Over the past year, the entire HBX team has worked incredibly hard to bring you the next HBX offering: Sustainable Business Strategy with Professor Rebecca Henderson. Before joining the content team at HBX, I could have never imagined everything that goes into making an HBX course. In total, it’s a process that takes a little longer than a full calendar year and involves every part of our organization.

We officially kicked off the course creation process in May of 2017. Once we had a solid idea of the course structure and themes, the next step in the process was to determine which cases to feature. Case-based learning is a fundamental part of the HBX experience, and we strive to find companies and people (“protagonists,” as we call them) who are interesting, diverse, and educational.

Once protagonists are determined, the next step is filming. In the fall, I traveled with the film crew around the world to film the protagonists. A highlight for me was visiting Europe with the team. We spent one week in London, meeting with the leaders of Unilever who spoke with us about what they are doing with their supply chains and more to improve worker conditions and reduce negative environmental impact. Graphic of innovation types; width: 200px; align: right;

The next week, we traveled to Oslo to speak with the CEO and the former chairman of Norsk Gjenvinning, a Norwegian recycling company, who talked to us about how they are revolutionizing the waste industry in Norway through innovative strategies and anti-corruption practices. One of the most compelling aspects of this course is that you will learn from companies and people in a variety of industries who are truly passionate about making a difference in the world and also incredibly savvy business professionals.

After we completed filming, we worked to gather perspectives from faculty experts in departments across Harvard University, including psychology, law, government, public policy, and business. Their insights in the course will be incredibly valuable in teaching participants to understand the way people think, how the world works, and what we can do to make it better. Graphic of innovation types; width: 200px; align: right;

The content development team also worked with our software development and user experience teams at this time to develop new simulations and interactive elements for the HBX platform. One that we are particularly excited about is a simulation where participants will manage their own utility companies, attempting to increase their value in an ultra-competitive industry.

The next big stage in the course development process is actually writing the course. What you see in the HBX platform starts as a rough sketch outline, and – through many iterations – gradually becomes what we call the “course book.” The course book includes the transcripts for the videos, reflection questions, polls, text, simulations, team discussions, and more. This whole process takes many months of work, and a large part of it is developing scripts for Professor Henderson’s videos. We film all of our HBX faculty in a studio near our headquarters in Allston, Massachusetts. Over three days Professor Henderson filmed 46 videos for the course!

Sustainable Business Strategy

Finally, as we work towards launching the first cohort, we spend all of our time fusing together all of this material to form the final course. Throughout this process, our goal has been to bring you a rigorous and exciting learning experience, where we teach you strategies that you can use to be a purpose-driven, successful business person. We hope that you will join us in Sustainable Business Strategy!

Jackie Merriam

About the Author

Jackie is a member of the HBX Content Development Team and is the Course Production Manager for the Sustainable Business Strategy course and courses HBX is developing in Leadership. She has also worked on the Leading with Finance and Entrepreneurship Essentials courses for the HBX Platform. Jackie holds a BSB in Accounting and Finance, and a Master’s of Accountancy, all from the University of Minnesota. In her free time she enjoys cheering on her favorite Minnesota sports teams and baking.