Leading Innovations in Health Care and Education brings together scholars from across the globe annually in June. In this blog post, we interview Derek van Bever, BA, MA, MBA, MDiv, a course director for the program, to explore his experience teaching the course throughout the years.

Harvard Macy Institute: What is special about the Leading Innovations program?

Leading Innovations in Health Care and Education presents a unique opportunity to apply the insights available from entrepreneurship and business model innovation to the challenges facing clinicians, researchers, and educators in health care. The course arose from a unique partnership between Dr. Elizabeth Armstrong, a professor in pediatrics and lifelong educator, and Professor Clay Christensen, one of the leading thinkers in management education at the Harvard Business School (HBS). The strength of their decades-long partnership can still be seen in our focus on building community among generations of course graduates. 

As we share with scholars when we welcome them to the program, we think of this as “the most practical theoretical course you will ever take.” 

Harvard Macy Institute: How would you best describe the course structure?

Full disclosure, the course is a lot of work! Should you attend this program, we have designs on your time from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM across a full week, with group dinners on two evenings. You will also have the opportunity to explore Boston with your fellow scholars on other evenings. 

Apprehensive? There is no reason to be! You will be delighted by how we have designed the course to maximize learning and interactivity. Each day contains large group learning, with experts on innovation, organizational effectiveness, and education. There is also engaging small group project work and structured time to work on the project or challenge that you have brought with you from your own organization. We have included a number of Harvard Business School case studies in the mix, which are fun and fast-paced. We also build in time for you to interact one-on-one with our speakers, should you have questions that we do not address during our formal sessions. 

Harvard Macy Institute: How long have you been a course director? What compels you to continue teaching the course year after year? 

I have been a Harvard Macy course director for the past four years, so I am still sort of the newbie on the team. I took on this role at Clay’s request when he fell ill from the cancer that ultimately took him from us back in 2020. Clay and I taught together in courses as colleagues at Harvard Business School for a dozen years, and I knew him for 25 years, so it is both my pleasure and honor to keep his memory and way of looking at the world alive. 

Harvard Macy Institute: How has the course evolved over the past years? 

We learned a lot when we took the course to a virtual format during the pandemic—including that we vastly preferred the in-person version! 

More seriously, I suppose, we survey the faculty after each year of the program to see what we can improve, replace, or add to keep the material fresh and relevant. As will surprise no one, we have added a lot of material on the impact of AI on health care and education, and most recently we added a case study I wrote on the impact of the pandemic on business model innovation in a large health system. 

Harvard Macy Institute: What suggestions do you have for people working on submitting their application for the Leaders program? 

Take the time to tell us about your experience with innovation in your organization—what has worked, and what has been frustrating—and also what you would like to accomplish in the coming years. The more clarity you have on how you would like to apply what you learn in our course, the more that our faculty will be able to point you to the most helpful resources and members of our community.

We look forward to learning from and with you in our course! 


Did you know that the Harvard Macy Institute Community Blog has had more than 380 posts? Previous blog posts have interviewed scholars including Chase Findley, Andrea Cooley, and Belinda Lowe.   

Derek van Bever, BA, MA, MBA, MDiv

Derek van Bever, MBA, MDiv is a Senior Lecturer of Business Administration and is Director of the Forum for Growth and Innovation at Harvard Business School. Derek's professional interest includes the challenges facing large incumbent corporations seeking new pathways to growth, both environmental and personal sustainability, and the connection between faith and leadership. Derek can be followed on Twitter