Friday, September 15, 2006

Week 3: When pace has increased A LOT

Well I guess it's time to review classes of Period 1 (P1).

But first, a quick summary of the week.
The pace has increased dramatically this week, to such an extent that I'm considering skipping the Pirates of the Carabeans tonight, and the Bourron Marlotte party on Saturday.
You see, you can really go to a party every night, it's crazy! I feel pretty tired, having slept at 1.30 to 2.00 AM the past 3 days to complete my homework.
On Wednesday, we had the Drive Safe Campaign at INSEAD. The School presumaly set up this day after some students either passed away, or injured some passersby in car accidents after parties. We had to come up with School campaigns for the year.
Our Group did pretty well I must say, given that we really did not want to spend too much time on it. Whilst last year's campaign focused on the damages of accidents (brilliantly comparing 2 lying corpses with 2 lying copulating people for instance), we emphasised solutions to the problem. Our main assumption was that INSEAD Students know that alcohol kills on the road, and they may wish to be informed on what to do, ie. the HOW instead of the WHAT.
We consequently chose to advertise on the Designated Driver Policy.

Our proposals:
- to communicate in a positive manner on the Designated Driver (no stigma of not drinking, responsible person)
- to communicate on how to take care of the DD in parties as well (have food, have soft drinks, have non-alcohol fun drinks, do not serve alcohol to DD, do not tempt him)
- to develop a tradition of DD at INSEAD (hand out cool T-shirts to DD so that they can be recognised in parties etc.)

To be honest, I don't think this has been much of a problem so far in parties. People have been very responsible.

Week 3 is also when groups or teams have started to boil up. I know because I have asked many of them. And I know because our own group has had its crisis point.
I've already talked about some issues most of groups have faced so far. Most problems dealt with personality or leadership clashes. I guess that Week 3 dealt more with circumstancial issue, by that I mean that the vast majority of groups, regardless of their particular problems, had the same boiling point. It can be summarised as: explosion, as a consequence of accumulated frustration within the group.

You see, I like my group. Individuals are really cool, bright, nice, with a good mentality. But because we did not have the chance, or rather escaped the chance, to talk about what we want and how we want it, we each of us developed some frustration, more or less depending on how much commitment each wanted to put in, and it exploded. Let me explain why.

General context: my group is an all male group; 2 younger, 2 older, 1 in the middle; 2 engineers, 2 finance, 1 business; 2 Asians, 2 Europeans, 1 American; 2 ESTJ MBTI types, 1 I something type, 2 E other types. Diversity is sort of there, and conflict potential is high.
Our group issues can come from: cultural diversity (American vs. Asian vs. German vs. French, you know, very defined stereotypes), clashes between the two ESTJ (which are the most headstrong people in the group, less willing to compromise), but could not come from diverse educational/professional backgrounds (all in full-profit orginisations, and wishing to stay in there).

Particular context: we were assigned to prepare a team handbook, or Charter if you like. Some group members read bullshit, some took it very seriously as an opportunity to set up rules and set in motion the group dynamics.

So what happened?
Again, contextual divergences and contents divergences.
As a context, people rather individualistic wanted to shorten the meeting and limit the importance of the exercice as a cap to their group commitment, while people rather gregarious wanted to commit everyone to agreed rules, and bond the team.
As contents, we put in light a major stretch in objectives: 2 people wanted to be on the Dean's List (that is, to get the best grades possible), 3 people wanted to learn as much as possible. These are TOTALLY conflicting goals at INSEAD. Let me explain why: people who want to maximise grades tend to believe that first, they are better off limiting time "waste" in groups and do their homework on their own; and second, that the group would be better off when assignments are allocated to specialists. That means that our Finance guy would do the Finance cases as he has done this all his life, our Business Econ guy would do the Economics cases and so on. On the other hand, people who want to maximise learning tend first, to emphasise group work in which ideas from diverse backgrounds can be expressed and enrich the group, and second, to want to work on their "unknown" or "weak" fields assignments. For instance, a person who wants to learn Finance may want to work on the Finance case, especially because he's never seen it before.
Culturally, the French guy kept disrupting the meeting with things out of focus; the German literally set in motion a ticking bomb, always reminding people that past the time, the meeting would be over; the American was pretty good refocusing everyone and the Asians moderated tensions.
It exploded when the German kept reminding the remaining time every 5 minutes, the French kept checking his mail, and I told the German that this exercise was important to me and that nobody would die of 10 minutes overtime.

How did it end?
Ok, sorry to disappoint, but it wasn't WW3. Actually, we all kind of realised that it got too heated up. The American joked on German stereotype, and it cooled down a lot. As a result, I would say that, subtly, we unconsciously decided to be more friendly and compromise. I was genuinely crossed, but appreciated gestures by the German guy in the end: making sure everybody understood, shaking hands in the end, etc.

What next?
This morning, all seemed so cool! Our project lead on the Finance case did a great job in walking the team through the Finance case, and redid it with everyone. The German guy was really nice, giving out his economics homework to those who did not have the time to do it. I feel good vibes in this group!


Oh, I'll review P1 classes next time, I'm heading to the pool right now ;-)

To know more about MBTI Types (in English or French):



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