from a former student
Hello, from a former XB'r! I just wanted to keep in touch and let you know that the "course"
may be over but it will remain tattooed in our minds and hearts forever. I think it is still the most
talked about subject when I see former managers around campus, at parties or even downtown.
from a non-traditional student at Pepperdine University
I had a great experience yesterday! I really screwed up at work...causing my boss to be in trouble
with her boss. I was called in and told that I missed up. I listened to understand what went
wrong. I asked questions ... was given valuable information that will help me in the future. I
didn't feel sick or scared, but able to return to my work more confident than before. Today my
bosses took me to lunch. We had a great time. Good managers take the heat when they are wrong
and do something constructive with the destructive. I say all this because before XB, I could not
have responded this way. Valuable? Yes
from one Pepperdine XB participant to another
For some of us XB has done great things. It is an organization which I'll always refer to in the
present tense. I see it as a way of living, almost as a religion. It gives me great satisfaction to
learn how you are managing situations at work in a different way based on what you got out of
XB. That's great, keep it up. I really admire you.
Don't turn off your XB mode, keep identifying the learning opportunity in every situation that
comes to you.
from a non-traditional student
Hi, Roger. I just wanted to let you know that [my company] got the benefit of a meeting run
according to the decisionometer. People came up to tell me how well the meeting was run and
what a relief it was to get through an agenda so quickly. Watching the meeting progress and
keeping everyone on task was a really good experience. I was able to differentiate between what
I wanted to have happen (which was recognition of an issue, identification of the theory, goal
setting yata, yata yata) and the actual technical aspects of the implementation which were not
planned for this initial meeting. I caught the tangent in time and brought the meeting back on
focus. Afterwards, I sent everyone a very tight e-mailing reviewing my understanding of what
we agree and who was taking responsibility for what and by when. I was very, very pleased with
the process. Thank you very much. I would love to have this seminar incorporated in our
institutional strengthening/reorganization work.
from a course evaluation
This course has had such an incredible impact on me, how could I possibly put it all into
words? … I would walk away from each class and suddenly view each circumstance that I was
faced with in a completely different light. Real life instances of concepts were everywhere I
from a senior manager (teacher)
I thought I would let you know that my 8:35 p.m. class is supposed to quit at 11:00 p.m. Most
evenings class goes until 11:30 p.m. Last night the campus police came to check on us at 11:45
Students have made the comment that they think about missing class because they are so tired,
but they can't let their colleagues down. One student shared this was the first class that he hadn't
missed at least one time.
It is exciting to hear and see their enthusiasm. But it sure does make for short nights when I'm
"too up" to go to sleep until 4:00 a.m. like this morning!
from an Education/Psychology double major
As an education major, this experience has exemplified to me the endless possibilities that exist to
learn and to teach. Within my educational philosophy of teaching lies a goal that I set my
freshman year during Schools and Society – to increase my awareness of diverse, contemporary,
and out-of-the-ordinary techniques that will cater to students of all intelligences, abilities, and
needs. I want to be able to reach people in anew way, and Roger has proved to me that this is
entirely possible. As a (hopeful) teacher of the future, I am driven by this experience.
If this class has taught me one thing so far, it is that criticism, while damaging to the ego, is
beneficial and essential to improvement.
XB is a serious wake-up call for those willing to own their own stuff.
To: Senior Manager Putzel
From: Erica Audet
RE: How XB Affected Me
XB was a mishmash of good and bad feelings, hard work, and new experiences. It was an
opportunity to learn by doing and to observe management and organizational behavior as it
occurred. I wouldn’t trade my experience in XB for a traditional Management and
Organizational Studies class any day.
My love of XB comes in hindsight. When we first began our organization in September, I
was frustrated most of the time. I have always been a serious student. I take notes, read
textbooks, memorize concepts and terms, and do homework. I have never relied on anyone for
help and I have detested group work since the fifth grade, when I single-handedly designed a
space shelter for my four-person group. I just knew that I could do it better than the other
members of my group could. I didn’t trust them to have good ideas of their own and I certainly
didn’t trust them to get anything done without me. On the first day of XB we were handed a
manual and told to start teaching and learning. We had no guidelines to follow except what was
written in that manual and the vague, occasional comment made by the Senior Manager. As if
this weren’t unpleasant enough, we were also expected to rank order each other. For once, I
realized, I would not be able to ace this class on my own. This would have to be a group effort, a
scary prospect for someone like me.
Although I still have qualms about group work, I have changed since the fifth grade space
shelter project. Over time, I learned how to hide my love of books, my dedication to schoolwork,
and my bossiness. I didn’t fully realize that I’d gone into hiding until I encountered XB and Mr.
Putzel. Throughout the semester, I had wonderfully intellectual discussions with the Senior
Manager in private. I had lots of ideas about XB and how to improve on the way our division
was run. But I was afraid to stand up and take charge because I didn’t want to be perceived as
brainy, bossy, or a brown-noser. Only those who know me fairly well know how serious I am
about succeeding at everything and I wasn’t sure about blowing my cover in XB. Gradually, as
our understanding of XB grew, every member got involved and I felt better about sharing my
opinions and ideas.
The fact that I loved XB came as a shock to me. I actually looked forward to attending a
class! I have mastered the traditional classroom and am often bored by it. I decided long ago
that going to class is basically a waste of time. I usually sit in a sleepy stupor and take an
occasional note or two while the professor reads from his or her power point slides. In this type
of class, the learning ends up taking place a day or two before the exam. XB was something
completely different. In fact, we were not even allowed to call it a class. We were a group of
people with a mission to learn. We couldn’t sit back passively and let information go in one ear
and out the other. Every single XB member had a job to do, a set of concepts to teach. It was up
to us to reach our goals in the most effective ways. I liked not knowing what was going to
happen on any given day. I liked my ability to make a difference in the course of events.
At times, XB was rough. We, the members of XB have been confused, frustrated, and
angry. At first we had trouble grading each other, criticizing each other, and making sure the
work that we delegated to others got done. We felt the temptation to avoid these tasks. As page
68 of the XB manual states, “when students don’t learn enough we have too often lowered
standards and ‘dumbed down’ the curriculum, only to become a society of ignoramuses.” But
our division did not “dumb down” the curriculum. We came up with strict ranking criteria and a
formal set-up for our meetings that eventually allowed us to be a free-flowing entity, teaching
and learning in various moving clusters around the room. We assigned reading and planned
complex, unique presentations and activities to not only reiterate what we had read, but apply it
to XB and to the world around us. Because we buckled down and did the work, and amazing
thing happened. We learned. We know what is in our manuals because we taught each
other. We didn’t learn by listening to lectures, taking notes, and taking exams. What we learned
has not been crammed into our heads in the last few hours of a single night only to be forgotten
the next day upon walking out of the exam room. The learning we have achieved in XB has
happened naturally. At times, we didn’t even know it was happening. We were handed a
manual with a variety of tasks in it and we got the work done through managing. And through
managing, we learned valuable lessons that will stick with us better than anything we have ever
read in a textbook or from a blackboard.
In XB, I observed and took part in the stages of group development. Our organization has
been through the forming, storming, norming, deforming, reforming, and performing stages of
group development. I have written extensively in my memos about our division going through
these stages because it is amazing to me to see it happening before my own eyes. I memorized
these terms in Foundations of Business three years ago but I never fully understood what it was
all about until I observed what was happening in XB. This is just one example of observing and
experiencing concepts that I otherwise would have memorized, regurgitated and dismissed.
Everything I once feared about XB turned out to be something positive for me. I have
learned to respect and value all kinds of people. In XB, we got to know each other well. We
learned not to perceive people who are different as threats to our productivity. Our division of
XB was filled with unique individuals. Each one of us had something different to contribute. I
am no longer afraid of working in groups. Because of XB, I know that I can trust other people to
do the work. They may do it in a different way than I would choose to do it, but their way is
likely to be just as good or even better than my way. I wonder what my fifth grade space shelter
would have looked like if I’d had a little more faith in my fellow classmates.
XB’s grading system was a valuable lesson in itself. We knew that we had to rank order
each other and accepted it. Because of this acceptance, we became eloquent and assertive critics
of each other and learned to take criticism in a positive way. Criticism and feedback helped us to
make the open area of our Johari Window larger. As we shared our perceptions of each other,
we were able to change our behavior and the way others perceived us. By the end of the
semester, our perceptions of each other were much more accurate than they would have been had
we not embraced the ranking system and constructive criticism. The ranking system also taught
us valuable lessons about cooperation and competition. Even though we ranked each other,
without ties, we eventually stopped looking at it as a competition to see who could teach the
most concepts or do the most work. We scarcely even talked about ranks and grades because
they were not the focal point of our organization. We learned to trust each other to do the work
and we realized that if we all did our parts, we would all succeed at achieving the organization’s
goals. Rather than act as a group of competing individuals, our organization acted as one
cohesive entity with one mission.
I am still a little bossy and I like to do things my way. In reality, these qualities have
contributed to my personal success. But XB has helped me to appreciate the power of a
group. A manager cannot simply be a boss. A manager must be someone who her subordinates
and colleagues can identify with. A manager has to know more than what is taught in
classrooms or written in books. She must possess “real world” knowledge about people. A
manager should be more than an instructor; she should be a conversationalist. I am a business
student who embraces routines, rules and procedures. However, I will succeed in life not only
because of my ability to comprehend a textbook, write a solid essay, memorize facts, or ace a
college course. To be successful, I will combine these qualities with others such as assertiveness,
confidence, and people skills. XB has helped me to develop these skills and prepared me for real
life as no ordinary class ever could. Thanks, Mr. Putzel, for transforming those intuiting, big-
picture thoughts of yours into something feasible for us sensing types.
To: Mr. Putzel
From: Chantal Parent
Subject: Final memo
cc: XB members
When asked about XB, I find it difficult to put into words what this class has been like for me. A
picture of an annoying younger sibling who is always bugging you comes to mind. She often
irritates you and bothers you like crazy, and sometimes makes your life extremely difficult, yet
for some reason you love her to pieces, would do anything for her, and can't imagine your life
without her. Sometimes you have to grit your teeth and force a smile. Other times you are
afforded some clarity and can't wipe that smile away.
Now in all honesty, I can't very well compare this course to my younger sister, who I would love
to pieces regardless of how annoying she could ever become. Yet what I can do is say that like
my sometimes annoying little sister, this class can surprise you and teach you things you never
knew you didn't know or never knew you needed to know. The wealth of insight into actual, real
people that we are permitted to capture a glimpse of in the XB setting transcends far beyond any
managerial styles and organizational behaviors that we could ever learn from a textbook. XB is
extremely valuable for those who take advantage of the experience it has to offer.
My understanding and learning in XB could easily be evidenced by my spouting out the various
management and organizational behavior terminology and examples that are found in our manual,
from managing one's boss to assertive communication to unnecessary value judgements. This
list could go on and on. Yet, I find that their application to my life is far more convincing of my
true comprehension. After all, reciting verbatim your recipe to make the perfect chocolate chip
cookies and actually making them is not the same thing. The ingredients are only a small part of
the process; it is what you do with them that counts.
The lessons to be learned in XB are things that can be applied to our lives every day. With each
day that goes by I am realizing this more and more. I am currently in a situation where a group
that I belong to is having difficulty with our leader, our boss, if you will. We are faced with a
situation where there is a general lack of respect on both sides, a feeling that we are not being
challenged, discrepancies concerning expectations, and an overall unhappiness with our
"job." Absenteeism is high and turnover is impending if something is not done soon. In
recognition of this problem, three of us have taken it upon ourselves to use our positions as the
chosen leaders of the group to represent the group and to attempt to get the situation
resolved. Yesterday we met with someone who we thought could give us some guidance and
perhaps suggest an effective way to approach the situation. We were able to put some of our
thoughts into words and this person offered us some of the advice we were looking for. This
person also reminded us to talk about specific behaviors and not the person and to address how
certain actions make us feel, rather than judging or claiming that the action is wrong. This
advice all sounded very familiar to me. As a result of this, we have a group meeting planned for
today. We are all going to get together and take the time to address the issues that are plaguing
our organization. We want to take into consideration everyone's thoughts, feelings, and
expectations. We would like to draft some type of writing to summarize what we have as
expectations and we want to open channels of communication so that everyone feels comfortable
addressing problems before they become enormous ordeals. We also want to address the
problem with negative and disrespectful attitudes, for which we take responsibility. Tone at the
top is very important, and the three of us, as leaders, must be the first to make changes if they are
to trickle to the entire organization.
When we have addressed the group and gathered their thoughts and expectations, the three of us
are then going to meet with our boss. We want to present the situation in a way that will not be
hurtful or elicit anger, yet we want to get our point across that some changes need to be
made. We want our boss to understand that we are all willing to make changes to better our
organization and that we need him to do the same. Four months ago, the thought of approaching
the boss with this type of assertiveness would have made me queasy. Yet today I am excited at
the opportunity to make things better for my organization. Why? Unfortunately, it isn't
something that I can pinpoint. Although I am certain that it is due in large part to the concepts I
have learned in XB. When seeking advice on how to handle the situation, I was sitting in that
room, listening, and thinking to myself, "wow, somehow I already know this. I've heard this
before." The more I thought about it, the more I realized that these were the concepts we have
been learning in XB. This is their application to our real lives. We were dealing with
observations, perceptions, needs, communication, and assertiveness, all of which are concepts
that are an integral part of the XB experience. When viewed in terms of a personal situation,
their relevance is astounding. What we are learning pertains to our lives. What more could you
want from a course?
In short, XB is a learning experience by design. And you can say that any class is a learning
experience, that all of college is a learning experience, and for that matter, that life is a learning
experience. Yet, when a course can somehow take precedence over all your other courses in the
time, energy, and pieces of yourself that you put in, you know that this isn't your typical class.
When it seems like your whole college life, no matter how hard you try, cannot escape the
people and ideas you encounter in XB, you know you are getting something extra out of the
college experience. And when, in all honesty, you feel as though your life is bending over
backward to accommodate XB and all it demands, then you know that you are learning far more
than the old management textbook has to offer.
I can read textbooks, listen to lectures, and take notes. I can also sleep, daydream, and
doodle. In XB, we are given the opportunity to learn in an unconventional way. We learn by
observing, understanding, taking responsibility, and doing. We apply what we learn to the
people around us and we teach those same people what it is that we have learned. It seems to me
that this is a giant leap closer to reality than textbooks and lectures. What we are learning here is
applicable to our lives now and will certainly be applicable to our lives in the future.
It is very true that XB is not for everyone. Some people will not be able to get beyond its
unconventional nature and its annoying little sister like characteristics. However, it is important
to note that XB, like everything else, is what you make of it. What you get out of something is a
reflection of what you put in. And this is true not just for XB, but for all of our classes, the
whole college experience, and life thereafter. The concepts and theories will not fall from the
sky and miraculously take up residence in your head. You have to work for anything that is
worthwhile in life and XB is no exception.
For what it's worth, it would be easy to write-off a class such as XB as "untraditional" or
"unconventional" and consider it worthless as a result. Yet, I don't think that would be
fair. Perhaps supporting it for what it can offer to a shy, smart kid, poised to make her way in the
world in just five short months would be a better idea. You see, because that's what I did. In
doing that, I have acquired far more tools to take with me on my journey through life. And I
honestly don't think that I could have picked these up in an old textbook or from an ordinary
lecture on management and organizational behavior.