ViMP

Tuesday – the First Day

Hello o! All customers on board please; The flight is about to take off

Please fasten your seat belt … and here we go!

First, let’s strengthen the foundations. Did you read https://amakaanozie.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/on-your-marks-set-go/ and https://amakaanozie.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/monday-vimp-prelims/ ?

You did? Cool! Let’s roll.

After breakfast, the buses from the resort made two trips to LBS, conveying everyone there. We were very impressed by the school facility’s exterior – from the polite security guards to the well manicured lawns, water fountain and the polished security detail at the entrance into the main school building. Though the school stands on a not quite large expanse of land and is along a busy road which is getting even busier with more area development, the school is built like a fortress; when you go in, you are really in. You need a new pair of eyes for contact with the ‘outside’ world – your phone and Wi-Fi.

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We were to use the Advanced Management Programme (AMP) class for the programme. Maria, a member of staff, cordially welcomed us and from her, each of us got an LBS binder with class materials, a desk tag and a name tag. At 8.30am, Franca Ovadje, LBS co-ordinator of ViMP, officially welcomed us to the school and to the programme. There followed a set of LBS ‘code of conduct’ with many dos and, I was going to add, a few don’ts but now I can not remember hearing any. It was more of ‘do be disciplined’, ‘please be security conscious – always wear your name tag’, ‘imbibe our spirit of service – leave the facilities in a better state than you found it for the next user’ and so on.

Come with me and let’s take a closer look at the last statement – ‘leave them in a better state’. Leave that restroom floor clean with the floor dry when you are leaving it. Leave those parks and walkways and corridors clean, free of waste – use the bin. Once, in the University, I was with a classmate and friend in the hostel common room and she dropped a biscuit wrapper on the floor though there was a waste bin close-by. When I mentioned it, her reply was “if everyone uses the waste bin, what will be the job of the cleaners?” It sounds right, huh? But everyday, the cleaners sweat to clean the floor in the morning because the place is so dirty and the bins are half empty; the thick cobwebs look like they were included in the building plan, ‘mushrooms’ are growing on the window panes etc. But the cleaners necessarily must face the floor which have become the receptacle of all sorts and such of waste and stains and calls attention quickest. They finish cleaning that area and move on to the next one begging for urgent attention. I drop my waste at noon, you drop yours at 12.30pm, she drops hers at 1pm and by 4pm, the place is covered with waste and the prospective users have to pick their way around the dirt.

Hey, Javs, how is it your business and why should I be concerned? Don’t go far- just speak to the nearest cleaner to you and you will understand my concern. Remember too that you could be the one coming at 4pm – anyhow, leave the place in a better state or at least don’t make it worse for the person who will come at 6pm. This also applies to all our facilities and institutions and in a higher sense, to our country – please do leave our country in a better state than you found it!

Back to the LBS dos: ‘do be attentive in class and feel free to ask your questions’. Franca Ovadje said that the LBS faculty members are not lecturers but facilitators, guides for each of the learning discussions in the sessions, so to speak. The facilitators will be very grateful to her if the sessions are interactive, that is, if we ask many intelligent – emphasis on intelligent – questions.

Even such a thing as the use of cell phones was put in the positive. ‘Do put off your cell phones or silence them in class. She added jocularly that ‘if your phone rings out in class, it implies that you have just clinched a business deal and you can’t wait to receive the good news. Let’s share the bounty with you – you’ll pay a fixed fine for every ring’. I think I like the concept. It gives you a good reason to leave your phone on silence and you know the reason for being fined, if you allow that to happen, though you may not agree with it. Who knows, the call might have been not the news of a business deal, but a cry for help.

Next, we split into three groups to tour the facility. I consider that good foresight because the building has many artistic curves, turns and various entrances, and management, as Franca said, didn’t want us to lose any time looking for our class or for the restroom, cafeteria, and even the exit.

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As I’m not the LBS marketing or branding manager, I won’t go into the details of all we saw in that tour – suffice it to say that the school is most conducive for learning in all ramifications. Want to know more – watch out for ViMP 2015 or register for a programme at LBS. Yeah, it’s not as easy as I’ve put it in one sentence but is it possible? – it’s very possible, conceivable, attainable and ‘ble’ on.

The first session was a proper introduction to LBS, a presentation by same Franca Ovadje – how many times I have repeated this name and this is only the first day. By the time ViMP 2014 was concluded, none of us could forget that name and you won’t either, because as coordinator, she was very involved with our classes at LBS, guiding us every step of the way. It is interesting – I find it so – that the principal method of learning and sharing experience is two-way – by the use of case studies. Participants read and discuss, in small groups, cases provided ahead of classes and final discussion is done in class guided by the facilitator. ‘My job here’ Franca added ‘is to make you realise that though you all are very smart (including you, my smart reader) you are not as smart as you think you are.’ Hello, did she just say that? What a shocker, what a showdown, but before you get upset as I almost did, hear her out. ‘That is the only way for you to learn. If you realise that you are not the smartest, you will be ready to listen and learn from your classmates.’ True words, though quite hard to swallow; to that effect, we agreed that we wouldn’t repeat already expressed opinions in class during the case discussions to save time and because I’m not the smartest and neither are you.

Yusuf Kolawole Kudos was the first guest lecturer – did I just write that? Pardon me; he was the first guest facilitator. He owns a fashion designing outfit – Kola Kudos – for men and he was indeed fashionably unique in his simple outfit. He arrived before time and that was one mark of all the facilitators; they were punctual, they didn’t keep us waiting because they held us in high esteem. Sorry to say, we were not punctual, we kept some of them waiting, but we tried to be on time and the efforts counts for much.

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Kola spoke about the entrepreneurial challenges faced by small and medium scale enterprises using his business as a case study. He emphasized the need for strategic partnerships/alliances (effective networking, I say) to grow my business and “when I want to move my business to the next level, to expand, first, I should look inwards. Let the first question be ‘how can I increase production output and sales’ rather than ‘how can I diversify’. Be focused! Set your eyes on that idea and make the best of it; be like the lion that on sighting a tower of giraffes focuses on one and chases it until it outruns it and gets it for food. The lion doesn’t chase the pack but one.

Next came ‘identifying a business opportunity’ with Obi Nwogugu, who works with ACA, one of the sponsors of ViMP. Franca – I bet you saw that name coming – mentioned that ACA was one of the few, but steadily increasing in number, companies who conduct business ethically. They support only ‘clean’ business opportunities though they could make a lot of profit from many juicy but dubious ones. And best of all, ACA is making its money doing business the right way. Consoling, isn’t it?

I like the definition of entrepreneurship that Obi used ‘the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources currently controlled’. In identifying a business opportunity, ‘who?’ must come before ‘what?’; ‘Who has identified this business idea, who owns the land that the business will be built on, who is providing the finances, who?’ Who before what – ‘what is the idea and its feasibility, for instance’ – because as he repeated ‘people are a big deal’. I like his realism, people, real beings, always before beings of the mind – ideas. Speaking about business alliances, he added that ‘you can own 100% of nothing save your idea or 15% of a big and thriving business founded on your idea’ – good food for thought for all of us hoping to rule the world via our business ideas.

By the time he was done with our questions, it was time for lunch. Need I add that lunch was a sumptuous affair? Remember, with ViMP, with LBS, be free, be creative, stretch your imagination positively and when you are done, you will be more right than wrong. After lunch, we split into four groups and settled in the syndicate rooms – built and named for this purpose – to prepare our first case on people’s management – the Hovey and Beard case. Franca led the case discussion in class and I’ll just mention two points that struck me;

First, in managing others, the problems that crop up are both the spoken and the unspoken ones. A manager has to listen to the unspoken ones and voice them to the ‘managed’ for confirmation so that together they can work towards the solution.

Secondly, in solving problems, a manager has to think of the consequences of the solutions in the long run. {And as I write this, I think of Emmanuel Boluwatife Olalere, graduate from Babcock University, whom we nicknamed ‘in the long run’ because of his constant recourse to that phrase. Franca observed that ‘in the long run, we are all dead’ and we agreed to call it ‘medium/long term’}. The manager has to think of these consequences in the medium term and address them before they rear up.

Tuesday’s curtain was drawn with a cocktail and we left in the same buses for the resort. After dinner, the groups met again, this time not in the syndicate rooms but in the sitting rooms of the different blocks in the resort, to prepare the case ‘Nigeria: Opportunity in Crisis’ for presentation in class on Thursday.

And the evening came, and the morning came – the first day!

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