Jeff VanderWielen, Ph.D.


Jeff leads the Innovation Leadership practice in Rainforest Strategies.  He helps formal and informal leaders realize their capacity to innovate and how to foster a culture of innovation within their team and across their organization.

While innovation is the creation of realities that don’t yet exist, most leaders still rely on a problem solving approach to make advances, which engages a “looking back” mental process. Innovation, however, requires leaders to suspend both past and present to imagine future possibilities, to activate latent potential in the environment.  Jeff works with leaders to build their capacity to facilitate this emerging future, providing new mental maps, new tools,  models  and heightened awareness to guide them in the process of creating an environment where innovation takes root, grows and thrives.

For 20 years Jeff has been in the role of executive coach to global leaders. He was instrumental developing the RFS Innovation Leadership curriculum, Innovation Coaching program and the Innovation Leadership 360 measure.  As a leadership coach, Jeff has extensive experience using personality measures, emotional intelligence measures, 360 surveys and leadership assessment centers as tools to educate and coach leaders at all levels.

Jeff has been helping leaders for over two decades to master complex change initiatives, including tenure with Ernst & Young.  He has lead numerous large-scale, global change projects including IT, operational and culture change efforts. (See the Chevron Corporation case). He has extensive project management experience, and brings a host of models, tools and methodologies to educate and guide his clients through the process of organizational transformation.  

As a facilitator, Jeff has designed and facilitated hundreds of group events including strategic planning, team development, executive retreats, diversity training, leadership training, and work design sessions.  He is experienced in large group and systems methodologies such as Appreciative Inquiry, Accelerated Solutions Environment (ASE), Open Space and World Café.

Jeff has been an adjunct professor at National University where he taught graduate level courses in Organization Development. He earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology, and is a member of the Academy of Management.

Chief among Jeff’s current projects is the completion of his book on the “Purpose Revolution” scheduled for release in early 2018 by Berrett- Koehler Publishers.