A good bit happening at the school this week. Our MBAT team is off to Paris later this afternoon, while a few conferences move forward and the LBS Radio station may have it’s first student broadcast over the weekend.
MBAT should be interesting this year. I must preface these comments with a few points. First, my time on campus has been pretty limited so most of my take on MBAT is either conjecture or via a few conversations with students. And, second I’m not actually attending the event thanks to a marketing class tomorrow and a night class this evening. Combining my lost time from NYU with even more time for MBAT seemed unreasonable.
Back to the interesting part, last year London Business School won MBAT convincingly. I don’t remember the point score, but we hammered IESE and the dwarfs. This victory can largely be attributed to the near obsession of the class of 2006. When chatting with the 2006s it wouldn’t take long for the conversation to turn toward MBAT.
Conversations would go something like:
2007: Hi, My name is Al.
2006: Hi, My name is Michelle. How’s it going? Enjoying classes? We’re going to win MBAT and you’re going to work your ass off. Got it.
They were driven and it showed. They didn’t like barely losing the year before because someone passed out before they could compete in Ballroom Dancing. So, the Ballroom dance team practiced seemingly sun up to sun down from October 2006 onward while a 2006 stood there in a uniform, sunglasses and a shotgun.
I, along with one other person, was recruited to coach basketball. Our brief was simple: you do anything necessary to win; you have my full support. And, Paco meant it. Coaching MBAs is a lot like herding cats, really big, nasty cats with huge egos. A huge ego is one of the enduring qualities of an MBA; even if some of us keep it locked up most of the time.
I’m pleased to say that the end of our training, London Business School’s basketball team was the most vicious collection of basketball players I’ve ever watched, coached or been associated with and this includes watching the Detroit Pistons beat the hell out of my beloved Bulls during the late 80s. Oh, and we won the cup. We won just about everything and
stole, borrowed set free one of IESE’s Toros. He even has his own LBS ID card.
So the stage is set for 2007. London Business School removes IESE’s only USP, flaunts our victory by bringing home Toro, and has to contend with the repeat problem. Is the drive to win for our school equal to that of last year? I can’t say. I know at least one team moved from win at all costs to making certain that all players would get court-time. Fair enough. Oddly, given the returning talent for that particular team it would have happened anyway.
Keeping the drive alive after winning everything is tough. Ask great companies that become mediocre, or great athletic teams that have the same players the next year but fail to win. It even has a name, ‘regressing to the mean.’ I’m using that concept loosely here but being up always implies coming down just like the opposite is also true. It’s a function of effort, desire and talent.
We may be as primed to win this year as we were last year. I just don’t know thanks to being away so much. A simple calculation in battles is Force = number of people * desire (see also: force, violence quotient) * talent. Obviously, in any battle there are two sides and we can assume the desire aspect for IESE is pretty high.
We’ll send the same amount of people. The athletic talent will be similar so it leaves desire as the deciding factor. We don’t need a collective desire; only an unstoppable desire in each and every contest so the sum of our work equals victory.
Will we win? No answer, not yet anyway.