November 24, 2016

Punctuality and IIMA

We went to watch Fantastic Beasts last week. The theater was running 15 minutes late and made us wait in line. While standing there with a tub of rapidly dissipating popcorn, I suddenly realized how unaccustomed I have become to queues, waiting, and things not happening as they are supposed to.

Good management is only appreciated in its absence. I remember being amazed at the efficiency of the IIMA campus when I first arrived here, but thereafter, the awareness of it faded into the background as daily routine took over. It required an incident like this, therefore, to remind me that systems don’t magically function optimally.

The IIMA system stands as a model of good management, as any management institute should. Built around the core value of punctuality, all activities are undertaken with a “better never than late” mindset. Everything else just falls into place.

But one may wonder: if such a simple system works so well, why is it not used everywhere?

The problem is that the systems contain people, and it is a mammoth task to get a bunch of people into a singular mindset. A manager cannot simply announce – “Everyone must be punctual from now on” – and expect it to be followed. Coercion may yield short-term results but is mostly unsustainable. Such cultures are built over a period of time through continuous and focused effort.

Another equally challenging task is maintaining the culture after it is established. Every year, 400 fresh students are admitted for PGP, and they need to be ‘indoctrinated’ for the system to function smoothly. This is traditionally done through faccha-tuccha (fresher-senior) interactions instead of a formal induction.

The punctuality constraint applies not only to students but to all faculty and staff as well. No one gets to waste someone else’s time, resulting in a super-efficient environment.

Even a 15-minute queue seems odd once you get used to the campus.

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Very well written bro! I could completely relate to it. Since I came from an engineering background, IIMA changed my habits of doing things on eleventh hour. I became more disciplined, more punctual!

  2. Majority of people consider procrastination to be cool these days. IIM-A folks certainly do not fall under majority. 🙂



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About Debapriyo

A random person with few hobbies here and there.

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