Takeaways from the Ethics Case Competition

I had the opportunity to compete in the Daniels Fund Ethics Case Competition this weekend, and I learned a few valuable lessons through the process that beg to be shared.

1) That “innovative” solution may not be so innovative

After many hours probing through the case, we noticed a minuscule detail that led us to a perfect, win-win outcome for the given scenario. We were so sure that no other team would consider this detail and that we had secured the competitive advantage of the perfect solution. Upon speaking to the judges after the competition, it turns out that seven other teams had made the same recommendation we did. So much for our “innovative” solution!

2) Build a recommendation that scales

Our ethics case involved a very specific scenario, and we made the mistake of approaching the case by seeking the optimal ethical, legal, and economic outcome for that specific scenario. We succeeded in finding the local maximum, but didn’t consider the global maximum. We should have focused on recommending a policy for the firm to implement for all future decisions rather than limiting our scope to the single instance of an issue.

3) Never forget to have fun

The competition was valuable from the perspective of exercising our public speaking and legal analysis skills, but I found the greatest joy by far to be the people I competed with. When you’re having so much fun that everyone knows you as “the team that laughed hysterically in their room for two hours” you know you’ve surrounded yourself with a good group of folks.