Game planning for Success at Scale | MLD-820M: Strategies for Social Impact with Matthew Lee

Even the most visionary, well-connected, and well-funded social enterprises fail to achieve their aims. A common reason for this failure—and a critical factor for success—is organizational strategy, the game plan developed by an organization and its leaders for achieving impact.

New Associate Professor of Public Policy and Management, Matthew Lee, brings to the Harvard Kennedy School his expert interest in strategic issues relevant to hybrid organizations that simultaneously pursue multiple objectives, including organization design, external evaluation, and innovation. Having studied social enterprises, impact investing, nonprofit organizations and corporate social responsibility, Lee’s teaching (and ongoing research) focuses on the social impact strategies of private, public sector, and hybrid organizations.

In his Fall Module 1 course, MLD-820M: Strategies for Social Impact, Lee and his students will investigate multiple organizations facing strategic challenges. In so doing, students will be introduced to the foundational perspectives in academic research on organizational strategy, as well as practice-oriented strategy tools and frameworks developed specifically for social impact-driven organizations.

A central theme of the course is that analysis must lead to action.

In each case and situation, there is no “right” answer, merely well-reasoned explanations for why these organizations are successful (or not), and what might work best for them going forward. The deeper goal of the course is to understand how each of these explanations work in general and to teach students how they can apply this understanding to build more competitive, more successful organizations, even in new and unfamiliar real-world situations. This ability to do so, repeatedly and with confidence, is the skill Lee says is colloquially referred to as “strategy.”  Strategy has some formal foundations with recognizable links to academic fields such as microeconomics and sociology. But MLD-820M will not resemble a finance or accounting class where each new piece builds on the last in a tidy way. Instead, student learning will include both cognitive knowledge (the content in the readings and the slides) and procedural knowledge – the practical ability to take a real-world business situation and apply a variety of tools or “lenses” to make sense of it.

Portrait of Matthew Lee smiling
HKS Associate Professor of Public Policy and Management. Matthew Lee

This course is for those interested in leading or advising organizations focused on social and environmental impact. This course will be participation-based and will include case discussions, in-class exercises, and guest speakers. Cases considered focus on non-profit organizations, social enterprises, for-profit impact-first companies such as benefit corporations, and, also, public-sector organizations.

Matthew Lee previously taught strategy at New York University and at INSEAD, based in Singapore, and has been recognized by Poets & Quants as part of their “40 under 40” list of best professors. Matthew completed his doctoral studies at Harvard Business School. His scholarly work is available on his personal website. Before his academic career, he was a consultant with the Bridgespan Group, a management consultancy serving social sector organizations. He is a graduate of Penn State University and a past Fulbright scholar.

MLD-820M is a useful complement to other MLD course offerings in the areas of Strategic Management, Leadership, Urban and Civic Innovation , Social Enterprise. If you have any questions about this course, or any other in the MLD curriculum, email Greg Dorchak, MLD Area Administrator.

Demystifying Power. Enabling Empowerment. | MLD-340 Power and Influence for Positive Impact with Julie Battilana

Having just been awarded the Academy of Management’s George R. Terry Book Award* for her book Power, for All, Julie Battilana returns to the Harvard classroom this fall to teach MLD-340 Power and Influence for Positive Impact.

In Power, for All, Battilana and her co-author Tiziana Casciaro offer a new vision of power – what they define as the ability to influence someone else’s behavior – as deriving from having access to valued resources. Understanding what those resources are, people can take action to plan for, create, and sustain organizational and systems change. Drawing upon lessons derived from their rich research, and conveying lessons through wide-ranging case narratives, Battilana and Casciaro reveal the insights into power and influence that come from understanding (1) the two basic needs all human beings share—safety and self-esteem—and (2) the resources people seek to satisfy those needs: obvious ones, like money and status, but also less obvious and less tangible resources, like autonomy, achievement, affiliation, and morality. In sum Power, for All demystifies the essential mechanisms for acquiring and using power, showing that it is available to ALL people, not just those with personality, money, or, indeed, those willing to use intimidation, threats, or worse.

Split picture: At left: Tiziana Cascario and Julie Battilana seated together at a table. At right: book cover of their book, Power, for All.Pictured
Tiziana Casciaro and Julie Battilana with their award-winning book, Power, for All.

Building on these empowering ideas…,

…and designed for individuals at any stage of their career, Battilana’s fall course MLD-340 Power and Influence for Positive Impact will debunk the fallacies that many have about power and explore the fundamentals of power in interpersonal relationships, in organizations, and in society. In doing so, it will lift the veil on power, revealing to students what it really is, and how it works, ultimately unleashing their potential to build and use power to effect change at home, at work, and in society.

MLD-340 is ideal for students who want to make things happen, despite the obstacles that might stand in the way. Students will walk away prepared to exercise power positively to challenge the status quo in order to address the pressing social and environmental problems of our time. Students will learn conceptual models, tactical approaches, and assessment tools to develop their personal influence style and understand the political dynamics surrounding them. The subject matter in the course also specifically encourages students to use power responsibly, resist its corruptive perils, and challenges students to develop their own sense of what constitutes the ethical exercise of power and influence in their lives.  Partnering with Battilana will be a stellar array of in-class guests, each an eminent and effective changemaker in their field. Expected to join the class are:

MLD-340 is jointly listed at the Harvard Business School as HBS MBA2057 and will convene class meetings both at HBS and the Harvard Kennedy School campuses on Tuesday evenings from 4:45PM – 6:45PM. The unique, dual-classroom meeting framework intends to mirror the necessary collaboration across sectors that organizations and industries must adopt in order to address the multidimensional crises we face today and successfully effect change.  The course is a useful complement to other MLD course offerings in the areas of LeadershipNegotiationOrganizing Civic, Political, and Social Action, and even Social Enterprise. If you have any questions about this course, or any other in the MLD curriculum, email Greg Dorchak, MLD Area Administrator.

*The Academy of Management’s George R. Terry Book Award is granted annually to the book judged to have made the most outstanding contribution to the global advancement of management knowledge during the last two years. Books that contribute to the advancement of management theory, conceptualization, research, or practice are eligible for this prestigious award. Battilana and Casciaro were presented the award at the 82nd Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management on August 7, 2022.

Announcing the Social Innovation & Change Research Seminar Series

The Social Innovation and Change Research Seminar is a venue for researchers of social innovation and social change to present and receive feedback on their research. The seminar is explicitly multi-disciplinary; work may draw on fields as diverse as sociology, political science, psychology, economics, and other social science approaches.

On behalf of the recently launched Social Innovation and Change Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School, we invite you to join our inaugural research seminar.

THE FIRST SEMINAR IS TUESDAY, MARCH 7, 2017, featuring
Maureen Scully, Associate Professor of Management at the University of Massachusetts – Boston
on “Mobilizing the Wealthy: Doing “Privilege Work” and Challenging the Roots of Inequality”
Time: 12:30-2:00pm; Location: 124 Mt. Auburn, Suite 160, Room 105

Summary: Wealthy individuals stand to gain materially from economic inequality, and moreover, have shaped many organizational and societal practices that perpetuate economic
inequality to their advantage. Thus, they are unlikely allies in the effort to remedy economic inequality and indeed likely to contest systematic policies to reduce inequality. In this paper, however, we study the mobilization of a small group of wealthy activists who join allies from lower socioeconomic strata to expose and redress the root causes of wealth consolidation. They offer an instructive alternative to “philanthrocapitalism,” whereby the wealthy present their wealth accumulation as a superior qualification for addressing societal problems and do not address the root causes of how their wealth was amassed. Our study contributes to the growing literature on inequality and organizations, which are the vectors for distributing wages and investment returns, by examining how the wealthy may sometimes wrestle with the sources of their wealth. Advocacy from wealthy allies is unexpected and may jolt attention and change. We derive the concept of “privilege work” from our observations of an often awkward and fraught process that enables the wealthy to engage with their own privilege, use their insider knowledge of wealth accumulation as a lever for change, and work respectfully alongside underprivileged allies. Privilege work represents a new type of ally work along the dimension of socioeconomic class, with potential, even if limited, to disrupt escalating inequality. 

We hope to see you there!

Learn more about the Social Innovation and Change Initiative (SICI ; pronounced “sigh-see”)  and see listing of upcoming seminars at: http://sici-hks.org/

Join us for the MLD Shopping and Welcome Event on August 28th!

The HKS Management, Leadership, and Decision Sciences Faculty (The MLD Area) invite all HKS degree program students to join us for our Shopping and Welcome Event on Monday, August 28th from 5:00 – 6:15pm in the Allison Dining Room, (Taubman Building 5th floor).

The purpose of this event is to provide students with a centralized opportunity to hear about courses in Management, Leadership and Decision Sciences, to meet the faculty, as well as to hear about the numerous related co-currcular activities in the MLD space. Examples of the latter include the Behavioral Insights Group (BIG), Social Innovation and Social Change (SICI) Studio, and the Kennedy School Negotiation Project (KSNP). Faculty in attendance will provide detailed overviews of our course offerings, and will introduce the MLD Certificate program. Plus… there’ll be cupcakes!

Should you have questions, please contact  MLD Area Administrator, Greg Dorchak at greg_dorchak@hks.harvard.edu  We hope you will join us on August 28th!

Please note: This event is not meant to be a substitute for the regularly scheduled MLD course shopping sessions taking place during the day on 8/28 and 8/29 at which you will hear in much greater detail about the fall and January courses.