• Dr. Kathleen Allen

    Dr. Kathleen Allen

    President of Kathleen Allen and Associates, Author, Leader

Can we design organizations in a way that creates a place where employees, the organization, and the larger community all thrive? And if so, where can we go for inspiration to help us achieve this goal? Leading from the Roots uses natures lessons from 3.8 billion years of research and experimentation to help organizational leaders rethink how they lead themselves, their teams, and their organizations. This course explores five design lessons found in nature and the dynamics of living systems to help us shift our assumptions, practices, structures, and processes of organizations so they can be more resilient and nourishing for all, and along the way teach us how to design our way out of workplace dysfunction and drama.


The Leading from the Roots Course provides a powerful new way of thinking about organizations as living systems and delivers practical leadership frameworks for individuals to learn how to create innovative and effective teams, and unleash the energy of the people they work with.

Course curriculum

  • 1
    Chapter 1: Life in Organizations
    • Lesson 1: Course Overview - Why Learn from Nature?
    • Lesson 2: Living Systems
    • Lesson 3: Applications for Leadership - The Dynamics of Living Systems
    • Lesson 4: Reflecting on the Quality of Energy in Your Organization
    • Lesson 5: Reflecting on Energy in Organizations Handout (Downloadable PDF)
    • Lesson 6: A Summary of Dr. Allen’s Paper, “Optimizing Energy: The Theory of Action” - (Downloadable PDF)
  • 2
    Chapter 2: Nature Runs on Sunlight
    • Lesson 1: Lessons from Nature
    • Lesson 2: Nine Design Lessons Found in Nature (Downloadable PDF)
    • Lesson 3: Leadership Lessons - Organizational Photosynthesis
    • Lesson 4: Blog - Organizational Lessons from Water
  • 3
    Chapter 3: Nature Fits Form to Function
    • Lesson 1: Weak Forms, Strong Purpose
    • Lesson 2: The Ecocycle
    • Lesson 3: Thresholds of Rigidity and Scarcity
    • Lesson 4: Reflecting on Your Organization's Ecocycle
    • Lesson 5: Organization Ecocycle Reflection Sheet (Downloadable PDF)
    • Lesson 6: Blog - Paying Attention to Thresholds
  • 4
    Chapter 4: Nature Banks on Diversity
    • Lesson 1: The Fragility of Sameness
    • Lesson 2: Lessons from Nature
    • Lesson 3: Leaderships Lessons that Invests in Diversity
    • Lesson 4: Blog - The Link Between Resilience and Diversity
  • 5
    Chapter 5: Nature Curbs Excess from Within
    • Lesson 1: Lessons from Nature - Feedback Loops
    • Lesson 2: Leadership Lessons for Curbing Excess from Within
    • Lesson 3: Blog- The Relationship Between Organizational Feedback and Dysfunction
    • Lesson 4: Blog - What Nature Can Teach Us About Listening?
  • 6
    Chapter 6: Nature Depends on Local Expertise and Self Organization
    • Lesson 1: Nature’s Lessons
    • Lesson 2: Lessons from Nature - Self-organization
    • Lesson 3: Leaderships Lessons - Local Expertise & Self-organizing
  • 7
    Chapter 7: Leading from a Living Systems Mindset
    • Lesson 1: How Leaderships Changes in a Living System
    • Lesson 2: Lessons from Nature
    • Lesson 3: Changing our Defaults and Leadership Questions
    • Lesson 4: How to Answer the New Leadership Questions (Downloadable PDF)
    • Lesson 5: New Leadership Questions Handout - Answer for Yourself (Downloadable PDF)
    • Lesson 6: Characteristics of Living Systems Handout (Downloadable PDF)