PGPX, CP and Social Responsibility

Harvard is boringJ, we want the good old PGPX3 back:

“Brownian motion combined with the survival of the most persistent”-This sums up how CP turns out in many discussions. By now, one is able to predict where a discussion will go if the baton passes on to a particular ‘speaker’. Alternatively, imagine you are sitting on a spaceship headed toward the Earth and you are one of the many pilots of the spaceship and the professor the navigator. You have made considerable progress in navigating past the Big planet and the Red one and Earth is in clear sight. ‘When you pass on the baton’ in a discussion, you are essentially giving the pilot seat to someone else. He or she takes over and the next thing you know, you are headed toward Saturn’s ice rings. “What the…?”

Some professors have trained their RAs to give negative marks to people who only fill the classroom with ‘atmospheric content’ i.e. nothing tangible. There are some RAs who have the hang of it. Some jolly well enjoy the parody that a discussion sometimes becomes.

I was impressed with Prof. AG even before he started the class proper.  He was very effective in getting us to follow CP norms without having to constantly remind people.  He probably has seen his fair share of exuberant students – I mean, participants (after all, this is PGPX we are talking about) – and so has hit on an ingenious way of getting the class to follow CP norms.  All he had to do was narrate how CP happens at the hallowed HBS.  Brash contenders for the title of CP king have put on a sage exterior and hold upraised hands with becoming patience.  Politeness and decorum rule.

For the uninitiated, here is a quick primer on CP by one of the 2s and a more egregious one by PJK, my favorite PGPX blogger.  From what I could gather (from faculty descriptions of the rowdy 2s J) we 3s certainly seem to be a mellow lot when it comes to CP.  While people are seldom challenged one to one, the class does have a collective, non-verbal expression of opinion, delivered promptly and unmistakably, through oohs and aahs, vigorous shakes of the head and … you get the drift.  We do have our CP king, but he is more titular than executive, if you know what I mean.  Bottom line, though we were polite, we had our fun in class without worrying about having to set any kind of example.  

Enter Prof. AG, and all has changed.  We have been hypnotized into holding our hands upraised until he looks around to take his pick.  The way people are letting go of opportunities to make counterpoints reminds me of good old Vengsarkar’s leaves outside the off-stump.  Prof. AG, you have had us, hats off to you!

Personally, I look at this as a classic OB case of conflicting incentives – live up to the Harvard example and do socialized CP or maximize the 25% grading for CP.  Any bets on whether it will be business as usual by mid October?

-Sasanka

PS: Mates, we are back on track! Earth straight ahead, resume initial testing of landing gear. Professor is also smiling, hopefully. 

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