In Issue 53 of Connect, Karthik Ramanna shares his thoughts on writing and teaching cases, why the case method is such a good tool when it comes to teaching public leadership, plus much more.
Karthik, how long have you been writing and teaching with case studies for, and what is it you like about the case method?
I’ve been writing and teaching case studies for about 15 years now. Frankly, I would find it awkward to simply stand up and lecture in front of a class for an extended period of time without engaging in a Socratic dialogue with the students.
I find the case method is useful to teach both analytical skills and managerial judgment – I’ve used it to teach quantitative subjects like accounting and qualitative ones like leadership.
The method’s key strength is the use of active learning – a good case method classroom is one where students are leaning in to listen to their classmates and to help bring out the best in others when they have a knowledge advantage.
Why are case studies such a good tool when it comes to teaching public leadership?
Effective public leadership is about combining analytical insights with moral clarity and deep empathy to drive structurally sustainable solutions to wicked problems. To be an effective public leader, you must learn to listen to and work productively with others, even those with whom you might disagree. The case method helps build this instinct.
In the ‘Leading Organisations in the Age of Outrage’ webinar we’re jointly hosting in December, what will participants learn about the use of the case method in public leadership teaching?
Organisational leaders – whether in the public, private, or non-profit sectors – today must confront deep scepticism and distrust amongst constituents. Those constituents often feel cheated or unhopeful about the future – hence their outrage. To lead under such conditions, leaders must learn to combine authenticity with pragmatism.
The webinar will introduce participants to insights from a case-based course in the Oxford Master of Public Policy called “Managing in the Age of Outrage.” The course gives managers both a strategic framework for when to act and a tactical framework for how to act in the face of many competing demands across outraged stakeholders.
If you could be transported into another profession for one week, which would you choose, and why?
Astronaut, especially one involved in building a permanent extra-terrestrial human settlement.
How do you relax?
I am very lucky, as my work is my play. But I also enjoy hosting dinner parties where my guests and I can laugh together.
Do you have a favourite quote or guiding principle?
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about; be kind, always.”