Scott Carney Reflects on Harvard Leadership Program

Scott was recently awarded CCMF’s Harvard Leadership Program scholarship. The Leadership Decision Making program at Harvard Kennedy School focuses on designing environments that help reduce bias and inaccuracy in order to make the overall team and organization smarter. Grounded in theories and evidence from psychology, behavioral economics, and neuroscience, the program teaches leaders to answer tough questions, improve the accuracy of estimates, and more effectively structure negotiations.

Below is an excerpt of Scott’s thoughts on the lessons he learned from the program:

There is something special about the environment in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The history of intellectual pursuit and concentration of Harvard, MIT, Boston College, Boston University and Northeastern University establish an electric atmosphere filled with curiosity. Cambridge reminds me of Eric Weiner’s book Geography of Genius. His premise is that, in certain places at certain times, a collection of people with the intellect, effort and ability come together to produce something truly creative and unexpected. Walking along the Charles River on a fine fall day to class, Cambridge has much in common with Hangzhou, Calcutta, Vienna and the other cities described in Weiner’s book. Even the reading material at the local Supercuts (yes…I pay the barber’s finder fee) is elevated to include Entrepreneur and Science.

The biggest revelation came from the negotiation exercise and considering the ethical implications of using behavioral science to drive decisions. As noted in the 2009 CCMF article Council-Manager or “Strong Mayor” The Choice is Clear, professional city-management offers an opportunity for “merit-based” decisions. However, it is too easy to simply define merit-based decisions as those more aligned with the rational economic decision model than biases and heuristics. We must recognize that professional expertise can create an imbalance between city managers and the communities served.

Read the rest of Scott’s reflection.

The next “Leadership Decision Making” program will be held February 23 – 28, 2020. The program application deadline is December 23, 2019. If you are accepted to the program, you may apply for a $5,000 CCMF scholarship before January 23, 2020. See our Harvard Scholarship page for full details.

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