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Shared Value Insights from Harvard: A Short Course Report

This November, Shared Value Africa Initiative CEO Tiekie Barnard travelled to Boston, USA, for the Harvard Business School course on Creating Shared Value: Competitive Advantage Through Social Impact, hosted by Shared Value co-creators Prof Michael Porter and Mark Kramer. Here’s her report-back on the experience and the insights she learned.

It was cold and rainy in Boston when I arrived at the Harvard campus for the Shared Value course, armed with the in-depth background reading material. The weather set the scene for a dive into epicentre of the global academic business world. I am very grateful for this experience, including the opportunity to learn from one of the most highly regarded business faculties in the world.

The course was taught by faculty members who are well respected in academia and in the business world as great researchers and critical business thinkers who have produced books and research papers that are used by businesses around the world to shape their strategies. In addition, it was great to reconnect with Mark and Michael, who also co-founded the Shared Value Initiative, the first of its kind and one of the Shared Value Africa Initiative’s regional partners.

The programme delves into the Shared Value framework and covers topics such incorporating Shared Value into a business’s core strategy, the challenges of organizational design and impact measurement, and more. It is structured around a series of case study discussions, which were primarily focused on multinationals and therefore the developed world – something I was particularly aware of given my belief that Africa is the most exciting continent from a business perspective. Nevertheless, it was great to see the inclusion of one of the SVAI Founding Members, Discovery.

During the course, we divided up into working groups, which gave us the opportunity to discuss the case studies and learn from each other’s experiences. In addition to this high-level engagement, it was also an opportunity to build some great global networks, and I invited all of the course attendees to join us at the Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit in Rwanda next year. Harvard is well known for this discursive model of education, which encourages real engagement with the subject matter.

Engaging on Shared Value at a high level in this setting reinforced the importance of continually developing one’s understanding of the business management strategy. I encourage all who are able to join us in Nairobi for our Shared Value executive course at Strathmore University Business School on 23-25 March 2020. The curriculum is aligned to the Harvard programme, but also includes thought-provoking African case studies, showing how Shared Value has been successfully implemented on our continent. Click here to learn more.