A week or so ago, the annual Fisher Internal Case Competition was held here on campus, pitting teams comprised of first year students against each other, in competition for spots on the team for the Fisher Invitational Competition which is coming up in April. The invitational brings teams from other Big 10 business schools to campus, to compete in a live case for a company. As I have said before, I like case competitions because I feel that they allow me (and my fellow students) to put theories learned in class into action in a safe environment, and get then get feedback on the ideas generated. One awesome aspect of the Internal is that the judges for the competition were a combination of business executives and faculty who volunteered their time to come in on a Saturday to come in and take part in the competition.
You may have heard the quote before “feedback is a gift”, which is something that I believe is true. It allows a glimpse of your actions through the eyes of another person, giving additional depth and perception to your personal beliefs on something. Since case competitions are a safe environment, participants can apply some creative thinking to the theories that they have learned, and see what the results are (what I mean by this, is that if you take a risk, and make the wrong choice, you won’t be fired, and a company won’t lose millions of dollars). While such a safe environment doesn’t perfectly replicate the post-business school working world, it allows skills and ideas to be developed and tried that can be useful in the future. Relating this to my past as a Marine, this is similar to conducting training patrols against other U.S. units in the United States, before deploying overseas. Both units, or teams, benefit from the exercise and the additional stress of competition, while at the same time building skills. Having impartial judges who are experts in their fields observe all the teams during this process, and then provide feedback to every team and participant is a very valuable learning experience if the participants take the input to heart.
Win or lose, I think that all of the participants from this year’s competition learned some valuable lessons about themselves and their teamwork skills through the process. I personally believe that that learning and growth opportunity is move valuable than the accolades of winning a case competition, although winning is nice too.