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HBS Online Management Essentials Course

In 2016, I partnered with HBS Professor David Garvin and the HBS Online team to design and develop Harvard Business School's first online course in management.

Click the button below to walk through the course design and development.


The Context

Following Up on Success

In 2014, HBS Online, Harvard Business School's online education arm released its first set of online business courses to the world. The courses were met with much enthusiasm from students.







By the end of 2015, HBS Online was wondering how to follow up on its success. What courses should it build next?


In early 2016, HBS Online surveyed our global population of learners to determine what new courses it should create to best meet their professional needs. At the same time, we conducted market research to spot untapped opportunities in the online business education market.

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The Opportunity

Harvard's First Online Course in Management

Results from our research revealed that there existed a major opportunity to build a course for aspiring or recently promoted managers on basic management skills, such as decision-making, strategy execution, giving feedback, and other management essentials target aspiring and recent managers.


The HBS Online team partnered with HBS Professor David Garvin, one of the world's leading experts on general management and organizational learning, to develop Management Essentials (formerly known as Becoming a Better Manager), HBS's first fully online course on management and leadership.

Fashion Store Manager

The Work Process

What We Did + How We Did It

Over the course of 12 months, I led the design and development of the course. Work on the course unfolded iteratively over several phases.

I. Research

Narrowing in on What to Build

Image by Scott Graham

Before the course, I partnered with the HBS Online Product Management team to perform research into what to build.


This phase involved:

  • Developing and disseminating surveys to gather feedback from 70 current learners

  • Conducting interviews with former participants to learn more about their needs and willingness to pay.

  • Performing a competitive analysis to identify opportunities for new courses, including management.

Our analysis revealed the need for a bread-and-butter course on management basics for learners new to the profession or who could not attend flagship HBS courses in Boston.

II. Design

Sketching Out the Course

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Upon validating the opportunity, our team began working with Prof. Garvin to lay out the course.

As the lead instructional designer for the course, I met multiple times per week with Prof. Garvin to:

  • sketch out a program overview and course map

  • articulate learning objectives

  • design assessments, simulations, practice exercises, and learning sequences

  • arrange interviews with real-world managers and experts to feature in the course




In addition, I partnered with the HBS Online UX design team to imagine new functionality for the HBS Online learning platform that could facilitate peer-peer and small-group collaborative learning exercises.



Finally, I worked with the HBS Online Creative team to develop storyboards for case studies, faculty videos, and scenarios to be filmed for the course.



Along the way, Professor Garvin and I got continuous feedback on our design ideas from other HBS faculty members and released a prototype of the first module of the course with a small sample of HBS learners to validate our approach.

III. Develop

Constructing the Course

The feedback from the prototype was overwhelmingly positive and revealed some additional opportunities to make the course even more relevant for learners as we headed into course development.





As the lead content developer for the build, I worked closely with Professor Garvin to curate existing content and develop new content and activities in the form of video scripts, case studies, reflection questions, transition text, and module summaries.






I also traveled across the U.S. to interview managers from different organizations, including Uber, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Digital Service, a Chilean mining company, and others, on their approach to management.








Last but not least, as the project manager, I coordinated weekly team meetings with members of the content, production, and program services team to set priorities and review work in progress.




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IV. Launch

Releasing the Course

Rocket Launch
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The 8-week Management Essentials course was released to 150 aspiring, early, and mid-career managers for the first time in the Fall of 2017.


While I had already departed HBS Online at this time to pursue my M. Ed., my HBS Online colleagues informed me that the course was extremely very well-received.


Download the course syllabus above or judge the result for yourself by clicking the button below!

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