Thursday, September 01, 2005

Integrated Leadership Experience

The second week of the MBA course in Fuqua is something called the Integrated Leadership Experience or ILE. The ILE 1 is conducted for the first years and is revisited at the beginning of the second year. Briefly, ILE is about some of the basic concepts around leadership, ethics, cultural diversity, team work etc. As we were going through it, I really couldn't make up my mind if we were really learning something. In hindsight, though, it seems quite thought provoking (which was what it was primarily meant to be, I think).

Well, the important thing about ILE was that we all, for the very first time, did something in a team; that too, a team that we were going to be stuck with (or the more politically correct, 'working with' ;-)) for a year. So my ILE team has Dave, Jaime, Jenny, Ryan and me. We played some weird outdoor games, did a mock case together and what not. The games were pretty physical, and moreover, in order to build trust within team members, involved some crazy stuff. For example, there is a mesh of ropes between two poles, resembling a spider web. Each team member has to cross through the openings without him or her touching the ropes. Figure this: you have to lie down on the ground and keep absolutely still because you will now be lifted by others and passed through the mesh. You are transfered to the people on the other side of the mesh. This goes on until everyone passes through the mesh. What is the idea? This was the 'metaphor' for trusting your team mates and working together to solve a problem. There were some other pretty scary ones, like parallel tight-rope walking by two members balancing against each other and some more such weird stuff.

Anyway, I know you must be curious about the two questions that I spoke about in my last post. So these were the questions that we were asked to ask ourselves, as some of the future leaders coming out of a top school. Here they are:

1) Who are you?
2) What are you doing here?

Pretty basic, eh? Try betting a 100,000 dollars on a horse and asking "What is this horse?" and "What is it doing in my stable?" If it doesn't give you the creeps, come to me and I will make sure I dedicate a post to your name. I thought hard about these questions (people will tell you that I think too much, you know and I come up with some pretty good answers). So after some introspection, I came up with the following:

1) I thought you would never ask.
2) I am here because I didn't know where else to go.

I think there is some scope for improvement in those answers and that's what I intend to do in the next 2 years, but overall, that's pretty much what I know today. I am in week 3 right now and the classes have started. My frame of mind is a lot different from what it was during the last post. When I was writing the last one, I was hanging on to my life (especially trying to answer those questions at the same time), trying to survive, trying to maintain sanity between my ears, trying extremely hard to find faces that seemed more miserable than mine (that wasn't really very hard, actually). This time, I am more relaxed; my ILE team just submitted an assignment, I raised my hand a couple of times in class and asked the stupid questions that make students feel so nice, tried solving some tough problems on probability, failed, looked at the solution and hit myself hard on the head a few times etc. But nevertheless, you will still find me squirming in my seat.

The ILE week ended with every team drafting its first 'team charter'. This is the place where you record everything that your team collectively wants to do in the next year, what the priorities are, what each person brings to the team, what each person expects from the team and so on and so forth. I am very glad it worked out pretty smoothly for our team, but there are certain teams out there who had more fun than us in preparing the charter ;-).

In any case, we have the labor day long weekend coming up and I hope to catch up on my sleep and hopefully will post some more!


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Anonymous said...

Hey Shivesh!

This is lovely! I love reading about whats going on at BSchool! Say.. when you have a spare moment - I know that'll be difficult! - do send me some more about what games they made you play for team building, etc.

As for your answer about why you are where you are, you know.. I've always found myself saying the same thing. I figured I work best doing the process of elimination! I don't want to do X and I don't want to do Y.. and therefore, that leaves Z. And its always worked out well... so far! :)
You have a super long weekend! :) AND! Keep 'em posts coming!

Shivesh said...


The games are a little difficult to explain coz. they used quite a few props and some trained people to handle... umm.... us! :-)

In fact, the program was held at an organization called the Triangle Training Center in Durham. I looked them up on the net. Their website is

The program was not bad, but it was a one-day thing with some ice-breaking exercises, so I don't really have an opinion on how good or bad it was. But it was fun to some extent! :-)