October 3, 2012

Team Day – Yet another vague, mysterious, super-fun MIT tradition

Post by Hilary Fischer-Groban, First Year MBA Student at MIT Sloan.

When I ask second-year Sloanies about what to expect from certain events in the first year core semester, the answer is usually along the lines of,  “Oh, it’s better if you don’t have any expectations. Don’t worry; you’ll have fun.  There’s no way to prepare, but it’s really important.” Mysterious! Vague! Fun! At this point, if that means less homework the night before, I’m all for it. Team Day, a one-day break from classes for all first years, was no exception.

As I found out, team day was a two-part event. [Spoiler alert for future first-year Sloanies: If you are looking for a spoiler, there isn’t one. The first part was a case discussion that highlighted the importance of proper decision-making techniques. Our case involved the risk of losing not only one human life, but also the reputation of an established company and a billion dollar contract. We had thirty minutes (!) to make a decision, and everyone had been given different background information. Understanding the importance of arguing your position concisely yet convincingly was tantamount to making the correct decision.

The second component was a less-structured meeting with our seven-person core teams.  My team has been amazing, but how could Sloan management know that at this point in the semester we dearly needed to re-evaluate our organizational structure? All of our goals had changed, most poignantly one team member who changed his primary goal (as discussed in the beginning of the semester) from “learning” to “just surviving.” Someone else changed her goal from focusing on improving her English communication to improving her proficiency in all the subjects. (My goal of “graduating and sleeping enough” remained the same.)

We spent several hours revising how we schedule meetings, and how we divvy up assignments and responsibilities. Since we’ve been in class for almost a month, we now have a much better system based on realistic work estimates that corresponds with our actual goals and pre-existing skill sets. Thanks, Team Day!