After buckling in for a manic ride in August, the Christmas break has given me time to take stock of all that I have learned and experienced in the recent months.
During the break, my daughter got an ‘old school’ snow globe as a present and one evening I gave it a shake, and as I watched the flakes circulate and begin to land, so I started to think, which is never a good idea!
As I watched I recalled a moment I had when preparing for the exams. I was thinking about a concept and a case, but I could not remember what subject it related to. Was it Ops? Marketing? Competitive Strategy? I then realised that it did not matter what subject it was. I am not studying Ops, or Marketing or Competitive Strategy; I am studying Business.
In the whirl of the first semester it is easy to see all the new things we learn like the snowflakes in the globe. They are thrown around, seem disparate and random and not at all connected. But then they settle and become part of the overall picture.
That is how I rationalise my first semester. There is a lot thrown at us. There are new concepts, new subjects, new cultures and significant time management challenges. The flakes swirl in a haphazard fashion, going up, going down and presenting a confusing and incongruent picture. But then the pace slows, absorption happens and suddenly the picture becomes apparent – the flakes settle and the scene is clear.
For me, the realisation struck that the marks I receive for my work in Semester 1, whilst important, are not actually the point. The point is the journey, learning how to learn, how to get the best from yourself and from your team and learning the difference between time management and energy management. It is a rare opportunity, an intellectual indulgence that we should not waste by obsessing about grades; they are merely the output for how you travel the learning journey.
In many ways a lot of what we ‘learn’ is not new as such, just that we have not looked at it in the ordered way it is presented. Through our business experience, we have known a lot of what we learn, but we now understand it, not as random thoughts, but as a coherent strategy. In many ways, the MBA is the codification of common sense.
Who knew a snow globe could be so thought provoking!
Paul Kelly ~ Full-Time MBA
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