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“Photography is used not just as a metaphor for leadership but as way to improve leadership: observing reality, thinking solutions, making decisions, having vision, stepping back to see and reflect, choosing the right moment, learning from mistakes, going deeper into the meaning of what we are doing”—Enrico Rimoldi, Communication Director, YBP, Milan, describing MIT’s ground-breaking ‘Leadership and the Lens’ program.
Co-taught by MIT’s Hal Gregersen and National Geographic photographer Sam Abell, this three day course uses the camera —with guidance from of a National Geographic photographer—to explore how unseen opportunities reveal themselves—and how the most effective leaders spot them, before it’s too late.
To approach the world with eyes wide open and a camera in hand is to be inquisitive. It provokes questions like: What surprises will I encounter? How will I capture them? What message am I trying to share—and what will the images I produce say about me and my values as a leader?
Innovative solutions to complex business problems start with assumption-challenging questions. To surface these ‘catalytic’ questions, leaders often need to drop their preconceptions, step back and have the patience to take in the dynamics of a situation so as to be open to new attitudes and ideas. Similarly, top photographers commit themselves to daily habits that develop deep seeing skills. They patiently ‘compose and wait’ out in the field, where vulnerability often leads to inevitable, powerful images. They learn to study their settings as deeply as their subjects, and as they do, images (and life itself) light up.
The course aims to provide leaders with deep insight into:
Why some questions prove especially ‘catalytic’—capable of breaking down barriers and accelerating progress in new directions
How exploring the intersection of two disciplines that combine art and science—leadership and photography—enhances creativity in both
How simple changes in behaviour and perspective increase your chances of encountering assumption-challenging input and exploring its implications
Why the quest to uncover ‘what you don’t know you don’t know’ is central to both game-changing innovation and great image-making
What prevailing conditions, deliberately sought or constructed by the leader, cause fresh questions to arise continually and productively
In this short video, Hal Gregersen discusses how photography has impacted his work as a leader and the questions he asks and lives:
MIT Sloan is uniquely positioned at the intersection of technology and business practice, and participants in our programs gain access to MIT’s distinctive blend of intellectual capital and practical, hands-on learning.
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