Peter Zimmerman Photo

Peter Zimmerman

Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy


Strategy is expressed in the decisions we make every day. There are no choices or actions that are truly neutral with respect to one’s strategic purpose.  Yet few decisions come labelled as “strategic”; instead policy makers, analysts and managers face an unending stream of judgments and choices that arrive in varied frames from every imaginable direction.

No decision stands alone. Today’s decisions are linked undeniably to decisions in the past reflected in the experience of individuals, groups, teams and organizations, even nations.  Experience both enables and limits our perceptions, beliefs, values, predispositions and capabilities. We both learn from the past (it’s all we’ve got) yet our learning can be limited by the deceptive clarity and presumed certainty associated with explanations of past events.

How can effective leaders learn from experience and decisions in the past to make more effective decisions that advance one’s strategic purpose? MLD-113M will help students develop more robust explanations of past decisions, their strategic impact and will help students make better predictions of the effects of future decisions.

While the course draws upon a number of historical and near contemporary examples to illustrate and improve analytic skills, the primary focus of student work is preparation of a course paper that enriches, supplements, elaborates, or even challenges conventional explanations of a consequential decision in the public sphere.