Syllabus

Orientation: Universe Within - An Introduction to Leadership, Teamwork, and Organizational Change for the Leaders For Manufacturing Class of 2007

Leadership is literally "Job One" on our agenda, the focus of the first five days of the summer semester. Other courses and workshops over the next two years will emphasize specific leadership skills such as communication, motivation, decision making, and management of planned change. In this orientation we explore the images, the thoughts, and the experiences that make up the life of a leader... in other words, the "Universe Within." As part of Universe Within, we engage in a day-long Outward Bound exercise to gain first-hand practice in team building.

The goals of Universe Within are ambitious:

  • To explore the limits of our ideas, our abilities, and our visions of the future
  • To establish a learning organization of our own - one that will evolve over the course of the next two years and beyond
  • To challenge conventional ideas about what it means to be a leader, a follower, a student, and a teacher

The schedule of sessions (below) depicts the major areas of leadership we hope to cover. The brief description of each session should not be confused with a "lesson plan." Instead, we have attempted to identify an attribute of leadership or a problem for leaders that can serve as a centerpiece for dialogue. In most sessions, we will combine practice with theory.

Throughout Universe Within, we build from research on leadership in the behavioral sciences. However, we are also mindful that leadership of the 21st century manufacturing enterprise may require skills that differ in important ways from those that sufficed in the 1920s, 60s, or 90s.

Universe Within is without parallel in any major graduate degree program in the United States. Each time we undertake it, we feel like it is an experiment. Like most experimental situations, we cannot anticipate the exact trajectory our discussions will take. Neither can we predict whether each session will achieve the goals we have attached to it. Perhaps most importantly, we cannot predict whether all participants will find the effort equally useful. Thus, we will check periodically to see whether we are satisfied with our progress.

Leadership Development

"Management is about coping with complexity... Leadership is about coping with change." (John Kotter, Harvard Business Review, 1990).

In an era of high velocity change - in markets, technologies, politics and demographics - leaders who can cope with change are essential to enterprise success. Leadership is a theme that runs throughout the Leaders For Manufacturing program, beginning with the Universe Within and continuing through workshops, courses, internship, and beyond. Our purpose is to develop leaders who can flourish in an environment of turbulence and change.

The leadership concepts in the LFM program are derived from an analysis of major trends in business and the global economy, new developments in organization theory and management practice, and the foundational social science disciplines of sociology, psychology, and economics that help us understand the dynamics of human interaction. We also draw upon our years of experience of active collaboration on the topic of leadership development involving industry and academia in the LFM program.

At the beginning of the Universe Within, we introduce the Sloan Leadership Model, a dynamic approach to Leadership designed from the viewpoint of a newcomer to a team or organization who wishes to bring change. The newcomer may be an appointed leader with formal authority or a team member who rises to the occasion. This is a particularly appropriate starting point for thinking about entry into the LFM community, beginning new summer teams, and later for embarking on internships and new jobs. The LFM program also introduces other useful and complementary leadership concepts in later courses.

The LFM leadership development activities offer a multi-dimensional approach to leadership. They provide tangible skills as well as pathways to longer-term individual, team, and organizational learning. Each component of the program is structured around three key activities:

Skill Development

Systematic instruction in the techniques and behaviors associated with effective leadership.

Practice

Opportunities to exercise those techniques and behaviors and to get feedback on individual performance in order to identify areas for improvement.

Reflection on Practice

A discipline that encourages continuous improvement of individual and group skills and practice.