More than 100 years back, ice harvesting was a whole business model ecosystem in USA. There were ice harvesters, ice storage (kind of warehouse), and ice deliverymen. When refrigerators were first introduced the harvesting ecosystem improved their harvesting mechanism, storage systems and delivery systems. It happens with businesses, at times, we try to increase our efficiencies of doing what we know the best even though the whole industry is changing. In few years they lost to the new industry refrigeration! It happens many a times, either organizations are blinded or do not change resulting in the death or reduced shareholder value. It reminds me of a quote of former CEO of General Electric Jack Welch – If the rate of change on the outside is greater than the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.
I learnt this lesson practically in my MBA too. I dedicate this post to Prof Lopez. unfortunately he is no more, but his memories and teachings – specially to me, are long lasting. He always put me in a spot, not just me but other students also. When you are in a spot, either you are numb or your mind starts working faster, thankfully for me it was the later. He pushed me to think more and more and challenged me to unbind myself from my limited approach (Engineer-ish thinking style on which I wrote earlier). What is strikingly similar between my reaction and any organization is – initially I tried doing (number crunching) what I was good at, I tried it even harder. This is what happens to companies fighting for survival. As I explained from the ice harvesting industry. The idea of giving your full energy to something is great, however at times one has to think in blue sky – without inhibition. Situations that the ice harvesting industry was facing needed that blue sky approach. This was a great learning for me from Prof Lopez.
Later the exploration of unexplored began, when I realized why am I doing what am I doing? I realized that I was digging a hole even harder, faster and deeper when I had to get out of the hole and search my unexplored dimension. There are facts beyond numbers; there are reasons when digging in numbers is not THE only thing which is required to be done.
Besides the books, case studies and team projects other MBA lessons included sustaining and keep learning spotted by him, in uncomfortable situation. This one learning came from the sessions of Prof Lopez, the extra learning I took was – one may have to face such situations in organizations or from competitor organizations / business environment, how to handle such uncomfortable situations?
Here is a picture of me attending one of his class (extra class of other stream). In which I responded – correctly – to a question. However, the question was changed later and I got his shoe as a reward for this – literally as a beating me for that response. Source – Jaydutt Kamat’s uploads, may require login to Facebook. Missing you Professor Tomas Lopez on this day – your birthday. I would have written to you for permission to write this blog – unfortunately you are not with us today.
Death of ice harvesting industry is not the only example for us this story has been repeated umpteen number of times. In fact some research suggests that the average life of companies are reducing drastically. Thank you so much Prof Lopez, you gave a great learning to me, I am sure I would less likely be the person who would work with an organization that is getting into ice harvesting industry type scenario, if probably I do, I am better equipped to have a direction before it is too long. Prof Lopez’s putting me in a spot helped me explore the unexplored on personal and professional level to be better equipped in decision making. I can summarize this lesson – being receptive in toughest situation.