Day 6 – Thursday – Convergence
After a light breakfast of pickled fish and (a lot of) eggs we lock ourselves in a board room, agree on which customer pain points are most pressing, and debate which recommendations we wish to advance to the company. We settle on two broad categories: improvements to the existing ReimaGo sensor experience, and out-of-the-box new services that support Reima’s mission of promoting the “joy of movement” to children. We hammer out the final shape of our recommendations and assign them to individual team members to completely flesh out and assemble into slides for the deck.
In the afternoon, we visit Reima’s gleaming new corporate headquarters to debrief our initial conclusions on customer pain-points to the leadership team, and set expectations for the recommendations we will deliver to them on Monday. They give us a tour of their offices, complete with a sneak preview of their 2018 collection.
In the evening we rejoin the entire Finland section in a private room at Restaurant Sipuli for a Q&A with a local Finnish venture capitalist and the young co-founder of Wolt, the Finish version of Instacart / Seamless.
Day 7 – Friday – Team Bonding
We set a goal of finishing up all the recommendation slides in our PowerPoint by lunch and set about dividing and conquering. We end up with visually compelling mock-ups for new ReimaGo applications: one targeted towards daycare centers and another offering busy parents a one-stop shop for apparel-related services.
Over lunch at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Ask we forget about work for a while and focus on team bonding, sharing funny stories from our lives before HBS, and riddles that we take turns trying to solve. The food is incredible, the atmosphere is relaxing, and the staff seamlessly accommodates all dietary restrictions.
We spend the afternoon as a team enjoying the sunny weather, strolling around the downtown seaport and over to the beautiful mansions of embassy row. At night, some members of my home section meet up at another Michelin restaurant, Chef and Sommelier, to celebrate a birthday.
Day 8 – Saturday – Exploration
Saturday is our day off, so a cross-section of the Helsinki section travel with our team’s local guide to Porvoo, a nearby Finnish village that dates back to the 1300s. We walk around the cobblestones streets, past a bank of red barns perched upon the river, to a chocolate factory and an unusual barn-shaped church perched on the hilltop. After some ice cream (the Finns also consume more ice cream than another other nationality in Europe), we head back to Helsinki to one of the weekend markets, where we grab lunch and buy some souvenirs.
Day 9 – Sunday – Practice
I take off on a long run to explore parts of the city I hadn’t seen before. Eventually I find myself in the military section of the Hietaniemi cemetery where the national heroes of World War II are buried, notably Finnish President Marshal C.G.E. Mannerheim, who has been voted in surveys as the Greatest Finn of all time. Having lived close to Arlington Cemetery when I worked in Washington DC, the solemnity of the cemetery and the beauty of the headstones left a profound effect on me.
In the afternoon we present an abridged version of our client presentation to our FIELD professor and two other teams for feedback. Drawing on some of the media training seminars I attended at Harvard Kennedy School, I help coach our designated presenters on best practices for speaking to the room and making effective use of hand gestures. Our team does a great job and gets excellent feedback from the others.
The evening is spent at one of Finland’s famous saunas located right on the shores of the Baltic Sea.
Day 10 – Monday – Final Presentation
We arrive at the Reima Headquarters at 9AM for our two-hour final presentation with the company CEO and her senior leadership. Our tone is conversational and we answer questions in real time. The CEO’s face lights up at our recommendations and her team asks what feedback we got about them in the field. Though her team has already considered some of our recommendations, I could tell that the fresh perspective we brought inspired them to think differently about both content and implementation. Each member of the team does a great job presenting, and in the end the CEO offers each of us a job at the company should we ever come back to Finland.
In the afternoon, we reconvene as a section to debrief the projects, offer feedback to team members, and go out for a group dinner. I also hit the saunas one last time.
Day 11 – Tuesday – Return
We catch our flights back to Boston satisfied with the project we completed for our partner company and empowered by the strong bonds we made with each other.