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Adaptive Leadership




Leadership & Mediation

Credit Hours


Explore different established and emerging change management models and their application to design

In this class, participants will explore new capabilities designers have to incorporate to exercise leadership, including how to engage and mobilize systems of people when facing complex challenges. Grounded in both theory and practice of the Adaptive Leadership Framework, this course provides a foundation for designers to build their adaptive capacity. Participants will learn new vocabulary and tools to diagnose the complexity embedded in enabling change within social systems, such as organizations.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course, they will be able to develop strategies for mobilizing others to action and promote impact. Action strategies include:

  • Mobilizing multiple stakeholder groups across boundaries
  • Utilizing power and authority more effectively
  • Leveraging conflict and raising disequilibrium to generate innovation and lasting change
  • Managing and maintaining economies of attention over time

A significant amount of time will be dedicated to a key principle of Adaptive Leadership – managing oneself and the risks and dangers of exercising leadership towards a meaningful purpose.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, participants will leave with:

  • New skills to diagnose the challenge and the socio-political aspects of barriers to progress in a system
  • A new vocabulary to make sense of past leadership successes and failures
  • An understanding one’s leadership competencies and challenges
  • Concrete strategies on how to more effectively exercise leadership in an organization
  • An experience to fuel continued learning beyond the scope of the course

Format and Grading

The class will be taught using experiential methods designed to increase the adaptive capacity of participants. In addition to traditional teaching methods of lectures, structured activities, and readings, the group will analyze the social and political dynamics of problem-solving and learning processes that are common to many organizations facing complex challenges. To do so, participants will primarily create an action-learning community by analyzing the evolving dynamics of the group itself as a case-in-point in collective problem solving and learning.

Enrollment Restrictions

No prerequisites. This course is open to all Institute of Design students.