The final few minutes were ticking off at an unhurried pace. Gazes locked onto one another, only to look away in fear of spilling the vital information. Sweaty palms soaking the jeans upon which they rested. Fingers tapping away like that of a mad pianist to match the speed of the beating soles which could have put a tap dancer to shame. The tension was so palpable that one could have just plucked it out of thin air with bare hands.
To any reader, the above scenario might seem like a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller movie. But, what if I told you this was a real-life scenario which happened inside the four walls of a classroom in XIMB? Definitely hard to believe, isn’t it? On top of that, it was not a case study analysis class where suit-clad students suddenly turn into vicious Spartans to prove their might. It was just another communication class which is supposed to be a relaxed session.
Unlike other communication classes where we are encouraged to work on our individual self, this particular class was different in more than one ways. To begin with, the class was started by dividing us into four different groups. Each group was assigned a letter which was X, I, M, and B. The rules were pretty straightforward. Each group was considered to be an office and together, they form XIMB. In every round, each group had to write one of the two letters assigned on a piece of paper, i.e. X and Y. The rules which drove the game further are as follows:
1. If all the groups decided to write Y, everyone gets 10 points.
2. If three groups decide to write X and one group decides to go with Y, the three groups get 10 points while the group which has written Y gets -30 points.
3. If three groups decide to go with Y and one group goes with X, the three groups get -10 while the remaining group gets +30 points.
4. If two groups decide to go with X and the other two with Y, then the former get +10 each while the latter get -10.
5. If all the groups decide to write X, each group gets -10 points.
6. The groups were not allowed to talk to each other.
The deceptively simple rules mentioned above are what made the class so exciting while also teaching every member some priceless lessons in the field of management. When the rounds started, everyone decided to work collectively so that everyone could arrive at a win-win situation. But as the game progressed, the dark side of human nature started creeping out. For starters, a group decided to go with X to maximize its own score while at the same time making the other groups lose 10 points each. Like the saying goes, ‘Trust is like a piece of paper. Once it gets crumpled, it can never resemble its previous shape.’ As groups started trying devious ways to score more points, the moderator had to intervene by letting one individual from each group to come together and consolidate each team’s points by working together as a team. But to everyone’s surprise, the mistrust had consumed everyone to such a degree that people went on to write X despite knowing the repercussions. As the game started getting more intense, the moderator decided to raise the stakes by multiplying the scores with factors of 5, 10, and 50 in each subsequent round. As the stakes started getting higher, the classroom gradually started to look like the ending scene from The Dark Knight, where The Joker had abducted two boats which were filled with prison inmates and blue collar workers. The boats were planted with bombs. The detonator of the bombs was with the people from the other boat and vis-a-vis. But to The Joker’s dismay, people trusted each other to not blow the boats and save each other’s lives. The classroom scenario looked exactly the same, where the teams began to trust each other as the stakes got higher.
After the game got over, the moderator announced the scores. But the catch was the team which had scored the lowest won the competition due to their exemplary show of goodwill, despite the conniving ways adopted by other groups. It was a valuable lesson in building trust among teams and working together for the benefit of the entire organization instead of trying to outsmart each other with cheap tactics. This is by far one of the most exciting classes I have been a part of, with all gratitude to XIMB for its nonpareil curriculum.
Akash Senapti, XIMB, Batch of 2018-20