Review: Professor Bo Tep, Management Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business

At a glance

  • Workload:  Light
  • Teaching Style:  Highly interactive
  • Interest in students:  Very high
  • Relevance to outside world:  Not sure.

Overall Professor Rating: 4

Overall Course Rating:3.5

Professor Tep is a completely different professor than anyone other you are likely to have at SCU.  He believes not only in experiential learning but also in spirituality and looking at things with a much more holistic perspective.  Can be off-putting to some.  The course is also very loose, though it is also apparently ever-changing.  Bo wants to introduce new ideas each quarter, it seems.

The Review

This is the latest of my reviews on the professors I’ve had while an MBA student at Santa Clara University‘s Leavey School of Business. There are lots of sites out there that provide feedback and rates – ratemyprofessor is the most notable. The SantaClaraMBA Yahoo group also has a big database of comments and lots of additional information in its message archive. That database can be a bit hard to wade through, and the comments are short and often just link to other threads, which are themselves pretty short and superficial. Only here can I write as much as I want  🙂

I review professors from a variety of perspectives.  First, I explain the context(s) under which I took the class.  Time of year, time of day, etc.  Then I talk about the quality of the class and the professor, and finally about the professor as a person.  After all, we are trying to learn about our interactions with people, so knowing that side of a teacher is critical, too.  So these would be interactions outside the classroom, etc.

I’m also reviewing them in reverse order of when I had them for class.  This is mostly so that I am reviewing those whom I remember the best sooner.  This also means that at some point I might skip a few professors I took a year ago or just stop outright out of concern that I will not be able to provide a proper review (the downside of these longer reviews is that I do, after all, have a responsibility to do a good job at them).  I am now back two quarters from my current term.

The facts

I had Professor Tep for Management 538 – Managing Groups and Teams – the Winter 2007.  Professor Tep is very up front about the class, which is rather important considering his rather unconventional style of teaching.  He sends out an e-mail a couple of weeks before the class stating that it’s an experiential course, rather than one about how to do project management.  He reiterated this at the start of class, that we would be talking about our experiences in managing teams.  Still, we lost about 40% of the class after the first few weeks.

I took 538 on Monday and Wednesday nights, at 5:30PM.  I had this class immediately prior to another class with a losse structure, but not in a spiratual sense (see my review of Chacko’s Finance course ).  I also took it in the same quarter as 512, taught by Cheryl Shavers, and the contrast was almost frightening.

A couple of things to note – Bo has changed the class a bit, giving it a bit more structure.  I’m glad to say that some of this is from feedback that I and others provided to him.  I really enjoyed the class but I think it needed a bit of tweaking so hopefully other students have enjoyed it.  Also, Bo and I occasionally have coffee so we still stay in touch.  That doesn’t make this any more of a subjective review, in reality, but just fyi.

Them’s the facts. Now read on for the review.
The class

To say that Professor Tep’s course is loose and informal is an understatment.  It bordered on touchy-feeling at times, though I don’t think in a way to which I ever objected.  The best I can do is to give some examples of what we did.

When explaining the four ‘frames’ through which we can see a problem and/or a problematic interaction with a person and/or a team (that’s a lot of and/or’s’) – symbolic, political, structural, and human resources – he literally took post-it easel sheets and put them on each of the four walls of the room.  He had us stand up and look around while we analyzed the problem from each angle.  It was as if the problem was beyond each wall and we were in the middle of the room, and we were trying to see it through a new lens each time.  In the end, this was very effective – from an HR perspective, what are the personal drivers for a person involved in a conflict’  Are they dealing with family issues’  What about structurally’  Are they stuck because of their superiors in the org chart’  Forcing us to think about this was good, and taking time in class to make us do it was even better.  But it was pretty different to actually get up and look around.

Another example, and one which I honestly think would never happen in any other class, is that one student offered up a difficult situation he had at work, and we used lessons from class and common sense to try and help him find a solution.  Talk about real-world cases.  Of course, many things had to happen to make this work – the student had to be willing to talk frankly about his situation, and we had to be willing to question and analyze his approach.  I think it was incredibly useful.  Again, highly experiential.

Oh, and one class we meditated.  That was the most ‘out there’ one we had.

As for mechanics, we had 2 group papers (one of them technically the final but not all that different from the first one) and 2 group presentations directly based on chapters.  We also had to be pretty involved in class, but that wasn’t hard.

The Person

Professor Tep, when you talk with him 1:1, is not really ‘out there’ or anything.  He is very accessible, and he can get into some very interesting discussions about concept-mapping and how the brain processes information, but beyond that he’s pretty practical.  He just sees experiential approaches to problems as the way to practically solve these issues, rather than sitting and getting a lecture.

Bo is adjunct faculty, which is interesting since his approach is so research-oriented in many ways.  But he brings quite a diverse background (I don’t recall it to specifics, though) to the room, and he has both credibility and and an innovative approach.  He’s a fun guy with whom to have a cup of coffee.  He’s also very honest when you are ‘in’ with him.  We talked quite a bit about everything from administration to internal politics at the school to everything in between.  Not in a gossip kind of way.  Just being honest and frank and straight-forward.

Some Metrics

Metrics are of questionable use, depending on professor and what classes I have and haven’t taken.  But they might be of interest so I’ll do what I can.  These are more like ‘comparisons’ than metrics but I like the word better :-).  Some rough parameters are:

  • Workload:  runs from heavy, which would be work in class, after class, individual and team, to just a lot of problem sets to basically just in-class discussion.
  • Teaching style:  spectrum runs from pure-lecture to interactive to all-over-the place.
  • Interest in students:  pretty obvious
  • Relevance to the outside world:  pretty obvious, though heavily restricted due to my background in academia

Workload:  Light

Teaching Style:  Highly interactive.

Interest in students:  Very high.

Relevance to outside world:  Not sure.
I think ultimately it’s very relevant, but it’s hard to take some of the lessons right out of the room and use them at work.

Comments (3)

  1. Pingback: MGMT 538: Managing Teams and Projects, Bo Tep, Spring 2008 « Dylan Salisbury’s weblog

  2. Pingback: Revista MBA » Blog Archive » MGMT 538: Managing Teams and Projects, Bo Tep, Spring 2008

  3. Pingback: Leavey School of Business Faculty Reviews and Articles » Blog Archive » MGMT 538: Managing Teams and Projects, Bo Tep, Spring 2008

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