Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Times of Tumultuous Turbulent Turmoil

It's been a while since I wrote on 'My time at ISB'. Oh! The title is not descriptive of all the time I spend here, but yes there are times I wish I could run far away into the Himalayas - far from the madding crowd. Why hills of the Himalayas? Because Placebo is actually singing 'Running up that hill' as I write this. I wouldn't even mind throwing myself into an ocean as long as I can escape the times of tumultuous turbulent turmoil that raise their heads every once in a while here at ISB!

One such time, that warrants a mention is the time of elective bidding. When a friend of mine at IIM had a gtalk tagline saying 'elective bidding $%&*$% up!' I thought, bidding for courses cannot be that bad. SRK has said in Om Shanti Om - 'Agar kisi cheez ko dil se chaaho toh poori kaayanaat tumhein usse milaane mein lag jaati hai'. Optimistic, idealistic fool that I am, I believed that dictum and believed in a cosmic force that almost always brings demand to supply! And with a spring in my step and a cheer on my countenance, I bid for my electives. And all hell broke loose.I came in with an idea of bidding for subjects I really wanted. What I didn't realize was that elective bidding was by and far the first place where we would perhaps apply all the concepts that we learn here at B school.

It begins with game theory. We thought that people would not bid for an 8 am class, since majority of the members of the class of 'homo sapiens' typically do not prefer waking up too early in the morning. At least that was what many of us gauged during the 4 core terms, listening to groans and cribs about morning classes. What we didn't realize was that almost all of us were thinking the same thing! If prediction markets were at play, many of us would have been able to pocket a small fortune in this guessing game - perhaps pay down our tuition!!

Second, risk taking. Managers are supposed to take risks - entering new markets like say Burkina Faso, the Gabon or maybe even Guatemala or Burundi. One may not know where to locate these exotic places on a map, but might need to formulate entry strategies for their respective firms, not to mention market growth strategies with targets like a year on year growth of 17.2%. So, risk taking should be second nature. And again, while bidding for electives - I know that taking a combination of 2 specific subjects, would perhaps fry my brain with numbers. But I still bid for them, since I rather strongly feel that I may not get one of them, or even if I do, I could maybe drop them. Going forward, I try to game the system. I try to get rid of all my subjects, in the hope of bagging that elusive forbidden fruit of a subject, hoping that even if I don't get it, the system will force me to take up some other subjects, and that time, I can pick up where I left off. Well, what if I end up getting those hot oil, number-heavy, brain-frying subjects? Risk, my dear Watson, is what rings in my head!!!

And finally, the biggest application, that I perhaps learnt too late was the funda of first mover advantage. People in strategy may say that first mover advantages are not applicable to every industry. Some places need you to bide your time, wait and watch from the shadows and pounce when the time is right. THE ANSWER HERE IS NO! If I were a first mover, I could have been sleeping today, whiling away my time, rather than fretting over subjects and points and trying to enter the minds of all my classmates, in an attempt to figure out what they're thinking!!!

1 comment:

Nandan said...

You forgot to mention "Winners' Curse" when you talked about Game theory... how people crib about losing 907 points when they actually got the morning 8 NEGA class.
Also, this record is now broken at 1200 points for INTF !!!
So, the pattern is game theory and then winners curse !!!