Leadership Lab

Leadership Lab for Corporate Social Innovation: One Process, Three Stages, Seven Elements.

The three stages and seven elements of the process of corporate social innovation on which the Leadership Lab is focused. (Diagram by Dr. Claus Otto Scharmer.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2003



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Course Description

Course Features

Course Highlights

The Leadership Lab for Corporate Social Innovation is a hands-on, experiential, action learning workshop that exposes students to three different contexts:

  • Observation: Small student groups go on field trips and company visits to meet with some of the nation’s most remarkable leaders, teams, and companies. Students will shadow these frontline innovators on the job and interview them about their challenges and practices.
  • Sense-making: Having synthesized their observations and various lines of inquiry, students attend a dinner party where they can engage in dialogue with remarkable leaders about those leaders’ journeys.
  • Creating: Generate ideas, form project teams, and develop prototypes of practical innovations that serve the needs of a local community.

The book Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future, is co-authored by Peter Senge, Claus Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers (see the Dialog on Leadership site).

Course Description

This five-day interactive and experiential workshop focuses on how leaders lead innovations that both promote social responsibility and produce business success. The workshop is organized around three main parts: observation, sense-making, and creating. During the observation phase, students spend a full day inside the Boston office of the design company IDEO and visit some of the most interesting proven innovators in corporate social responsibility such as Ben & Jerry’s, KLD, MBDC, Plug Power (fuel cell technology), PwC, Schlumberger, or core team members of the UN Global Compact. After returning from their company visits, students describe to one another what they saw and learned. In the final part of the Lab, students conceive and implement innovation projects that serve the needs of a local community. Each team presents its practical accomplishments on the final day of the Lab. Starting in 2004 this course will be renumbered as 15.975.

Related Content

Claus Scharmer. 15.974 Leadership Lab. Spring 2003. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, https://ocw.mit.edu. License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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