So I meant to update earlier with diversity day news, but as usual finals were a rush of sleepless nights and heavy workloads. So for many of you B-school prospectives and alumni, you’ve probably heard something of the dreaded Integrated Project (IP). It’s probably the worst end-of-finals feeling you’ll ever have simply because you know that after finals end, you’ll be spending the next week of waking hours trying to tackle this massive project (and maybe a few teammates). Despite all of that, you will find that IP is one of the most comprehensive learning experiences you will ever have and a truly fascinating way to apply everything you’ve learned.
Now, every team works differently of course, and I might be a little biased since my team happened to win, but the caliber of competition that occurred within my year was amazing. The amount of time management, leadership, negotiation, and information processing necessary to really attack IP is what allows the project to test the concepts and skills that the first semester of coursework is meant to teach you.
I had a goal of ‘Fuji or Bust’ before I left Japan, and I think the 16 hours straight of climbing that I did then as I worked my way to sunrise is probably comparable to some of the ongoing exhaustion you might feel during this experience, but along with that, I can say this. IP did not force insomnia on me, did not stain half my clothes red, did not cause my body to ache for a week following (mostly just a day), and still offered a spectacular feeling of accomplishment when all was done. Knowing that, I offer a few tips to those wary of approaching IP.
10. Know Your Metrics: If you’re looking to win, understanding how your performance metrics are being measured may affect the way you lever, get venture capital, budget your R&D, and generally a lot of your financing and growth activities.
9. Simulation World is not Real World: There is definitely a huge amount of information in the simulation; the key is to remember this is basically an alternate reality. Look at the charts, see the information, everything is meant to be new, somewhat dated to what we know today. All information means something and you can’t use any real world experiences to bias the simulation news you will get.
8. Market Research Matters: You learn in statistics that 95% confidence is enough. Well, after a certain point the difference between that and the best research available from the game is pretty meaningless. Get that and every piece of research you can, because the information could change your decision and tactics. It makes a difference.
7. Plan to Grow: The biggest challenge in the game is whether you’re growing too fast or too slow. Capacity and R&D are both huge factors in the game and so long as the amount of competition in the world is actually generating the demand for whatever product that may be, then you will see an extremely fast and furious growth in market potential. One of the failings in the simulation is that it does not truly factor in how long it might take a new product to gain traction or a learning curve for human resources. It is purely a combination of factors involving features, compensation, and advertising campaigns.
6. Everything is Interconnected: While splitting roles and responsibilities is great, most aspects of the game have interdependent aspects that you should be aware of. Know which people should be working together and in what priority. You may want to just run off and do your part, but it will help if you know where your decisions affect one another.
5. Time-limits: While this might vary place to place, there is a time limit. The game itself forces you to only modify one thing at a time (a feature I’m not entirely okay with software wise), and thus you need to manage your time wisely. If your team is having decision issues, from the start setup a time limits for how long arguments are allowed to go and then force a decision.
4. Decide Fast, Tweak Slow: One of our professors once said that if you think too long it will likely be wrong. Along the same vein, it is better to decide almost every decision you have to make in that quarter quickly, even just with filler numbers, and then spend long tweaking as needed after you have made a general game plan.
3. Food Makes Everything Better: So within our team we kind of unofficially took turns bringing or buying food for the team, either breakfast, lunch, or dinner depending on the time frame. Perhaps you won’t feel that close to your team, but I see it like family dinner time. It brings a bit of camaraderie that can ease tensions.
2. Sleep: No seriously, I’ve done my share of late nights with architecture and cram-sessions and generally poor last minute study habits. Sleep. Nothing good can come after midnight and at a certain point you need to have enough wits about you to last the week.
1. Do not stress it: It’s a game at the end of the day, and while a lot of things involved can affect how you originally perceived people or skills, this should not break you.
Thus ends the first term. Soon, travel abroad. New Year’s and happiness abound. Stay awesome and have a great holiday everyone.