Why I’m Writing about HBS

I’ve written a couple times about HBS in the last few days — positive and critical. While I have a few more positive things coming, I wanted to pause to explain why I bother to write.

I’ve been lucky to spend time at places that are receptive to feedback. At Olin, students co-create the school. We went to President’s Council meetings, curriculum reviews, and helped in the admissions process. Nothing was off limits for discussion. At times I’d suggest something and it would happen within days. (Trust me, not all my ideas were good — but they were interesting experiments).

Kickstarter was similar. There aren’t many posts critical of Kickstarter on my blog. That’s because the conversation was open internally. I was able to work through the things I was thinking about with my colleagues. Those conversations have resulted in other output. For instance, this talk wouldn’t have happened without the tension & resolution.

This has become my expectation. I’m at HBS to have the best possible HBS experience that I can. I’m also at HBS to give back in the ways that I’m able to.

I try to give back in the expected ways. I went to every single class (first time ever!) and tried to add unique comments. I’m available to talk with any student who wants to run a Kickstarter project. I wrote a talk on how to interview for Product Management jobs.

But I want us to have more of a public dialog about what we’re learning, and how we’re learning it. I’ve also had some great conversations about that behind closed doors. But those conversations don’t seem to happen as a community. I wish they did. 900 new students come to HBS each year, with new ideas. I think they could make the program better.

That challenge isn’t unique of HBS — I found Microsoft to be similar. In an established organization, it’s hard to hear all the thoughts. It’s particularly hard to do so without causing chaos. You can’t change everything all at once.

So, no, I’m not struggling too much with my own tradeoffs. And no, I’m not worried that I could have spent my time doing something else. I’m not writing to complain.

I’m writing because I want us to have more of a conversation about what we learn, and why. I’m providing my thoughts and reactions as a way to start that conversation.