Friday, September 22, 2006

Week 4: First exam and First hormons outburst...

Would you believe it! Already week 4 - time has elapsed so fast.

This week, we had our first exam, a mini quiz to test whether students follow the Prices and Markets class.
For exams, we are allowed to have one A4 help sheet -known as a cheat sheet, although it is authorized. It is amazing how ingenious people can be in the face of adversity. Previous cheat sheets have started to circulate, and basically they look like miniatures. Some of the cheat sheets, you really need to have a lens to read...
Anyway, I crammed like mad on wednesday, and managed to get a decent 80%. Remember, students have different objectives. You have the Dean's Listers, or top 10% guys, because the Dean's List guarantees jobs in top consulting and investment banking firms. You have the Learners, more or less 60% of people, who want to be decent in classes that do not matter for their future, and work hard in subjects they have targeted. Which is my case, and in particular in Prices and Markets. And you have the Party guys, who just want to party and do crazy stuff.
From the beginning, I have said loud and clear that P&M have little interest to me. Supposedly we will see applications in Market Finance, but also in Strategy and Entrepreneurship later, which is my only motivation to stay in the pack.
Anyway, 80% on all accounts would be good. But INSEAD distributes students along a bell-shape normal curve. Meaning that, since the class mean is about 80-85%, I'm in the middle of the pack, which is good enough for me. Of more value is the fact that I probably came from about 50% prior to starting the class, so any improvement is perfect!

Groups seem to settle. I like to talk to other people about their group issues and how they have solved them. I believe that students do not pay enough attention to group dynamics -it is fascinating, I mean, it is a course in itself just to observe how groups evolve.

My group is doing better and better. We managed to spend adequate time on group cases (read not over 4 hours). We get along well - although the strong bond does not yet exist. Yet everyone on board is great. I have discussed that issue of bonding with several people, and we are very much asking ourselves the same questions: will we become friends? Is it possible to make friends for life in 10 months?

Other groups issues collected for you: groups in which 1 or 2 persons exert Power by controlling the cubicle computer or working beforehand to come up with their solutions as a base for discussion; groups in which 1 or 2 are regarded as dumb by the others and don't get to express their ideas -until someone regarded as not dumb comes up with the same idea 1 hour later; groups with ghost members; groups which escape tensions but accumulate frustrations.

That said, this week was very much about transforming your working group into a team. Presumably, the difference is vast: working groups do not share a common goal and accountability, whereas teams do. We had in Leading People class a great reading about quartets as examples of teams: The Dynamics of intense Work Groups: A study of British String Quartets (J. K. Murninghan, D. E. Conlon, 1991 Cornell University). To summarize, by analysing success factors in quartets, the academics found that best-in-class managed group paradoxes in a similar fashion: the leader vs. democracy paradox, or how a leader is needed but needs to listen; the second fiddle paradox, or how to accomodate power conflicts when 2 people want to lead; the confrontation vs. compromise paradox, or how compromise or decision voting mean mediocrity but how confrontation on contents (as opposed to persons) can bring immense value. I think that our group escaped discussion on this text because we still have not solved the leadership issue. So we're still officially committed to rotating leadership -although frankly, patterns emerge.

Let me do a quick recap of P1 classes so far.

Leading People and Organisation.
I see the course as a theoretical support for the live experience/experiment we are all having in our groups. Readings and exercices really are on the same wavelength of group dynamics and issues on a given week. It is just amazing how Professors have foreseen all our issues and WHEN they would arise.

Prices and Markets.
Although the course is last on my priorities for P1, I find it great, and all credit to Professor Van Zandt who is so committed and takes his classes to heart.

Uncertainty, Data and Judgment.
Here too is a case of a fascinating Professor who turns a potentially killing subject into a killer. I mean, in normal circumstances, I would have found the subject boring, even if necessary. But, like all classmates think, UDJ really is great fun!

Potentially the most interesting for P1. I like it, teacher is great, cases interesting. This is a course I enter with 20% level, and anything above at exam will be a great victory, an invaluable takeaway from INSEAD

Financial Accounting.
I have mixed feelings about it. To a great extent, Professor Monahan does his best out of a bound-to-be impopular course. I had great expectations coming in, expectations which were risen by Business Foundations Professor Jake Cohen. The fact that poor Pr. Monahan has to answer to (ir)relevant questions all the time makes it hard to follow, and somehow you get to understand why preconceived accounting boredom is, well, a universal preconception -because it is true, accounting can be boring... Pleeeeeeease Jake, come back to our rescue!

On the gossip side, date and shag gossips start to flow from all over campus. Must be hormons expressing themselves...

Here's tonight's party theme:

"Since we seem to be having some particular area of interest: our theme will be MARITAL STATUS :-)
The rules for dressing up are:
yellow sitting on the fence - between committed and tempted
green available and scanning
red desperate
blue your gfriend or bfriend is one ocean (or far) away
white virgin or married
no T-shirt buys you a free entry ticket for the 'sexiest man/woman of the evening' competion
black recent (or anticipating near) break-up and in urgent need of affective support

of course you can 1) change colors throughout the night 2) dress up as the person that you WANT to be, instead of who you really ARE :-)
If no color is clearly dominant, we'll be handing out some red shirts :-)"

Tomorrow is a House BBQ. Sunday is another House dinner.

Someday, I'll need to post about how better INSEAD is compared to the UN...

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At 7:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, DomoDomo@INSEAD,

R3 applicant, saw your post in Businessweek forum. Fun to go through your pre- and current INSEAD experience. Expect more!

At 12:18 AM , Blogger DomoDomo@INSEAD said...

You'll have more! Good luck for you application, and once through, keep up with tradition. I was inspired by a couple of blogs, and hope you will inspire some applicants too.


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