Published Oct 6, 2004

Isn’t it’s amazing how something truly bad can make the mediocre seem wonderful? Unfortunately, I’ve managed to run into the truly awful in my truly expensive business school education. Yes, incompetence is thou, Steve Posner.

For many a week my least favorite class was Microeconomics, taught by Rich Eastin. Eastin’s clearly a smart guy, and he communicates pretty well, but he was stuck delivering way too much information in way too little time (one of my classmates, an undergrad Econ major, said that a 1 hour 20 minute class covered three weeks of an undergrad class), and he’s a little resistant to prioritizing said information. But Eastin’s lectures were filled with (curmudgeonly) effort, and, at the end of the quarter, it’s all starting to come together. Or at least I think it is; we’ll know after next week’s final.

Steve Posner, however, is either both incompetent and lazy or else trying to set a powerful anti-example for all of us. Posner teaches management communications, and, thus far, he’s not managing to communicate in any way at all. He talks a long time, he talks quietly, he lulls you to sleep, and he doesn’t have concrete points. He gives us speaking rules and then breaks them. He gives us nonspecific assignments and then rebukes us for not achieving specific goals.

I’m being too hard on Posner here, really. I think his strategies work well with freshmen — those young, skinny, attractive people who haven’t ever really worked hard before, are as yet unmoulded, and have tons of free time. But us b-school students are busy and set in our ways. We need concrete answers now, not philosophical change over a period of time. Posner doesn’t offer that. And he’s apparently lost buy-in from the class; nobody that I’ve run into did any substantial amount of work for our last presentation — not because they were too busy (although they were plenty busy, b-school students are good at making time for things they care about), but because they didn’t care.

So here’s the upshot. I like Micro better because it’s all starting to come together, sure, but the real reason is: Eastin’s way better than Posner. Most everyone is way better than Posner. He’s setting the bottom of the curve, and he’s setting it low.


how awful that someone to whom you are obligated to give respect (and a great deal of money) is phoning it in.

since you’re not the only one complaining, it’s not just you. Are you (the lot of you) going to do anything about it? Or are you going to allow that part of your MBA training to be lacking?


We are planning to do something about it. We’ve been discussing just what, but since the newest BusinessWeek rankings have just come in and SC gets a “C” for faculty I think this is the time for us to take it in hand and not get him warned but get him fired. At least that’s my take. More on this as events develop!

wow, you’re pretty militant about this aren’t you?

ha ha, you go to a C school, not B-school!

P. S. I hear your school’s ads on NPR all the time….

Way to take a stand!

Posner Update: As discussed with Wade and friends subsequent to this posting, sometimes factors unrelated to personal skills, talents, and intentions makes communication ineffective, erratic, incoherent. Unfortunately, tradition often trumps innovation when the two are in conflict, so it is often wiser to favor the norm than insist on its opposite. Better to deliver a clear and concise message, however superficial, than to muddle through one that is not. Such is the tragedy of today’s predominant educational ethos. It is politic for me to remain cryptic, but one thing is clear: though there were moments of value, as others have noted, institutional apologies are owed to those who deserve better, to Wade and his fellow students, and to Posner who fought to serve them.

How are things in China, Prof. Posner*?

I guess I get this comment ‘cause I’m on the first page of Google results for your name!

I will agree that an update is due: Prof. Posner and I talked later and I agreed that it was possible that institutional guidelines had contributed to a class that could not be of value.

Steve Posner’s a nice guy. Seems smart, too. Just didn’t do anything useful at all for my class. And, it must be said, the professors who ran the other communications classes seem to have accomplished more, with the same curriculum and restrictions.

  • The e-mail associated with this post comes from a domain that Prof. Steve Posner owns. The IP address of the post is, oddly enough, in China.