It’s towards the afternoon now, and the team has finished seven interviews. It’s time to start summarizing the content. The team and I are in a conference room, writing up on the whiteboard key themes we heard, and any surprising insights we’ve uncovered. This will help us tailor our next few interviews. After all these interviews are done in the next week, we’ll boil what we heard down into a few key learning points and then design an experience to achieve those learning goals. This process involves the team spending a couple days around a whiteboard, ideating and brainstorming different experiences we could make. This is one of my favorite parts, because I get to be creative and come up with innovative ways to teach the content.
Tuesday – Thursday – A Delivery
Today I’m at a delivery for a data analytics company. A “delivery” means that I am facilitating a program, walking 30 or so executives through the experience we designed for them. This delivery is local (Mountain View), but sometimes I get to travel to interesting places to do a delivery. In the past 6 months, I’ve gotten to go to Shanghai, Barcelona, and London. Travel is important to me, and I love to spend a few days before or after the delivery exploring the city.
The morning starts early – usually around 7 or 7:30, so I can get to the room and make sure everything is set up before the participants get there (Projector? Check. Sound? Check. Supplies? Check.) The participants start trickling in around 8 and I introduce myself, explaining that I work for BTS and I’ll be the facilitator for the next few days. These participants are directors at the data and analytics company, around 40-50 years old. Sometimes the participants look at me strangely, because I am so young, but I’ve practiced and researched a lot for this delivery and this helps me gain credibility.
Next, I introduce a business simulation to the participants where they will be running their company for three years into the future. The goal is to provide a forum for the participants to practice allocating resources, understanding trade-offs, and communicating their strategy. By the end of the session, we hope they are more aligned as a company. In this case, the participants have a virtual simulation, so they are at tables of five, making decisions about their priorities and how to allocate limited resources. Business simulations are a bit like monopoly on steroids, and it brings out participants’ inner playfulness and competitiveness.
I feel satisfied that we actually made a difference to the participants."
While the participants are working with their teams, I go around and help them as needed, coach them, ask questions to get them thinking more deeply. After their first simulated year, I’ll explain to them how they’ve done, who’s in the lead, and some tips on their strategies. This is the most nerve-wracking part for me, because I present topics like feature consumption gap and average revenue per customer. With my background in neuroscience and psychology, these business and finance terms are still new to me but I’m learning.
The day wraps up around 5pm, but then the participants have a dinner planned. I usually go with them, so I can get to know the participants and learn more about their business. Eventually, the post-delivery dinners will become a valuable chance for me to discover more ways BTS can help this company, but for now, it’s about the networking.
Deliveries are exhilarating, exhausting, and rewarding all at once. Leaving the delivery on Thursday, I feel tired from socializing and leading people for two days, but I also feel satisfied that we actually made a difference to the participants. I really believe that the experiences we design make people better leaders, and that feeling makes it all worthwhile to me.
Friday – Wrap Up & Design Work
Today I return back to the San Francisco office. I may choose to work from home today if I’m tired, or I can go into the office. I usually chose to go into the office though because I love being around my coworkers (plus the coffee and snacks are way better than what I have at home).
I get into the office around 9 or 9:15 and make myself a latte before settling in to catch up on my emails. I’ve been focused on my delivery the past few days and got a bit behind on those emails. I respond to a client that needs a certain document, my project leader who is giving me feedback on work I did, and our digital team on a virtual leadership experience we’re creating.
Around noon, fellow BTS-ers will wander over to my desk and ask where I want to go for lunch. Usually people go get lunch and bring it back to the office to eat together. I really appreciate that people take time out to eat together each day – it makes me feel part of a community.
In the afternoon, I’ll start to write out the case study for another project I’m on. In general, I juggle 2-4 projects at once. This is exciting because it means I can switch focus anytime I get bored, but it also means I need to have strong time management skills. I’m learning tricks on how to make my time more efficient, like closing my emails down for a few hours or blocking out large chunks of time for design work.
Now it is design work time and I’m at my standing desk, writing the case study for a Challenges & Choices simulation. In this simulation, participants will act as the manager for a simulated team, and they will have to respond to daily challenges from their simulated team. Based on feedback from the client, I choose a solutions management team and start writing the characters. There’s Piper, the young ambitious millennial, and Boris, the analytical methodical one, and Sawyer, the arrogant genius. These characters and case study will become the background for discussions participants have about leadership and managing people well. Writing the characters and case study are one of my favorite parts of my work, because it’s like writing a choose-your-own adventure story. Before joining BTS, I was a bit worried that at a business consulting firm, I wouldn’t have enough chances to use my creative side. That turned out not to be true at all – I spend a lot of time ideating and creating here.
My day ends around 5:30 or 6 and then maybe I’ll go to a happy hour with my coworkers. The team is ready to unwind from the week, and I’m looking forward to catching up with everyone. It’s been a big week!