6.9280 Leading Creative Teams (Same subject as 15.674 [J], 16.990 [J])

Fall and Spring • MW 2:30-4:00pm • 37-212

Instructor: Dr. David Niño 

Units: 9 (G 3-0-6)

Prerequisites: None

Enrollment is open to all graduate students.* If you would like to take the course, please register for (6.9280/15.674J/16.990J).

For questions, please email David Niño at dnino@mit.edu

The class will be delivered online and attendance is required during regularly scheduled sessions. The reason for this is that the class is highly experiential in design, where students will engage in role play, skill practice, and other small group activities during scheduled sessions. We plan to record all of our class sessions and make them available in Canvas for future viewing. If a significant number of gradaute students reside in time zones where attendance during class times is difficult, we will try to accomodate these situations once registration is complete. 

*Students can count this course or one of our other grad classes (6.S976 Engineering Leadership in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, 6.9270 Negotiation & Influence Skills for Technical Leaders, and 6.9260 Multi-Stateholder Negotiation for Technical Experts) to fulfill part of the engineering doctoral minor and GEL's new Technical Leadership Certificate Program. (Check here for additional info.)

What skills will I develop in this class?

1. You will gain greater self-awareness. 

Self-awareness is a starting point for leadership development and an essential capability for the exercise of effective leadership. Some of the related skills that we will learn include building emotional intelligence, understanding how personalities shape leadership behaviors, defining personal and ethical values, giving and receiving feedback, coping with change and ambiguity, and managing stress.

2. You will learn to build positive relationships by enhancing your interpersonal skills.

Leadership and teamwork are inherently relational activities and strong interpersonal skills are therefore important enablers. During the course, you will develop related skills in managing conflict and negotiation, motivating and inspiring others, communicating effectively, building positive relationships and networks, building sources of power, and exercising influence.  

3. You will develop your ability to lead a team and be an effective team member.

Our focus on teamwork will center on both leadership and followership as essentially interdependent. Examples of related skills we will learn include how to compose and launch new teams, how to create and communicate an inspiring vision, how to develop groups into real teams, how to empower group members and delegate roles and responsibilities, and how to conduct productive team post mortems.

4. You will learn how to develop creative solutions in team environments. 

The unique context of teams in this class will be “creative” ones – groups that are charged with developing novel and useful solutions to problems. In this class, you will learn several creative problem solving skills, including how to understand problems from different points of views, how to find commonalities among disconnected fields or domains, how to open-up new ways of thinking about problems, and how to create a motivating environment that fosters creative problem solving.

What will the class be like?

This will not be a purely lecture-based course. While we will review and discuss readings to build our knowledge of course topics and skills, we will also draw from many learning methods, including:

  • Self-assessments to measure current skill competence and opportunities for development.
  • Case studies to see examples of how skills are applied in real leadership situations.
  • Role plays and simulations to practice skills in class and receive feedback from others.
  • Reflective learning through the crafting of an autobiography.
  • Visits from guest speakers and interviews with leaders in your chosen areas.

Who will teach the class?

David Niño is a Senior Lecturer in the Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program. He comes to MIT from Rice University, where he was a Professor in the Practice of Engineering Leadership. Dr. Niño has 15 years of experience teaching leadership courses to graduate, undergraduate, professional, and executive students and is currently working on working on national initiatives related to engineering leadership. For more information, click here.

In addition to Dr. Niño, Professor Joel Schindall will also be a frequent contributor to the class. A 35-year experienced executive and engineer, Professor Schindall is the Bernard Gordon Professor of the Practice and Director of the Gordon Engineering Leadership (GEL) Program. For more information, click here. Other staff from the GEL program will occasionally participate in the class.

Why is this class being offered?

The undergraduate GEL program has been very successful at MIT and now reaches over 150 students per year. Many MIT graduate students have expressed an interest in GEL programming and in response to this interest, GEL has hired Dr. David Niño to develop and teach this first graduate course. In addition to leading this first course, Dr. Niño will work across MIT to create a fully developed leadership development program for our graduate students in the Schools of Engineering, Science, Architecture and HASS.