MLD-355: Public Narrative with Marshall Ganz — A Leadership Practice Translating Values into Action

According to MLD’s  Marshall Ganz, the Rita E. Hauser Senior Lecturer in Leadership, Organizing, and Civil Society, “To lead is to accept responsibility for enabling others to achieve shared purpose in the face of uncertainty.” But where should a student aspiring to lead for the the greater good begin?  For Ganz, the process of leadership starts with the “self” and builds outward into a constituency, creating “us,” a group that’s ready “now” to meet the challenges on the path to shared goals.  In MLD-355: Public Narrative Ganz and his highly collaborative teaching team introduce students to the discursive process through which individuals, communities, and nations learn to make choices, construct identity, and inspire action. The goal is teaching students to link their our own callings to that of a community that shares a call to action, translating deeply held personal values into effective action. Ganz continues, “Because it engages the ‘head’ and the ‘heart,’ Marshall Ganz's Public Narrative Leadership Pedagogy: Head, Heart, Handsnarrative can instruct and inspire – teaching us not only why we should act, but moving us to act.” Based on a pedagogy of guided reflective practice, students work in groups to learn to tell their own public narrative. Developing their own personal practice of public narrative builds students’ leadership capacity, and is especially critical when they are called to respond in moments of challenge like facing loss, lacking power, confronting inequality and difference, and enacting meaningful change.

Over the years Ganz and his course graduates have introduced public narrative training widely across the globe including in  the Obama presidential campaign (2007-8), Sierra Club, Episcopal Church, United We Dream Movement, the Ahel Organizing Initiative, (Jordan), Serbia on the Move (Belgrade), Avina (Bogata), National Health Service (UK), Peking University (Beijing), Tatua (Kenya), Community Organizing Japan (Tokyo) and elsewhere, proving the relevance of narrative practice across disciplines, professions, and cultures.

Students seeking to extend their narrative practice and learning often follow up MLD-355 in the spring by enrolling in Ganz’s other course MLD-377: Organizing: People, Power, Change, in which put into practice what they’ve learned in organizations, movements, and campaigns of their own.

Beyond HKS, Ganz and graduates of his teaching have established the Leading Change Network, a global community of organizers, educators and researcher aiming ” To meet the challenges to democracy by developing the leadership to organize communities which build power and realize the values of equality, solidarity, and dignity.”

To learn more, view a complete (~75 minute) mini-workshop with Marshall Ganz introducing public narrative pedagogy on the YouTube channel of The Resistance School which was founded in March of 2017 by graduate students of HKS and other Harvard schools. Lesson 1 of the 15 short videos is below; the full set is here.

Well before COVID-19 moved all HKS teaching online, Ganz and his team with HKS Executive Education were pioneering the teaching of leadership and organizing online. With over 7 years experience developing his online public narrative Exec Ed course Ganz and his team have created an exceptionally strong model of experiential, interpersonal, and interdependent learning, which his degree students will enjoy for the first time this Fall.  For a sample of, and in-depth introduction to their pedagogy, view here a (~60 min) video of an online interactive session led by Ganz for Harvard Kennedy School faculty on his approach to online teaching.

MLD-355 and MLD-377 will be offered at the Harvard Kennedy School in Fall of 2020, and Spring of 2021, respectively. For questions about these courses, or any other in the MLD curriculum, email Greg Dorchak, MLD Area Administrator. You may also contact Heather Adelman, Senior Project Coordinator for Marshall Ganz (heather_adelman@hks.harvard.edu).

MLD-352: The Leadership System: Leaders, Followers, Contexts with Barbara Kellerman

History attests that leadership has never been just about single individuals perched at the top of the greasy pole. It has always been more complex a process than the leader-centric leadership literature would seem to suggest,” says Barbara Kellerman, the James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership. In her Fall 2020 course MLD-352: The Leadership System: Leaders, Followers, Contexts, Kellerman and her students explore that notion by examining the interconnected dynamics that followers and context play in the story and success (or failure) of a leader.  Through her many years of reading and writing on leadership Kellerman has developed a novel framework to help students analyze situations in which leaders (and followers) find themselves, and to understand what roles they can, should, and (perhaps) should not play. “This is not in any conventional sense a ‘how to’ course. Rather it is an intellectual journey into the heart of leadership,” explains Kellerman. Portrait photo of Barbara Kellerman

Drawing on a breadth of thought from Confucius and Machiavelli to James MacGregor Burns, and examples from Nazi Germany to modern leaders like Angela Merkel and Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook, this course covers concepts of the leadership “industry,” our ideas about authority, the dynamics of contextual change, and varieties of leadership, good and bad. Harvard students can view a video course preview with Kellerman.

Learn more about Barbara’s approach:

View a (~10min) video with Barbara describing her 2012 book The End of Leadership and summarizing her view of the Leadership System and the Leadership Industry.

Read her regular blog on current events and issues of leadership in the news, or explore her latest books Leaders who Lust (Cambridge Univ. Press)  Professionalizing Leadership (Oxford Univ. Press).

Listen to a Leadership Perspectives Webinar from the International Leadership Association about about how and why leadership and followership have changed over time, especially in the last forty years. She also raises questions about leadership as both a scholarly pursuit and a set of practical skills including: Does the industry do what it claims to do—grow leaders? Are leaders as all-important as we think they are? What about followers? Isn’t teaching good followership as important now as teaching good leadership?

MLD-352 will be offered at the Harvard Kennedy School in Fall of 2020.  Kellerman’s other course MLD-349M: Bad Leadership: Leaders, Followers, Contexts will be offered in Spring of 2021, respectively. For questions about these courses, or any other leadership courses in the MLD curriculum, email Greg Dorchak, MLD Area Administrator.

MLD-113M: Strategy and Decision with Peter Zimmerman

How can effective leaders learn from experience and decisions in the past to make more effective decisions that advance one’s strategic purpose?

Book Cover: Strategy: A History, by Lawrence Freedman, Copyright Oxford University Press, 2013

Strategy is expressed in the decisions we make every day. There are no choices or actions that are truly neutral with respect to one’s strategic purpose.  Yet few decisions come labelled as “strategic”; instead policy makers, analysts and managers face an unending stream of judgments and choices that arrive in varied frames from every imaginable direction.

No decision stands alone. Today’s decisions are linked undeniably to decisions in the past reflected in the experience of individuals, groups, teams and organizations, even nations.  Experience both enables and limits our perceptions, beliefs, values, predispositions and capabilities. We both learn from the past (it’s all we’ve got) yet our learning can be limited by the deceptive clarity and presumed certainty associated with explanations of past events.

MLD-113M Strategy and Decision with Peter Zimmerman will help students develop more robust explanations of past decisions, their strategic impact and will help students make better predictions of the effects of future decisions.  Taking as the course text cases and stories involving others, from different times and places, and even students’ own stories and experience, students will work on three parallel tracks. First, students have the chance to analyze and explain decisions large & small while experimenting in a tentative qualitative way with how things might come out differently. Next, they explore the science of behavior & decision-making (i.e., what are the sources of influence on decision and what’s going on in the black box?). Finally, they develop a framework to help improve our explanations & predictions and to integrate individual choices into a pattern of strategic decisions. Harvard students can view a course preview video with Peter Zimmerman.

This course is offered in the 2nd module of Fall 2020. If you have any questions about this course, or any other in the MLD curriculum, email Greg Dorchak, MLD Area Administrator.