Twas a typical Thursday night on campus but a different scene in Aldrich. A crowd of curious HBS partners congregated in Room 209 to experience what case method was all about… Thursday October 18th was Case Night for Partners, and time for us to see what all of the fuss is about.
Maestro Mike Wheeler walked in with a flourish, flung his briefcase to the floor and clapped his hands as his orchestra readied their weapons for battle. Mary Wysocki, in the skydeck, broke the silence, and shot the first nugget of truth about the cleaner but perturbed cleaning company, Ecolab, Inc. A sea of waving arms persisted through the evening as pupil after pupil vied for airtime in the excitement-fragranced atmosphere of Aldrich Room 209.
Lisa Lake, another participant in the stratospheric skydeck, was one of the airtime winners. Lake spoke the truth by transcending her HBSness to a different plane of being, the indignant expressions of Jack Ford expelling themselves from her mouth. Ford (a.k.a. Lake) cried, “I created this company! I am this company Ecolab, if it weren’t for me Al Schuman would be no one…”
Ann Brown in the worm deck braved the odds and pointed out disturbing details such as Ford’s tears and utterances of loyalty despite the blackness of his motives. From the power deck, Britt Rjanikov spoke her mind. And Ernestine Crowther posed those reverberating questions everyone wished they had asked because it would make them, too, look not only like intelligent speakers but also like thoughtful thinkers.
The Best Battle of the Night Award went to Dustin Weinberger and Cristen Crager who fought over how much Diversey should concede to compensate the conniving Ford & Company. Dustin, constrained from using his fists, resorted to wisecracks and chip shots. Cristen, irreverent of ground rules, tore at Dustin’s opinions and gave a well-placed swipe to his argument. A dogfight it could have been except for the naturally impeccable manners of us well-bred partners, which don’t always pass along to our other halves.
Finally, Maestro Wheeler motioned for a decrescendo and wound down the orchestra. Upon asking for an adagio as the musicians reflected on this simulated case experience. “I’ll remember this case much longer than if I had just read the text… because I was participating and sitting here actively,” remarked Becky Merritt, resplendent in the afterglow of a case experience.
“Coming from a sales background myself, I thought this experience was wonderful…it was wonderful to learn about all the options which I had not thought of before,” commented Natalie Gutin.
In a nutshell, it was inspiring and we partners now have a better understanding of why those students of ours are so enraptured by class, study groups, and cases. If you missed this one, the HBS Partners’ Club will be hosting another next semester, so join us for the first time or again – in the mean time, remember to go to Shad regularly to flex those triceps and biceps in preparation from airtime battles, fake waving, and wild clapping. Many thanks to Maestro Wheeler for taking the time between negotiation classes, book writing, and Faculty Chair responsibilities to make this experience possible.