Using a Systemic Design Paradigm to Develop Sustainability Leadership and Build Organizational Sustainability Platforms
Lees, David W.
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This article explores a doctoral sustainability leadership course in an interdisciplinary leadership program. Learners in the course study sustainability and sustainability leadership from a systemic design perspective. They are invited to become visionaries who work across boundaries and disciplines with cooperative and reflective spirits to find integrated solutions for complex organizational problems. The first section provides course background information on the interdisciplinary, interdependent, and integrated complexity of the sustainability movement. It also examines the different and often ambiguous understandings of sustainability and why a systemic design platform might provide a more expansive vessel for sustainability leadership and projects. The second section investigates systems thinking, design action, the nature of change, and dialogue -the core of good design. The third section uses a learner’s case study Air Combat Command Sustainability Design Project to illustrate how an organizational leader built a sustainability plan unique to his organization. Five domains (Ben- Eli, 2012) provided the overarching infrastructure. Although each domain embodies a separate area, together they make up a unified organizing principle that works toward integrating essential elements into a strong infrastructure. The article concludes with reflections from both the course facilitator and the course learner.