Italians do it better (the MBA)

Friday, March 16, 2007

MBAs @ Dinner

Last night we had the "Graduation 2007" dinner. Some 400 people from our year were supposed to attend this dinner organized just before the end of classes. A sort of unofficial farewell dinner which at the end was attended probably by only half of the students.

The dinner was organized with the "buffet" formula... which many MBA students wrongly thought has something to do with the mighy investor of Berkshire Hathaway. That's probably why 200 people came and also why other 200 didn't. The dining room was organized in two areas. The area where long tables were used to put serving dishes, and an area with small tables where people were supposed to sit after taking a plate of food. Well.. this 200 hungry and thirsty MBAs crowded this restaurant when no food was on the tables yet.

That's the way it was supposed to be. But then it came food. And unfortunately, at 9.30, starving MBAs have no more friends, no more rules, no more ethics between them and the food. But you may think "They are still MBAs. Second years. Future managers..". Absolutely... and that's why all the weapons learned in Operations Management were used in order to get the highest amount of food.

  • Veritcal Integration (at the bottom): people understood the efficiency of sitting directly at the delivery tables. Reduced lead time, decrease in inventory levels, reduced risk of traveling in the room.
  • Increase Capacity : people understood that instead of using the small plates (some 18 cm diameter), it was much better to steal from the kitchen the big ones used as buffet-trays (some 30cm diameter). Doing that, with just one round at the delivery tables you could take food for the whole evening. Brilliant.
  • Lean Production Process : The innovators that increased capacity didn't consider the fact that food was not always the same. Extra capacity is good for volumes, but decreases flexibility. Innovator weren't late to come even in this. People got rid of the plates. They started using the forks to eat straight from the delivery trays. Amazing
  • Vertical Integration 2 (at the top): instead of sitting at the delivery table, some visionairs started to sit at the kitchen desk, where waiters were supposed to get the delivery trays and take them do the delivery tables. This is very smart!
All this made me think about what i learned in my "globalization & strategy" class about how cultural differencies and problems of adaptation play an importan role when entering new markets. I think I ate probably 20 grams of food in the whole eveining. I studied operations. I know about lean production. But still i cannot go to a buffet and sit at the delivery table. Or use my fork to take food straight from a tray. Reputation is an issue, good manners are a must.
But probably it's just a question of cultural difference and there is nobody to blame about this.


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