Problem Solving Leadership

with Esther Derby and Don Gray

Manage change and practice innovation by becoming a problem solving leader.

Learn and practice a leader’s most valuable asset: the ability to think and act creatively We believe that leadership is the key to building a healthy organization that can deal effectively with change. We teach that leadership is the ability to create an environment that enables everyone to contribute productively. We focus on process rather than procedure, on personal effectiveness rather than prescriptive strategies. The Problem Solving Leadership workshop has been growing and changing since 1974 to meet the changing needs of people in the workplace. The fundamental principle, however, remains the same: a leader’s most valuable asset is the ability to think and act clearly, creatively, and congruently. This is what we teach.

Course Objectives

Work on issues of most interest to you…and your organization. We have designed this workshop to be practical and applicable to the modern workplace. Your problems and concerns provide a frame of reference for all the workshop activities. At the end of the workshop, when you review your original learning objectives, you will discover that you have reframed the original problems and gained insight into the actual issues.

You will learn:

  • to be a leader while being a member of a team
  • to focus your thinking while in chaos
  • to make change a productive, creative event
  • to build truly effective teams to design projects people really want to work on to observe exactly what is happening
  • to use tools of effective communication to handle conflict in problem solving groups


Develop your own problem solving style PSL is built on sound principles of adult learning theory, general systems thinking, group process concepts, creativity and congruent human interaction. The simulations and other activities are designed to involve you totally in the experience of improving your problem solving effectiveness. You will take away an increased awareness of your own problem solving style and an understanding and appreciation of the styles of others. You will see how valuing differences can enhance innovation and increase, rather than constrain, your problem solving options.

Because of the experiential nature of this workshop, there is no detailed outline.  However, this is a taste of the models and topics we’ll cover.

  1. Learning Groups and Learning Objectives
  2. Solving Problems in Groups
  3. MOIJ Leadership Model
  4. Preferences and Differences
  5. Observing Process
  6. Designing Problems for Other to Solve
  7. Working in Groups
  8. Wrap up and further learning

Don Gray and I offer PSL one or more times a year, depending on our schedules and interest.

I will announce our classes by email. Sign up for email notification if you want the first announcement. Recent classes have filled within one week.

May 5-10, 2019, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Email me for a link to the registration form.

Please sign up for email notification using the form in the “Sign Up…” tab. I send out the notice using iContact.

Please email me if you wish to receive email announcements for future PSL classes. I send notices via iContact.

Don Gray’s quest to answer “What is the earliest indicator for a project’s status?” has led him to focus on such diverse topics as communication, personality types, team styles, systems thinking and human systems dynamics. For more than 25 years, his clients have ranged from small startups to Fortune 50 involving manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, financial, engineering and telecommunications. Don’s varied interests and client experience provides a platform for helping clients introduce and work through change as they transition to agile development practices. He conducts workshops on accelerating change, personality type, and retrospectives. Don occasionally writes articles that can be found in STQE, Better Software and on StickyMinds. His blog can be found at