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TWII Alum Reflects on Harvard



With much anxiety, excitement and suspense, I set off for the Harvard Crossroads Summer program on 9 th August, 2017, and arrived after a long flight on 10 th August, 2017. I arrived at the Rove Hotel at a little past 9pm. I missed the welcome reception that was held for participating students, but was warmly welcomed by the Club Administrator, Anne, checked in, ate, freshened up, and rested for the next day’s activities.

DAY 1 Next morning, after having breakfast and meeting with the rest of the students, we were driven to the Dubai International Finance Center (DIFC) Academy where we had all our course work. We were welcomed to the class by Mr. Goulam Amarsy (President, Harvard Alumni Club, GCC) and other team members. Our first case was on crowdsourcing (the Threadless case), delivered by Prof. Karim Lakhani. The case bothered on community-focused businesses, with Threadless being a classic example. We discussed some essentials or features and importance of community businesses as juxtapose traditional businesses. The class extensively deliberated on the dilemma faced by Threadless: whether to accept an offer to produce for a retail store. From the discussions, we came up with three types of incentive or motivation; intrinsic, extrinsic and pro-social. We further concluded that businesses must consider all three types of motivation since a business’ community is made up of different individuals with differing needs, and it will be very helpful for a business to meet such differing needs. The class was very interactive, and I took active part in the deliberations, as I was the first student to speak in the class. From the discussion, I learnt that it is essential to focus on the community when doing business since it has inherent benefits to both the community and business. I also learnt that, certain business decisions would be taken without necessarily involving the community, but efforts must be made to not totally cut community off from the business.

Session two began after we had had a break time and had talks from some Harvard Business School Alumni. They shared their experiences with us and encouraged us. They main thrust of their talk was that of being and remaining focused, being disciplined and hardworking. Their messages really motivated we, the students a lot, and we appreciated them more. Prof. Karim Lakhani, again handled the second session, since it was the actual lecture to the Threadless case we treated in the first session. The topic was “The Crowd as an Innovation Partner. Once again, we enjoyed the lecture even the more since students had built momentum right from the onset. Through the discussions, it was established that opening up a business to the community makes it a lot easier to both identify and solve problems more effectively. As an example, Prof. Lakhani made us look at how NASA used a public contest to gather information on solving the problem of keeping foods fresher while in space. He mentioned that such competition can be limited to a section of the public or be more opened. It was established that more opened competitions yield much desirable results.

One big lesson I picked from this second session was that,