STRUCTURED THINKING IN AN UNSTRUCTURED WORLD
We live in a world where computers can make decisions faster/cheaper than the human mind. Then why do companies pay big bucks to MBA’s from fancy B-Schools?
Due to one word – Uncertainty. (Ugh, not that word again) In an uncertain world, complex challenges are thrown at a company, daily. A government, in all its infinite wisdom, may pass a regulation rendering 25% of your unsold inventory legally unsellable. An important raw material may suddenly be unavailable due to a fire at the supplier’s plant, thus creating a bottleneck in your plant.
This is where we apply our MBA skills – both technical (think statistics, operations et al) and organizational (think OB, negotiation analysis) to steady the ship. No AI has been invented to do this – yet! (If it has, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d like to learn more)
This is where cases come in. We go into case competitions without any knowledge about the problem. We are forced to think on our feet, make instant, dynamic decisions and put on a “big picture lens”. We get a chance to act like CFO’s and CEO’s before even stepping out of our convocation halls!
TEST OUT OUR ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR THEORIES IN REAL TIME
I’m sure our HR or Team Management classes have given us a flavor of group dynamics, but case competitions are the perfect way to experience it in a simulated environment and test out what works for you!
Find out how to overcome–
Default Biases – “Everyone’s chosen a particular case study, let’s not follow the herd and choose what actually interests us, however challenging it may be.”
The Self-similarity Principal (Tendency to work with others who have a similar background as us) – What better way to get to know colleagues who are not in your class or social circle? Just ask if they want to work with you on a competition! (I speak from personal experience, having made several friends by just working together on comps)
Personality Biases – Learn how to work with two people on the opposite end of the neuroticism spectrum (Can super calm and anxious people make a great team? What better way to find out!).
In the future, all of us will go on to excel at our respective fields. However big our designation is, the CMO must still convince the CFO that there is sufficient market potential for a new product to be profitable. The CFO must ensure that there is enough working capital to fund the development of the product.
Case competitions simulate this very environment. You’ll sit next to a guy with 3 years of marketing experience, trying to work on an FMCG products go-to-market strategy. Or learn basic coding from a seasoned software engineer. Now you have enough knowledge to at least assess the problem and not be taken for a ride by an expert in the field.
PULSE OF THE INDUSTRY
This is my absolute favorite part of working in case competitions!
You’ll get a flavor of the hot topic in that industry – Whether it is subscription based models competing with the big guns in the shaving industry, P2P lending reshaping the microfinance industry or blockchain technology disrupting traditional insurance!
These are not just buzzwords, but highly relevant for us when we step into our jobs post B-school. If you want to shift into a particular industry, do as many case competitions as possible in that space, it’ll make great conversation fodder in your networking events, group discussions or interviews with future employers!
In short, the possibilities are endless, only bound by our imagination. The perfect time to begin our innovative thinking journey is NOW.
Last but not the least, how can I end my article without a shameless plug for ISB’s premier International Management Festival – Advaita?
This year, Advaita 2018 looks to further the exemplary vision and immaculate standards established over the last 5 editions, embracing the overarching theme of “Transforming Businesses”.
Be a part of this revolution – Envision. Transform. Inspire.
– Shriram Jatar PGP, Class of 2019 Indian School of Business (ISB)