Among the various and sundry reasons I chose to attend GWU, the Consulting Abroad Program (CAP) was probably the biggest. There a lot of amazing business schools out there with amazing classroom instruction but very few offer the chance to participate in a “live fire” consulting project, much less an international consulting project. Each year, GWUSB selects a different group of countries to work with and this year’s countries were Sweden, Rwanda, Turkey, India, and Peru. Having previously worked in sustainability and construction consulting, I was very excited to learn more about Swedish companies and the plethora of innovative sustainability initiatives they’re undertaking. Fortunately, I got my first choice and was paired up with Cellfab, a Swedish firm with a radical new idea for concrete reinforcement.
Before things got underway, however, we were lucky to spend a day attending the TEAM FOCUS workshop. Developed by UNC Professor Paul Friga, TEAM FOCUS is a problem-solving framework developed from experiences at McKinsey and from researching other top consulting firms. The workshop was a ton of fun and extremely helpful. Professor Friga was an engaging speaker and I was surprised at the size and scope of his consulting “toolbox”. It was a truly comprehensive framework, spanning from team creation to hypothesis formulation and testing to presenting recommendations.
Now near the end of the CAP experience and having followed the TEAM FOCUS framework closely, I can honestly say that it was very helpful and gave me a deeper insight into team-based problem solving and a much broader consulting toolbox. Among the various tools, I think that having a detailed team charter helped our team the most. Outlining the overall process, expectations, roles and responsibilities, rewards and punishments removed a huge amount of uncertainty and made the overall experience much more enjoyable for everyone involved.