Archive | December 2013

Integrating Education & Technology – an outline of Organizational Change, ex animo. (India centric)

     Since the beginning of the new millennium none in the field of Education could have missed the reference to the extensive use of Electronic Brain(s) in our teaching/learning system in the Annual Reports/Meetings of the Institutions offering graduate/post-graduate programs in every field. – a transformational attempt laudable by any standards.  Emphasis has also been on, as I prefer to call, “Competency” and not mere “Literacy” in such tech skills.  Seamless integration of Education & Technology supplemented and enhanced the supply & delivery of content availability and presentation making the students’ task of assimilation formidable while at the same time easing the access. The institutions  (specially the two-tier and three tier institutions in India) are finding themselves glutted with issues and challenges encompassing organizational streamlining for optimum returns.  Here is an outline of an Organizational Role that I depict in the circumstances :

     Experts of Organisational Change advocate two prominent change strategies for action – “Quick”  and  “Steady”.  Quick change is dramatic and often adopted in situations where the organisation feels threatened with a crisis. Under the circumstances, the leader articulates a new vision and allocates resources to achieve the same. Organisation now emerges stronger within a short period, sometimes leaving behind some terrible experiences. Three distinct characteristics can be seen here : (a) Leading from the top; (b) Commanding resources; (c) Restructuring organisational goals and vision.

     Steady change is less dramatic, and incremental in nature. Adopted often in less threatening situations and witnesses a mere elaboration of existing goals and vision than completely new directions. We again see three distinct characteristics in this process : (a) Pursued by managers at any level; (b) Moderate resources at intervals; (c) Elaboration of organisational goals and vision.

     The question before us now is whether we can use these strategies as framework for application in integrating electronic brain and education. Introduction of electronic brain in education in many institutions portrays a picture similar in many respects to a crisis situation. It is well known that “change” meets with resistance. This is so because many individuals hold a preference for stability;  traditional work methods have been deeply rooted to become a ‘habit’;  tendency to misunderstand implications of change;  and the belief that it will cost them more than they will gain.

     Therefore, selection of an appropriate strategy becomes an important consideration for the leader who has the task of integrating electronic brain within an institution. An example to illustrate the situation better :

     A post-graduate institution facing a sudden decline in student registration. Need here is to look for ways to arrest the decline immediately and plan to increase registration soon.  The leader strategist, say, opts for introduction of electronic brain in teaching-learning system as a means of enlarging the scope of service to learners. Achievement of his goal requires two key elements:  (a) Choice of equipment and installation with the attendant resources; (b) Provision of in-service courses to faculty quite different from traditional preparation.  If the leader strategist follows “Quick” action then there are again two steps to implement. First, a revision of goal to incorporate the new service;  and second, identifying suitable resources to support the new vision. This is possible only if the person concerned is very powerful. Even under conditions where the resources in command are adequate, sustenance of the above mission will require the ideals to spread across the organisation. Otherwise there will be resistance and attacks which are likely to discredit the strategist.

     Although it appears easy to adopt a “Quick” strategy for transformation, there is always the danger that it may be unviable in the long run. Hence, the case for adopting a “Steady” strategy, which is more akin to the Japanese ‘KAIZEN’ (incremental) technique is strong. It permits the strategist : (a) to work within the existing environment; (b) to work within the existing mission and goals;  which means leveraging the change through a steady process of experimentation involving many elements.  The belief here is that “it is easy to bend one element at a time rather than attempting to bend the whole.” The strategist is placed in a better position to identify the various requirements as and when the elements are attacked for newer interventions. Once the choice of a strategy is made, the leader can prepare an action plan for implementation. The overall success of introduction depends upon the action plan tailored to the setting in which the change is likely to take place.

    In pirlicue, therefore, the choice of strategy will depend upon the type of organisation;  nature of change that one wants to bring; and the position of person championing the cause. The ultimate goal is to move the application of ‘electronic brain’ from the periphery to the core of activities.  That will be the challenge before this new breed of LEADERS in this Century. This is also “Dynamic Management”, an imperative need of this decade.

     “Dieu  avec nous”

     December  16,  2013    –    9.45 p.m.  (IST)

     Tidbit  :   “Experience  teaches  TWO  things  :   First,  We must Correct a great  deal;  Second,  We must not Correct  too much.”

    

 

    

    

    

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Mobile wave – An Interlude (India centric)

     Here  I pick three questions of major consequence and answers made after a special lecture in a conference on “Mobile  Technology and Digital  Education”  last fortnight  :

     Q.   1.   With the Mobile Wave sweeping the digital landscape can we see more OS/new designs ?  Is it the right time to venture in to this area ?

     Ans.      My short answer to that is  “anytime” is the “right time” for neoteric designs & improvements in this “Digital World”.  There is general agreement among the players that “Mobile Ecosystem” will witness  transformation and see more of software changes creep in the system.  [To cite the most recent – just last week – SAMSUNG wanted to pre-load its  “Anti-theft software” in their mobiles as a theft deterrent feature, ‘sui generis’ in nature, called the “kill-switch” which was strongly resisted and suppressed by all  the five major carriers in the U.S.A.  viz.  AT&T,  Verizon, Sprint,  T-Mobile,  and  US-Cellular.  That is the end of it, for now.]  But the spirit of innovation has not been lost on Samsung or for that matter with other players.  Further,  Consumers’ purchase  decision based on design, usefulness, & price point is more mature now. They are willing to try new introductions. In this highly competitive market, aggressive marketing will, however, be the key to capturing a good pie of the market share.

     Q.   2.   Motorola Razr i with 2 GHz Intel Atom Processor – Is it really distinguishable and will it enhance the consumer purchase decision ?

     Ans.      In today’s  smartphone growth, the major features distinguishing them from one another are the following Foursome :  (a) Being tougher; (b) Faster; (c) Longer/wider screen; and (d) Battery.  INTEL, the processor giant though late in Mobile entry is still the largest player in terms of REVENUE (Qualcom leads overall) from processors and that can carry well for Motorola which is now  owned by GOOGLE – a Big name. To fight a giant like Apple one needs strategic partnerships and this can play well in this case.  For consumers it will be a blessing that such players are bringing more VARIETY.

     Q.   3.   Why the mobile manufacturers slash prices after any giant introduces new phone with attractive features ? For e.g. Samsung slashing prices of its Galaxy after Apple’s new iPhone 5C and 5S.

     Ans.       Smartphone users witness additions in features and capabilities (Speed, Memory, Capacity) in each iteration by every manufacturer.  Acceptance of these is usually measured by Sales growth, which gives an indication of these additions are perceived as valuable by customers. General rule is that if a manufacturer adds new features & drops prices market is deemed to be sceptical. In practice, however, PRICE REDUCTIONS are the most effective instrument to capture the market share – provided the features remain effective between manufacturers.  (This is the case now & so with Samsung). Everyone is aware that in the last one year we witnessed new OS emerging (MS Windows & Blackberry) and with it new smartphones like  Nokia Lumia and Motorola G and even Samsung’s new models.  More players in this field and with almost similar specs,  PRICES can’t be held steady. The earlier one gives  “Better Value for Money”  the merrier he travels in the market.  This is the case with Samsung.  Product improvements must be USED by the consumers.  Product must be VALUED by the customer. These are the two affecting Sales Growth.  There are scientific ways of gauging this and in this Samsung equals, if not betters its rivals today.  Samsung’s  Sales cycle and Development cycle score well.

     “Dieu avec nous”

     December  15,  2013     –     2.15 p.m.  (IST) 

      Tidbit  :   “What     matters  is the JOURNEY;  and not  milestones.” V.P. Nike .