The Discussion Group Experience

What makes the discussion group experience so transformational? The world-class business leaders who attend our Executive Education programs!

The time you spend in discussion with your group can contribute significantly to your learning experience at Harvard Business School.

Your discussion group will typically consist of seven or eight peers. After completing your individual case preparation, you'll meet with your group to discuss the day's assignment. This not only broadens your personal understanding, but also increases your confidence in sharing new ideas in larger classroom discussions.


Gain a better understanding of the case materials

Being challenged by peers with different experiences and viewpoints will broaden your perspective and deepen your confidence.

Practice teaching and learning from others

Actively listening, questioning, and contributing will improve your effectiveness and the discussion group's productivity.

"Test-market" ideas and opinions before class

Exploring the case with your discussion group beforehand will increase your comfort level when sharing in the classroom.

Get to know a handful of people more deeply

Bonding with the members of your discussion group can lead to personal and professional relationships that last a lifetime.

Best Practices

Designate one discussion leader

We carefully assemble each group and randomly designate a discussion leader. Serving as a facilitator rather than a CEO, the discussion leader moves the group through the questions that accompany each case.

Ensure 100 percent attendance

Each group is designed to be a microcosm of the entire class. To ensure an optimal experience, it's imperative that every participant be committed to actively listening and engaging in every discussion.

Expect 100 percent participation

All group members share responsibility for the content of each discussion. Rather than relying on a "subject matter expert," a "non-expert" often will ask an insightful question that leads the discussion in an unexpected direction.

Encourage challenging viewpoints

The most effective discussion groups welcome diverse perspectives. When other group members challenge their viewpoints, participants often find that their initial understanding of the material is significantly enhanced.

Stay focused and use time wisely

During a heated discussion, it's easy to get off track or filibuster an idea, but two-way discussions are always the most productive. Designate a timekeeper and make sure that everyone has an opportunity to share.

Accept responsibility to learn and teach

Each participant will have different strengths and weaknesses. Even if you're unsure about a particular reading, your thoughtful questions and tentative ideas will contribute to the learning of others.

Frequently Asked Questions