Live, Online Program

Owning Impact: Creating a Positive Legacy For Families and Society at MIT Sloan


4 days, 4.5 hours per day

Family-owned businesses, family foundations, and family offices make a consequential economic, social, and environmental impact. How can families build an integrated family social impact strategy—driven by shared values, and utilizing the full set of opportunities, talents, and resources available to them?

At the intersection of family enterprise, social impact and systems thinking, this new, interactive course is designed to support families on their journey toward a positive social impact and legacy in a rapidly changing and disrupted world. We bring together owners and future owners to develop an understanding of their dynamic family systems and work with them to create an integrated impact strategy. We then connect families with MIT faculty members to dive deeper into building knowledge and exploring opportunities in support of their specific strategies. Families will leave the course with a better understanding of how to strengthen family unity, talent, culture, and reputation while uniquely contributing to a better world.

By mid-century, $41 trillion of family wealth will be inherited by the next generation, 60% of whom consider it important to use their family’s wealth to make a positive social or environmental impact. Senior generations want to create a positive legacy, which includes family unity, talent development, economic success, and reputation. The events of 2020 have motivated purpose-driven families to intensify their commitment to the health of our society and world, building on their unique position in society – harnessing their collective power toward meaningful action. It is not always clear, however, what the appropriate impact focus should be, amid competing priorities.

Owning Impact provides families with an opportunity to convene around this charge, and to build family alignment on the topics of impact investing, philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, and political engagement. Through content, case studies, structured breakout activities, and meaningful discussions, participants will learn how to navigate the tensions of family social impact – moving from fragmented activities by individual family members toward a cohesive family social impact strategy, animated by shared values and drawing on the full capability of the family. Through the lens of systems thinking, a signature mode of thought at MIT, families will also learn how to deploy effort and resources in ways that truly advance their goals and minimize unintended consequences.

The course is taught by Jason Jay, director of MIT Sloan’s Sustainability Initiative, and John Davis, lead faculty member of Family Enterprise Executive Programs at MIT Sloan. Jay and Davis are collaborating to develop a portfolio of offerings—the Owning Impact Project—to guide families as they strive to create positive social impact and legacy.

The MIT Perspective

MIT is uniquely positioned to provide support to families on their journey:

  • MIT understands and creates the future. We understand the technological innovation ecosystem, and develop future scenarios for the global economy, society, environment, and the role you can play in solving critical challenges.
  •  MIT is rigorous. Expertise around specific problems and solutions abounds at MIT, as well as the ability to measure and evaluate impact efforts to ensure their effectiveness.
  •  MIT unites the human and technical dimensions. Our faculty include leading coaches and facilitators on leadership, organizational change, and talent cultivation as you navigate social and technological disruption.
  • MIT leads in the understanding of family enterprise dynamics and social impact strategies.

Learn more about the live online experience.

“I have personally gained some important insights from telling our family’s story and applying the systems tools that Jason and John have developed. I hope that others in our network are able to gain some value from this MIT approach as well.”
– Sam Bonsey

“It’s great fun to work with Jason and John to explore these dynamics and help other families along the journey,” he says. “I think MIT could do something unique and necessary in this space.”
– Temple Fennell

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Professor John A. Davis
Senior Lecturer, Family Enterprise Executive Programs

The Future Family Enterprise program is led by MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer John Davis, a pioneer in the family enterprise field and a globally recognized authority on family enterprise, family wealth, and the family office. Professor Davis joined MIT Sloan after leading the family enterprise area at Harvard Business School for more than 20 years. He is an award-winning teacher and researcher and is the creator of some of the field’s most impactful conceptual frameworks. Professor Davis is also Chairman of Cambridge Family Enterprise Group, a global advisory and research organization. He tweets at @ProfJohnDavis.

Jason Jay

Jason Jay
Director, Sustainability Initiative, MIT Sloan

Jason Jay is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Director of the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan. He teaches courses on leadership, strategy, and innovation for sustainable business. Professor Jay engages students and alumni in hands-on projects with leading companies and organizations. These efforts help build a community of innovators for sustainability that includes MIT students and alumni, faculty and researchers, with partners in business, government, NGOs, and hybrid organizations. He is author of the book, Breaking Through Gridlock: The Power of Conversation in a Polarized World.

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