As I mentioned in my last post, I headed out this past weekend to join my section for a weekend away in the mountains. We winded our way through several hours of Boston traffic after class on Friday to make it to an B&B / Inn near southern Vermont ski resort. It was a pretty nice place… enough rooms for everyone (90+ people) with large common areas, fireplaces, and a roaring bonfire out back (important when the temperature was in the 30s… Brrrrrr.)
I won’t go into too many details, but I do want to say that I had a fantastic time. I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy it… after all, who really wants to spend their only two days “off” with the same people they spend every weekday with? I need downtime from HBS stuff, but I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it! With 90+ people on the retreat, there were always a bunch of different options. If you wanted to play board games or poker, you could do that. If you wanted to drink bottles of tequila and dance on tables, there was definitely a chance to do that, too. Not to say that people broke up into cliques, but everyone could float from activity to activity fluidly without feeling stuck or committed.
Which brings up something that’s continued to surprise me: I remember being intensely skeptical of the large class size at HBS. After all, 90 people? That reminded me more of the impersonal lecture halls from undergrad rather than the small discussion-oriented liberal arts classes. The difference has been remarkable — I feel closer to every one of those 90 people in my section than I did to almost anyone in undergrad.
What causes this? Is it from the case-method dynamic? Or from sitting in the same seat talking with the same people for 3-5 hours every day? I’m not sure, but, either way, I’m a complete convert.
One last note… here’s a Harbus article on HBS retreats. Surprisingly accurate, in my opinion. I particularly enjoyed the “M is for Mafia: A great game for retreats, involving lots of people staying quiet for a bit, accusing each other of lying and then being voted out. A bit like RC classes.” This little party game was quite a hit (beyond what I expected) and I think they hit the reason dead on.