A Closer Look at The Intersection of Leadership & Innovation

Education shouldn’t fall victim to barriers such as location, accessibility, and time commitment — especially when it comes to important skills needed to get ahead. In MIT Professional Education’s The Intersection of Leadership & Innovation (ILI) eight-week online course, MIT’s Dr. David Niño guided the participants virtually through ways to gain leadership momentum, pushing them to lead with more self-awareness and creativity.

The course incorporated just as many interpersonal dynamics as you would see inside a traditional classroom. The course team answered questions with real-time office hours and facilitated extensive online interaction between students. Users were encouraged to participate in forums, learning from one another, sharing their experiences, and answering each other’s questions and concerns. “You feel you are in a live active course, part of a group, not like the usual self-study video lectures,” said Olafur Andri Ragnarsson, a digital transformation consultant. “Getting feedback fast is great and makes the experience better.”

The course focused on addressing the concerns of individuals and the real problems they and their companies were facing, specifically around the concept of innovation: What roadblocks were preventing desired growth? What development was needed within their team(s) to help promote innovation? How could they develop leadership skills to facilitate the desired growth?

“I will be less afraid to challenge assumptions and push for opportunities to both develop as a leader and to develop others as leaders,” said Anthony Lujan, senior manager, technology innovation at Varian Medical Systems, after finishing the course.

For some students, the impact was immediate. They went straight into applying their newly-learned problem-solving skills to issues their organization was facing, teaching their colleagues what they learned from the course and pushing to implement new ideas. “I already see more buy-in from maintenance groups across the organization,” said Edward Czarnecki, TPM PM Pillar National Lead at Clearwater Paper Corporation. “They already heard my vision statement during my last monthly call, and they all agreed that they understand it and why we need to do what we are doing.”