Leadership by Design: Intersection of Art and Science

by Jennifer Miller on April 1, 2010

in Leadership, Learning, Training Delivery

Yesterday I was talking “shop” with two colleagues.  We’re all in the business of helping develop leaders and the talk turned to instructional design.  One of us asked, “How do you go about finding an instructional designer who also has deep experience in creating leadership programs for senior-level staff?”  

We noodled this idea around for awhile. . .  “Is it more difficult to create solidly designed content for senior leadership?”  Here’s where we ended up: as with many things in life, creating good content is always about the art and the science of it.

 One way to picture this issue would be:





I have a lot of leadership development readers out there.  What do you say?  Do you agree or disagree? How would you draw leadership development?  Send me your artwork (jmiller@people-equation.com) and I’ll post it!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Myatt April 1, 2010 at 10:28 am

Hi Jennifer:

Perhaps a video look at leadership development? http://www.n2growth.com/show_video.php?videoname=Leadership_Management.flv

David Brand April 1, 2010 at 10:41 am


I think there is an overlap between Art and Science. In some respect the element they share is creativity. Creativity in Art is obvious. Creativity in Science comes in the flavors of looking for solutions to unlock a mystery or seeking to discover something previously unknown, etc. Learning in Art and Science benefits from exploration.

Art requires practice; Science requires diligence. Art is experiential; Science is experimental.

When it comes to Leadership Development some things are best learned from study (perhaps the Science side of things) and some things are best learned through experience (perhaps the Art side of the equation. But in a holistic sense Leadership is a complex topic and there is an affiliation between leadership and management that enters into the picture as well.

So thanks for sharing this perspective. It is one that I resonate with.

Dave Brand

Dan McCarthy April 1, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Jennifer –
I like your senior leadership program design model, and I think Dave described it very well.

Maybe add a little luck too.

TheStrategicLeader April 7, 2010 at 5:25 am

Jennifer – great image
Matt – great ppt
Dave – great perspective
Dan – great support
StrategicLeader – adds the image could be conceived as the hard skills and the soft skills – the ying and yang – my notion is that the hard skills are useful in developing strategic intent – soft skills are useful in creating the future, maneuvering to make it happen, and executing to make sure it does happen.

loved the string!

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