The Thinking Leader's Toolkit

A new leadership course from Joel Tosi and Elisabeth Hendrickson. Learn frameworks and techniques to understand what's really happening in your organization, find the right leverage points to affect change, and drastically improve outcomes.

As a leader, you have levers that you can use to shape your organization: you set goals, make prioritization decisions, set the bar for job performance, decide how work is allocated, and establish policies. If you have a more senior leadership position, you authorize initiatives, structure teams, set budgets, and more.

Imagine for a moment that the levers available to you are on a large control panel right in front of you. Have you ever turned a dial, expecting the organization to move one way, and instead it moved the other? Or perhaps you flipped a switch over here only to have a light bulb turn off way over there? To put it more concretely: have you ever seen a policy change have the opposite of the intended effect? Or did the last reorganization fix all the problems it was intended to? Or did it fix some issues but cause a lot more?

The problem with leading in even a moderately complex organization is that it can be difficult to reason about cause and effect. There's a significant probability of unintended consequences. The levers, dials, and switches at your disposal interact in ways that are hard to see. Add in the fact that organizations are made of people, and people are not always rational actors. Sometimes it's surprising anything ever moves forward.

The good news is that there are thinking tools that enable you to find the hidden connections between the forces within your organization and find the right leverage points to make changes while minimizing unintended consequences.

This course draws on a combination of systems thinking, lean tools, and economic theory to give you a comprehensive toolkit for improving the outcomes that really matter.​ You will learn approaches that you can apply in your real world work immediately. You will also be able to practice what you're learning in a simulation sandbox, giving you the opportunity to experiment and learn in minutes what would take months in the real world, and without the risk.

Join the wait list, and you will receive exclusive access to content previews, as well as invitations to private live events where we do test runs of exercises. Along the way you'll have the opportunity to help us shape the course, ensuring it gives you the insights you need to level up your organization.


The curriculum currently includes:

Diagrams of effects. Map the interactions between forces in your organization. Find the reinforcing and balancing loops. Identify decision points to change outcomes. Learn how to spot unintended consequences before they happen. (Avoid Dilbertian incentive systems, like when Wally declared he was going to code himself a minivan.)

U-Curves. Map the relationship between forces in your system to find the optimal sweet spot. Consider the batch size of releases. If releasing frequently enables fast feedback, but there is overhead associated with every change, use a U-Curve to find the right release cadence and size for your context.

Shewhart charts. Look at the variability of your metrics to distinguish signal from noise. Notice when changes are having a real effect.

Value stream mapping. Visualize the flow in your organization and find the bottlenecks.

Leverage points. Identify the practical, structural, and cultural leverage points in your organization that give you the greatest leverage to make a particular change.

We will continue adding topics, and are open to suggestions.

Pricing & Delivery

The course materials will be self paced with hours worth of text and video content, as well as self-paced exercises. In addition, we will host live events where you have the opportunity to discuss and practice your new skills.

Price TBD

About Us

Elisabeth Hendrickson is CEO and Founder of Curious Duck Digital Laboratory where she helps technical leaders find the most impactful points of leverage to improve collaboration, decision making, and execution. She has a proven track record for growing leadership teams and shaping cultures to build leading edge products at a sustainable pace. Previously, she was VP R&D and on the executive leadership team at Pivotal where she led development of enterprise data and cloud products. She's also the author of Explore It! from Pragmatic Bookshelf, a timeless book on exploratory testing that remains popular a decade after publication.

Joel Tosi is Owner and Co-Founder of Dojo & Co. For the past 12 years, Joel has been coaching organizations like Target, Northwest Mutual, Nielsen, RR Donnelly, Thomson Reuters, Disney, Pearson, and Verizon in developing new product delivery practices. He has been a dojo coach for more than 6 years. He began exploring ways to build better software as an engineer and architect in the early 2000s. He's an in-demand speaker and has helped organize conferences including DevOps Days, Agile India, and the Scrum Gathering.