Course Partner: Cambridge Leadership Associates


February 2, 2015

End Date:

March 8, 2015



Group Size:

3 to 6

Registration Closes:

February 22, 2015

Adaptive Leadership: Mobilizing for Change

Our Funding Partner

Our Funding Partner

Adaptive Leadership is a practical leadership framework developed by Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The Adaptive Leadership course is designed to help individuals and organizations through consequential change in times of uncertainty when there are no clear answers. It teaches leaders to identify and tackle systemic change through a process of confronting the status quo and identifying technical and adaptive challenges.

technical challenge is solved through addition expertise and information. Adaptive Challenges are the problems that require change at the core of what people are doing, feeling, and thinking and require a tailored approach, beyond calling in an expert. It requires adaptive leadership.

At Acumen we believe that Adaptive Leadership is a critical skill. Changing the way the world tackles poverty is an adaptive challenge. We are thrilled to be working with the Cambridge Leadership Associates (CLA) to offer this free introductory course.

The world needs you to lead. This is your invitation.

Collaborative Learning

You can read through this curriculum on your own, but isn’t going to be any fun. With our course partner, Cambridge Leadership Associates, we’ve designed the course for group discussion and discovery. The real learning happens face to face, person to person, when you challenge yourself and those around you.

No group? There are several options for you.

  1. If you are located in one of the city Acumen chapters is located at, the chapter might be able to help you get connected with other individuals.
  2. You can recruit your colleagues, friends, community members, family to take the course together. (They also need to individually register)
  3. You can wait for the instruction in Module 1, which will include suggestions on group formation online.

Our Course Partner

Cambridge Leadership Associates (CLA) is an international leadership development practice and the home of Adaptive Leadership.  CLA works with organizations, teams, communities, and individuals to identify their most significant challenges, generate new solutions, and exercise the leadership required to bring them to scale.

What You Will Learn

This course will introduce you to several key tools of Adaptive Leadership and show how you can apply these tools within your organization or community life to drive lasting impact.

As part of the course, you will bring a current challenge you are up against.  Presumably, you will describe something from your work life, but it could also be from your personal, civic or community life.  You will work to make progress by:

  • Discovering a sense of your own leadership capacity and building more effective skills for impacting change
  • Understanding the differences between the technical and adaptive elements of your challenge
  • Defining your key stakeholders and how to mobilize them to address the challenge
  • Practicing a courageous conversation in preparation for addressing your challenge

You will emerge from the course with a more clearly defined challenge, ideas for how to mobilize your stakeholders, and a toolkit to better address future adaptive challenges.

What To Expect

Start/end date :

This course has 4 modules. You will have the access to it on the day course starts.


Expect to spend ~5 hours per week on this course.

Group Size:

Forming a group is not mandatory for this course, but we highly encourage it.  Groups of 2-4 are recommended.  Many people form groups with their co-workers.  Don’t worry if you do not have a group before the course starts, you can connect with other participants during the course and form a group.


This is an introductory course and there are no prerequisites.

Technical Requirements:

You need a computer that allows you to watch the video lectures, and the ability to upload your assignments, which will include text reports and images or video.

Statement of Accomplishment:

Subject to satisfactory performance and course completion, you will receive a statement of accomplishment. This statement will not stand in the place of a course offered by CLA or Acumen.

Course Outline

Module 1: Purpose and Possibility Identifying Your Challenge

  • Begin to define a challenge that you will use during the course
  • Form a peer consulting group and use it to gain feedback on your challenge

Module 2: Identify Your Challenge – Diagnose the System

  • Understand the distinction between the technical and adaptive aspects of your challenge
  • Refine your challenge with your peer group

Module 3: Map Your Stakeholders – Mobilize the System

  • Define the various stakeholder factions relevant to your challenge and identify their values, loyalties and potential losses
  • Brainstorm ways in which you may begin to mobilize these stakeholders in order to make progress on your challenge
  • Use your peer consulting group gain feedback on your stakeholder analysis

Module 4: Practicing Courageous Conversations – Deploy Yourself

  • Learn how courageous conversations can be a tool for moving people
  • Identify an opportunity where a courageous conversation could help you make progress on your challenge
  • Prep and practice a courageous conversation with your peer group

Frequently Asked Questions

Do my group members need to be in the same location?

We recommend signing up with a group that is all physically located in the same place. Much of the value of this course derives from the in-person, peer-to-peer learning that happens between group members. With that said, we have had groups cover many of the labs over Skype or Google+ hangouts so it is possible to have a remote group.

Remember, all members of your group need to individually register for this course.

What is the ideal size for my group?

We generally recommend a group of 3 to 5 individuals. If your group is too big, it can be more difficult to coordinate schedules and share/practice individual storytelling skills together.

What happens if I don't know anyone yet, but want to be in a group?

There are several options for you.

1) you are located in one of the city Acumen chapters is located at, the chapter might be able to help you get connected with other individuals.

2) You can recruit your colleagues, friends, community members, family to take the course together.

3) You can wait for the instruction in Module 1, which will include suggestions on group formation online.

Will a certificate be awarded upon completion of the course?

The course is really for you and your own personal development; therefore, you will get as much out of this course as you put in.  We will provide an acknowledgement of participation for individuals that complete all 4 modules of the course and complete all the course surveys and reports. The instruction will be provided in your first course material.

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