Learn How To

Find the root cause of a stubborn and recurring challenge in your organization, team or community

Partner with people in positions of authority or power

Recognize your role in the challenge and use your own power to get to a solution

Lead adaptively amidst times of mistrust, resistance, conflict and distress

Course Syllabus

Learning Tools

4 reading guides highlighting case studies and examples

4 discussion guides to help you identify, analyze and craft an experiment for your own adaptive challenge

Video tutorials from Eric Martin

Section 1: Identify Your Leadership Challenge

Reading: Getting on the Balcony

Exercise: Getting on the Balcony

Exercise: The “Gap”

Reading: The “Gap” and the System Around It

Reading: The Illusion of the Broken System

Activity: Discussion

Activity: Frame Your Adaptive Challenge

Section 2: Think Politically to Mobilize Support

Video: Think Politically

Reading: Why “Thinking Politically”?

Exercise: Reflection

Reading: Practicing the VLL Framework

Exercise: Values, Loyalties, Losses

Reading: Stakeholder Categories (Factions)

Reading: Additional Resources

Activity: Faction Mapping

Activity: Engage with Your Map

Section 3: Distinguishing Technical and Adaptive Problems

Video: Technical and Adaptive Challenges

Reading: What’s the “Work”?

Reading: Technical vs. Adaptive Problems

Exercise: Technical vs. Adaptive Problems

Reading: Bundled Challenges

Reading: Unbundling Your Challenges

Activity: Reframing Your Challenge

Activity: Seek External Perspectives

Section 4: Adaptive Experiments

Video: An example of a courageous conversation

Reading: Experimenting Adaptively

Reading: Readying Yourself and Others

Reading: Orchestrating Disequilibrium

Reading: Avoiding Work Avoidance

Exercise: Productive Zone of Disequilibrium

Reading: Experiment and Take Smart Risks

Activity: Design Your Adaptive Experiment

Activity: Summary Deck

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Change your view of the world

Draw inspiration from thought-provoking readings, videos, and reflections.

Gain diverse perspectives

Learn with a team that brings different experiences and thinking to the table.

Receive a certificate of recognition

Attain a “Statement of Accomplishment” recognizing your successful completion of a course.

"I am a Certified Executive Coach and consultant working with leaders and organizations to create change. I'm already starting to think and behave differently in having hard conversations. Great tools to support key concepts.”


Course Description

Have you ever struggled with a problem that will not go away, despite multiple attempts to solve it? Adaptive Leadership can help tackle problems where seemingly obvious solutions stubbornly persist or face unexpected resistance.

In this project-based course, you’ll identify a leadership challenge in your life and use the tools and techniques of Adaptive Leadership to make progress on it. The Adaptive Leadership approach was developed at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and equips people with the skills needed to lead change in times of uncertainty in an increasingly complex world.

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Supported By

Adaptive Change Advisors (ACA) was founded by Eric Martin, who stewarded adaptive leadership from Harvard Kennedy School to real-world application. ACA seeks to “democratize leadership” – making it possible for anyone, anywhere to improve their livelihood by effectively mobilizing others.


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Our community comes from a range of countries and socioeconomic backgrounds; differences in pricing standards and privilege shouldn't prevent access. Therefore, this course is 'pay what you can.' In order to continue to provide access to as many people as possible, we appreciate whatever you are able to contribute to help keep our courses running. Please note that a payment is NOT required to take this course.
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