Brick by brick: building a foundation in the EMBA

If The Lego Movie taught us anything, it’s that everything is awesome; everything is cool when you’re part of a team. Students in the W. P. Carey Executive MBA program recently learned this firsthand in Dr. Mohan Gopalakrishnan’s Operations and Supply Chain Management course.

“Managing effectively the design process of a product or service is critical to the financial success of a firm,” explains Gopalakrishnan, known to all the students as Dr. G. To help make his point, he gave his class Legos with clear objectives in mind. “Student teams designed a truck using Lego blocks based on customer specifications. They also have to be creative in their design in order to meet the cost requirements set by the market,” he says.

Finding lessons in Legos

EMBA student Joe Cooper says the exercise was far from child's play, and in fact, it delivered plenty of useful takeaways relevant to the MBA program and business in general. “We needed to optimize design considerations to standardize components and reduce costs. Our team was able to reduce the number of unique components by approximately 25 percent and reduce cost by more than 10 percent for the prototype," says Joe, adding that "other groups were able to suggest redesigned vehicles to further reduce costs."

In addition to illustrating the basics of a design process, Dr. G says the Lego exercise is a great way to kick off the semester-long class “since it helps the team-members come together and rally around a specific issue. Plus, it is pure fun to work with Legos, and that gives a relaxed atmosphere to learning.”

Teamwork in action

Because the W. P. Carey Executive MBA program emphasizes smaller classes and opportunities to work in groups with peers from various backgrounds, activities like the Lego exercise can be effective building blocks (pardon the pun). They introduce teamwork early on and in a low-pressure environment, helping you lean on — and learn from — your classmates.

Put it all together

Learn more about the EMBA curriculum, the unique W. P. Carey community, and how you can apply today.


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