Written by Aaron Salamon, Global Ambassador and MBA Class of 2018.
Having just re-read my first blog post about my experience of Immersion on the MBA program, I noticed how unbelievably positive I was! I used terms such as “loved”, “exceeded expectations” and “amped up”… could I be any more cheesy if I tried? But that’s what things are like at the beginning of any relationship aren’t they? Things are new, exciting, awesome, fun…but at some point, it moves from there to reality. My last post had all the hallmarks of the honeymoon phase, and that is certainly what immersion was for me…
But as I have transitioned through these last two weeks, I can feel a noticeable shift towards a less rose-coloured reality. Enter the heavy workload I was expecting. A Research Methods project has kicked off, weekly Accounting homework continues, Organisational Behaviour mid-terms this week, as well as a whole lot more extra-curricular stuff. All this running parallel with forming of new friendships [Taco Tupelo Tuesdays, rooftop parties and game nights continue to be a prominent feature], and an ever so slight shift in the weather towards autumn (ok, I’m lying, it was 28 degrees on Sunday).
And you know what… I’m still loving it!
And you know what… I’m still loving it! Six weeks have flown by; my arm is improving every day which is awesome, but I have only to BLINK for one second, and the week has gone. if I fail to THINK about what I want out of each day, and it rushes completely by, I will never get it back.
In both my Organisational Behaviour class with Prof Kirnon, and Research Methods class with Prof Olsen, we’ve discussed how we all make decisions, and in particular focussing on two modes of thinking [Kahneman, Traversky (1979)]:
- System 1 – intuitive, gut-feeling (blinking)
- System 2 – reflective, analysis, data (thinking)
This concept “Blink and Think” struck a chord with me when thinking about how quickly time has flown by, but also how it relates back to the working world, and my decision making processes:
- How many times have I made quick, but effective, decisions in my work and personal life that could potentially have been motivated by self-interest or my perception of reality?
- How many times have I not stopped to think or use available data, and gone solely with my gut?
- How many ‘wrong’ decisions that I have made could have been avoided? [Yes, I admit, I have made countless wrong decisions]
After extensive discussions in class about biases, it made me wonder at how I can train myself to make better decisions at work and in my personal life, ensuring true objective options are weighed up, eliminating pre-existing biases that are lurking in my mind. Kahneman, Lovello and Sibony (2011)* offer 12 questions to ask yourself when assessing a proposal, and Campbell, Whitehead and Finkelstein (2009)* offer ways to identify internal “red flags” to safeguard against biases, which is a start on what to do.
But as a first step, I could at the very least take an extra 1, 2, 5, even 10 seconds to reflect on something before making a snap decision (which I guess you must have figured out already is particularly hard for me!!) training myself to remember that my System 2 brain exists. Making a conscious effort to reflect after class on my key takeaways will allow me to keep my System 2 brain nice and active…. Surely it can’t be that hard??
For me to become an effective leader and manager in the business world, this must be a fundamental development area for me. Taking time to reflect on true unbiased data points whilst keeping in touch my gut will help me minimise the risk of making monumental screw ups! And applying it to my MBA programme now, I must not stop Blinking at new opportunities and Thinking of new ones, all whilst carefully planning my path.
One of my PDP goals from Immersion is “pausing to reflect on situations before jumping in to resolve the conflict”, so what better an opportunity to work through this with my peer coaches here at Hult? Funny how things all tie together.
These last two weeks have been a shock to the system, a move towards a new reality, a lesson learned that will ensure I won’t let myself Blink the time away!
Aaron Salamon is an MBA student at the Hult San Francisco campus. He currently works for Accenture and has extensive experience of working in management consultancy. Outside of work, Aaron is a mentor to university students working on social enterprise projects. He’s an avid traveler with 49 countries under his belt. Follow Aaron’s Hult MBA experience in his blog.