For the second time this year I felt the beginning of a cold coming on. Unfortunately this time it was on Tuesday, just before our Integrated Exercise was to begin on Thursday. Given that the coming days would be intense and sleepless, I knew I needed to beat this thing or the IE would go badly for me and my group. Tuesday and Wednesday nights I made sure to sleep at least seven hours. I also drank plenty of fluids and stocked up on immunosupportive foods. As it did earlier this year, my immune system came through. Although I did become a little stuffy one day, I didn’t experience any major symptoms and my performance was never impaired. Strong like bull!
The IE was something. So as not to spoil any of the surprises for next year’s class I won’t go into much detail but the basic premise was that on Thursday each group was given a challenging business problem to solve in 48 hours. We had to address accounting, finance, marketing, operations, and other areas in our solutions. Each group presented its solution on Saturday to a random pair of critical faculty members.
It was intense. Channeling seven exhausted people from different countries and with different professional backgrounds to solve such a broad problem in such a short amount of time was a real challenge. Tensions were high in our group but I was pleased with the quality of our deliverable. The faculty found several holes in our ideas (I would have been disappointed if they hadn’t!) which will help drive our approach to solving such problems in the future.
After presenting and defending our plan, I surprised our group with a bottle of champagne I had squirreled away for this express purpose. We popped it open (Who says 10 AM is too early for champagne??) and spent several hours debriefing our performance, process, and group dynamics. The discussion was heated at times but I think we all learned from it. These learnings can’t be captured in a textbook and are one of the key reasons I came to IMD, where such discussions are not only encouraged but required in many cases.
Saturday night I went out for dinner and drinks with my fellow students and we did an admirable job of keeping school discussion off the table. It was nice just to kick back and connect with each other on a personal level. The drinks didn’t hurt either.
Now it’s time to do some real work: my taxes!