Dr. Rajesh K Pillania
Professor, Management Development Institute, Gurgaon
The world is going through the dreaded Covid pandemic. It is unprecedented in its reach and impact in recent history. Globally it has infected 4.35 crore and killed 11.6 lakh people as of Oct 27, 2020 (NDTV website). It is a huge challenge and to some extent, an opportunity for humans, depending on how one looks at it.
Life is all about choices and so is management education. As existing or aspiring management students or teachers, one can look at the situation created by COVID-19 from broadly three lenses resulting into three choices and strategies. I have observed these three types of reactions from students and teachers from various places and institutions over this COVID-19 times. The three choices that we all have:
Business as usual
Accept it as something beyond one’s control and go with business as usual with minimum changes, by following the mandatory changes. So if physical classes are not allowed and one needs to go through online learning, go through it. The idea is that this situation will get over and one can get back to business as usual completely and forget about the intermediary phase. This is a choice available to all of us in management education either as a student or a teacher. It is an individual choice and there is nothing wrong with it.
You can keep cribbing about the situation and how difficult it is for you
Don’t accept the situation. Keep cribbing or complaining about your inconveniences. Keep going through it unwillingly and cribbing how difficult and unfair it is for you. Why this situation has to happen when you are a student or a teacher! This is also a choice and many people might go with this choice. It is a convenient choice to blame others and luck.
Be innovative and take advantage of the opportunities created
Besides the above two easy and convenient choices, a difficult choice is also available. It is to face the situation by thinking innovatively and seeing how one can progress and convert every problem into an opportunity. COVID-19 has created some good opportunities for management education. For instance, the diffusion of online tools such as Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and so on. These technologies can be used in several ways. Now it is economically viable for a teacher to invite experts from faraway places in the classroom using these tools! This has also given students an opportunity to carry out projects in innovative ways by interacting with people from far away places. These technologies have opened gates for collobrative teaching and collaborative student projects by making them possible.
The first two choices find many takers. These are easy choices. Instead of going the extra mile or thinking something new, it is easy to go with the flow or criticize the situation, luck and others. The third choice appears to be difficult and there aren’t many takers for it. This situation might explain why different people end up at different levels of success in life. Life is full of challenges and difficulties. Remember, there can be different forms of obstacles in life and just as it is COVID-19 today, it can be something else tomorrow.
As students or teachers, one need to self-introspect. Winners are those who take responsibility, think innovatively, and progress in good as well as in bad times. So readers, if you are a student or a teacher, what is your choice? Is it the right choice? Think again. Are you following convenient choices or difficult ones? It is far more difficult to go far in life by making convenient choices.
NDTV (2020). Website https://www.ndtv.com/coronavirus?pfrom=home-coronavirus_outbreak_coverage ( accessed on Oct 27,2020).