There are many competitions which ultimately boil down to the contestants having to make presentations to a jury. Judges of the numerous bschool competitions around are often so underprepared that they rarely take time to understand the case/topic statement and instead go by their assessment of the efforts/understanding of the candidate. Few try to reward output instead of inputs. While those working in industry often demand short slides/sticking to the point, academics just love tonnes of references/exotic frameworks and making things as complicated as possible.
I'm sure that I lost atleast 2 competitions this year only because there was little work done on decorating the slides. While I do not deny the importance of that(indeed thats an important takeaway), it sometimes make me wonder whether form trumps substance. When judges must make decisions based on short periods of 15-20min presentations, their gut feeling may often be suppressed by their urge to seem fair and reward those teams who put the most visible efforts(as evident from the slide artwork/complexity), even if the final output in terms of analytic rigour/novelty was not as good. But lest anyone misunderstand, I refer to simplicity in presentation, not in background work/analytical rigour.
Ironically, the real world rewards simplicity. For example
- VCs/PEs follow the approach of backing the team behind the idea rather than spreadsheet based investing approach
- Charlie Munger is famous for using a few time tested heuristics to invest, rather than use complicated DCF models
- Even for apparently complex investment banking models,there are a host of simplifying assumptions listed on a spreadsheet, which flow through the model and permit easy modification.
- Corporate Finance trends are that dashboards(with those vital few stats) are being generated, and the number of MIS reports sent are being slashed, with expert DSS allowing on-demand analysis.
- Unilever recently moved to the '3+1' performance system model with everyone from the CEO downwards having just 3 business goals and 1 development goal. This allows for better focus.