Expectations & Guidelines

Program Content and Objectives

The LCI is a high energy, intensive six-month long action learning and professional development experience. The LCI program builds on two decades of experience and has over 500 graduates worldwide.

The LCI is a program intended to inspire new levels of understanding, leadership maturity, and intervention skills in its participants. It combines intensive personal change with professional capacity and skill development. The program consistently strives to be high on these two elements, in ways that most leadership activities are not: personal transformation and maturation, and skills in leading and changing organizations and systems.

The program draws on and has been built by people who have, over the past 20+ years, directly pioneered in the development of a variety of fields, including organizational learning, systems thinking, sustainable development, dialogue, process consultation, family systems therapy, and the improvisational arts. It is taught by a faculty who together has many years of direct experience in practicing, teaching and advising organizations around the world in these areas.

It is important to state at the outset that the LCI is not a “course” or “training” program in the traditional sense. It is better understood as an educational journey and professional development process. Many traditional educational methods are “transaction based.” The educators are supposed to have information and the students are expected to learn it. This is sometimes called the “banking concept” of education whereby instructors deposit ideas in students’ heads.

While there will be some transfer of information in this sense, including new tools, new methods, and new frames with which to approach tough problems, much of the education in the LCI is “generative” – meaning you learn as a result of thinking and acting in ways that you would not have on your own, and as a result of interacting with an extraordinary group of individuals.

Navigating New Waters

The LCI is a way for you to extend and deepen your professional skills and leadership capacities. It offers an entirely new set of skills and capacities – both for producing transformational change in our organizations, and for providing the kind of collective and inspired leadership essential in our intensifying age. These skills include the capacity to think inventively, learn quickly and act in bold ways. This translates as confidence to challenge old mindsets, and to think systemically – seeing the connections and opportunities others might miss.

We approach these matters in the LCI through the unique art and practice of dialogue. Dialogue is a practice of talking and thinking openly together. Conducted with patience and insight, it can lead to deep transformation within individuals, groups and teams, organizations, and even society.

The LCI is, however, by no means limited to developing dialogue as a form of conversation. We see dialogue as a stance, a practice among a group of people, and the cornerstone to large systems transformation. For this reason we focus on the art of producing living change, which is a method, somewhat akin to process consultation, for intervening effectively in large systems. This process can enable you to design ways to help bring about profound and unprecedented change in your organization or community.

The LCI is ambitious, intense, and focused both on the professional substance of your work and your personal challenges, attitudes, and beliefs. It is, in other words, both practical and personal. We believe it is essential to combine these two domains, and that it is important for you to understand that your own personal engagement, from the inside out, will be as important as any methods or ideas you learn that you can apply outside of yourself.


Purpose and Intended Outcomes

Our overall intentions for the LCI are as follows:

  1. To enable individuals to experience, understand, and gain genuine and notable new understanding and capability in the following four domains of knowledge and practice:
  •  Individual and collective leadership
  •  Systems thinking and system design
  •  Dialogue and collective intelligence
  •  Facilitating innovation and change
  1. To help initiate and begin to establish systemic and dialogic transformation activities in the participant organizations in ways that are likely to lead to significant results.
  2. To create a deep learning environment in which participants can learn from one another and in which organizational experience can be readily transferred.
  3. To create a continuously expanding body of theory and practice about this field and its applications in a variety of practical settings around the world, and to invite participants into direct and active participation in this process.

The LCI will have analytic activities and active periods of personal reflection. We seek to activate the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual intelligence of the participants who attend.

Physical intelligence is the capacity to perceive direct sensory and physiological information continually moving through your own body; mental intelligence is the capacity for reflective and innovative thought; emotional intelligence is the capacity for resilience, depth and breadth of feeling, and spiritual intelligence is the capacity to perceive depth of character and understanding – wisdom.

Expectations about the LCI

One concern some people have entering the LCI is that they may be inadequate to the tasks and challenges of the program. Others fear that the experience may go too slowly, or that they may hear things they already know. We would suggest that one way of handling these concerns is to embrace a paradox:  bring your expertise as well as your humility. Your willingness to learn and to take responsibility for your experience will make all the difference to your participation. The question one could always ask of oneself, and others could ask of you is, are you coachable? Some people arrive with their cups already so full that it is hard for anything more to enter it.

Another matter to consider is the kind of learning we invite you to do in the LCI. There is an important distinction between transactional and generative learning:  Transactional learning assumes the student is empty, and the teacher fills him or her with knowledge. In this kind of learning, the focus is on absorbing new content and new technical knowledge. In generative learning, the interaction between faculty and participants creates possibilities that could not have arisen any other way. New knowledge and new understanding emerges as a result of this total field of learning, and as such, participating in it fully and openly is absolutely essential. The LCI focuses primarily on generative learning.

Another issue that sometimes arises concerns the subject of dialogue. The actual experience of dialogue often differs greatly from what people have come to believe or expect of it.

Since the publication of Dialogue at the Art of Thinking Together and of other books like it, many people have come to a certain understanding conceptually of this subject. Yet in experience dialogue can be very different from what people expect or believe. It can be intense – intensely wonderful and intensely frustrating. It can bring you to both enjoyable highs and painful lows.

Over the past two decades we have found that peoples own expectations about dialogue are themselves often an important barrier to the actual experience of it. In this sense, our advice is to do what you can to set aside your assumptions about dialogue, the knowledge you believe you have as well as the inadequacies you imagine you bring. In a word, our initial advice is to just bring yourself — ready and willing to listen, to speak and to learn.

Finally, some people come to the LCI expecting to learn a set of tools and techniques that can enhance their capacity to bring about results. While this is part of the program’s aim, it is not our only ambition or focus. As we mentioned above, you will find that we are as interested in you as the tool user, as we are in the tools and methods for dialogue and dialogic change.

Nature of the Sessions and Interims

The program will consist of four four-day sessions and three practice interims between these face-to-face experiences. The four in-person sessions are designed to maximize learning, experience, skill development, and conceptual understanding. The practice interims — when you are at your place of work — are times when you apply your learning in practical settings, try experiments, and hone new skills. We view the interim periods to be at least as important as the actual residential sessions. During each interim you will have the opportunity to apply what you are learning to the practical challenges of your everyday work, and to then bring the fruits of these efforts back to the group for further reflection. You will also have the opportunity to coach each other and to be coached by faculty members during these interims.

The LCI uses a variety of different learning methodologies to accomplish its goals, including large group dialogues, one-to-one coaching, small group reflection, reading, individual and team presentations, simulations, light physical embodiment exercises, music, video excerpts, story telling, and lectures. 

We typically have at least one guest speaker for each session, in addition to the faculty members present at each session.

How much work should I be prepared to do?

We believe that the LCI’s core focus will be on helping you to integrate the work you are already doing with what you learn at the LCI. The LCI program takes the stance that learning requires practice and reflection. You will be given several different ways to actively practice and build capability during the interim sessions. These will include:

–       An action project:  an activity where you and a small team actively experiment and seek to bring real change to your organization, applying what you are learning in the LCI.

–       Coaching: you will meet with a faculty coach in the first session that you will work with in the interims, on your professional development, practice and reflection work. You will also coach one of your peers and be responsible for sustaining and supporting their learning as well.

–       Reading: We will provide you with some of the most salient and powerful writing we know of, in a variety of different fields, to supplement your learning.

–       Practice: specific opportunities to deepen and extend your knowledge by taking action in defined and structured ways.

You will determine the amount of time you take for this work. We will design it so that there are several levels of depth you can take the material to, depending on your interest.

Ground rules

There are only a few simple ground rules that we ask participants to follow:

–       Be here: meaning, be present when you are in attendance, attend all sessions, and all aspects of all sessions. This is not a program where one can pick and choose hours to attend, and work the rest of the time. We ask that you arrange your schedules so that you can be fully attentive and available throughout the sessions. This implies not leaving before the published end time, and not arriving after the published start time. We try planning the sessions to insure that there is ample time to make flights, and can assist you if necessary.

–       Practice: there will be many opportunities for practice in this program, both during the sessions and in the interims. Every great tradition and discipline speaks of the need, in one form or other, for practice – as study, through action, and in quiet reflection or meditation. We would ask that you commit to doing this work, to follow through on whatever is requested of you, and to communicate with us if for any reason you cannot.

–       Enjoy yourself! Creativity and learning expand exponentially with relaxation and enjoyment. While we expect you to be stretched in this program, we want, and intend, that you also have fun!