Sunday, December 21, 2008

Enough background...let's get to the program

The weeks leading up to an MBA program are a mix of excitement, anxiety, list making and change preparation.  It's a little bit like being a first time parent, when several of your friends have already had kids and you've only visited a few times.  You have some sense of what's coming, but until you actually live with it 24x7, for several months, you really don't know what you're getting into.  My brother had just recently completed the Evening MBA at UNC, so I thought I had some idea...nope...uh uh...don't kid yourself.  It's going to be a lot more work than I expected, and it's going to require a lot more emotional commitment that I planned for.

A few weeks before the program starts, a FedEx truck shows up at the house with a large box. A very large, heavy box of books and handouts for the semester.  At first you think they might have mistaken your house for an IRS Audit warehouse, but no such luck.  This is your reading for the next 4.5 months.  Somewhere in a dense forest, trees are crying:)  This is your first sign that the workload is going to be significant.   

The course list for the first semester is as follows:
The first thing I did was look at the required reading for the first couple classes, and divide it by the number of days before the Orientation Week.  That turned out to be Mistake #1.  As if I hadn't learned my lesson 18yrs ago as an undergrad, I severely under-estimated the learning curve for new topics.  This wasn't going to be like ready work reports, where I had years of background to draw from, this was all going to be new.  And I needed to approach it in a different manner.  Needless to say, I was behind from Day 1 in class :(  Luckily for me, and I suspect many of my classmates, the first week in class was primarily focused on team building and self-assessment activities.

The team building activities were so good, in my opinion, that they really should be used as a blueprint for any leader that is starting a new team.  While it seems somewhat tedious at times, looking back on it now, it did really built the foundation for our team (Team 5) and lead to our success.  I'm going to devote an entire post to those activities, so I'll skip any more details for now.