Celebrating a major milestone in its history, Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education (HKS EE) held its 40th Anniversary Symposium on Thursday, October 6, 2016 at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Foggy Bottom. The all day event reconnected nearly 250 alums from around the world to hear the latest research on the myriad factors affecting senior leadership decision making.
After opening remarks by Senior Associate Dean for Executive Education Debra Iles, Jennifer Lerner, Professor of Public Policy and Management kicked off the first of three presentations with her research on Leadership Decision Making. Her presentation was followed by Lecturer of Public Policy Robert Livingston, and his discussion on Understanding the Benefits and Challenges of Diversity for Decision Making. Associate Professor of Public Policy Matt Andrews then gave the final presentation, Leadership Frameworks.
Each of these lectures summarized not only fascinating research and voluminous empirical evidence on the basis on which we make our decisions, but also underscored the subjective nature of our decision making process by our own innate (and often unconscious) biases. Moreover, it punctuated the need for decision makers to recognize and overcome these biases in an increasingly global milieu where leaders must interact with many different cultural norms.
The symposium then concluded with a networking reception where classmates gathered to rekindle old friendships and recall the great learning and collaboration experiences gained while at HKS. This was a rare opportunity for those no longer in Cambridge to take a day out of their professional quotidian existence to reassess ways in which their decision making processes can be greatly improved.