Transformational Education > A new way of teaching
John Quelch talks of the one and only time he accidentally missed a class
Well, that's—that's a pretty embarrassing story, as a matter of fact, but I think it was in the first year that I was here there were, as I said, two sections that I was teaching. And, of course, the class times could be at either 8:40, or at 10 past 10, or at 1:00. And the class times varied, of course, from one day to the next, in terms of when you were teaching.
So on one particular occasion I had it in my head—wrongly as it turned out—that I was teaching at 8:30, and at 1:00. And so after the first class I wrapped up, went back to my office, put my file in the folder, and headed off to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to buy two Treasury bills, over the counter in those days. And when I came back an hour later, of course, I discovered that, my God, the class had been at 10 past 10, and not at 1:00. So, of course, you can imagine your heart sinking, and tremendous concern about the embarrassment involved.
But what was very interesting, and I think speaks volumes about Harvard Business School, was that when the students discovered that there was no one there at 10 past 10, what did they do? Well, the Ed. Rep., obviously, after about five minutes called the office to find out where I was. The secretary didn't know where I was. One of my colleagues, Hiro Takeuchi, who is now the Dean of Hitotsubashi Business School in Tokyo, Japan, heard the conversation, and within ten minutes he had pulled out his case file on the relevant case, and was heading over to the class to take over, just fill in the breach.
When he got to the class he discovered that the Ed. Rep. had already started the case discussion, and that a very lively discussion about the case in question was underway. And so he spent the rest of that class seated in the back. Not taking over from the Ed. Rep. at the front, but seated in the back, which was a very wise, and courageous, and intelligent thing to do. And, of course, I never made that mistake again, and thank God, you can now buy treasury bills online, so you don't have to go down to the Federal Reserve in person.