Bringing case discussion to cities

 
 
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What is a case?

The Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative’s teaching cases are stories that are designed to raise questions and generate discussion. They encourage people to draw out lessons by describing how others dealt with particularly difficult challenges, or opportunities. These stories anchor a general discussion in a concrete example, yet leave analysis and conclusions up to the participants discussing the case.

Cases were traditionally designed primarily for professors and practiced case teachers. Bloomberg Harvard cases, however, are accompanied both by conventional academic teaching notes and by instructional materials that enable a much wider range of people working in—and with—cities to quickly spur insightful discussions and engage in illuminating conversations with their colleagues.

This case, “Change at the Speed of Trust,” is freely available to download and use, and is accompanied by a “conversation note” so anyone can use the material to guide a productive discussion around ideas and themes raised in the case.

Case synopsis

At the turn of the 21st century, Louisville, Kentucky, found itself in the middle to the back of the pack among peer cities along a number of key measures of prosperity and quality of life. Since then, two consecutive mayors have advanced collaborative efforts across sectors to increase students’ college and career readiness and address the city’s significant achievement gap. This case tells the story of how that effort evolved under the leadership of Mayor Greg Fischer into an effort to effect system change in education from “cradle to career” through wraparound services and scholarship guarantees for graduating high school students.

The case explores cross-sector collaboration and governance in a city-wide context from the mayor’s point of view, centering the question of whether the process is moving too fast or too slow. It also supports learning about the design and management of cross-sector collaborations, including common challenges and success factors.

Using the case

The case brings the story to life by enabling discussion participants to place themselves in the shoes of the case protagonist(s), and it allows participants to surface a variety of perspectives. The downloadable conversation note is designed to help a discussion leader working in—or with—cities to structure the conversation, ensure equitable participation, and keep the group focused. The conversation itself is broken into three simple segments: exploring the case, diagnosing the collaborative challenges, and formulating takeaway lessons.

An expanded “teaching note” is also available here but is not necessary reading:

Thanks to a generous donation from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case, conversation note, or teaching note.