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Abhishek Paryani (Lancaster)

- Winning Submission for the Case Competition Final Challenge

Strategic Teamwork and Focused Vision

On 11th May, we received the first part of the case study. Our Team was ready to unpack the case, and get to work on cracking it. We were all excited! Sleep had fled from our eyes. It felt like our journey had started, that we were on the runway, and had located the starting mark on the ground. Reflecting on the competition I felt like a pole vault athlete at the Olympics, as this exercise was going to be judged on strength, flexibility, speed with accuracy, and the delivery of a solution that addressed the complexities involved.

Journey My teammates had similar feelings, and they were raring to go, fuelled by the smell of success. The distance to the crossbar was significant, and we had to cover the ground quickly and with poise. The competition itself presented substantial challenges. Technically demanding, this case competition required us to sprint down the track − completing the pre-case on time, plant the pole accurately − get the argument and logic right, and jump to cross the bar − deliver the presentation and answer any questions to the panel effectively. We had to get our focus and balance right from the start.
Just as the pole vault jumper focuses on the target, we were focused from the start, and were ready to go as soon as the starter's gun was fired. Being unfamiliar with the industry, the team had to gain awareness of the competitive environment described in the case. To get a sense of this, we approached a number of health care professionals working in the medical faculty at Lancaster University. We met with two revered academics, Dr. Karen Wright and Dr. Nancy Preston who guided us on the issue of non-adherence, and shared their views on the healthcare sector in the UK. Their comments were most insightful because they had worked in the healthcare sector.
The complexity of the subject was one of our main fears. How deep should we get into this particular issue? Do we ask questions about the other issues facing pharmaceutical companies? What should we anticipate for the second part of the case? Primarily, when we started to work on our report we wondered how massive the impact of the non-adherence actually was, and how this could present the industry with strategic issues.
Unlike the pole vault before we took off as a team. Each member came out with a list of models and frameworks we could use. We analysed the issues using these frameworks to generate options, something we had learned as part of the consultancy work on our MBA. Our options were discussed and debated in depth to develop one strategic recommendation on how to tackle the issues on hand. At this point in time, there were a lot debates and arguments on what was most critical. And we realised once again that reality couldn't always be reduced to an academic model!!! With time running out, we could not address all the details as issues had to be prioritised and sequenced.
At each step, our newfound knowledge and a process of re-iteration kept us going. The days usually culminated with us going through what we had accomplished and our "homework" was chalked out on the white board. It was always exciting to see what new information each one had uncovered from our research. What new bag of tricks would we come out with to answer the more complex questions?
We also deliberated on approaching the complex pharmaceutical environment with our unique "Circular Stakeholder Mapping". I am proud to say that this idea of sense making has been instilled in us at Lancaster from the start. csm.jpg 
As we thought we were reaching the end, the second part of the case was released, and the day arrived where we would be judged on our content and delivery. The bar was raised higher. The practise and preparation had definitely helped, but now we had to tune and adapt to the new information provided. We had a few hours to complete the presentation. Through our discussions, we came to the conclusion that the second part presented a lot of traps. We had to be careful and manoeuvre our way smartly. Nonetheless, we got on with the task at hand with a focus on finishing the task on time, with logic and style
There we were at the sharp end of the competition. As the pole vault Olympic athlete plants the pole in the box, twists and turns about 180 degrees and lands on the ground flat on his back looking at the track, that's how we felt when we saw the reactions and the buzz in the room that our presentation had created. I said to myself: YES "We have nailed this". WE HAVE WON!!! And sure enough, we had.
Knowledge of practical strategy, creativity, open debate, discipline and collaboration got us through this competition. We never got comfortable with our breakthroughs; we constantly looked to solve more puzzles, challenged our assumptions and made sense of the situation. The time with my team was well spent in logical reasoning, and I conclude that this competition reinforced and gave me a platform to apply strategic knowledge to a practical situation. This competition will always be memorable in the fact that we beat all the UK MBA heavy weights to emerge at the top. Thank you Warwick and thank you Lancaster!

For WBS case competition queries, please contact: casecompetition at mail dot wbs dot ac dot uk