What is the best class you ever took?

Dear readers: I would like your input here.

Please respond below with the best class (training or academic) that you have ever taken. By “best” I mean, tell me about the class or training course that most impacted your life and career.

I am not assuming that this would be a product management class!

Please respond in the comment section below:

  • Name of the class
  • Where you took it
  • Why it was your favorite
  • What impact it has had on your life or career

– Alan


12 responses to “What is the best class you ever took?

  1. “Systems Analysis and Design” at a local technical college. I took this class several years after earning my BA. I was taking lots of programming classes at the time because I was planning to become a developer, but this class changed everything for me by bringing together lots of things (analysis, programming, database) and setting me on a new career path to product management.

  2. Heath Newburn

    Executive Communications
    St. Edwards University Austin,TX
    Taught by Margaret Keys who is a consultant in public speaking to and for executives.
    Really boosted my self confidence and ability to execute in public speaking and communications in general.

  3. Brett, Heath: Thanks!

  4. I’d have to say “Practical Product Management” from Pragmatic Marketing (Toronto, 2007). Plenty of high school and college courses taught me how to be an analytical thinker, but in terms of impacting my career, that course gave the words to what I already sensed was the best use of my skill sets. It was the right message at exactly the right time in my career.

    • Patrick: Good to hear that PPM is still changing careers. I took it in the mid or late 90s (who can remember), and it was like I had found my tribe.

  5. Michael Armata

    Organizational Behaviour, University of Waterloo Engineering, 1993?

    I hated the class, non-technical, multiple choice exam, it was for the birds. At the time, probably the worst course I ever took.

    Years later I realized that it was the most important class of my life. Why? Not directly because handling people and politics would become one of the important issues of my career. It’s because in the years afterward it taught me some humility about my own narrow-vision biases and to be insightful enough to ask as many people as many questions as I can to break through those biases. I’m still learning.

    • Michael – synchronicity! I might have been in that class. Yes, it felt soft at the time and yet later we realize that the hard stuff matters little if we don’t have good relationships and understand people and organizations. What was the professor’s name? I think mine was Charles Curtis.

  6. I took a “Strategic Management” class at the University of Washington Business School (undergrad) which as a business geek, I really loved. The professor was a former business-turn-around consultant who would rescue foundering businesses.

    He not only had great stories to tell, he had really good (and sometimes shockingly candid) insights into every case study we brought him.

    As business-geeky as it is, if I could go back and audit the class again and again, I probably would.

    Not directly about product management, but it really set in my head that execution on ideas matters, because we saw so many examples of terrible execution on otherwise good ideas.

    • Interesting that the thing you comment on here are the stories and the real-life examples … I think that changes it from a business-geeky thing to a class in human studies.

  7. Andrea Lewicki

    Organizational Behavior taught by Dr. Craig Pearce at the Drucker School of Management. It taught me inclusion rather than exclusion when working with all those other functions. I also learned how to influence people outside of my authority, a huge factor in PM.

    Best lesson from that class was an in-depth personal assessment, followed by an analysis of the impact I have on an organization. Humbling and powerful.

  8. Senior Seminar on Industry Structure taught by Professor William Whitesell at F&M College in the fall of 1986. Very demanding and rigorous. Twelve of us met twice a week. The final exam, accounting for 60% of grade, was one question: “What are the determinant of price?” I filled 3 blue books over several hours. I learned to look for and see the underlying forces and dynamics in a market that give rise to business opportunities and which as they evolve or threaten to change quickly may pose risks. An excellent experience that shaped my personal outlook and career.

  9. Quality Management @ University of Wisconsin Whitewater campus with Professor Manu Madan

    Great discussion of Quality and from different perspectives gave me the insight of how to always improve no matter what I do. It also inspired me into going into product Management since I the must care for quality in every aspect, (from sales to support etc… )