15.974 | Spring 2003 | Graduate

Leadership Lab


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 2-hour session, 5 day-long sessions, 1 half-day session

Course Overview

This five-day leadership workshop focuses on how leaders lead innovations that generate both social responsibility and business success. The course is organized around three core activities: observation, sense-making, and creating.

Observation: Students spend a full day inside the Boston office of the user centered design company IDEO working on reinventing the Boston T.Next, small student teams visit some of the most interesting companies in the area of sustainability and corporate social innovation including Ben & Jerry’s, KLD, Plug Power, PwC, UN Global Compact, and Schlumberger SEED. The task is to shadow, observe, and interview leaders who work at the frontline of socially responsible business innovation about their challenges, strategies, and practices.

**Sense-making:**The next day participants reconvene at MIT to share their stories and make sense of their observations during the company visits. The sense-making day also includes presentations and discussions with Joseph Rinkevich of MBDC (McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry) and Joseph Jaworski of the Global Institute for Responsible Leadership about designing and creating ventures that create economic, social, and ecological value.

Creating: The final part of the Lab focuses on developing ideas for change and prototyping them. The teams can focus on changes in the School or projects related to the company visits. The self-organized teams use the IDEO process of rapid prototyping to create socially responsible innovations that serve the need of a local community.Each team presents its accomplishments on the final day of the Lab.

Lead Faculty

Claus Otto Scharmer, MIT

Guest Faculty

Peter Senge, MIT
Eric Saperstein, IDEO
Simone Crook, Schlumberger SEED
Joseph Rinkevich, McDonough Braungart DesignChemistry, LLC
Joseph Jaworski, Global Institute for ResponsibleLeadership
Jeremy Hockenstein, DigitalDivideData

Company Visit Partners:

IDEO, Boston
Ben & Jerry’s, Burlington, VT
KLD Socially Responsible Investing, Boston,
McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, Charlottesville, VA
Plug Power, Latham, NY
PwC, Sustainable Business Solutions, New York, NY
Schlumberger, SEED, New York, NY
UN Global Compact, New York, NY
Walden Asset Management, Boston, MA

Session Overview

Two hour session Introduction
Session 1 The IDEO Process of Innovation, IDEO TEAM
Session 2 All-day visits to Ben & Jerry’s, KLD, Plug Power, PwC, UN Global Compact, Schlumberger SEED
Session 3 Sense-making
Guest presenter: J. Rinkevich (MBDC)
Session 4 Dinner party & dialogue with J. Jaworski (Global Institute for Responsible Leadership, Generon)
Session 5 Project Formation
Guest: J. Hockenstein, (Digital Divide Data)
Four hour session Project review, synthesizing key lessons of the Lab

Specific Course Objectives

This course is designed to create a deep understanding of leadership at the cognitive, the experiential, and the action level. Active involvement in class exercises is very important. Full attendance on all five days is required.

  1. Participants will be exposed to remarkable leaders, organizations, and teams in order to hone their own observation, sense-making, and innovating skills.
  2. Participants will be exposed to the theory, method, and practice of leading profound corporate social innovation.
  3. Participants will learn how to integrate these leadership skills and concepts into their own leadership practices.

Key Ideas

  • Effective leadership involves the capabilities of sense-making, developing relationships, visioning, and inventing new ways of organizing.
  • The keys to sense-making are precise observation and sensing emerging developments and patterns.
  • All profound innovation and creativity involves some deeper understanding and knowing from within oneself.
  • Remarkable leaders know how to use the power of intention.
  • In a rapidly changing world, creating the future involves rapid prototyping rather than long-term planning.
  • To make social responsibility in business work, leaders need to develop the skill of facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue by creating platforms of collaboration that involve key players from all three sectors: business, government, and civil society.

Course Evaluation

This is a pass/fail course. In order to pass, a student must be present for the entire workshop. In addition, each student must (1) participate and facilitate results in a self-organized team project, (2) co-author a reflection paper about the company visited, and (3) write a personal reflection paper on some key lessons and observations within two weeks of the end of the course. The reflection paper should be 2 to 4 pages in length. Students who sit in on part of the workshop, or who skip days or parts of days, will not get credit.

Course Application and Enrollment

The course is limited to 35 participants. If you confirm your participation and do not attend class, you will have prevented another student from participating. If you cannot fulfill this professional commitment, give immediate notice of cancellation.

Company Visits

The Lab includes a full day in the Boston studio of IDEO, the design company. The task is to reinvent the Boston T in a single day. A group of experienced IDEO consultants explains and demonstrates the IDEO process of user-centered design and rapid prototyping. The key principles of this process will be applied to the topic of social responsibility in the remainder of the Lab.

On the following Friday, the class splits into small teams of five or fewer to spend a day inside one of the following organizations and companies:

Ben & Jerry’s, Burlington, VT, www.benjerry.com
KLD Socially ResponsibleInvesting, Boston, www.kld.com
McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, Charlottesville, VA, www.mbdc.com
Plug Power, Latham, NY, http://www.plugpower.com/Home.aspx
PwC, New York, NY, www.pwc.com/sustainability
UN Global Compact, New York, NY, www.unglobalcompact.org
Schlumberger, SEED, New York, NY, www.slb.com/seed
Walden Asset Management, Boston, MA, www.waldenassetmgmt.com

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2003
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Projects with Examples
Activity Assignments
Presentation Assignments
Written Assignments