More than grateful for the MIT Immersive and Humbling learning experience | April-May 2022

I am going to be specific here, one of the main reasons I signed up for the MBA school — the Asia School of Business in collaboration with MIT Sloan Management — because it is the fast-track access allowing me to experience the MIT-trek. Thank you Universe for making this happened at the right time, after the peak of Omnicron wave, almost spring time in Boston, and it was also my first time exploring the United States!

I would like to use this post to review, reflect and record my personal key takeaways for the past 1-month immersive business dynamic MIT trek.

Since Term 1 (August 2021-until now), how the business school has been preparing us, the MBA students for this trek, I think I would need to dedicate another post to review and reflect all the key learnings from various subjects.

The most common questions that I got from a lot of people asking me since the beginning of the programme or the question that I asked most of the time to my classmate would be : What make you joined this programme, why choose to study MBA? :P

Okay, I am going to make it real short here because my highlight of this post is to highlight my learning and immersive experience during this MIT programme.

So the reason being is that I have set this goal back in 2019, I wanted to pursue MBA by my 30s. In my early 20s, I always knew that I have this entrepreneurial-spirit driven in me, I don’t know what and how, but I have always been wanted to learn about the business world. Hence, I started my own startup with a close friend at the age of 25 and since then I have been opportunistically looking for what’s next in my life until at the age of 28 — i met my dream team and a strong leader and we have started a holding company that consists of five different businesses. Looking back, it has always been the street-smart approach of entrepreneur-ing, and I know I wanted to learn more, main reason is to enrich the learning with academia, with the book-smart way, I wanted to integrate the learning and knowledge. I have a 3E compass in this journey — Enriching knowledge, Explore the unknown, and Experimenting !

I am going to start with providing some context about what does it means by the experience of drinking water from the firehose -MIT-way:
- 6 subjects in 4 weeks time
- 1 subject in 4 full days time
-estimate about 190+ hours spent on quizzes, assignment and project and group works.
ps: usually each subject is a full semester length of programme
ps: we get to experience the top of the top notch, and popular Professors and subjects

Subject #1: System Dynamics
I look forward to this subject the most since the very beginning of this MBA programme. But, I know nothing about it, I thought I know but I don’t
:P I have only heard about systemic thinking and wikipedia about it years ago.

I am not an engineer. I did not know this is an engineer subject. But yes, would like to challenge my thought, my own mental model towards the concept and framework. When I first get to know about this subject, it was one of the sessions that I get to experience from Professor John Sterman (who is the main contributor of this MIT-born subject) The Root-Beer-Game. Most of my classmates was thinking it was some ice-breaking and real beers fun game, but I remembered I went on to wikipedia before the game and it turned out to be the preview of this subject.

My Key Takeaway:
1. Understanding Structure generates Behaviour
How Structure → affect Patterns of Behaviour → and does the Event

2. Mental models matter (a lot).
- It is not enough to change physical structure, information and incentives.

3. The Fundamental Attribution Error
- Our first instinct is to blame the people in the system. Almost always a low leverage response.

4. Understanding problem articulation → mapping dynamic hypothesis (operational, feedback perspective, what are the stocks and flows variable, formulation and testing the model.

5. Understanding balancing and reinforcing feedback loop.

It was indeed quite difficult to grasp the concept in the beginning. I can see the link and prep from the beginning of the course, starts from Quant Prep before the programme, then the Quantitative Methods, and then the Data, Optimising Modelling and Decision-Making and then → System Dynamics. It took me a while to understand and formulate the equation in the system modelling during the class. Throughout the learning process, using a modelling software is kind of cool, at least I got a feel of how system dynamic modeller works on complex system.

Addition Reference if you are interested — you can look for this book [Business Dynamics — Systems Thinking and Modelling for a Complex World by John. D. Sterman]
Note: Some key learnings are from the lecture slides from the class itself. All copyright to Professor Hazhir Rahmandad.

Okay, let’s go the next one :

Subject#2 : Advanced Managerial Finance
Coined as one of the toughest subject in this term. Thankfully he made it simple, but simple does not mean easy, I would still need to double the focus and attention to follow and understand. Okay, finance is not my core too. but generally, I am interested since the introduction of Corporate Finance, I know that personally I wanted to understand in-depth of this subject. Finance has always been a life skill too, not just in business.

My Key Takeaway:
I like how Professor puts the fundamental principle with four simple axioms and he always referred back to these four axioms —

Axiom #1: Investors prefer more to less.
Axiom #2: Money paid in the future is worth less than the same amount today.
Axiom #3: Investors are risk averse.
Axion #4: Financial markets are competitive, there is no arbitrage.

My aha moment in this subject — I finally get to understand the movie
— the Big Short ! :D

In conclusion, finance is about managing risks. the return is the risk tradeoff.

Alright, there is still a final exam coming up for this subject. Tell me if you are interested and I will share more in next post! 3rd subject! Finally can take some break after two intense subjects, just when you think you can take a break, the next subject in the timetable is pricing, what we heard from some other friends in MIT stated that this is one of the most popular subjects that most undergraduate students (from MIT and Harvard) queuing to sign up for, I am blessed to experience the class with Professor Catherine Tucker.

Subject#3 :Pricing
Alright, I gotta be honest here, I am going to laugh at my own naiveness in the very beginning, initially I thought ah? pricing? isn’t it just a value number that I think the product/service is worth/willing to pay by the customers. Alright. IT IS NOT LIKE WHAT I THOUGHT I KNOW :>

My Key Takeaway:
1. I love the handouts given by Professor. I still prefer the old-school way of learning handouts. I will no longer be thinking about pricing with cost-based, customer-based and competitors based.

2. I learn about what is pricing architecture and price level. I still can recall without referring to the notes about Conjoint Analysis and Monadic Survey. and I will do my best to share to my friends around about Strategic Analysis of EVC* while determining pricing for their products or services.

3. The 4 days is a journey that Professor Catherine bringing me through Primitive Pricing (gut-feel:cost based) →
Reactive Pricing (some excel:competition based) →
Adaptive Pricing (customer feedback: customer-based) →
Predictive Pricing (experimentally Driven: complex segmentation)

For my next pricing assignment in real world, I would definitely follow the framework taught in this class.

Subject#4 : Negotiation
This is a properly and well-structured 3-DAYS workshop! Super fun, engaging and interactive in-class never-ending negotiating exercise.

My key takeaway:
I always thought I know how to negotiate, but turned out to be nope, there are still lots more to learn, especially with so many details and thinking approach that could be apply in negotiation. Negotiation is a life skill!

I found it very useful to apply the seven elements of structured analysis to prepare for any negotiation. The experiential learning activities are still very fresh in my mind now.

Subject#5 : Disciplined Entrepreneurship

This subject is very closed to my heart. My creativity and inspiration has always been sharpened by the entrepreneurial spirit that is in my blood. I particularly like how Bill define entrepreneurship.

“The formation of new venture that produces a product (which includes in my definition an offering as well) that creates some value for which your new venture can capture some value to make it economically sustainable.”

And his further refinement has helped me understand all these whiles what I have been confused about entrepreneurship which is :
(1) SME (Small Medium Enterprise) : local market focus (linear growth, less investment required)
(2) IDE (Innovation-Driven Enterprise) : exponential growth, a lot of investment required

Visit here to have a glimpse about the 24 steps. Due to only few sessions with Bill, the essence that I’d captured would be : must identify who is my beachhead market and apply the DE canvas, the importance of primary market research.

I wish to have more time to learn through the 24 steps.

Last but not least, we only managed to have two sessions with the renowned Michael A. Cusumono to share with us on his work about Strategy Rule and Platform Business & Strategy!

Subject#6 :Strategy
There are only two short sessions with Prof. Michael. During the first session, he shared about High-Tech Strategy, lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove and Steve Jobs. The second session is about how to build a platform business. To further, definitely will need to get the book — Strategy Rule!

I think that’s all for now.

I am beyond grateful for all the good time in MIT! I am thankful for all the classmates and friends that have been in this rewarding learning journey together. The memorable moments, the crossing path and decided to go on in this journey in MBA during COVID-19 pandemic time. Again, thank you everything and everyone. Till the next adventure!

The more I learn, the more I know, truly the less I know!

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About the up-to-date what do I do:

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*A new term that I am still working-in-progress to define what do I do with my enrichment learners (a.k.a. clients/coachee).
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