Someone on Quora asked: What can you learn at Harvard Business School, Wharton, or any other top-5 business school that you can’t learn anywhere else?
I answered this question and it received more upvotes than any other question I’ve answered,
so I’m going to put it here for everyone to see. It was true when I was there, and still true now.
(HBS grad) I’m going to answer for Harvard Business School: and that is, the case method.
There is nothing like sitting in a room with 89 other peers who are so smart and so diverse and so interesting — all giving their opinion on how to solve the problem at hand. The case method about finding the ultimate crowdsourced solution with the smartest people on the planet.
The case method puts you in the shoes of the protagonist of the case, where you have the problem and you need the answer. How do you do it? What skills do you need? With a class of experts, by the end of the session you will be amazed at how much you learned that you never even imagined was part of the problem. One of the things that HBS promises is the opportunity for you to get from your classmates (and from the entire
community) a way of looking a a situation that you had never considered before.
That’s the pedagogy. The school uses it for almost every class that is in a classroom, so after 2 years of cases, you should be able to articulate solutions to problems that you never thought you could solve. It gives you confidence to speak when you don’t have perfect answers, and it gives you the social skills to figure out how to participate in an incredibly high-level conversation.
Other schools use the case method here and there, and UVA Darden does have predominantly case studies, but Harvard’s faculty and the quality of students from every walk of life and every place on earth, just enhance the power of the HBS teaching method.