the company’s financial statements and the market. This was also an opportunity for us to apply the concepts of strategy, adapt dynamically to market changes and build a road map for the future profitability. This gives me confidence in my ability to manage business operations in certain roles like strategic integrator, program manager in companies like TOMS or Gates Foundation.

 Leadership

My perspectives on definition of leadership have gradually changed over the course of my student and professional life. Growing up, my father was a leader for me; responsible, knowledgeable, humble and passionate. I inculcated lot of those values and owe my growth to his leadership skills as a parent. My views on leadership skills expanded during my career at Ingersoll Rand while working with my peers and my manager. We were now in a dynamically changing environment and it was educating to understand the need for a leader to find a “balance” – compassion and setting expectations, leading and allowing to lead, teaching and allowing to learn and most important of all humility and approachability.

The Manchester MBA program has expanded my horizon further on leadership traits and I was introduced to the concept of Servant Leadership. The ability to build a vision and then inspire and influence people to adopt and engage is truly a remarkable skill set. In this era of social consumerism the ability to reach out to people who are remote and influence their decisions is a differentiating attribute of the new generation leader.

The new era of conscious consumers and employees is suited in supporting and associating with a leader who is empathetic and is committed to social responsibility.

 


The Power of Stories: Success of the TOMS Company and the cult of Conscious Consumerism

October 17, 2013

Vikram Madineni

Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS, has redefined social consumerism. His organization can claim to have helped 150,000 people to have had their sight restored, and donated ten million pairs of shoes around the world

According to Ty Montague, Los Angeles social entrepreneur Mykoskie has been engaged in not just story telling but in story doing. TOMS is referred to as a “storydoing” company owing its success partly to what has been described as conscious consumers, who want to be involved in giving back to the society.

Often companies spend huge amounts of money in advertising to create brand awareness and recognition but storydoing companies rely on their consumers and employees to be their advertisers. Montague coined the word “Metastory”, a story told with action. He says that consumers are the biggest storytellers and company should strive to connect with a Metastory.

One for one shoes

Blake Mycoskie started TOMS in 2006 with a powerful story, support children in need, and with a radically different business model – “One-for-One”. Mycoskie’s model is based on a simple concept – sell a pair of shoes today and give a pair of shoes tomorrow. Mycoskie says that people who support TOMS are more than customers, they’re supporters. Mycoskie attibutes the company’s meteoric rise to supporters’ belief in his story and their passion to be part of it.

One for one eye products

TOMS extended their business model in 2011 to eyewear and helps to restore eyesight in the new one-for-one program for each pair of eyewear sold. Mycoskie believes in the new age of conscious capitalism – businesses in addition to making money want to connect with supporters and make an impact in the world together.

FEED Projects, a company with commitment to feed the poor, is another great example with a similar business model to TOMS. Lauren Bush started FEED Projects in 2007 with a promise to feed 1 child for a year for each bag sold. FEED Projects and the foundation have donated more than 60 million school meals to children around the world.

Businesses that had not incorporated “giving back” in their strategy model joined the new age movement and embraced social responsibility. Chu refers to several such companies:

Figs Scrubs (donates a set of scrubs to health professionals in need for every set of scrubs sold), Two Degrees (donates a natural health bar to a hungry child for every one sold), One world Futbol (donates a soccer ball to disadvantaged communities for every soccer ball sold), Bobs By Skechers (donates a pair of shoes for every pair sold).
Businesses have realized that given a choice between two brands, consumers tend to support and want associate with the one that is committed to a social cause. Recent studies also revealed that businesses tend to retain or attract talented employees based on their commitment toward social responsibility.

Are such social businesses making a difference?

It’s a challenge for the businesses to build the trust and loyalty among customers. How can they narrate a powerful story? Does every story connect with the customers? Do the companies truly believe in servant leadership? TOM’s shoes model has been questioned – does it really address the root cause of poverty?

There’s growing evidence that conscious capitalist organizations can thrive and succeed. Consumers. It could be said that their supporters are in lookout for the transformational leaders. Leaders have a challenge not only build their trust, but also overcome ethical dilemmas.

Vikram Madineni is a Senior Electronics Engineer, Ingersoll Rand.