The Accenture Challenge is meant to be a one-of-a-kind learning experience that gives students the chance to envision a creative solution to an imaginary problem that roots itself in reality. Horror stories run rampant handed down from alumni past about the all-nighters, the high-pressure presentations, and the ruthless judges. Professors try to assure us it’s a safe learning experience and if we don’t do well, well then, so what? Yet none of this insulated us from the true shock of being completely out of our element.
What even is a RFP??
The first hurdle to clear in this challenge is to decipher what the Request for Proposal actually wants. The fictitious cruise line company wants some sort of technology solution to enhance guest satisfaction. It has a lot of fluff. It goes off on tangents while describing the company’s history and, for some reason, listing the tonnage of the ships. Teams that can’t dig deep and isolate the main points will ultimately end up focusing on entirely the wrong things. Our team was one of those teams. Focusing too much on a technical solution and application development cost rather than addressing all key areas threw us off during the presentation.
Stand Your Ground
There was a part of the RFP asking for a unique solution to increase satellite bandwidth aboard the ships to power the new applications. During our initial research, we found a new satellite technology currently in use with Royal Caribbean. We were excited about this and wanted to include it in our proposal. However, an Accenture rep came in our meeting room to see where our heads were, and after hearing about this solution, cast quite a bit of doubt on it. We decided to scrap it.
The next morning, that same rep judged our presentation. He said he wanted to hear more about that satellite technology. Three out the four finalists included that same technology in their presentations. Even the Accenture solution included it. We should have stuck to our original ideas, making a case for them instead of letting ourselves be thrown off.
Support Fast Failures
A big failing of leadership was present in our group. The communication between team members was not streamlined. We lacked focus and vision. Strengths were not utilized to their fullest extent. We were tired. We were hopeless.
After presenting one of the worst presentations we have ever given, we were left to mull it over and identify where we went wrong. After seeing what the finalists had put together, we felt embarrassed by our work. We were disheartened, our emotions amplified by lack of sleep.
However, after a night’s rest, we could then realize the value in all this. Now instead of being sad and angry about our failure, we can now look forward to the next challenge, knowing that we all survived this storm. We have renewed hope that with what we learned this week, the next challenge will have nothing on us.