Shyamsunder Panchavati

Shyamsunder Panchavati
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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Do Street smarts outsmart the Book smarts??? 0-07

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Do Street smarts outsmart the Book smarts???



This is more an attempt to ignite & incite a discussion than an article.

To present an age old argument, by street smarts of course

“Street smarts are paid to gain practical experience, while book smarts pay to gain bookish experience.”

Book smarts retort,

All the strategies that the street smarts implement and gain valuable experience and money are formulated by the book smarts from the knowledge attained from the books, classrooms, & guest lectures delivered by the peers. A better formulated strategy gets better outputs and optimization with the same degree of implementation compared to a poorly formulated strategy. And all this adds to better bottom lines which again results in better earnings for everyone.

So who is anchoring whom??



The perfect answer to this question has eluded the mankind since eternity and will continue to do so for eternity.

If you ask for my opinion on this, I would say, Yes, No, May be, Perhaps. If you have as definitive an opinion as I have (or even otherwise) please share your opinion on this.

Back to the Topic, let us a take detailed look.

Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, are great examples of people who didn’t have colleges degrees, but the enterprises they created are counted among the top organizations in the corporate world in terms of turnover, technology and Innovation.

The irony is the technology developed by these people is part of the curriculum, the book smarts study to earn their degrees.

Bill Gates didn’t need a degree to create Microsoft. He doesn’t need one to eradicate malaria from India & many African countries.

On the other side, there are many entrepreneurs who have built great business empires on the basis of their education. Warren Buffet immediately comes to mind. In the software field Vinod Khosla,  Guy Kawasaki,  Vivek Wadhwa & many more have leveraged their education to build their brands.

Picture changed dramatically after the 90s. Google, Facebook and many other less known organizations started as university projects and were successfully transitioned into great & successful organizations. There are large numbers of start-ups in USA doing extraordinarily well which will soon transition into great organizations. These are some of the great contributions from the booksmarts.

In India too, many of the early organization were started as family businesses by people with very basic or no education. For the Birlas, I think Aditya Birla Grandson of G D Birla was the first among the family to have specialised education. Same is the case with Shri.Rams, Bajaj, Kirloskars, & many others. Dhiru Bhai Ambani is an excellent example of street smart who has worked his way up with his business acumen. However all these organization are now managed by people who have specialised education. Specially the junior Ambanis   Anil & Mukesh are Wharton & Stanford Alumna

Today’s scenario is totally different. You need to be a book smart to start a business or even get a job at the entry level. Having said that,

It has to be acknowledged that, it is not easy for the parents, to bear the cost of education for their children. Recession ridden economies in USA & Europe have left the parents with not enough to spare for the education. Student loans are still available, but the depressing job market doesn’t give much confidence. This has resulted in the huge increase in school & college dropout rates. These students are taking up any available job for meagre remuneration. And these huge dropouts are  inadvertently add to the number of street smarts. This seriously affects the resource available for research and innovation.

For close to two centuries United States has been leading the world in Technology & Innovation. Its more than 300 Nobel Prizes are a testimony to it. However the present situation doesn’t bode a bright future for the country. You can also view the video interaction of Bill Gates with Thomas Freidman who co-authored the book “That used to be us” for more information on American School dropouts. View Video

However not all blame can be put on the educational institutions. With the grants from the Government drying up, the institutions are putting the costs on the parents. One of the Universities had to close their computer  science department to meet the situation arising out of the sudden cut in grants from the Governor.

Parents and students are not savvy enough to calculate these before admitting their children in B/Grad schools. We have done humble, (though inadequate) efforts to present data about the colleges, their ranks, their job potential and ROI on our Knowledge-Korridor  blog. Parents and students can visit the website and view the necessary information, & analyse the institutions before admitting their wards.
Please also read
For Newly Minted M.B.A.s, a Smaller Paycheck Awaits

The Shakespearean situation of “To be or Not to be” in education needs an immediate action from the Government. Though President Obama is concerned about this and promised funds for education, not much is expected to flow in the immediate future.

As someone wisely said,

The education crossword puzzle has a missing piece.

Who will provide it is a Billion Dollar Question.

Best wishes,

Shyam 

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