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Sustainability Leadership Program Pilots Leadership Lab

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For several years, our Executive Education for Sustainability Leadership program has worked with senior executives to use sustainability as a driver for promoting innovation within their organizations. Redirecting an organization to become more sustainable is frequently met with resistance and therefore becomes the perfect model for implementing any type of organizational change or transformation. 

From our surveys and feedback, it has become evident that employees at all levels find value in receiving support through the demanding processes of innovation and implementation of new ideas. In response, we are piloting a free 6-month Core Business Innovation for Sustainability (CBI-S) Leadership Lab for program participants in the Executive Education for Sustainability Leadership program. Beginning with the November 2016 cohort, attendees will be able to participate in this optional, volunteer-run course extension to find support as they learn how apply the CBI-S frameworks in the real life context of their workplace.

CBI-S Leadership Lab participants will define their own “fieldwork experiment,” developed and framed by the course concepts learned during the November 2016 course. The fieldwork experiment will provide real-time application of the CBI-S concepts in the workplace.  Participants who choose to engage in a fieldwork experiment will work in small groups to provide an opportunity to engage meaningfully in each participant’s experiment.

All CBI-S Leadership Lab participants will meet online every three months to share updates on the progress of their fieldwork along with insights and lessons learned from the applied experience.  We will then generate publications to help disseminate key discoveries, and high performing participants will be selected and supported into future CBI-S training roles. 

“I am thrilled about this opportunity to keep participants actively engaged as a professional learning community and to build deeper relationships for the Center as a whole,” said Program Director Leith Sharp.

To introduce the Leadership Lab, as well as some of the cutting-edge faculty, we will host a virtual information session on Monday June 13th, 2016, 12-12:45pm EST. Register at

Could this program be for you?

Core Business Innovation for Sustainability (CBI-S) transforms organizations to unleash employees’ full potential to address complex adaptive problems. It’s about taking up the qualitatively different leadership challenge of driving sustainability into the core mission and business of the organization.  We do this by unleashing the profound catalyzing force that is environmental sustainability—given the urgent need for action and how everyone at every level can play a meaningful role in the effort—and ensuring there are productive pathways for the full ongoing expression of these core efforts.

A CBI-S leader positions sustainability as a driver of organizational transformation to advance engagement, agility, systems-thinking, change-capability and innovation. A CBI-S organization integrates and harmonizes “adaptive” cycles of engagement, collaboration and applied learning with “command and control” routines of scaling, execution and accountability. CBI-S is a commitment to go beyond treating sustainability as an add-on and settling for “doing less bad” in an organizational context.

Senior leaders from across all sectors will convene at Harvard University November 1-4, 2016 to learn powerful new strategies for enacting high-impact sustainability leadership.

The 4-day residential program in Executive Education for Sustainability Leadership offers a complete introduction to the CBI-S framework.  Faculty and guest speakers from a wide range of disciplines and sectors present case studies and engage participants in meaningful discussion around the application of CBI-S in practice. Participants are lead through powerful exercises, such as idea flow mapping, so that they may better understand how decisions actually get made within their organizations (rather than how we are told or assume they get made) and use this new understanding to bolster the efforts of those trying to push ideas of sustainability and innovation in the workplace.  After the four day course, participants will receive a certificate of participation and leave with an expanded capacity for high impact sustainability leadership and a new network of like­minded sustainability leaders to learn with as they continue their journey to achieve Core Business Innovation for Sustainability.

Enrollment in this course is limited and admission is selective.  We welcome leaders who are new to sustainability and those who are already fluent in it. The crucial mindset we seek is that of wanting to go beyond positioning sustainability as merely an “add-on” or a “nice-to-have”.  We are looking for participants who don’t want to settle for simply “doing less bad,” leaders with an appetite for driving sustainability into the core of their business and mission by unleashing its potential for improving employee engagement and organizational performance. Learn more about who should apply and the admissions process by clicking here.

If you are interested in learning more or applying to this program, visit the program website at

Questions? Call 617.384.7276 or email

Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH

Aaron Bernstein is the Interim Director of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.

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