Business Practitioners & Business Professors

'Nothing in business is so remarkable as the conflicting variety of success formulas offered by its numerous practitioners and professors. And if, in the case of practitioners, they're not exactly "formulas", they are explanations of "how we did it," implying with firm control over any fleeting tendencies toward modesty that "that's how you ought to do it." Practitioners, filled with pride and money, turn themselves into prescriptive philosophers, filled mostly with hot air.

Professors, on the other hand, know better than to deal merely in explanations. We traffic instead in higher goods, like "analysis", "concepts" and "theories'. In short, "truth". Filled with self-importance, we turn ourselves hopefully into wanted advisers, consultants filled with woolly congestion.

I do not wish to disparage either, but only to suggest that these two legitimately different and respectable professions usually diminish rather than enhance their reputations when intruding too much or with too little thought on each other's turf.

How often have we heard executives of venerable age and high repute or entrepreneurs flushed with recent wealth pronounce with lofty certainty and imperial recitude exactly what produces business success? All they really tell, however, in cleaned-up retrospection, is the story of how they themselves happen to have done it. Listen to ten, and generally you will get ten different pieces of advice.

Listen to ten professors, and you'll generally get advice by some multiple of ten. The difference is not that professors believe more firmly in abundance. Rather, besides teaching, professors are also paid to think. hence, lacking direct experience, each is likely to think up several different ways to get to the same place.'

- Theodore Levitt, 'Marketing Imagination'.



Sir, the post clearly shows the difference between the thought process of a Business Practitioner and a Business Professor.

A simple logic makes us understand that a successful Business Professor can transform himself into a Business Practitioner. But, Can the same transition be successfully applied for a Business Practitioner to a Business Professor ?

I guess, NO.

But, would still wait for your opinion :)

Another question Sir, it is not directly related to the context here, but has a bit of business implementation of successful management applications.

- Is management all about taking firm decisions against its customers (in some cases when the students are its customers) and implementing it ?

Would be really grateful if you answer both the queries. :)


Sir, please read this at my blog -

"The B-School Paradox"

Thanks Sir :)
Prof.Ray Titus said…

Your first point,

You misunderstand what Theodore was tryin' to say. Both professors and the practitioners have their places. Transgressing into either's spaces may not be the smartest of things for both to do...

About transitions, I don't know. What evidence do we have for either?

You second point,

In querying, you have demonstrated a classic case of what is termed the 'Confirmation bias'. That is, a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions and avoids information and interpretations which contradict prior beliefs.

You may not have explicitly demonstrated it in your query, but it indeed is implicitly suggested. And when such a bias exist, my reasoning doesn't stand a chance. Though I would limit to saying, that you haven't given too much of thought to 'Service designs' as relevant to education. Again, your post (on your blog) indicates that you haven't considered the macro and micro complexities that drive product/service designs. Blame it on the bias I talked about.

Just as an end note, give a thought to what the wise Kahlil Gibran said, when he talked about teaching; (I quote),

'No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of our knowledge.

The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.

If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.

The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding.

The musician may sing to you of the rhythm which is in all space, but he cannot give you the ear which arrests the rhythm nor the voice that echoes it.

And he who is versed in the science of numbers can tell of the regions of weight and measure, but he cannot conduct you thither.

For the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man.'

Cheers :)
Sir, I did understand the absent evidences of the tranformation.

And, about the 2nd point, I realised that I missed the few important considerations. But that does happen to a newbie blogger like me & I still consider myself a newbie :)

The concept "Confirmation Bias" should be kept in mind by all bloggers when they post about something they do not like in real life and instantly put it on their blog without giving much thoughts to the event and its related conceptual constructs. I did the same too and completely understand the key areas where the post (at my blog) could have been better.

Reading to Kahil Gibran's words has always been motivating. Will Put it up at my blog :)

Sir, Thanks a lot for your time and clarifications.

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