Jim Phills (pictured right), Director of Stanford's School for Social Innovation, not only engaged us in "Mission, Strategy, and Execution," "Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation," and "Corporate Strategy," but, as the EPSE Faculty Director, he also expertly guided us through a diverse but interconnected (and powerful) series of professors and subjects:
- Jim Patell, a professor at Stanford's famous Institute of Design (the "d.school"), and several of his immensely talented TAs, lead us in "Social Entrepreneurship by Design," an intense 48 hour session where our designated teams transformed a point of view into an idea into a prototype into a final presentation - and, along the way learned that "innovation isn't an event, it's is a design process," and that the best design comes from a "emphatic, human-centered approach" and a "prototyping culture."
- Chip Heath, best-selling author of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, talked about "How to Change Things When Change is Hard," encouraging us to "find and emulate the bright spots of a situation." He also described helpful ways to motivate the "Elephant" (our emotional and instinctive side), direct the "Rider" (our rational side) and shape the "Path" (the surrounding environment) to successfully spur change.
- Robert Burgelman, took us deep into "Dynamic Forces and Driving Firm Evolution," where, with masterful story-telling, he helped us explore the implications of strategy, drawing on diverse examples like the Peloponnesian War and the turbulent history of Intel.
- Deb Gruenfeld empowered us with "Building and Leading Effective Teams," "Influencing without Authority," and "Acting with Power," highlighted by acting sessions and an insightful look at the power dynamics in the classic movie, Twelve Angry Men.
- Jennifer Aaker, a mastermind of marketing and author of the new book The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Powerful Ways To Use Social Media To Drive Social Change, took us through "The Power of Social Technology" by drawing upon everything from the comedian Louis C.K. lamenting about modern society to the "happiness machine" at Coke.
- Paul Pfleiderer gave us a hard-nosed look at the opportunities and challenges on the finance side of social entrepreneurship with "Tapping the Social Capital Market" and "Socially Responsible Investing."
- Jeff Pfeffer challenged us to look at the role of power and influence - and how to use it for good - in "Leading Large Systems Change: Power and Influence in Action."
- Bill Barnett, whose teaching style I would liken to a virtuoso jazz musician, rounded out the program with a standing ovation worthy "Balancing Social and Business Objectives in the Social Enterprise."
Most importantly, however, were the life-long friendships I made with my classmates, forty-nine of the most incredible social entrepreneurs on the planet. Traveling from more than fifteen countries - including Australia, Nigeria, Poland, the U.S., India, Canada, Columbia, Malaysia, El Salvador, Pakistan, Spain, China, the Philippines, the U.K., and Switzerland - and driving forward systemic social change in every possible sphere you can imagine, it was this truly remarkable group that made my experience one for the ages (class photo below!).