The Living Lab Fellowship in campus sustainability brings together a talented group of advanced undergraduates to doctoral-level students to make meaningful progress toward achieving Stanford University’s operational sustainability goals. Leading Organizational Change is a two-unit, one-quarter elective course offered Autumn quarter. The course constitutes the academic component of the Living Lab Fellowship Program. This course is only open to students who have applied and been accepted to the Living Lab Fellowship Program. Interested students apply by Spring quarter of the preceding year and undergo a competitive application process, after which successful applicants are invited to take part in the program.
The ability to lead change within organizations is essential for solving the complex and urgent challenges of our time. By most estimates, the majority of change efforts fail. However, the techniques used to successfully lead change across different industries and sectors (private, nonprofit, public) can be taught, learned, and practiced. This course will demonstrate why change fails, teach fellows to avoid common pitfalls, introduce powerful frameworks and strategic approaches for leading successful change, and provide fellows with tools that can be applied at any scale. Using the Stanford campus as a living laboratory where material from the course can be meaningfully applied, this course emphasizes learning through doing. Fellows are encouraged to practice and apply concepts, give and receive feedback, and practice self-reflection to grow as facilitators of positive and successful change. By the end of this course, fellows will deepen their understanding of the challenges, techniques, and opportunities associated with leading change in organizations and will be equipped to continue to build their capacity to lead successful change and foster healthy, just, sustainable, and resilient organizations.
Through this course, each fellow develops an Organizational Opportunity Project (OrgOpp) that is based on a pre-identified operational sustainability need at Stanford. To develop their OrgOpp project proposal, fellows use the Why/What/How framework to develop the proposal, gain approval from key stakeholder(s), conduct an assessment, and make recommendations for the Path Forward. The coursework is designed to be real, meaningful, and impactful. Critical to the success of the fellows in the course is their willingness to listen deeply, iterate on their work, and commit to providing value to the university. In order to make meaningful change, one must be bold, persistent, visionary, and also humble, willing to be flexible, make mistakes, be patient, listen deeply, and serve the greater good.