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My Experience at Harvard - Part II

Photo by Lance Anderson on Unsplash

Food, Eating, & dining

Imagine walking into the cafeteria on the first day of high school and not knowing who to sit with and which table will welcome you. This still happens as adults! It may sound silly, but I feel strongly that food, eating, and dining should have its own category. For a few reasons including, sharing a meal with strangers, especially 3 times per a day for 5 days is an experience in itself; being a New Orleanian, food is important to our culture and life; finally, we had so much of it!

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were served in the dining room area. Imagine a fancy cafeteria, with countless food choices both healthy and naughty. There was a station for dessert, salads, soups, drinks, sides, fish, protein, sauces, and international selections. I was very excited that they had healthy options considering you usually get mashed potatoes and a protein with veggies that are loaded with butter. I was thankful for options that wouldn’t leave the sand man creeping on me during the sessions.

Many of our meals were used as discussion sessions, either with our Living Group, project team, or at random.

During the two 30-minute breaks during our day, gourmet snacks were served.

At dinner, we had servers that would pour white or red wine, so it felt a little more upscale than a cafeteria. Sharing meals with others, allowed me to meet attendees from Ochsner and the other hospitals that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to speak to.


When I say that every moment was jam packed, there was even limited time to use the restroom. The week session was intense and nearly every minute was planned. This translated into little downtime, but we did try to have some fun! I must say that myself, colleague Natalia, and leader Anne-Marie decided to work out the first morning before our sessions. We ran through the freezing cold in the dark to the gym and I was pleasantly surprised to see the rec center packed with people! Most of the early morning work-outers were from our program. I couldn’t help but think that there is a correlation between physical fitness and motivation/drive/performance.

One night, a group of us went out to John Harvard’s Brewery and Ale House for some friendly adult beverages and conversation. Similarly, I met my mentor at a hotel bar during a conference nearly 3 years ago, there is something about meeting people in a neutral, risk free territory that allows for more authentic conversation and connection. I enjoyed learning from others about their work and challenges back in their organization and sharing laughs too!

Photo by Tiffany Chan on Unsplash

Favorite Professor & Case Study

Amy Edmondson was by far my favorite professor during the session. She was also the only female professor for the entire week. She reviewed the Chilean Miner Rescue case study from 2010. I related most to this case study because it was around leadership development and spoke much to my world. Amy is also a thought leader I’ve followed since my I/O Psych graduate program. Her work on psychological safety and teaming is revolutionary and important to any organization or business.

Alycia and Dr. Amy Edmondson with her new book, "The Fearless Organization."

My Feedback

Even though the overall experience was top notch and being invited to attend a week-long program at Harvard is life changing, who would I be if I didn’t have feedback?

One factor I noticed before we even left for Harvard is they don’t necessarily follow adult learning principles. Due to the nature of my work, these principles are drilled into my head and I attempt to be very mindful of how I operate or deliver developmental opportunities for adults in the working world. All attendees were assigned pre-work, but the amount of cases and the length and complexity were more than just light reading to do before bed. There wasn’t much consideration to the timing of delivering the case studies and it was also right around the holidays. Most of us on my team, I know, I had taken time away during regular working hours to complete the pre-work.

In addition, the discussions were engaging, and every perspective was noteworthy, however, sitting for hours on end is draining especially because all the cases were so hefty. Breaks usually were cut short so by having longer breaks or activities paired with the sessions would help with knowledge transfer.

At the end of the week, we reviewed tools and design principles to utilize for our projects. Unfortunately, the common theme amongst all groups was confusion when attempting to use the tools when we broke into our project groups for working sessions. We should have spent more time learning and practicing the tools as opposed to doing more case studies. Or do a case study, learn a tool, and then apply the tool to another case study. It seemed like the most actionable take away was using the tools for our project work that we will be engaged in over the next 6 months, but I have found that now we are back to reality working on our project, we are having to go back and learn how to use the tools before applying them.

Overall Take-away

The experience was eye-opening and allowed me to view a different perspective of education, adult learning, analysis, and problem solving. Looking forward to working on this innovation project and going back to Boston this summer to report out on the outcomes. Stay tuned!

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