One of the new things they’ve introduced at HBS this year is a limited course called Learning at HBS (LHBS). I think there are 6 classes in the series, and it offers a chance to navel-gaze as a section and talk about what has helped and hindered the learning process. Since so much of the HBS experience is based on class contributions, this seems (to me, at least) an absolutely critical thing to spend time thinking about and discussing.
Today’s topic was “Section Norms”. Ok, so what does that mean and why does it matter? Since you spend 20+ hrs/wk in the classroom with the same people EVERY day for an ENTIRE academic year, it’s essential that the unspoken rules become spoken rules before they cause problems. Some of the rules are as simple as “don’t raise your hand while someone else is talking”. Others are more cultural… Some sections like to stomp their feet and bang on their desks when guests are introduced. I talked to an EC the other day who said that his section was the “dancing section” (ie, getting on their desks and dancing). Other sections golf-clap.
So, yeah, some differences here. I’m pretty happy with my section so far. HBS has to do quite a bit of social engineering to make sure that the sections balance well… the right mix of young and old, consultants and i-bankers, internationals and domestics. Aside from the 10+ McKinsey people in our section, we seem fairly balanced. 🙂 Here’s a picture of the backside of Aldrich (where all RC classes are) to make this post more interesting: