I have gone through a week of hell and heaven at Harvard Business School’s Summer Venture in Management Program. But it’s truly worth the time and sweat. Amid the case studies assigned everyday, which led to 3-5 hours of sleep, I met many brilliant minds from diverse cultural, academic and professional backgrounds. The program transformed many people by tapping into their potentials and aspirations.
A week-long crash of 17 cases forced me to think, to articulate my opinions in an effective manner to the class and to defend my positions when others challenged them. Putting myself into the shoes of decision-makers of those companies in various industries, facing their unique set of problems, was so empowering that, those mental notes, along with other memories including classroom jokes, will stay vivid for a long, long time. The professors are all experts in their fields and they taught with enthusiasm, great senses of humor and humility. They listened more than they talked. They’re not lecturers, but more of facilitators of the class discussions to pull valuable opinions from everyone and to push everyone beyond simply discussing the facts of each case.
All the professors emphasized that there’s no right or best answer in many business decisions. Rather, there are a lot of grey areas and it’s up to the leader of the organization to decide how to make the trade-offs. I went to the class with bunch of notes, take-aways from breakfast discussions and study group discussions which all contributed to my firm standing on a given issue, only to see it questioned by the professor and peers and became more malleable, sometimes dissolved at the end.
They say it’s ok to change your position as long as you have good reasons, so I guess I’m not a wimp.