Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Set your aspirations high

London Business School offers a challenging assignment for the first years: it is called the Shadow project. The student has to observe an executive for up to 5 days and write a report about the experience. And since now it is optional (luckily, for many) people come with all sort of creative ideas. One of my classmates wants to shadow Steve Jobs! All I can say is "Wow! Good luck, man!" and will follow his route to the destination with great interest :)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Textbooks and most recommended books

Long-long time ago when I was applying to business school I wanted to find out which textbooks are used in the study process and what other reading professors recommend. If there's someone out there who is as curious for books as me, the following lists are for you.

First-term textbooks:
  • Business Statistics: Quantitative Methods for Decision Makers (4th ed) by Mik Wisniewski
  • Strategy: Contemporary Strategy Analysis: Concepts, techniques, applications (6th ed) by Robert M. Grant
  • Corporate Finance: Principles of Corporate Finance (8th ed) by Brealey, Myers & Allen
  • Financial Accounting: Financial Accounting (6th ed) by Harrison and Horngrenn
  • Managerial Economics: Principles of Microeconomics (Version 4) by N. G. Mankiw
Most recommended books (students' survey, top-15)
  1. The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt
  2. Good to Great by Jim Collins
  3. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  4. The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman
  5. Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis
  6. Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter
  7. The Innovator's Dilemma/Solution by Clay Christensen
  8. The New Business Road Test by John Mullins
  9. Are You Ready to Succeed? by Srikumar Rao
  10. Barbarians at the gate by Bruan Burrough
  11. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
  12. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
  13. The Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto
  14. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  15. When Genius Failed by Roger Lowenstein
I have only read 6 out of the Top-15 list before, so long way to go! (keeping in mind that the whole survey mentions more than 250 titles)

Away Day

We had our Away Day today: Streams A&B (~160 people) enjoyed the whole day of outdoor activities. I've been told that it's gonna be great, but I could never imagine how great!

The first task we did was to climb a 30 feet high pole in a group of four, stand on top of it and lean backwards, holding each other (to form so called "flower"). I passed every single stage from "Never-ever" to "OK, if everyone's gonna try I want to try it too". It turned out that the hardest part for me was actually climbing to the top: my left arm ached, I had doubts about my security rope and couldn't help thinking "How am I going to stand on top?". Did I mention that the pole was very shaky? But once I clambered there (I decided to go second and it was a good idea because there's nothing better than a friend's helping hand) the rest became easy: wait for other people to climb, hold tight, lean and then let go. I loved it!

The second task was similar: we had to climb the pole in pairs and jump from it together to a trapeze. If I haven't done the "flower" exercise I would never thought of trying this one. We did a spectacular leap, but barely touched trapeze with the tips. And some of my groupmates undertook two or three attempts! Could you imagine? Perfectionists! :)
The third task was to walk on ropes around a specially prepared area without touching the ground. In this case we needed to think of an algorithm since the necessary support ropes were in short supply.

After that we had to assemble a puzzle on time. The task was split: we had to figure out how to assemble the puzzle in the first place, then to make up a way of dismantling it and assembling back together and (last but not least!) do this as fast as possible. In the end we did it in 17 seconds, but I've heard there was another team who did it in 10!
And the last exercise was getting a "solution" for a blindfolded "client". The solution was in the middle of the "acid lake" which noone could go in. The only way to get there was build a rope system, and guide the blindfolded client towards the answer. A very hard exercise indeed and I was amazed how well out team did it!

We had very good briefings after each task and came up with insightful analysis. It was also very interesting to observe how people tend to react in challenging situations: some listen, some begin to express themselves (all at once), some take lead, some drop out, some propose the ideas, some just go and do it. Great way to find out more about your classmates (and yourself)!
This fantastic day ended with a training in juggling and a barbeque :)