Today was the first day of orientation! Orientation at HBS isn’t that long… it only lasts for three days (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) before throwing us into a full “three-case-day” on Friday. We started the day by meeting all together as a group in Burden Auditorium. The size of this class is absolutely amazing. I’m still not sure how I feel about such a large group… you certainly lose a bit of the feeling of exclusivity that might come with a smaller class at any of the other schools (Stanford, Darden, etc…) I think most people are shocked when they discover that HBS has 900 people in each year of the MBA program. Then again, it helps to realize that HBS only has to accept 1-2 people from each state and country to quickly arrive at this size. The nature of “business” just gives a pretty large applicant pool, I guess. Anyway, the size allows the school to realize some truly valuable economies of scale, but that’s a topic for another day. Here’s the view from the auditorium:
The morning started with a fairly typical “Welcome to HBS” speech by the Dean. We’re all unique handpicked snowflakes, etc… then some general thoughts on the program from a panel of administrative faculty. Honestly, I can’t remember too much of what was said. Too much glancing around and thinking about who was going to be in my section, who might be in my learning team, and what was in store over the coming weeks…!
So, HBS decided a few years ago that groups of 6-7 people were the ideal number to discuss cases. As such, we spent the remainder of the first day (from 11am-6pm) doing team-building excercises with our newly formed “Learning Teams”. HBS runs the entire class through some sort of algorithm designed to optimize the diversity and group dynamics of each team. Although, I’m not sure if the algorithm was firing quite right for my team — two consultants, three investment bankers, and myself. The famed HBS diversity. 🙂
It’ll be interesting to see how this all works out… We’re supposed to meet every morning one hour before classes start and discuss the cases we prepared the night before. From what I’ve heard, only half of the learning teams make it past the first semester, with only a few remaining for the entire first year. There seem to be a lot of benefits, but the extra hour of sleep proves to be too alluring a call, it appears…
Anyway, each learning team was assisted by a “team-building” consultant who guided us a through a day’s worth of “toss the ball”, “build lego towers”, “assemble a puzzle”, and more activities with post-analysis of our team’s dynamic and the best way to approach group problems. I’m of the opinion that handing each group a few party games (scrabble, balderdash, etc) would have been just as effective and probably a lot less costly… Some photos from across Baker Beach:
A nice, easy first day of Orientation… Tomorrow’s the first practice case-day!