You may wonder why this topic? Who doesn’t know the meaning of MBA? Of course, every literate person knows that it is “Master of Business Administration.” It can be safely presumed that one who has studied management, is an expert in his /her own domain. That only 22% MBA degree holders are employable is a different story altogether and we should confine ourselves to our present topic only.

Coming back to our topic of discussion, we shall deviate from the actual meaning of MBA and use the abbreviation to explain how it (MBA) has been changing over the period when it comes to managing an outfit / organisation by a person, not necessarily a management graduate.

How do you react when I say, ‘MBA’ means ‘Management By Action’. I am sure you will appreciate it as it’s positive and action oriented. I am a strong believer of this meaning of MBA and I practiced / have been practicing it to the core. Those who had worked with me in any capacity know it and will vouch for it. Since the day of my joining in State Bank of India as a Probationary Officer in 1981 and till the day of my retirement as General Manager in 2016, I practiced this particular MBA only. The level of satisfaction was superb which I still cherish. But the process of adopting and continuing with this philosophy was not at all a cake walk. I had to face lots of hurdles during my career spanning over 34 years. However, when I look back, I find myself a big gainer by way of a large number of friends and well-wishers. Incidentally, this is the best practice in management which helps an organisation to grow and prosper. In other words, organisations which follow this policy i.e. Management By Action, are very successful and also, can sustain and grow over a long period of time. But many organisations cannot continue with that and resort to other forms of MBA like Management By Absentia, Management By Abuse, etc.

We shall now dwell upon another meaning of MBA viz. “Management By Absentia”. You may not agree with me but this form of management was and is being practised by many managers while dealing with the crisis situation. These managers sensing some trouble leave the floor on the pretext of some urgent works. They believe in the policy, ‘ Ja palayati sa jibati’ meaning ‘He who runs away from crisis, survives.’ Though this a negative way of thinking and avoiding the reality, people resort to this as they find it an easy option to tackle the prevailing situation. At this stage, I am tempted to narrate an incident albeit small but very relevant to prove my point of discussion. At that time, I was posted in a mid-size branch (Staff strength 56), located in a District Head Quarters and I was the Divisional Manager, second in command after the Branch Manager. Due to certain demands not met by the State Government, officials of Government Treasuries went on strike. The period was hardly 15 days before Durga Puja (DP), the most important festival of the country and as a result, the salary of the government employees including school teachers could not be released in time. But as expected, the strike did not last long and just 3 days before DP, it was withdrawn. Treasury started releasing salary from the next day but it was known that main load of salary payment would be on one day before the puja holidays. Incidentally, a few employees were expected to be on leave on that day which would certainly aggravate the situation.

Despite that we i.e. BM and me, discussed the issue with the staff of the branch and chalked out the plan to tackle the situation. Next day, around 9 O’clock, I got a call from the BM that he was going to visit 3 branches (As per extant guidelines, BM of that branch was to visit 5 linked Simplified Accounting Branches, every month) and would be back in the evening. Hearing this, I became little upset as I was one and a half months old in that branch. I was wondering why the BM did so when he was aware of the forthcoming problem. But, when he came back little late in the evening, everything was almost over. I tackled the problem very smoothly and in the process I was a gainer. At that time, it is true, I could not understand the reason for BM’s not attending the office but as I gained experience over the years, it is crystal clear to me that the BM was a follower of “Management By Absentia” policy. You will agree with me that this policy is very bad for the organisation and as such, one should not practice this. Instead, one should face the reality, the challenge, the problem and come out of it successfully. Despite all these demerits, I still consider it is not that bad as the damage to the organisation is restricted to a limited extent.

I shall now discuss on the latest meaning of MBA viz. “Management By Abuse”. According to me, that is the prevailing management policy which is being practised by majority of the present day managers. I always wonder why people resort to such a policy when it damages the morale of the workforce which in turn, affects the performance as well as the future of the organisation. I tried to find out the reason(s) for such behaviour of the managers and I could find a plausible cause of this maltreatment by the managers. It is my experience that only such managers behave that way:

  • who suffer from inferiority complex;
  • who are afraid of being exposed on account of lack of domain knowledge;
  • who have never taken any decision;
  • who are incapable of running the show; and,
  • who believe in sycophancy.

Their strategy works very well. By abusing and in the process, terrorising their juniors, they create a quarantine of their own and an atmosphere of trust deficit. Once this is in place, the juniors become scared to approach them and as a result, the communication system gets a huge jolt. It will not be out of place to mention here that these managers believe in the theory of “WORKING SMART?” Incidentally, SMART is an acronym where:

  • S stands for ‘Sit on files’,
  • M stands for ‘Mark here & there’,
  • A stands for ‘Avoid decisions’
  • R stands for ‘Refer to others’, and,
  • T stands for ‘Torture your subordinates’

Resultantly, works suffer in the absence of any guidance and organisation bleeds slowly and silently. However, the manager who created such an environment plays the second fiddle in the short run, as the deterioration is not visible. These people do irreparable damage to the organisation but because of their connection with their bosses (as they are expert in boss management), go up in the ladder. The only way to control such people is to expose them but that is rather impossible. Who will bell the cat?  Alternatively, the top management can have a check on this trend, provided they have the necessary desire and transparency in their approach.

Till now we have got three definitions of MBA, as above. However, I am afraid, the selfish people will take the opportunity of tweaking the meaning of MBA to satisfy their ego and ulterior motive without caring for the organisations built over a period of time. We are, however, of the view that good sense will prevail and we will go back to the first definition of MBA. Let’s hope so.

Ever Changing Meaning of MBA

2 thoughts on “Ever Changing Meaning of MBA

  • April 13, 2016 at 8:04 AM

    i fully endorse your views on Management by Action. With the changing scenario, other two method will not work.

  • April 21, 2016 at 3:09 PM

    I found very few senior officers who have a courage to ventillate their views so nicely about the prevailing atmosphere in an organisation which is the real cause of telent dearth at every level of decision making. It is too dangerous, moreso, if such kind of people are at the decision making level on the top. Sir, continue writing. I found it very useful to read and practise.


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