Williams’s New Book Offers Guidance for Boundary Spanning Leaders

Photo of Dean WilliamsLeaders today—whether in corporations or associations, nonprofits or nations—face massive, messy, multidimensional problems. No one person or group can possibly solve them—they require the broadest possible cooperation. However, in his recent book Leadership for a Fractured World (2015, Berrett-Koehler Publishers), HKS MLD Area scholar Dean Williams argues that our leadership models are still essentially tribal: individuals with formal authority leading in the interest of their own group. Williams goes on to outline an approach that enables leaders to transcend internal and external boundaries and help people to collaborate, even people over whom they technically have no power.

Drawing on what he’s learned from years of working in countries and organizations around the world, Williams shows leaders how to approach the delicate and creative work of boundary spanning, whether those boundaries are cultural, organizational, political, geographic, religious, or structural. Sometimes leaders themselves have to be the ones who cross the boundaries between groups. Other times, a leader’s job is to build relational bridges between divided groups or even to completely break down the boundaries that block collaborative problem solving. By thinking about power and authority in a different way, leaders will become genuine change agents, able to heal wounds, resolve conflicts, and bring a fractured world together.

The book features a forward by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Book Cover of Leadership for a Fractured World by Dean Williams

2016 Ash Innovations Applications Open

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School has kicked off the application process for its prestigious Innovations in American Government Award.  For the second straight year, the Ash Center is also funding a second innovation award, the Roy and Lila Ash Innovations Award for Public Engagement in Government, to better highlight the work of public engagement and participation programs, policies, and initiatives from around the country.

The Innovations in American Government Awards are heralded as the premier public-sector honor in the nation and are given to programs that serve as examples of creative and effective government at its best. The Ash Center will once again be awarding two $100,000 top prizes, for the Innovations in American Government Award and the Roy and Lila Ash Innovations Award for Public Engagement in Government. All units of government—federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial—within the United States and their partners are eligible to apply.
Applicants for both awards will be judged on the standard Innovations in American Government Awards criteria of novelty, effectiveness, significance, and transferability. Programs seeking the Roy and Lila Ash award will also be judged on their impact on public engagement and participation. Specifically, the Ash Center seeks to recognize government-led innovations that demonstrate enhanced public engagement and participation.  Find out more here.  Application deadline is April 15, 2016.

Innovation Field Lab Engages with Massachusetts Cities and Towns

Jorrit de Jong, lecturer in public policy, listens to a student group work through an issue. photo credit: Bryant Renaud
Jorrit de Jong, lecturer in public policy, listens to a student group work through an issue.
photo credit: Bryant Renaud

Cities and towns across America face myriad challenges — from crime and criminal justice policy to educational and transportation infrastructure — but perhaps none as visible and visceral as so-called “problem properties.” Boarded up houses and fenced up vacant lots represent urban blight, deflating property values and spawning a number of health and security concerns.  Even small to mid-size cities are experiencing this reality as the economy struggles to recover from the Great Recession.

The problem of poorly-maintained properties is exacerbated by city governments encumbered by bureaucratic silos, which are simultaneously struggling with decreasing public revenues.  But the Massachusetts towns of Chelsea, Fitchburg and Lawrence are re-engaged in the challenge with support from Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) student teams deployed through the Innovation Field Lab spring module. Co-taught by Jorrit de Jong, lecturer in public policy, and Joe Curtatone, Innovations in American Government Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and the mayor of Somerville, the seven week module offers students the opportunity to do real work on real problems in real settings and to learn firsthand about the practice of public sector innovation.

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Harvard Kennedy School – Beyond the Classroom

You should expect to get your hands dirty if you take a management, leadership, and decisions science (MLD) course at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Learning-by-doing is a key pedagogical component of the majority of MLD area courses at HKS. Running a range from personal case analyses, “live” case and negotiation simulations, simulated-client projects, to fieldwork for real clients and organizations, MLD students learn by experiencing for themselves real world lessons in management, leadership, teamwork, and decision making.

On the scaffold of classroom curriculum, and with the guidance of faculty and support from their peer teams, students work to address challenges in complex areas like negotiation, government innovation, operations management, social organizing, philanthropy, and municipal budgeting. The learning students achieve by engaging the curriculum and working in real and challenging contexts is often transformative for them, but the simultaneous positive impact students make has become a major part of the mission of the Kennedy School. Read More