The Integrative Exercise: When push comes to shove

I didn’t know they were called “Integrative Exercises”, but I had heard before coming to IMD about the infamous 48-hour-straight assignment that  encompassed much more work than humanly possible, blood, sweat and tears. Or so I thought!

A friend from the 2015 class about a month ago said to me that I would love the integrative exercise. I thought to myself: “Either he is crazy, or he doesn’t know me at all.” Guess what? He was right! I did love it!!!

By saying I loved it, I don’t mean that it was easy, simple or that I’d do it again on my free time 🙂 but it is definitely something I’ll cherish from my IMD memories.

Our group tried to enter the exercise with full power and a clean slate. We had feedback sessions prior to the start and tried to learn about what worked better for us as a group as we advanced through the regular class assignments. We agreed that it would be tough and we would get stressed and committed to help each other cool off if things got ugly.

I won’t say it never got ugly, but considering the situation and lack of sleep (2,5 hours each night, plus a 2hour break mid exercise) I think we did a great job at keeping together as a group.

One of the high points was right after the second night dinner… we felt the energy going low and still had a LOT of work to do. We decided to put a power song to cheer us up and get the energy going. Then one of my group mates had the idea of going around spreading the energy to the other groups and we did a chair tour:

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Not everybody loved it though hahah but it took us just 10 minutes and when we were back, the group was energized and ready to start another long shift! (I’d definitely recommend it to future classes.)

Nicolas had the cool idea of shooting us the entire time! Here’s a peek at our room – or should I say our home – during the exercise:

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This experience taught me so much! I learned a lot through the board’s feedback and pitfalls that were absolutely real life applicable. Learned about myself and how far I can push my body. Learned how my actions can trigger unintentional consequences in the group, and the other way around. Learned about the incredible power of collaboration and trust.

And my final lesson came later with the grade:

During the exercise I really felt we were doing great work. We were very much committed to it and pushing to get the best out of every part. The first board meeting seemed to have gone well and we worked super hard on the changes for the second board. However, I felt from the board’s final feedback that they had not liked it very much. I had spent 47:30 hours happy and excited and after the final presentation I was super down…

Guess what? I was wrong yet again. We got a very high grade! And I learned I should trust myself and my group yet some more 🙂

Thank you so much, guys. You rock!

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The team: Roraj Pradhananga, Philipp DeAngelis, Vladimir Petrenko, Luca Gianaschi, Nicolas Martinez and me 🙂

Au revoir,

Sílvia Simões

Happy survivors or what does it take to be a team

We completed the famous integrative exercise! A complex case and 6 people to provide a solution to a management board in 2 days. Thirty-eight hours of team work, endless coffee and several packs of snacks, red eyes, head aches and some, but very little, broken hearts and… we are the champions!

Wednesday evening. Excitement is growing, we have read blog posts from previous participants and many of us are stressed and try to build up scenarios to determine survival rules and overcome a feeling of chaos. The next-days events showed that a very small part of those predictions turned out to happen. Conclusion: scenario planning is helpful in managing anxiety, but one shouldn’t too much rely on impression of others – individual experiences are truly unique.

Thursday – here it comes! Who is the first to understand the case? You have a solution? Five others challenge. Time flies. No solution yet. I am tired. A strange noise in the dungeons corridor as if an asphalt roller is approaching. We are looking at each other – what’s up? A neighbor group chills out riding rolling chairs. Come on, tomorrow morning we deliver our presentation! And we need to sleep. We seem to have found our solution. “I don’t trust your numbers”. It’s early morning and other four bent over backwards to reconcile debaters.

Friday after the presentation. We are on the right track – fine-tune here, adjust there and we are done. Let’s finish early! Discussion. Oh, we are tired and slower than yesterday. Let’s split and divide the tasks. Several a-ha moments. After dinner we still have white spots in our story line. Group skids. Group dissolves. Group reassembles.

Friday, 9 p.m. A cake party to celebrate B-days! What a unique celebration spirit! I love our class! Back to my team. Someone challenges the basis. Oh, no! Two short rhythmic stamps, one long clap – “we will, we will rock you”. Group reassembles again.

Let’s make slides! Close the window, it’s cold. Open the window, it’s stuffy here. We need to help you! Go on, we are almost there!

Saturday morning, team dry run. You need to see those handsome smart guys! I know we are well prepared and it’s gonna be fine. But I am nervous. “Calm down, take my banana!”. “No, can’t eat now”.

Saturday after the presentation. Yes, we did it! Why didn’t we consider the other side of the coin? We leveraged our internal expertise, we were great. However, we had some blind spots due to our professional inclinations. At some point during the preparation stage I though I wasn’t contributing, but now I see that I actually did a lot. How much contribution is too much? Would I contribute if I were 100% passive? Definitely, yes, but in a negative way. Did we have fun? Incredibly, yes! I am blessed to be in this team.

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From left to right Xu, Jonas, Gianpaolo, James, me and Edison.From left to right Xu, Jonas, Gianpaolo, James, me and Edison.

Till soon,

Aysylu

Comments

Flora  commented on  Sunday, March 06, 2016  8:10 PM 

strong team!!!

​What you give is what you get

So… the famous leadership experiential took place last week! Our class was split in two Cohorts and switched between regular classes and the 3,5 days full on experiential.

I was impressed by the quality of the entire experience and especially our coaches. Really great, top-notch global professionals that were there with us full time. IMD MBA is the most junior group they coach, all of them are used to working with global leaders in the C-level, not to mention military, government, etc… Outstanding staff!

The focus of this stage was to understand ourselves in a group setting (self in group) rather than going into group dynamics, which is the next step.

I believe any leadership or self knowledge experience is a “what you give is what you get” experience.

If you want to stay locked into your safety armor or don’t want to be exposed to your own “darkness”, it won’t have as much impact… No one can do it for you except yourself!

For me personally, the key lesson was that suppressing who we are is never a good idea. I was trying to do things differently than I would naturally (sort of trying to write with the wrong hand) but in the process I left also my own personality and my strengths behind…  My group was great in pointing that out and giving me an important wake up call for the entire year.

I realize it’s not by changing who I am that I’ll evolve. It is by being myself in a more conscious, polished and balanced way! So let’s aim for that 🙂

After the experiential it was time to dive back into our Start up Project and Industry Analysis… It was great to see how our group already started working together in a different and more open way.

One thing I was super curious before I came to IMD was about life in the “dungeons” and the study rooms. So here is a little peek into our group life when we were all super concentrated in finding data to support our assumptions about the future of Transport Infrastructure 🙂

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Group 8 clockwise: Me, Luca Gianaschi, Nicolas Martinez, Philipp DeAngelis, Roraj Pradhananga, Vladimir Petrenko

An amazing week to y’all,

SS

Discovery trip – Mexico and California (Vivek Tiwari)

Hello Everyone. This is your guest blogger Vivek who will take you through the discovery trip to Mexico and California that I and my thirty amazing friends went to.

Discovery Trips are essential part of the curriculum at IMD and extensive preparations go on from early on in the year. These range from selection of places, companies to visit, alumni network to contact etc. Thankfully, our super-efficient MBA office takes care of all the administrative stuff and we students focus on the academic work and company presentations for our visit.

The theme this year was that we would visit one developing and one developed country. Mexico and California was an easy choice for me since I was interested in technology sector, start up clustered around Silicon Valley, plus I had never been to US before and the idea of visiting it with a large group friends really excited me.

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Our first stop was Monterrey in Mexico. Monterrey is the third largest metropolitan area in Mexico and an industrial hub having couple of large corporations headquartered there. We visited a Walmart distribution center and understood the complexity of running such large scale operations. It was fascinating to see how a fruit grown half the way across the globe reaches the shelves of our local supermarket. After Walmart, the next company visit made us all go in memory lane and we became kids again. The reason: Lego factory visit. At IMD, we have studied turnaround of Lego in mid 2000s in a couple of case studies, and it was a fascinating account of putting strategy, operations and marketing into practice and putting the company back on the growth track. Looking at the highly automated factory and advance robotics in action was a different experience and made me appreciate Lego even more. Plus, each of us received a Lego set as a gift at the end of the visit. That reminds me I have to build my set soon.

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Besides these two events, we visited CPA, Cemex, BCG and Alfa group where we got to interact with senior business executives from these companies. Before flying out of Mexico, there was an Alumni networking event in which group of students made a presentation on the economic situation of Mexico. Our MBA director Ralf Boscheck also facilitated a session with participants giving an overview from an ecnomics standpoint.

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San Francisco was our next stop. If Monterrey was all about manufacturing and industrial goods, San Francisco was the polar opposite with its venture capitalists and start-ups. Our schedule here was jam packed with visits from Salesforce, Twitter and Google. Visiting google headquarter in mountain-view was the highlight of the trip. Fun fact 1: Do you know that you can have free lunches at Google?

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SF chamber of commerce held a session on the innovation economy and economic development of San Francisco followed by a session from VCs explaining us about the entrepreneurial culture in the valley. Fun fact 2: If you are 20 years old and studying at Stanford University and you haven’t started your company, you are in a very tiny minority.

And before we knew it, the discovery trip had come to an end. However, we got two full days to recover from our intense sessions and explore San Francisco. Our group had great fun with activities such as taking a biking tour of golden gate bridge to eating in china town to partying in San Francisco. Special thanks to my American colleagues and friends Courtney Galligan and Tom Cohen who organized the trips and made sure that each of us had great time. Cheers.

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