April 6, 2010

Team Learning at BU

[Posted by Fillip Saraiva, MBA in General Management, Class of 2011]

Everyone always told me that the first semester of business school would be the busiest, and it certainly seemed true when I started the program in August. In particular, our professors and the second-year MBA students were quick to point out just how much work was in front of me with the Integrated Project. As I started to spent more and more time with my team each week during the first semester as we raced to finish the project, it certainly felt like my work load was as busy as it could get!

Fast forward to the second semester. As I write this, I am now working on four different team projects due before the end of April. (Ok… I'll confess… I have one more than normal because I am taking an extra elective class.) While none of them are as complex as the Integrated Project, the combination of four different projects is keeping me just as busy as last semester. Yet, it just does not seem to feel as busy. I credit that to the team skills that we all developed working through the Integrated Project; it not only made us better communicators, but it also made us all much more effective in prioritizing and meeting tight deadlines.

The projects for this semester are varied and cover a wide range of topics. For Operations Management, we are working with a local Toyota dealer to help them identify methods to deal with the sudden surge in demand driven by the recent accelerator pedal recall. In our Strategy and Information Systems classes, we are analyzing a non-profit firm to see how they have used information technology to create a competitive advantage, as well as identifying opportunities to further leverage technology to expand their capabilities. I am also working with technology in my two Marketing electives-- one project is to conduct consumer research to determine what features are most important in their decision to buy a Tablet PC, and what combination of features would achieve the best combination of market share and profitability; in the other project, my team is working with IBM Cloud Computing to help them develop a web and social media marketing strategy to increase awareness of their offerings.

These projects all have several things in common. They are all related to real-world products or services that are of real importance to businesses and individual consumers today. They all offer the ability to put the management concepts that we have learned in the classroom into practice. Most important, however, is the fact that they have helped my various team mates and I become more effective managers and have helped us better understand how to work in diverse teams to identify and solve problems in a short period of time.

In reality, there is probably more work involved in these projects when compared to the Integrated Project, but learning how to effectively work in teams has made it manageable. Based on this experience, I can confidently say that improved team learning skills will be one of my biggest "take-aways" from the MBA program.

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