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Harvard Kennedy School

Leadership Decision Making: Optimizing Organizational Performance

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Jennifer Lerner on Emotions and Decision Making

Next dates

Jun 9—14
6 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 9400
USD 1566 per day
Sep 8—13
6 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 9400
USD 1566 per day
Feb 23—28, 2020
6 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 9400
USD 1566 per day


Wise judgement and effective decision making: In every professional setting across the globe, these are two skills that continue to be essential for success.

Leadership Decision Making is a rigorous, evidence-based program that teaches leaders like you how to design better decision environments—ones that reduce bias and inaccuracy and make your organization smarter. Moreover, the program shows you how to answer tough questions, improve the accuracy of your estimates and structure effective negotiations.

A Different Approach To Decision Making

Using the latest research in behavioral economics, psychology and neuroscience along with real-time exercises, this executive program will examine both the scientific basis for and the practical aspects of judgment and decision making.

Leadership Decision Making will provide you will the skills to:

  • Design optimal decision environments.
  • Effectively communicate risk.
  • Reduce bias.
  • Negotiate effectively.


Leadership Decision Making is a revolutionary one-week executive program led by Dr. Jennifer Lerner, a leading behavioral economist, and an esteemed teaching team of academics and practitioners. The program leverages the latest research in judgment and decision making, translating scientific discoveries into practical strategies through seminars, cases and decision exercises.

The curriculum focuses on optimizing organizational performance, giving emphasis to:

  • Reducing decision biases in your organization
  • Improving negotiation skills
  • Increasing forecast accuracy, especially for low-probability, potentially catastrophic events
  • Understanding the role of emotion in and designing smart accountability systems for judgment and decision making
  • Gaining support for decisions
  • Communicating risk accurately and effectively
  • Managing information overflow

A key and popular component to the curriculum is an individualized analysis of your decision-making style. Professor Lerner will conduct a confidential assessment in the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory, providing you with personalized feedback a comparison of your own data with societal and class averages.

You'll leave the program with new strategies and skills to advance your decision-making processes and make your organization smarter.

Individual Benefits

  • Gain a framework to help you understand where poor judgments and decisions come from and how to prevent them in your organization.
  • Participate in customized presentations from world-renowned faculty.
  • Receive a personalized assessment of your decision-making skills and strategies, conducted in the state-of-the-art Harvard Decision Science Laboratory.
  • Bring home a large collection of faculty-selected readings on key topics aimed at improving leadership development.
  • Learn specific strategies for improving your own leadership skills in negotiation, decision making, risk communication, evaluating others and risk management.
  • Develop a lasting network of other leaders from around the world who share your interests

Benefits to your organization

  • Develop human capital in your organization with leaders who will know how to improve overall organizational performance.
  • Gain the ability to set up appropriate incentives across your system, drawing on leaders who know when and how human behavior typically departs from rationality.
  • Develop a workforce that knows how to proactively prevent crises before they happen.
  • Increase your organization’s ability to reduce litigation and turnover costs by reducing judgment biases and improving decision processes.
  • Become more economically efficient by counteracting the subtle biases (e.g., risk aversion) that typically plague both public and private organizations.
  • Decrease inter-staff and inter-organization conflicts with employees who become trained in negotiation strategies for creating joint value.
  • Increase loyalty and trust among employees in whom you have invested.

Who should attend

Recommended applicants include:

  • Senior executives at the national, state and local government level
  • Elected politicians
  • Military and law enforcement officers
  • Intelligence analysts
  • Diplomats
  • Corporate executives across all industries
  • Scholars

Participant diversity is an important feature of this program and is critical to its success. This setting allows participants to interact with colleagues from across geographic boundaries and professional sectors, helping leaders understand the human dynamics that make or break the effectiveness of decision environments within their organizations.


Dr. Jennifer Lerner is Professor of Public Policy and Management at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Co-Founder of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory. She is the first psychologist in the history of the Harvard Kennedy School to receive tenure. Research: Drawing insights from ...


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