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How to Answer Columbia MBA team Failure Essay (2018-19)

Columbia MBA Essay #3: Please provide an example of a team failure of which you have been a part. If given a second chance, what would you do differently? (250 words)

The Columbia MBA 2019 Entering class has a new failure essay. Unlike the traditional failure question where your personal weaknesses should be shared, the school has added a twist to the tale. You have to narrate an event/project where the team failed to achieve their objectives.

Two Ways to approach the Columbia MBA Team Failure Essay

1) Personal Ownership

Peer to Peer learning and value from an MBA program is derived by candidates who are capable of recognizing their mistakes/weaknesses and work on it.

Even though the admission team has clearly mentioned that the context of the failure is a team environment, the narrative has to strike a balance between personal ownership and the influence of the team, technology and the market on the outcome.

It is a delicate balance.

If you spend too many phrases vilifying your character flaws, the reasons for the failure will become one-sided.

It is rare that one person alone is responsible for a team's failure. It is even rare that a team member takes the extra-effort to explore and find the goal of the project beyond the immediate responsibilities. If you are one of those curious candidates, who want to know the short-term and long-term impact of your work, the curiosity will pay off in the essays as we have noticed that not many applicants have the awareness to articulate the different moving parts in a project.

2) Leadership

If your role required leading a team (more than 2), the perspective about the failure would be different. Despite the aspiration to create a democratic organization, most high-functioning enterprises need leadership and functional teams to solve complex business and market problems.

What a team-lead shares in an essay would be different from how an individual contributor frames the problem. The reasoning and choice of words is a giveaway. In addition to taking the ownership of the team's outcome, a team lead/project manager would have additional information on the limitations of the team and the challenges of the project.

Reflection - the Second Chance Part of the Columbia MBA Failure Essay

The second part of the essay is framed in an interesting way. The admission team wants to know how you will act differently if given a second chance.

In a team environment, multiple factors influence the results.

Understanding the impact of team dynamics, technology, the strengths and weaknesses of the team, the dynamic nature of the problem and your role in the team would transform a traditional essay on team failure into an interesting narrative.

Here are some questions that you should address

1) What cues did the team miss?

2) What were the flaws in the communication strategy?

3) What were the assumptions the team leadership made? (defining the problem, communicating expectations, scheduling, and conflict resolution)

4) What were the personal opportunities you missed to solve the problems that contributed to the team's failure

The last question is equally important as applicants rarely take the burden of a team's failure on themselves. 

Only candidates with courage can reflect unemotionally and find instances where they have missed out opportunities to take the lead.

If you were a functional expert, the failure might be in incorporating a solution, an idea or following the regulations that were part of creating a product.

If you were leading a team, missing out on the nuances of the problems shared by the functional expert or lack of prioritization are some valid reasons for delays and failures.

Compliance issues, not planning for the complexity of a solution or assuming beyond the data collected are some of the other reasons for project failures.

If you want Sample Essays and Detailed Essay Writing tips, Download Columbia MBA Essay Guide.

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Only 1 in 900 gains admission to Harvard MBA program. If you write your essay focused only on your achievements, post-MBA goals, and your pre-MBA experience, you will be among the 899 rejected applicants.

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Pages: 666

Winning MBA Essay Guide Includes
+Harvard MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
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+ Darden MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
    Sample Darden MBA Essay – About yourself (100 Words) (Near Death Experience)
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+ Sample Essays

+ The Art of Storytelling 
+ Leadership Narratives
+ Review Tips
+ Persuasion Strategies
+ The Secret to "unleashing" your unique voice
+ How to write about your Strengths
+ How to write about your Weaknesses

Download Winning MBA Essay Guide (2019 Entering Class)

F1GMAT's Columbia MBA Essay Guide will show you:

1) How to create the 51-character post-MBA professional goal using Facebook’s mission statement as a starting point

2) How to use the 5 Step Process to write about Post-MBA Career Goals


3) How to write about long-term career goals connecting your pre-MBA experience and short-term career goals

4) How to Quote New York's Economy and match it with your post-MBA career path


5) How to write about Immersion Seminars and Master Class


6) How to use Internship and Full-time Jobs data for your Essay


7) How to write about your Hobbies in an intersting way

8) How to write about team failure by balancing Personal ownership and Leadership

Bonus: 5 Sample Essays

Sample Columbia MBA Essay 1: Enterprise Technology to Consumer Marketing (495 Words)   
Sample Columbia MBA Essay 2:  New York for Marketing Professionals (244 Words)   
Sample Columbia MBA Essay #3 - Team Failure (Marketing Lead) (242 Words)   
Sample Columbia MBA Essay #3
- Team Failure (Technology – Engineering Lead) (248 Words)   
Sample Columbia MBA Essay #3
- Team Failure (Pharma – Product Manager) (244 Words)   

Download F1GMAT's Columbia MBA Essay Guide 2018-19




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