• Designing for Social Innovation and Leadership Course





    What is Vertical Leadership Development?

    Vertical Leadership Development refers to the intentional advancement of a person's thinking capability. The outcome is to think in more complex, systemic, strategic, and interdependent ways. The combination of experiential exposure to learning about unfamiliar communities, problems, and perspectives, plus the repetitive practice of skills, solidifies and strengthens your unique leadership style. Read more here.

    The DSIL Course employs the three criteria for vertical development (below) in tandem with the latest emerging innovation processes and practices, alongside organizations practicing them.

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    Heat Experiences

    The What - In a heat experience, you face complex situations that disrupt your habitual way of thinking. During the process, you discover that the current way of making sense of the world is inadequate. During the course, facilitators assist you in searching for new and better ways to make sense of your specific challenges.

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    Colliding Perspectives

    The Who - Colliding perspectives means exposure to people with different worldviews, opinions, backgrounds and experiences. These differences will ​increase the number of lenses through which you are able to see the world.

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    Elevated Sensemaking

    The How - Elevated sensemaking involves reflecting and evaluating your learning with others around you. At this stage, we provide facilitation to help you integrate and make sense of perspectives and experiences you've observed and a clear way to implement them going forward. From this, a larger, more advanced worldview emerges and solidifies with time.

    2018 Innovation Theme: The Design Thinking Process

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    A well-defined, robust, and rapid problem-solving method.

    The Design Thinking method is an iterative process that allows for deeper and wider understanding of complex challenges and solution building for them.


    Ideal for any innovator, Design Thinking is a tool that has helped facilitate the creation of user-focused solutions in organizations like Google, IBM, Clorox, Nike, UNICEF, and World Vision.


    At the DSIL Course, you'll actively learn and embody the design thinking process and the mindsets they require through engaging in design sprints with community groups, companies and provocative enterprises in Southeast Asia.



  • Alumni Story:

    Sawako | Japan

    Sawako came to learn about creating innovative grassroot solutions that she could teach forward at her University.

    Alumni Story:

    Chris | Austria

    An Entrepreneur and Creative, Chris came to learn about the practice and of design thinking.


    Alumni Story:

    Mansi | India

    An Intrapreneur and Problem Solver, Mansi came to learn about authentic communication and leadership.

  • What You'll Learn

    • Complexity theories and problem-solving processes that rely on empathy, curiosity, and understanding.
    • The foundations of design thinking (human-centered design) mindsets like bias-to-action and reframing during real-world scenarios to find innovation.
    • How to lead co-creation with a diverse group of cultures and perspectives.
    • How to use storytelling as an effective tool to amplify ideas and ignite your teams.
    • Master the interdependent collaborator mindset: see systems, patterns, and connections while holding multiple perspectives of the world around you.
    • Learn self-awareness tools to learn more about yourself. 
    • Train-the-trainer methods for everything you learn; we teach to train so that you may drive innovation in your organization/community for years to come.

  • The DSIL Course Sequence

    Slide through the 5 components intentionally placed to ensure practical learning and relationships as you go.

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    9 day Immersion

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    Virtual Classroom

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    DSIL Challenges

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    Expand your Network

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    Executive Coaching

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    Virtual Classrooms

    Our Virtual Classrooms were created with the curious, time-crunched leader in mind. 


    Virtual Classrooms are 1-hour affairs led by the world's foremost thought leaders on topics such as organizational change, social innovation, empathy, design thinking for life and work, authentic leadership, and entrepreneurship.


    Our speakers have represented University of California Berkeley Executive Coaching Institute, the Stanford d.school, MIT D-Lab, and THNK School of Creative Leadership to name a few. Click to view past classrooms.

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    9-day field immersion

    You will not find anything like a traditional academic environment on the DSIL Course. 


    At DSIL, we believe that learning occurs through questioning, reflecting, and experimenting during every experience. We use design thinking methods that can be used both professionally and personally. The immersions are created in collaboration with local communities and focus on solving real challenges that social enterprises face through workshops and design sprints.


    We work in highly diverse teams alongside partners from academia, grassroots movements, social enterprises, and entrepreneurial ecosystems.

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    DSIL Challenges

    Experiencing learnings alongside others creates learning that lasts.


    Throughout the 5 month course, you will be asked to complete 5 hands-on challenges that will facilitate heightened self-awareness.


    To solidify your learning, the DSIL Challenges offer practice to lead in your own company or community. The results are increased confidence in applying your newfound skillsets to real-world situations.

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    Expand Your Network

    The DSIL course is about the people that travel, experiment, and learn beside you for years to come.


    DSIL participants are selected for their diverse professional and personal backgrounds. No two cohorts are the same. Our students exemplify an ability to show bias towards action, radical openness, critical thinking, and a readiness for upward growth.


    Currently, the DSIL Course Community totals over 130+ alumni from 55+ countries.

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    Executive Coaching

    We learn when we can see where we get stuck using tools, how that relates to our unique development path.


    The course is customized for each individual with one-on-one University of California Berkeley-certified coaches whom will guide you throughout challenges during the course. Our coaches will also be there to help you get clear on how to specifically integrate these skills and build new habits after the course in your real life, wherever you are.

  • The Importance of Southeast Asia

    Southeast Asia is quickly establishing itself as a fast growing economic powerhouse home to think-tanks and innovation. The region is also a keeper of rich, diverse cultures as plentiful as the many islands that dot this oceanic area. As a global hub with diverse communities living and working together, you'll grasp the importance of co-creation when implementing innovative solutions.


    The DSIL Course will take you through Thailand's fast-paced tech-heavy capital city of Bangkok, and Cambodia's culture-rich capital of Phnom Penh where community voice matters. Each city has their own unique political, socio- economic and environmental opportunities and challenges. In these two countries, you will engage with local innovators and social entrepreneurs working to transform the livelihoods of their communities.


    Southeast Asia allows the curious learner to explore what it means to be a leader in a world where complexity is the norm.

  • Alumni Thoughts on the DSIL Course

    130 + DSIL Course Alumni from over 55 countries and counting!

    The DSIL Course taught me much more than d.thinking. It taught me how to become a more resilient and vulnerable leader and to re-connect with my dreams for this crazy and beautiful planet. "

    - Hanna Ruddies, Global Growth and Acceleration Lead, Impact Hub

    "One of the things I find so amazing about my participation in DSIL was the degree to which I have been able to take the learning and relationships and immediately apply them within my teaching and my private executive education/coaching/consulting work. The depth of the learning and collaboration I know engage in has increased significantly. I've been to MANY trainings in my career, and rarely (if ever) have I found a course so impactful and immediately useful. DSIL has been an excellent investment for me with returns in knowledge, skills and important relationships."

    - Dr. Art Sherwood, Director, IDEA Institute

  • Who Joins the DSIL Course?

    YOU! The DSIL Course prides itself on diversity. With 130+ Alumni from over 55 countries, the DSIL Course attracts a global group of high performing leaders from multiple industries. Past alumni include CEOs, entrepreneurs, leaders at Shell, Salesforce, UNDP, IBM, Deloitte, and the Asian Development Bank. The age of our alumni networks ranges from 26 to 60 years old and includes people of all educational backgrounds.


  • Let's have a Virtual Coffee!

    Get in touch with us. Let's have a conversation or get you connected to alumni who can share their experience!