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Joydeep Shares his Learnings from Harvard Business School
Joydeep Hor, Founder & Managing Principal
As many in my network know, I have (since May 2014) been participating in the Owner-President Management Program at Harvard Business School. Our intake has been the 48th intake of this program.
I am now less than two weeks from graduating from this program which has involved three separate residential programs (each three weeks in duration). The program brings together (through selection) around 170 entrepreneurs from 41 countries each of whom share a passion for growing and improving their businesses.
As I reflect on this transformational program drawing to a close, I wanted to capture some of the more pertinent observations I have made from the wealth of business acumen that I have been exposed to (not just from the faculty but also from my colleagues) infused with what we at PCS endeavour to do.
1. Professional services is unique
Less than 10% of the businesses in the program come from professional services. What is interesting about that is that while those in professional services have to have a good appreciation of what those outside professional services do and how they do it, there is a far lower appreciation the other way around. That becomes hugely relevant to building better brands within professional services: the more that we educate our clients, the better relationships we have. Why do we think its only about us understanding them and their businesses?
2. The people piece is the most challenging
Almost without fail my colleagues in this program have commented on deriving the most value from the classes dealing with Leadership and Talent Management. As someone who has lived and breathed these matters and who has made those matters his profession and career, what strikes me as most interesting about that is that business-owners and entrepreneurs are not intuitively “good on the people stuff” but all know and respect how important it is as a business to be so.
3. Innovation is, but mustn’t be, contained
When most business leaders innovate, they do so (understandably perhaps) within their own prism. They innovate based on what they know, see, anticipate and fear. But where a true appreciation of innovation comes from requires knowledge of what makes something innovative outside of your own professional sphere.
My whole goal in setting up PCS was to be an innovative business partner providing both legal and strategic solutions to clients on people issues in their organisations. Everything about that needed to be innovative (the name, the pricing structure, the ambience in our offices, having Directors nor Partners etc etc). But it was never done just for the sake of being innovative; it was done for the sake of doing things better.
4. The place of “values” is unclear
Most businesses (including our own) have values. I wonder whether business-owners look to their values as the anchor for everything they do, or whether they see the values as setting the parameters of how they do things.
In our business, our PieCeS make up PCS. In other words, if we don’t have our PieCeS values, we don’t have a firm. Positivity, Innovation, Expertise, Collaboration, Efficiency and Service is a great acronym but it has to be more than that. Symbolically, we designed t-shirts for staff when we launched PieCeS … our meeting rooms in our three offices are named after these values … every month we ask staff to show data points based on what we have done that reflect (or have departed from) our values. Symbolism? Perhaps, but if you don’t start with symbolism the deeper challenges of values alignment are impossible.
I have often said that for us to be effective, we need to educate our clients that people management is about understanding the complex interplay between Law, Commerce, Psychology and Sociology. Business decisions made in a vacuum and without regard to how things will be perceived, how behaviours will be altered, and how perceptions will be socialised are bound to be fraught with danger.
There are some amazing, dynamic and passionate business-owners out there and without the spirit of these individuals industry cannot survive let alone thrive. The photo at the top of this post was taken yesterday as I had the great privilege to present the PCS growth strategy to my esteemed colleagues … I would not have thought I would be doing that when I set up this business in 2010.