Restructuring Robin Hood’s Band of Merry Men

All is not well in Sherwood Forest. A recent surge in membership has led to a strain on resources. Unrest in camp has resulted in a band of not-so merry men. Robin, Little John,  Scarlock, and Much the Miller’s son can see the tell-tails begin to flutter in the wind. A perfect storm gathers high in the clouds above. On the ground, the local Sheriff has reorganised his team and is cracking down on lawlessness.  A plot to overthrow Prince John and reinstate the imprisoned King Richard is also in sight. Robin has to weigh up the promise of future amnesty if he lends his support to the regime, against the danger to his men, should the coup fail.

As the smell of roasted venison from the campsite wafts into our classroom, John Staunton raises the clicker and points towards his final slide. Bleary eyed rookies from the Class of 2012 blink fast and wait for their lecturer’s cue. And there it is. Click: Week 3, round 99. Emblazoned before us:


Split into groups, we all had our various opinions. Owls thought, Peacocks yapped, Dolphins agreed, and Panthers told them, in no uncertain terms,why they should not. A matrix was built from the melee and the madness.  We wanted a root and branch overhaul of Robin’s forest. We enjoyed saying root, branch and forest in the same sentence. Sleep deprivation and the MBA juggernaut will do that to you. Quench the fire, put away the ale, the Class of 2012 were coming to save the day.

Robin was to be formally installed as CEO of Merry Men Plc.; Little John (Human Resources), Scarlock (Finance) and Much the Miller’s son (Logistics and Planning) would stick to their core competencies. Once management structures were set up, the band would upskill, streamline operations and set up a leadership programme for legacy planning. (Robin was not going to live forever- not if the Sheriff had his way). The Merry Men’s mission statement would be clarified and the band motivated. Subsidiaries would be set up. Franchising opportunities would roll out in nearby ‘greenfield’ sites; forests identified as having a high through-put of well-heeled passengers. Increased revenue streams would ease cash flow and bolster the balance sheet. Robin needed to future proof; achieving his long term political aspirations (of equality for rich and poor alike) would render his organisation obsolete. What would he then do? Robin had not thought that far ahead. He was a today-man. We wanted to make him a tomorrow-man. Like the Jedi, on the first day, we built it up with bamboo-and-duct-tape-thoughts, and ran the ball down the gulley, waiting to see if it would drop. Our lecturers keep telling us that there are no right or wrong answers, just choices. We nod and wink; we all want the ball in the bucket.

Fables are the exception rather the rule here on the MBA, but Robin Hood was a welcome respite from trying to understand what Niamh Brennan calls the “jiggery-pokery” of accounting policies. Our brains are being fried and fed in equal proportion. Like all the best kebabs, we are being cooked evenly on both sides.

Fate is a magical thing. It stepped in and steered me onto the course and it conspired to land me in with a group of like-minded individuals. Credit must go to the MBA programme team for seeing something in us all and for the sophisticated insights they have applied in constructing a bootcamp that would bond us together for the year (and years) to come.The impact of the communication and team building sessions cannot be overstated. The impact has been immense.

Many of us have taken “the road less travelled”, to get to this point. I, for one, have been up the mountain passes with the billy goats; a mustang running against the herd. I recognise in my classmates rare qualities that you earn from hard battles, fought and won. You can see it in their eyes that they too have earned their stripes. These are a group of individuals who have stayed true to themselves, no matter what. That golden thread unites us.

C.S Lewis said,

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What? You too?!’

There has been a lot of you-too-ing these past few weeks. Above all else, that has been the singularly most refreshing and unexpected delight of the MBA. Where once stood one, there now stands a band of forty one.  Kindred spirits. Peers. On a merry road together.

– Davinia Anderson, FT MBA 2011-2012