February 8, 2010

Strategizing through the Night

[Post by Tarun Theogaraj, 2011 MBA Candidate]

8:30am Saturday morning and the clock starts ticking on Tech Strategy 2010, the annual technology case competition at BU. It’s a two-day workathon where teams of four students apply their experience and learning to a real-world problem faced by a real company. It’s the weekend I spent awake and working continuously for nearly 26 hours. And where I had so much fun and learnt so much that I’m definitely doing it again next year. Perhaps getting through the first semester of B-school imbues you with incredible stamina and the capacity for hard work. Or perhaps it just makes you a crazy workaholic, take your pick!

Our case this year was a fascinating and extremely relevant topic: what implications does Apple’s recently released iPad have for Amazon’s Kindle strategy? With such a current topic, my team was swimming in a sea of information and speculation from the web. The blogosphere was abuzz with information and opinions as people tried to figure out how things would play out.

By 9:30am we had each read the case individually and came together to discuss the various elements as a team. After just a semester of b-school, it was interesting to see how we were already starting to use frameworks and analysis to structure our problem. And gratifying to be able to apply our classroom learning on business ecosystems and network effects to an actual business scenario.

The rest of the day and night was a blur of research, analysis , discussion and debate. Our Integrated Project (note the capitalization!) experience last semester had taught us the importance of decision by consensus. All well and good, but consensus is a lot harder at 1am in the morning when all you want to do is tell everybody else that you’re right and they’re wrong, and they should just do what you say so everybody can go home and go to bed!

A nice ending to this post would be to be able to tell you how my team came up with a brilliant strategy that floored the judges and won us first place. The truth is that we lost out to another, better team. But the experience was a reward in itself and that’s why, crazy or not, I’m doing it again next year.

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