In recorded history – in any case since INSEAD started in 1960 – there has never been a more miserable winter weather season than in 1974/75. We did not see the sun for twelve solid weeks. But, what the heck, those were perfect conditions to work for a student! There was no temptation to go outside and deprive oneself of precious time to read, discuss cases, write reports. After all, the weekly workload was purposely designed to push the participants to their limits.
One day in early December, when some report was due, what report is not of any relevance, Hugo Steinhauer related with amazement during the coffee break what he witnessed the night before. Quite unusually he woke up at four o’clock in the morning, which was a rare occasion in his cozy little Residence room. He got up and looked out the window and was shocked to see that every single window in the other students’ rooms was brightly lit. He was quite worried and thought some unpleasant incident or drama may have occurred, yet he was relieved that at least there was no fire alarm. However, he could not explain to himself what may have disturbed every single inhabitant of the Residence during this night. He himself, in proper Swiss style, had done his report, like every other homework, in due time and was therefore never worried about a deadline.
How on earth anybody could postpone his homework until the very last moment, four o’clock in the morning, was an idea that never had crossed his mind before this night. So, what did Hugo learn?
INSEAD participants are diligent.
They stick to rules and respect deadlines.
On the other hand, they are not dogmatic in setting priorities: Beer, darts first, reports – later.
Efficient Swiss time management is clearly attributable to the Swiss watch industry (remember the HEUER case!) and therefore genetically determined. People of other nationalities, hugely at a disadvantage in this respect, have to bear a sleepless night every once in a while, poor wretches.