"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I had captured the foregoing digital snapshot of a large ad panel at a bus stop on Orchard Road a few days ago. I was very intrigued by the bold message.

The question in my mind: Do the universities of today truly impart real-world knowledge, or are they just there to dispense paper qualifications?

Two recent real-life events, encountered by me & my good friend Dilip Mukerjea, somehow seemed to convince both of us that some, if not all, of the universities of today are primarily driven by the profit motive, rather than to excel themselves as institutions of true learning.

Two professionals, both holding Masters, one in Commerce from an overseas university, & the other, in Technopreneurship & Innovation Program (TIP) from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), readily admitted that, after being cornered by Dilip, they could not draw up a business plan for an investment proposal, let alone able to talk about the salient aspects of a business plan.

On the other hand, two final-year undergraduates, who claimed to be on the Dean's List at the Singapore Management University (SMU), had set up an entrepreneurial venture in the education domain, driven by their noble, altruistic intentions, with eighteen others.

Dilip & I had initially thought that they could be an intelligent party to a project discussion, but it turned out that we had to spend time coaching both of them, as they totally lacked the understanding of fundamentals of being entrepreneurs in the first place:

They forgot to bring along their name-cards when we met; their website was a sloppy job, besides being one year behind in update; they wanted to know more about accelerated learning technologies & yet they didn't know who Georgi Lozanov was. They were in fact very naive in many respects.

In a nutshell, they didn't do their expected "due diligence".

No wonder, another good friend of mine, a corporate strategist with a publicly listed company, who had often moon-shined as a lecturer on corporate strategy with the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) once told me that working adults of today, who were pursuing evening MBAs, were more interested in seeking "model answers" than to really want to learn about the complexity of the business world.

This post of mine is not intended to belittle any university, whether local or overseas.

It is just that I always hold the view that the book-smart phenomenon is still a standard practice among tertiary institutions of learning.

I remember vividly a rare remark, as reported in a local newspaper many years ago, from the late Ng Teng Fong of the Far East Organisation. He employed a lot of MBAs, but he lamented that none of them could readily make an investment decision for his organisation.

By the way, Dilip & I had recently created a visual-spatial checklist & template, with a gestalt perspective, to help professionals & businesspeople to draw up a business plan for a start-up, or an ongoing business. It will be an integral part of Dilip's consulting & coaching portfolio: 'Strategic Visioning with Lifescaping'.

[For another interesting perspective, readers can also pop into the weblog of former head honco of NTUC Income, Tan Kin Lian, to read his apt post, entitled 'A Nation Run by Scholars'.]

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