Working in Teams at Carlson

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The stories of successful teams that accomplish seemingly insurmountable tasks are so ingrained into the American culture that without even thinking we can name examples ranging from the moon-landing to designing the iPhone to the “Miracle on Ice” gold-medal hockey team. More importantly, we’ve all seen examples of the damage that infighting, rogue decision-making and poor communication can do to a company. So since we know how critical teamwork is, why don’t more organizations make it a priority?

At Carlson, the MBA program integrates teamwork and leadership throughout the curriculum. From solving accounting problems to working through business plans, we are evaluated on both our individual technical skills as well as the performance of our team. This forces a need for constant practice and refinement of our ability to work and lead teams. At the time of writing this, I’m a little over halfway through the program and have been a member of at least 16 different teams charged with tasks such as generating financial models to value public companies and analyzing case studies on the auto industry.

Each class, situation, professor and team differ, but a few of the general traits of teams during my experience at Carlson are:

  • Teams generally consist of 3-5 members;
  • About half the time the professor has assigned the teams and half the time we have self-selected;
  • Teams have been widely diversified with members from different companies, backgrounds, countries, etc;
  • Grades for classes are often based partially on:
    • Individual participation;
    • Individual performance on tests and/or homework;
    • Overall team project(s) grade(s); and
    • Other team members’ evaluation of your contribution to the team.

As a part-time student, my day job is as a commercial real estate advisor (primarily in brokerage and development) where I work with many different diverse teams on varying projects on any given day as well. The skills that I’ve learned and had the opportunity to practice at Carlson have had immediate and noticeable results on my performance and I continue to find ways to improve. Nobody can do great things on their own and every project worth doing needs a team to do it.

Team Posed And Holding Shovels
Ross Hedlund's Headshot