Executive MBA members get involved in team "rebuilding."

EMBA classmates at team-building event.

Teams abound in corporate America and in many of the programs offered by the Chapman Graduate School of Business. The benefits of a well-running team are a given, and companies expend time and money to ensure that their teams are functioning at their best.

So why would the Executive MBA (EMBA) program in the Chapman School dismantle the existing teams and reconfigure them midway through the program? Members of the twenty-seven person class certainly wondered, and worried. But the effort turned out well, thanks to the contributions of Operation Explore, a training and development firm based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.

“We assign teams at the beginning of the EMBA program, keeping in mind that the team members need to bring different functional backgrounds to their groups,” said Sarah Perez, director. “Change is a fact of life in business and we felt it was good to have people go through the experience of changing, to refresh and re-balance the teams, and to give everyone the chance to meet and work with different classmates.”

EMBA classmates at team-building event.

The teambuilding session itself, held on June 23, 2006, had three objectives: to share Indian food and drink prior to the departure of the group for its international residency, this year a trip to India from July 7-17; to celebrate the fact that they were more than halfway through the program, and to deal with concerns and start the new teams afresh in positive way.

Candid discussions were guided by professionals.

“The most valuable part of the experience for me was that it gave me the opportunity to raise concerns in front of my new team members and to work and play with them,” said Anand Shah. “The facilitators raised questions even before I could think of them and then helped us resolve our issues.”

Anand Shah at EMBA team-building event.

He found the discussions about conflict most helpful.

“We were asked how we will proceed with our new teams if conflict occurs,” Shah said. “It isn’t easy to have spent forty weeks of time and energy as a team and to be settled into that, and then have to give it up, but I think we will be successful based on what we learned.”

“We gave the students who attended time to let us know about their concerns,” Perez said. “Then, the new teams did a ‘future history’ in which they visualized what their new team would look like and articulate what its goals would be. Operation Explore helped them convert their concerns into solutions. They may need—but not get—these tools to help manage change in business, so it’s good that the program is providing these to them.”

The event was optional this year, but based on the positive reaction the students had, it will become an integral part of the EMBA program in the future.

Anand Shah and teammates.

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