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PPG 2014: Leading Change and Getting Things Done

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University of Toronto - School of Public Policy and Governance

PPG-2014: Leading Change and Getting Things Done

Description: This is an experiential learning course on leading societal and institutional change and getting things done with and through others. It aims to develop student competencies in strategy, negotiation, persuasion and communication. Each student, based on an analysis of his or her values and the policy environment, proposes a specific real-world change that could plausibly be accomplished during the course and, following a diagnosis stage, develops a strategy and tries to make the change happen using the concepts and techniques discussed in the course as well as the resources – including contributions from classmates – that the student develops. This change project can be done individually or in groups. Concepts used in the course are drawn from recent and classical literature in moral psychology, behavioral economics, group theory, and strategic management. Techniques explored include the use of policy narrative, social media, public communications, blog and op-ed writing, deadline-setting, small and large meetings, town hall sessions and polling.

Faculty: Karim Bardeesy; Ian Clark

Source: At (accessed 25 May 2013)


Additional Description from the Syllabus: Most of the content of the class will come from you and your engagement with each other. You will learn about leading change. You will actually lead change. And you will also most likely fail in some way to lead change.

The course is academically rigorous, and will be built on your learnings and experiences in public policy and elsewhere. But it will go beyond these, in the process testing the right side of your brain as much as the left side. It’s connecting to that other side that moves you and the people you seek to lead to action. You’ll learn the skills to do just that.

We will put a premium on the group’s work together in the classroom – whether that work involves collaboration, conflict, or neither conflict nor collaboration. We will be reading and reacting to each other’s assignments, engaging with each other online, and potentially working together on group projects. We will also put a premium on how the group’s work in the classroom relates to the work of leadership, or insufficient leadership, outside the classroom, by people outside the group. Recurring themes in these contexts will include authenticity and accountability, the respective roles of authority and leadership, inertia and improvisation, the roles of individuals within groups, engagement and disengagement, and urgency and uncertainty.

This is one-semester course offered in the fall term, 2013. Classes generally meet on Mondays, 7:00 pm to 9:15 pm in the Canadiana Building, 14 Queen’s Park Crescent West, Room CG-361. Classes begin on Monday, September 9 and, with the exception of Thanksgiving Monday, October 14, where there will be no class that week, classes meet every week to the last class, with final presentations and a celebration on Monday, December 9.

Attendance at each class session is mandatory. The classroom sessions are our primary place of contact with each other, and the setting for much of our learning. You will be enriched by your participation in these three other optional leadership-enhancing opportunities:

  • The SPPG leadership lecture series, generally conducted Thursdays at noon, will allow you to connect with and learn from leaders in the public sector and beyond, as they relate their lessons of success and failure in their lines of work. Attendance is required for these sessions.
  • Up to two leadership salons: opportunities to speak with emerging and established leaders in a more intimate setting. These will generally be held on Sunday evenings, 7:00pm-9:30pm, at an off-campus location. Attendance is encouraged but not required for these sessions.
  • Up to two skills sessions: workshops to hone your ability to lead, on the ground and in the moment. Topics might include opinion writing, problem diagnosis, or listening. These will generally be held on a weekday evening from 7:00 pm to 9 pm. Attendance is encouraged but not required for these sessions.

We will be employing the following books often enough that it might be worth a trip to the bookstore to buy them. 

Ron Heifetz, Leadership Without Easy Answers, Harvard University Press (1994).

Dean Williams, Real Leadership: Helping People and Organizations Face Their Toughest Challenges, Berrett-Koehler Publishers (2005).

Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, Random House (2012).

Page created by: Ian Clark, last updated 26 May 2013. The content presented on this page is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases.


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PPG2014 Syllabus for Fall 2013, Draft of 4 September 2013.pdfPPG2014 Syllabus for Fall 2013, Draft of 4 September 2013

 Additional Resources - PDFs

PPG 2014H - The Future of Public Service  A. Loat.pdfPPG 2014H - The Future of Public Service A. Loat
A_Leaders_Guide_to_Transformation, Robert_Reisner,_2011_IBM_Center_for_The_Business_of_Government.pdfA_Leaders_Guide_to_Transformation, Robert_Reisner,_2011_IBM_Center_for_The_Business_of_Government
Performance_Leadership-11_Better_Practices_That_Can_Ratchet_Up_Performance, Robert_Behn,_2006.pdfPerformance_Leadership-11_Better_Practices_That_Can_Ratchet_Up_Performance, Robert_Behn,_2006

 Additional Resources

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© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance