Winter Intensive Insights

You know it's been busy when a post on a Winter Intensive course comes just when Spring begins!  I am 33 days away from my last deliverable of my MBA here at Rotman, and it's still pretty hectic!  Whoever said Second Year is a breeze needs to take their heads out of their textbooks!  If all you're doing in Second Year is courses, then of course, it's more manageable.  However, if you're anything like the ambitious, proactive, dedicated students of the Rotman community, you tend to get involved in a lot more than academics - there's club leadership responsibilities, club activities, extra-curricular engagements, and lots of networking - all while trying to balance home, school, and the job hunt. However, as crazy, hectic & exhausting as it is, I truly love it.  And in 86 days, when I walk across the graduation stage, I'm going to miss it even more.  It's exciting to be coming so close, but it's also bittersweet.  More than ever before, I value and treasure every experience that's been happening so far, because I know it's probably the last time I'll get to do it.  I want to take it all in, and embrace it completely.  That's how I approached my Winter Intensive course - Getting It Done - with Professors Brendan Calder & Dr. John O'Dwyer.

With Brendan Calder (aka, Vintage Truck restorer), Dr. John O'Dwyer (aka, Doc with the Cool T-Shirts) & Billy Anderson (aka, the Courage Encourager!) 

Aside from the numerous positive reviews I'd received from my Upper Years (now class of 2012), the fact that it's limited to 25 people only every year with a strong 'Getting It Done' Alumni Network, the Pre-Course Meet & Greet Social, its focus on Integrative Thinking, and the insightful interactions I'd had with the two Professors, one of the key factors that drew me to this course was the fact that it was "a doing course and not a memorizing course."  Getting It Done synthesized the knowledge and teachings from Peter Drucker, William Reddin and Michael Kami, and tailored them to help us become better knowledge workers, who go beyond just efficiency with doing things right, and instead embrace effectiveness with “getting the right things done.”  The tag team of our two Professors - Brendan Calder & Dr. John O'Dwyer - took us through management tools and methods that would link the practices of strategic planning, business planning, managing for results, and continuous improvement, and use it for personal, professional and organizational management and leadership.  We weren't just learning, we were doing something about that learning too - our amazing group took all the insights from the course, and applied them on a daily basis to a management simulation based on running a beach resort.  I firmly believe it worked - our group took First Place in the simulation!  On a side note, after returning from spending the winter break in tropical climates, a simulation based on a tropical beach resort, while it was ruddy cold and snowing outside, seemed a tad bit ironic and cheeky! :P  Alongside the content, exercises and simulation, we also had some insightful speakers, who shared their thoughts and experiences around improving our personal effectiveness, integrating the tools into our teams, making our management styles more effective, continuous improvement, and even courage.  Given that this course was designed to help us improve our individual effectiveness, which as such relates to human behavior, it would be unreasonable to expect instantaneous results.  However, with regular practice and application of some of the tools over the past couple of weeks, I do find myself being more effective with my time and efforts.  Practice it until you perfect it, then practice it more until it becomes a habit, then go learn something new, and then practice and repeat! :)

Earlier, I mentioned that the non-memorizing, doing aspect of the course drew me to it.  I didn't want to just learn something, I wanted to take that learning, and do something with it, which is what I believe most of my classmates are aiming to do... take their MBA, and do something amazing with it!  I've long believed that merely memorizing copious amounts of notes, swallowing textbooks, and regurgitating them in a 2 hour exam is counter-intuitive to real learning; it does nothing to measure your comprehension and application, but merely tests your powers of memorization.  And if, like me, you end up with headaches during the cold, well, there goes all that memorization!  (I've come to accept that Canada has cold weather, however, my body still yearns for warmer weather!)  I'm really fortunate to be taking courses this year that are testing how I apply what I've learnt on real, live problems, rather than how much do I remember of what I hope I've learnt.  In my many years of professional experience, never once did I have a manager ask me to fix a huge problem within two hours without any available resources.  I firmly believe, and I'm not alone in that belief, that the effective utilization of education is the application of that knowledge in ways that benefit individuals, organizations and society, not how much you can memorize and regurgitate.  Education is meant to be impactful, not bulimic, and it disappoints me when people judge you solely on the basis of your test or exam scores, rather than all your other wonderful accomplishments or your incredible potential.  Go ahead, be impactful, make your mark on the world, and believe in your amazing possibilities! :)