Kids, I’ve learned lots of important things in b-school, but one of the most useful is that communication is key. As such, I’ve given up all hope of ever being good at accounting and finance, and dedicated myself to a life of making marketing materials.*
Actually, one of the best things about Darden is that it is in large part governed by the faculty and students. Student initiatives are regularly encouraged, supported, and implemented. One great example is that of “Refreshing First Coffee.”
Every morning, Darden students, faculty, staff, visitors, and students from the law school who don’t get free coffee next door gather together for coffee and discussion in a ritual *ahem, tradition* known as First Coffee. Beloved by all for its inclusive, caffeinated chaos, it nevertheless creates an ungodly amount of waste each day. Last year, some second year students decided that they wanted to improve the situation, so they helped to organize a case competition. The case? Making First Coffee more sustainable. The winners? Section B, duh.
The next year, a new crop of students stepped in after the others graduated, and the ball really got a-rollin’. Led by my indefatigable friends and colleagues Sarah Tilbor and Eliav Bitan, we are now just a week away from the debut of our new, reusable, insulated, brushed nickel silvery cup bullets of sustainability and change.**
Which brings us back to the thing about communications and the image above: There will be big changes to the First Coffee ritual with the new cups, and a solid communications plan was needed. Task 1: Get people excited about the upcoming change. Stay up really late debating the merits of one comic book typeface over another. Drive curiosity. Reference Batman whenever possible.
* Incidentally, I’m not going to be doing marketing next year. Instead I’ll be working with engineers at a tech startup… because engineers looooove communications and cartoons… Actually, in some respects they do, which is why I’m already signed up for this summer’s Comic-Con ticket list. Why wasn’t Princess Leia Asian? Perhaps I could make a good Ewok.
** I skipped over the cool operational things that the team has done, and the gory details of how something like this gets implemented, but you can read about it at the >Refreshing First Coffee Blog. There’s even a podcast!