86 people. 14 companies. 4 days. 1 final showdown.
What does that line get you thinking? Analysis? Time? Game? Research? Competition? Tension? Whatever you are thinking, you are right.
That represents the stats of our integration week. Block I of our Full-time MBA came to an end on 25th of October 2019 with this incredible week.
The rules were simple:
- 86 people are split in 14 teams
- Each team
- Is assigned a company
- Analyses the assigned company on three fronts – strategic, financial and organisational behavioural
- Prepares a 15-minute presentation to answer given questions
- Answers questions by experts for 10 minutes
And that was probably the greatest catch – the simpler the rules, the wider the scope.
This week taught me importance of:
When time is scarce, it is important to avoid beating around the bush and boil down the content to what is asked for. Let me try to simplify this by an example:
Question: Tell me who you are and how can you get better at what you are?
Answer #1: “When I was a 3-year-old child, I saw this movie that showcased life of a marathon runner. This inspired me to be a runner myself. I started training pretty early in my life. I used to get up early in the morning every day and go for a run in a park near my home. Sometimes I missed my classes to get better at my running time and speed. But you know, that really did not work out that well. My running times are not that good today, although my stamina and endurance improved over time. Strangely enough, I have been working at it for over 10 years now and I still feel the thrill of running. I have been good at sports all my life. I was even part of my school relay team! I think I should buy a proximity clock. I saw one of those at a store the other day, with a robust terminal, one that’s ISO certified. It also came with a clocking-in machine solution with holiday and sickness calculations. Yeah, I think having one of these will be a good way to improve myself.”
Answer #2: “I am an inspired marathon runner, although my greatest strengths are stamina and endurance, I need to work on my timing – an absolute key for success. A possible solution is to invest in a proximity clock and stop relying on guesswork so that my training is put to a better use.”
Answer #3: “I am runner. I can better myself by buying a proximity clock.”
You want to be Answer #2. First one is unstructured, has a lot of unnecessary information, goes off tangent, and does not correlate. Third one is simple and straight but does not provide a complete picture.
You should be able to balance storytelling and precision. Precision is what your audience is looking for, storytelling is what keeps their attention and binds things together.
I know it is cliché to mention the importance of teamwork. You might ask, am I not ignoring my first rule of being precise? I want to highlight what will happen if team does not work well together:
It is crystal clear that you will end up not being the best. If you do not understand teamwork and do not work well in cohesion, you will:
- Paint an unprofessional image of not only yourself, but also your teammates
- End up having an uncomfortable work environment, to the extent that you feel like leaving the room is better than working with people in it
- May risk your future of being someone nobody wants to work with
- Feel disengaged, demotivated and burdened your team instead of being part of it
For anyone who is looking out for leadership roles, getting people from different backgrounds to work together efficiently is an immensely important skill. Develop it by using every opportunity provided.
- Hard work
There have been plentiful debates and there are roughly three million research journals about smart work vs hard work. From what I witnessed in this one week, given the time crunch, smart work is important. But nothing beats the hard work. The hardest working teams were the ones that won. It is taught to us time and again that “correlation is not causation”. So, this might not be the reason, but it definitely correlates.
If you want something, you need to work hard to get it. In my experience, there is no substitute for hard work. Yes, smart work complements hard work very well, but does not replace it.
It was a great pleasure to be part of this amazing week. Looking forward to Block II’s integration week.
Sushmita “Sushi” Nad, Full-time MBA (2020)