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Kavin Lal Ujjainwala (follow on Twitter @kavinl) discusses EIBE and shares team-mate Yazan Daas’s (@daasyazan) time lapse video of their group experience at our Dubai campus, where the Strathclyde MBA is offered part-time.

“To change the future, first you have to imagine it!” as quoted in Earth 2100: the final century of Civilization?

Start of the second term of MBA, I had no idea what was coming through when I stepped into a classroom full of eager students waiting for EIBE (Exploring the International Business Environment) to begin. All that I ever heard from senior students was “Wait, until you reach EIBE”, as if it was some kind of a nightmare!

The first day of the lecture came and passed by, taught to us by Mr. Shukri Eid Atari (follow @sh_atari). The session was meaningful, fast paced and right to the point of what was required from the students during the course. Not a single second wasted, but to keep on the course track was the ultimate goal here. At that moment, all of us knew the course was literally demanding from us – regular meet-ups, team work, commitment, creativity and hours will be spent on documentation.

The second session was with Dr. Ron Bradfield, our intensive seminar counselor. The session was more general in terms of the message that has to be passed to the students. I was on a journey with Dr. Bradfield on this day, filled with inspirational videos. For example, one of the highlights of the session was how our planet, Earth, would be in the year 2100. Have you ever imagined that? It was a touching story, and opened my eyes to how we are the only one’s responsible for the fate of this planet. You can catch the full movie here – http://goo.gl/RhymA

EIBE is an encouraging & a challenging course in many ways. I came to understand what scenario planning really was and how we have been using the technique in our mind unknowingly for various causes, be it while driving on the road or playing Tetris! Though scenario planning is a structured way to think about the future, logic and keeping an open mind is a very powerful tool during this course. The local counselor had set the right tone from the beginning and it was quiet easy to understand the process we had to follow to achieve our targets.

The process was divided into two iterations to make us more familiar. Both, iteration 1 and iteration 2 followed the same pattern. Before we even started researching about our selected country, we began jotting down key driving factors that would affect the country’s momentum (be it positive or negative). This was followed by creating polar outcomes (extreme situations) for the stated driving factors and eventually clustering (grouping) the various outcomes together to make sense of them. Once we had these sorted, the next step was to rank the clusters on an impact/predictability chart based on our gut feeling. This was then followed by creating a scenario timeline, starting with the present and arranging the outcomes in the time frame creating events which would eventually lead to an end state for the year 2027. We then repeated the complete process with high level of research, details and hard work put into it. Iteration 1 consisted of 57 driving forces (114 polar outcomes). After research, the group came up with close to 300 driving forces (approx. 600 polar outcomes)!

In EIBE, quantity does matter rather than quality! This in turn ended up being a tough task to complete. We had to put it extra hours to meet up more often, sit together and discuss every step of the process with higher precision and accuracy. The group turned out to be really well equipped this time around and everybody always had an input and team work was literally on a high. Definitely one of the best groups I have had in the University. Each one contributed and owned up to the situation whenever the course demanded one.

The most interesting part of the course was hunting down a remarkable person, who would provide us with meaningful insights about the country (in our case Kazakhstan) and challenge our research, thoughts and assumptions. I ended up fetching a contact through the use of Twitter, which was a wonderful feeling. Not really a Tweeting geek but here I was in desperation.

Overall, EIBE has been a fruitful experience – improved team work skills, better network, and a great understanding of the procedure to set out an accurate scenario for the future. I believe such an open environment is necessary to empower students and strategically develop our skills and competency.

To end with, here is an interesting time-lapse video for our EIBE assignment created by the team member Yazan Daas over the full month – http://goo.gl/b2xKH