Halfway Through Second Year!

I know it's been a while since I've posted anything, and although it's been a little quiet on the blog front, it's been really quite hectic behind the scenes. The first half of December was occupied with wrapping up the Fall Semester, then the second half of December was occupied with an exhaustingly good trip, then the first half of January was occupied with a fantastic Winter Intensive Course, and now, the Spring Semester is off to a snowy start! While there will be more posts to follow on the events of late December onwards, let me get to the subject line... Yes, ladies and gentlemen, in mid-December 2012, I completed half of my Second Year, which officially had me at 75% done with my MBA! That's an exciting, but scary thought... I really only have a couple more months of school until I'm out of here? But I really like school!

Being in Second Year has its perks... You've gotten used to the pace of the intensive MBA program and all its components, you've settled in to the city, you've figured out all the shortcuts to school, and you've figured out where's the best place to give in to your cookie cravings! That said, it's still pretty hectic & intense, but it's just more manageable. The same goes for the courses I took during the Fall Term; intense, challenging & demanding, but stimulating, exciting & manageable.

Professor Brian Golden takes you into the challenges that prevail after you've planned that grand strategy in "Strategic Change & Implementation." Given people’s natural resistance to change, part of me wondered if it was actually possible to teach people how do they implement strategic changes. We were taken through a variety of cases which illustrated leadership, alignment, strategy, structure, systems, influencing change, knowledge management, and even storytelling. I also loved being exposed to these variety of concepts in a variety of forms, from your traditional business school cases & readings, to the Golden Bear Award-Winning "12 Angry Men," to the entertaining "Jamie's School Dinners."

Professor Dan Ariely with Professor Nina Mazar's Behavioral Economics class

Professor Nina Mazar takes you through the different aspects of human irrationality in "Behavioral Economics." Unlike its much older brother - traditional economics - which explores the idea that people are “capable of making the right decisions” for themselves, Behavioral Economics explores “the (quite intuitive) idea that people do not always behave rationally and that they often make mistakes in their decisions.” I really enjoyed exploring how behavioral economics could be utilized to better understand the user, by better understanding their decisions related to options, choices, payments, fines, saving, commitment, behavior changes, reciprocity, morals, ethics, and dishonesty, and then applying that knowledge to two live cases. The highlight of the course was probably the Behavior Economics Fireside Chat we had with Professor Dan Ariely, one of the leading behavioral economists of our time, and it was fascinating to hear about his experiments, and his discoveries about "The Honest Truth about Dishonesty."

Professor Alexander Manu takes you into a completely different direction with "Innovation, Foresight & Business Design." He challenges you to think outside the box, and use non-traditional approaches to solving unseen problems, or unidentified opportunities of the future. This class isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I personally really enjoyed learning about innovation as a behavior, foresight perspectives, new context mapping, disruption, behavior spaces, experience mapping, and using the ambiguity in the world around us, to find and capitalize on its hidden opportunities. Our group - 'The Itty-Bitty, Farm and City, Witty Ditty, Nitty-Gritty, Dog and Kitty, Pretty Little Kiddy Show' - took our learnings through a three-phased process of Discovery, Expansion, and Application, eventually culminating with a business pitch for our idea.

So, that's my view on the courses I took in the Fall Term. Although they were definitely challenging, they were eye-opening in trying to expand my views, and exploring different avenues in solving problems and capturing opportunities. Stay tuned for my next post, where I cover the Winter Intensive Term! Take care, and stay clear of the snowstorms!