The most popular elective course we offer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business is Interpersonal Dynamics--known to almost everyone as Touchy Feely. We currently offer 12 sections to a total of 432 students each year, and I estimate that roughly 90% of each graduating class of MBAs has taken the course. I took the course during my second year as an MBA student in 1999, and it's no understatement to say that it changed my life.
I learned a great deal about myself--most notably the fact that I had a long way to go if I wanted to be a truly effective communicator. Amy and I were stressed and unhappy after years of graduate school, and the course gave us the push we needed to see a marriage counselor--and we'll hit 30 years together in 2016. The faculty member for my section was Mary Ann Huckabay, who I asked to be my executive coach in my first job after earning my MBA--and who's still my coach today. And my experience in the course planted the seed that eventually led me to launch my own coaching practice in 2006. If it weren't for Touchy Feely, my life would undoubtedly be very different.
So it was deeply meaningful when I was recently asked by the current faculty to teach a section in the course next year, in Winter Quarter 2016. I've served as a facilitator in the course 16 times since 2007, and I've participated in a number of other groups that employ the course's T-group methodology, but teaching a section still represents a big step up for me, and I appreciate the vote of confidence by the faculty.
I've written about various aspects of the course many times before: Feedback I received as a facilitator and what I learned as a weekend facilitator; the role of the course in promoting self-knowledge and self-awareness; how T-groups support double-loop learning, and help to build trust and establish boundaries; and even the continued existence of T-groups despite rumors to the contrary. And I expect that experiencing the course from this new perspective will prompt a number of new reflections.
I wouldn't be in a position to take on this role without the support of many people over the years, starting with the 192 students with whom I've shared a T-group and 13 amazing co-facilitators: Karin Scholz Grace, Sue Neville, Zoe Dunning, Inbal Demri Shaham, Chevalisa Bruzzone, Lisa Kay Solomon, Liselotte Zvacek, Erica Peng, Michael Terrell, Chris McCanna, Jimena Galfaso, Saraswathi Ram Mohan, and Agnes Le.
Thanks also to my colleagues on the Stanford faculty and coaching staff: Andrea Corney, Carole Robin, Chris McCanna, Collins Dobbs, Gary Dexter, Hugh Keelan, John Cronkite, Lara Tiedens, Richard Francisco, Ricki Frankel, Scott Bristol, and Yifat Sharabi-Levine. As always, thanks to Mary Ann Huckabay, who's been the best mentor anyone could ask for.
Photo of Peter Wegner's "Monument to Change as It Changes" by Ed and Eddie. Yay Flickr and Creative Commons.