I messed up.

In this final reflection, I would like to use this chance to focus on understanding (and improving!) my metacognition.

So to start with, I would like to recap some of the key learning objectives I set out for myself at the start of CS3216.

They can be found more in detail here but the gist of it is:

  1. How to craft really good ideas
  2. How to sell ideas
  3. How to materialise ideas
  4. How to manage time better
  5. Improve my technical skills
  6. Most importantly, learn how to better work with people

Unfortunately, I felt that I didn’t manage to learn how to craft “really good ideas” - at least, in the original sense of what I had intended it to be - that is, a really good idea that can potentially turn into The Next Big Startup.

This was despite countless hours spent trying to “figure it out” along with my teammates over the various assignments. We just couldn’t hit something that “felt right”.

This turned out to be a serious setback for my team in the first, and final assignment, as we had spent a lot of precious time ideating rather than executing.

Fortunately though, I (just!) learnt an extremely valuable lesson from these failed attempts - which I really have to thank Si Qi for, as I would not have otherwise seen it from her perspective.

Now first, it would help to have some context:

My final assignment team was initially formed to work with Lean Bento to help them build an online subscription portal for their upcoming food subscription service. But thanks to my massive screw up (more on this later!), that plan crumbled and we were left scurrying for ideas for the final assignment.

About two weeks flew by since the launch of the final project and we were still stuck without a concrete idea. Fortunately, Prof Ben helped us out by offering an extremely attractive idea - a platform to digitise marking, which we *almost immediately* jumped onboard.

I emphasised almost immediately because we were seriously concerned about whether we could actually pull it off given our team’s limited technical experience, and the much shorter runway we had.

But I, being driven by the potential impact it can have, pushed strongly for the idea despite the concerns about how feasible it was.

Fast forward to today, we are still burning ourselves out trying to build a full working prototype. Because we are all so stressed out, tensions have ran high that have even led to some conflicts.

I am unable to recall exactly what Si Qi said, but I believe the gist of it was - “It is better to pick an idea which is within the capabilities of the team and situational constraints even if it may not be as impactful or as attractive. Because ultimately the most important thing is the team’s welfare. If I had to choose I would always choose to protect my team first.”

Frankly, when I first heard this, I was unable to process it. It just didn’t seem natural to me to not go for moonshots. But somehow it really hit home. Over the last few days I’ve been deeply troubled because what she said felt right, despite what I’ve always thought I believed.

I realised that in my attempt to strike “The Next Big Idea”, I was truly being selfish. I came into CS3216 fully prepared to burn all my other modules, but I neglected to consider that my team mates weren’t prepared to do the same.

As Si Qi puts it best, the best ideas aren't the ones that are going to make the biggest impact. They are instead, the ones that can create the most impact given all your constraints, of which most importantly is your team's well being.

For me, I feel like the biggest takeaway from CS3216 is to never forget thinking, and caring about others, especially my teammates.

To my teammates who have put up with me throughout CS3216, thank you, and I am sorry.

To Prof Ben, thank you for this amazing opportunity to be part of CS3216. It has truly been a transformational experience.