This Is The Worst Possible Scenario for a Business Leader
...So We Threw U-M Students Directly Into It.
Hundreds are reported dead, millions of dollars are on the line, and it’s up to a group of courageous University of Michigan undergraduate students to make sense of it all and respond accordingly.
It’s the annual Leadership Crisis Challenge simulation -- which kicked off this evening, sponsored by the Sanger Leadership Center here at Ross.
Participating students are now split into competing groups, each representing the executive team of Frees International, an apparel manufacturer with $8 billion a year in revenue.
A fire in one of the company’s production facilities in Bangladesh has caused significant casualties, placed the future of their next-gen shoe product in peril, and brought to light possible humanitarian issues with how the company manages its labor practices.
Students will have just over four hours to develop a response strategy and action plan to address the crisis before presenting to the company’s “Board of Directors” tomorrow morning.
But that’s not all.
While student teams are developing their plans tonight, more twists and turns will be unveiled, public outcry will worsen, more will become known about just how critical the affected product is to the company's future viability, and time will continue to slip away.
This is the first time the Leadership Crisis Challenge has been open to all students at the University of Michigan, and half of the students participating are non-business students -- meaning the diversity of experiences and backgrounds could really impact how the teams deliver on the challenge responses.
"Our students are graduating into diverse workplaces, where people have been trained to see the world from different angles, speak multiple disciplinary languages, and consider a range of factors,” said Brian Flanagan, Managing Director of the Sanger Leadership Center.
“Especially in the midst of a crisis, they must be able to leverage that diversity and lead effectively across functional areas. It's a crucial skill set, and this week will be a great trial by fire."
At various points throughout the challenge, student teams will receive feedback and lessons from Michigan Ross professors, business executives, and working journalists about their response plans, their communication skills. This feedback, along with the stresses of constantly changing situation, will turn the Leadership Crisis Challenge into one of the most engaging, powerful, and memorable learning experiences they’ll have during their U-M education.
Want to follow along as the crisis unfolds? Follow @MichiganRoss on Twitter, use the tag #RossLeaders, or check back here for updates.