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Leadership Decision Making: Optimizing Organizational Performance

Program Session(s):
February 21, 2016 - February 26, 2016
June 19, 2016 - June 24, 2016
October 23, 2016 - October 28, 2016

Application Deadline(s):
December 21, 2015
April 19, 2016
August 23, 2016

Program Fee:$7,400

*The October 2016 program fee is $7600.

Program fee includes: tuition, housing, curricular materials, and most meals.

The curriculum in this course encompasses the Executive Core Qualifications, Results Driven and Business Acumen.

Faculty Chair: Jennifer Lerner

Program Director: Pia Agliati

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“The Leadership Decision Making program introduced new areas of thought to me and I was surprised at my own biases that I didn’t believe I had.  Faculty Chair, Jennifer Lerner, completely commands her field and her credibility and experience is amazing. The diversity of personalities, organizations, and geography among my fellow participants made the discussions and interaction very beneficial.”

-Jo Brown, Chief, Planning, Analysis and Support Branch, U.S. Dept of Agriculture

Leadership Decision Making leverages the latest research in judgment and decision making, translating scientific discoveries into practical strategies through seminars, cases, and activities. The curriculum focuses on designing better decision environments—ones that reduce bias and inaccuracy—making your organization smarter. The eight core areas include:

  • Reducing decision biases in your organization
  • Improving negotiation skills
  • Increasing forecast accuracy, especially for low-probability, potentially catastrophic events
  • Understanding the role of emotion in judgment and decision making
  • Designing smart accountability systems for judgment and decision making
  • Gaining support for decisions
  • Communicating risk accurately and effectively
  • Managing information overflow

Questions to be explored during the program include:

  • How does emotion affect your decision making?
  • What is your attitude towards risk?
  • Are you susceptible to decision biases?

Individualized feedback on your decision-making style
This dynamic, interactive program includes the opportunity for self-assessment in the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory, with expert faculty tailoring the program content to the dynamics of each class. The laboratory self-assessment will give participants an opportunity to receive personalized feedback through an anonymous process and to compare their own data with societal and class averages. This confidential, individualized feedback will not be shared.

The Harvard Decision Science Laboratory, opened in 2009, provides state-of-the art capability to study how people make judgments and decisions. This facility, unique among schools of public policy, enables researchers and practitioners to analyze the link between human physiology and decision making behaviors.

You will leave the program with new strategies and skills to advance your decision making processes and make your organization smarter.

Individual Benefits:

  • Gain a framework to help you understand where poor judgments and decisions come from and how to prevent them in your organization.
  • Participate in customized presentations from world-renowned faculty.
  • Receive a personalized assessment of your decision-making skills and strategies, conducted in the state-of-the-art Harvard Decision Science Laboratory.
  • Absorb personalized, confidential feedback on your decision-making skills and strategies, with advice targeted on improvement.
  • Bring home a large collection of faculty-selected readings on key topics aimed at improving leadership development.
  • Learn specific strategies for improving your own leadership skills in negotiation, decision making, risk communication, evaluating others, and risk management.
  • Meet other leaders from around the world who share your interests and develop a network with them.
  • As with all Executive Education programs at Harvard Kennedy School, participants in the Leadership Decision Making program will have access to Harvard Kennedy School facilities while on campus and will receive a certificate of completion when the program concludes.

Benefits to your organization:

  • Develop human capital in your organization with leaders who will know how to improve overall organizational performance.
  • Gain the ability to set up appropriate incentives system-wide, drawing on leaders who know when and how human behavior typically departs from rationality.
  • Develop a workforce that knows how to proactively prevent crises before they happen.
  • Increase your organization’s ability to reduce litigation and turnover costs by reducing judgment biases and improving decision processes.
  • Become more economically efficient by counteracting the subtle biases (e.g., risk aversion) that typically plague both public and private organizations.
  • Decrease inter-staff and inter-organization conflicts with employees who become trained in negotiation strategies for creating joint value.
  • Increase loyalty and trust among employees in whom you have invested.

Recent Faculty News and Publications

Jennifer Learner was quoted in a recent Newsweek article on emotion-free investing.

Iris Bohnet, faculty member, featured in the Harvard Gazette discussing her research focusing on the 'nudge' approach to close gender gaps.

Jennifer Lerner, faculty chair, quoted in a Boston Globe article regarding a next-generation system for detecting suspects in public settings.

Jennifer Lerner, faculty chair, quoted in MSNBC regarding outbursts by celebrities and public figures.

Jennifer Lerner, faculty chair, quoted in The Financial Times regarding recent research on emotions done by Joe Forgas.

The work of Jennifer Lerner and the Harvard Decision Lab was featured on a recent NOVA episode Mind Over Money, exploring how emotion affects decisions regarding money and investing.

Jennifer Lerner was featured on a recent edition of CBS Sunday Morning for a segment called ‘Decisions, Decisions…”.

Jennifer Lerner, faculty chair of Leadership Decision Making, and Peter Zimmerman, faculty chair of the Senior Executive Fellows program, recently co-authored an article in Government Executive called Decisions, Decisions exploring the role of emotions in decision making.

Todd Rogers, faculty member, was featured discussing how politicians avoid questions with CNN's Piers Morgan.


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