“Every new friend is a new adventure… the start of more memories.” — Patrick Lindsay
Just over a month ago, 87 strangers from across the globe gathered at IMD to set out on a learning journey. With little in common, our interactions began at a surface level. Popular questions like, “What did you do before coming to IMD?” or “Where do you want to go after?” repeated themselves throughout the first week. Knowing that we would be spending the year together, it was clear that breaking the surface and getting to know each other at deeper level would be a worthwhile investment.
Now, six weeks into the program, it is amazing how quickly new friendships have formed. How can it be that new bonds were forged in such a short period of time? From my point of view, friendship is built on trust and shared experiences – and the IMD program has created the opportunity for us all to find common ground.
The Trust Triangle
Researchers Anne Morriss and Frances Frei have championed the concept of the ‘Trust Triangle’, a framework illustrating that trust is the intersection of authenticity, empathy, and logic. IMD has cultivated experiences for our cohort to build trust with each other. One recent example is the Leadership Experiential Week, an intense three-day workshop in leadership and personal development that created a safe environment for us to explore and share our vulnerabilities. Supported by the culture of openness fostered at IMD, the experience helped us to showcase both authenticity and empathy and develop trust in the process. As the workload and stress levels increase, I suspect this will prove valuable in maintaining our cohesion.
The Mountain Experience
Another highlight was the mountain trip, a two-day off-site learning activity in the Alps, which was a great opportunity to experience novelty as a group. Two highlights of the trip were disembarking from the tram at the top of Villars and seeing the faces of classmates who had never seen snow – a truly wholesome moment, and the IMD dance party where music was played from across the globe and students took the initiative to lead dances from their respective cultures – some simpler than others (looking at you my Dutch friends!).
Many of our classmates have also taken the initiative to organize events in and around Lausanne. For me, the Polar Plunge – where a group of MBAs gathered on a brisk (-18ºC) January day to literally take the plunge into Lake Léman – was particularly memorable. Aside from the purported health benefits of cold exposure, the real benefit of the Polar Plunge, and other shared activities like it, was that it allowed us to experience novelty and discomfort together – providing common ground to build friendships upon. With a long journey ahead, I am excited for the opportunity share more rich experiences and learn more about my new-found companions.