HDO Spotlight: Michael Larson

In this edition of the HDO Spotlight, Michael Larson (HDO Master’s Class of 2015) discusses how HDO boosted his professional competencies, helped him realize a new career path, and how awareness can help us tackle complex problems.

Lewis Miller, HDO Marketing Coordinator
July 25, 2017

What is your current job title and place of employment?

Content Strategist and Senior Facilitator, Blank Page

How has HDO has impacted your professional life?

I have been interested in how people function in organizations for a long time. Before starting the HDO program I dabbled in theory, reading whatever I could find and learning from some great professional coaches and facilitators. Discovering a comprehensive program that strongly aligns with what I knew was the most component of success in so many organizations – understanding people – was a huge step forward for me professionally.

Michael Larson, HDO Master's Class of 2015

Michael Larson
HDO Master’s Class of 2015

First, through HDO I was able to take an interest of mine and build it out to be a competency in all the human dynamics that must be considered in an organization. With this competency came an effective, holistic view of how people show up each day. I’ve been able to leverage that viewpoint in a consistent way to explore and affect what might be keeping an individual, a team, or an organization from performing at capacity.

Second, HDO helped me realize my own professional next step. As large of an impact as it had on my ability to look at others, it also gave me a chance to self-reflect on my own career and think about how I wanted to apply these newfound skills. Since graduating, I’ve had the opportunity to join Blank Page, a firm that helps organizations put people at the center of their strategy, unlocking their capacity to do great work every day. While I didn’t know where HDO would take me when I enrolled, I met Blank Page’s Co-Founder, Cyndee Lake, in the program and I’m thrilled to be a part of her team.

Simply put, HDO has grown my capacity to understand and successfully work with the human systems that exist in every organization.

Was there a particular course, classroom discussion, or assignment that impacted you personally or professionally? If so, please share that story.

The common thread of awareness showed up across disciplines as a critical first step to solving challenges and capitalizing on opportunities. People are complex and the systems we create among ourselves multiply that complexity to a staggering degree. The variables in such systems can seem overwhelming, even impossible, for anyone to work through with success. The theme of awareness, though, allows us to approach the challenge through a different lens. We have the capacity to solve for great complexity if we only understand what variables may be at play. By simply being aware of what could happen, we are far more likely to notice it and work to address it. Through basic awareness of the human dynamics that are likely to arise, people have the ability to mitigate negative effects and seize opportunities. It may not be everything, but it’s a great start!

Tell us, in two or three sentences, about your capstone and its relevance to the workplace.

My capstone focused on the intersection of values and decisions in organizations and the impact such interplay can have on those watching and evaluating decisions through a values lens. We often think about making value-based decisions, but it is as important (if not more) to consider how decisions will be seen as related to the values that drive them by others within our organizations. The variables at play (what causes a person to assess a decision through value-based lens, what such an assessment is based on, what role trust plays, and what are potential outcomes) are often more complex than those that come up in the vacuum of decision making.

» If you’re interested in learning more about our 15-month program designed for professionals, visit the HDO Master’s Degree site.