What does the Trump administration mean for climate change efforts?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 7 days ago

climate change policy

On November 4, 2016, the historic Paris Agreement on climate change policy (#OurAccord) became international law. "Humanity will look back on November 4, 2016, as the day that countries of the world shut the door on inevitable climate disaster," said UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa and Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar in a joint statement that day.

Four days later, on November 8, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. And overnight, the set of policies required to fulfill the promises of the Paris Accord were under threat.

Here's what we know. President Trump has called human-caused climate change a hoax. He has vowed to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency "in almost every form." Trump has attacked Obama's Clean Power Plan as "a war on coal." And, perhaps most significantly, he has promised to renege on the U.S. pledge under the Paris Agreement, which commits more than 190 countries to reduce their emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution.

And so now, we wait.

However, as recently reported by ClimateWire, "For every conservative who dreams about ripping up the Paris Agreement, there's a company executive who wants to stay in." Shortly after the election, hundreds of U.S. businesses urged Trump to uphold the Paris climate deal. More than 360 companies and investors--from DuPont, eBay, and Nike to Unilever, Levi Strauss & Co., and Hilton--made their plea in an open letter to the incoming and outgoing administrations and members of Congress. (The signatories have since grown to over 700.)

And many companies are walking the walk. In a recent press release, Google announced it will reach 100% renewable energy and carbon neutrality in 2017. Iron Mountain signed a 15-year wind power purchase agreement that will supply 30% of its North American electricity needs with renewable energy. And here in Boston, MIT, Boston Medical Center, and Post Office Square Redevelopment Corporation have formed an alliance to buy electricity from a large new solar power installation, adding carbon-free energy to the grid and demonstrating a partnership model for other organizations in climate-change mitigation efforts.

Continue reading

Three perspectives on organizational change: more answers from MIT Sloan Professor John Van Maanen

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 7 days ago

John Van Maanen

Over 3,500 registrants signed up for our most recent webinar, Three Perspectives on Organizational Change. During the event, MIT Sloan Professor John Van Maanen discussed innovative approaches to change management and delved into three different perspectives embraced by most organizations: strategic, political, and cultural. In this post, Professor Van Maanen responds to some questions from webinar attendees that were not addressed during the live event.

With the rapid pace of technological advancement, as well as increasing globalization with its accompanying challenges, which lens is the most undervalued or most challenging to get right? Which lenses most commonly contribute to failures for organizations to execute well on change management strategies?

The cultural lens is the most difficult to "get right" in the sense of having a culture that fits the challenges the organization is presently facing. It certainly is the most vexing to both diagnose and alter, in terms of difficulty and time. Change that threatens valued professional or occupational identities is particularly problematic. My sense is that if you can figure out a way to work within and with respect for the various cultures represented in the organization, change is somewhat easier. Culture is not a variable that one tunes up or down. It is a set of deeply embedded habits and ways of looking at the world that works and works well for cultural members. So, there are limits, serious ones, to the extent which cultural change can be directed and hastened.

Can organizations survive if there are competing perspectives between workgroups? E.g., if one department is politically powerful and another is strategically powerful, is it best to lean towards one or the other method?

To some extent this on-going battle for power and control of strategic moves is built into organizational life. It contributes motivation, ambition, innovation, and drama, and works at the individual and group levels. One fights for what one thinks is best for the organization (strategy) and marshals all the evidence one can collect in its support. The loyal opposition does the same. If power--the ability to get things done--is not so imbalanced, things generally work out and adjustments can be made. Tinkering is continual.

Over time, culture usually helps select which groups have power, and those groups select strategic designs that support their position. When the lack of fit with the environment is apparent to all (falling revenues, unmet goals, customer abandonment, etc.), a change movement (from outside or inside or both) typically forms to shift the power balance. If successful, strategic design changes usually follow in its wake. To cling to one lens or the other is a recipe for failure.

Continue reading

Nothing says love like putting down your devices

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 10 days ago

Nothing says love like putting down your devices

It's hard to find bigger fans of technology than the staff, faculty, and global participants of MIT and MIT Sloan. We love using it, inventing it, and sharing it with the world. Tens of thousands of innovators have masterminded new technologies while here, or took programs to understand how best to bring those innovations to market. We also love using technology in the classroom itself, from management flight simulators and collaborative software to some of our newer experiments with telepresence and virtual reality. MIT researchers have even launched a new decision-making tool to help teachers, administrators, governments, and development practitioners around the world make smart decisions about incorporating technology in the classroom.

Given all of the above, the title of this post may seem counterintuitive. And yet, in light of Valentine's Day, we thought it worthwhile to remind our readers and ourselves that our love of all things digital can sometimes thwart true connection.

Breaking up [with smartphones] is hard to do

Smartphones, the most likely culprit, have been reshaping our etiquette for years now. Particularly in America, our "always on" state of mind has posed significant challenges for users vis-à-vis their relationship to others--whether colleagues in the boardroom or a romantic partner across the dinner table. According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center, for many Americans, cellphones are always present and rarely turned off, and this constant connectivity is creating ever-evolving social challenges. Of the 3217 people surveyed, 89% of cellphone owners say they used their phone during the most recent social gathering they attended. And similar studies have shown that the mere presence of cellphones in face-to-face conversations inhibits the development of closeness and trust and reduces the amount of empathy we feel from our partners.

Americans are not alone in their smartphone temptations. A national study released last week in Australia shows that nearly a quarter of Australians have played second fiddle to a smartphone on a first date, with their prospective partner switching their attention to their digital device. The Intel Security study of 1200 Australians found more than a third of people have argued with friends or family about their smartphone use.

Continue reading

Shifting realities: Augmented, virtualized, and mixed realities in the classroom

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 12 days ago

Contributed by Paul McDonagh-Smith, Digital Capability Leader, MIT Sloan, Office of Executive Education. With a focus on driving digital transformation and harnessing emerging technologies, Paul works with the team to create learning programs to fit how we live and work in today's digital age.


Let's be honest—reality isn't what it used to be. Right now, all around us, carbon world experiences are being augmented, virtualized, and mixed by a series of emerging technologies and their offspring products. These new flavors of reality are offering tantalizing opportunities to imagine and invent improved online learning interactions to complement what we're currently doing in classrooms and on campus.

In one corner, we've got augmented reality (AR) overlaying content in the form of computer generated, gesture features and 360-degree video onto the physical world. Aiming to add meaning and context to our carbon-based reality, this content floats over it like a butterfly, if you will.

In the other corner, virtual reality (VR) is loitering with some serious heavyweight intent, looking to replicate or simulate physical and imagined environments via hardware such as Google Cardboard and HTC Vive. Whether using pre-rendered or rendered software, VR computer generated immersive experiences are getting ready to rumble.

Positioned somewhere in the middle of the ring, we've got the hybrid of mixed reality (MR), which in effect merges real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects can co-exist and interact in real time. MR hardware includes products such as Microsoft's Hololens device, which might be seen as ushering in a new era of holographic computing.

Continue reading

Streaming insights: Recent podcasts by MIT Sloan faculty

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 12 days ago

Podcasts with MIT Sloan Faculty

The insights of our faculty can be found in scholarly journals, popular blogs--and even podcasts. We've gathered a few of their more recent "audible insights" on subjects ranging from the effects of sleep deprivation to launching a startup to the application of sports analytics strategies in business. We hope you enjoy these good listens.

What we learned from the NFL/Twitter partnership
In discussing the recent experiment between the NFL and Twitter, MIT Sloan Lecturer Ben Shields talks about the sports industry as an innovation driver, why social networks are becoming today’s media companies, and the ways in which content creators are experimenting with a variety of distribution strategies to maximize revenue. Find out how to apply these ideas at your organization in Shields' new course, Sports Analytics Management.

Four things to keep in mind on the road to entrepreneurship
Thinking of starting a new business venture? Listen to what consummate entrepreneur and MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Bill Aulet says about launching a successful startup. In his New Enterprises podcast series (part of MIT's Open Courseware), Aulet talks about the importance of customer focus, experimentation, iteration, and discipline in the entrepreneurial process. Aulet teaches in the Entrepreneurship Development Program.

How innovative processes affect the customer experience
Listen to what world-renowned thought leader on innovation and Research Fellow at the MIT Center for Digital Business Michael Schrage has to say about the consumer innovation processes and how the diversity of technology gives people more options and flexibility to create, consume, and exchange value.

Continue reading

An interview with MIT Sloan ACE holder Mia Hemmi

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 19 days ago

MIT Sloan ACE holder Mia Hemmi

Mia Hemmi is an Account Director at Hakuhodo Inc, an integrated advertising and communication agency headquartered in Japan. She earned an Advanced Certificate for Executives in Management, Innovation & Technology (ACE) from MIT Sloan in 2016.

Where are you from, and what brought you to the US?
I am from Tokyo, Japan. My husband had relocated himself to participate in a program at Harvard starting in July (2016). At the time, I had been on a childcare leave, so I decided to join him in Cambridge to commit to an academic adventure.

Can you tell us a little bit about your professional experience and your role at Hakuhodo?
Hakuhodo is one of the largest advertising/marketing communications agencies in Japan. Our mission is to "Invent the Future" in partnership with our thousands of clients from governmental organizations to companies of countless industries, including media, to create new values and movements through branding work based on our "Sei-katsu-sha" (a Japanese expression of a holistic person--an individual with a lifestyle, aspirations and dreams, in contrast to "consumer") insight. Long story short, we do practically anything that relates to "communication," to leverage the value of ideas, products, and services at all business levels.

2017 will be my twentieth year at the Hakuhodo DY Group, and I have been in the Account Services Department (aka Client Services/Sales) through my entire career. We work as "producers" in the front-line as strategic consultants to clients, managing and facilitating all projects as leaders by aligning key staffs internally (market research, events/promotions, PR, creative, media, selected depending on project) and teaming with third-party potential supporters to provide the best solutions to clients. My clients are of industries including foods/beverages, retailers, airlines, online services, government, sport event organizers, etc., which all operate as global brands or international entities, so the work constantly requires the understanding of the global markets of the respective industries. Aside from the general domestic services, my forte has been in the Business Development area analyzing cross-cultural opportunities, supporting Japanese clients to build businesses in foreign markets, and foreign companies that build businesses in Japan. The experience has led me to examine the managerial and operational side of the businesses, and I have been fortunate to be able to participate in projects of multiples of industries at the hands-on level. I must say I was a total workaholic working 24/7, with business travels abroad two-thirds of the year, until my son was born.

Continue reading

Entrepreneurship: Why we need to keep calm and trust the process

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 21 days ago

An interview MIT Sloan ACE holder Mia Hemmi

Long before Shark Tank was a popular hit TV series, MIT was encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit through its five-day Entrepreneurship Development Program, led by Bill Aulet, MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer and Managing Director of The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. The annual program has been the impetus behind many successful companies that got their start at MIT. Aulet explained the fundamental idea of entrepreneurship in a recent NECN T.V. interview and said, "You need to keep calm and trust the process." While ideas are necessary, said Aulet, they are overrated. "It's much more important to figure out who the customer is; figure out the process and what makes that into a business," adding that "it's even more important to have a great team."

Aulet explains that the EDP program--which attracts 100-plus people from as many as 25 different countries each year--is challenging. In just one week, participants are asked to work with people they don’t know and build a new business from an idea they didn’t have before coming to campus. According to Aulet, "There is a process to help them do that, and that's what participants learn during the program." He adds, "There is a methodology that helps you optimize your chances of being successful."

Entrepreneurship means changing the existing order of things

Aulet often talks about the mindset of entrepreneurs. In his recent interview with NECN, he explained that great entrepreneurs have to be willing to be different, willing to swim the other way, and not accept the existing order of things. Aulet says MIT is great at that, and compares this mindset to his experience as an undergraduate at the other well-known school down the street. "Harvard was the establishment. MIT was not the establishment. It was immigrants and immigrants’ kids being trained for the industrial revolution. They've always been willing to swim the other way and get by on the size of their brain."

However, adds Aulet, changing the existing order of things alone isn't enough. Rather, successful entrepreneurs require execution skills. Aulet remembers his 11-year stint at IBM where he felt like "the most disciplined person in the world," until he moved to a startup. "It was a whole other level at the startup. At IBM, we always made payroll. In a startup, if the customer doesn't like the product or you don’t get the order, then you don’t make payroll. An entrepreneur has a level of internal discipline that is so high."

Continue reading

Attending by telepresence robot--no falling down stairs, please

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 30 days ago

Contributed by Paul McDonagh-Smith, Digital Capability Leader, MIT Sloan, Office of Executive Education. With a focus on driving digital transformation and harnessing emerging technologies, Paul creates learning programs to fit how we live and work in today's digital age.

telepresence robotics  at MIT Sloan

Earlier last week, from my home office desk here in London, I logged into one of our telepresence robotics units stationed in the Executive Education suite of the MIT Sloan School of Management. Using telepresence robotics is a normal occurrence among our team, where units get "hired" for a number of jobs including teaching and learning in class, collaborating with team members, meeting with external companies as well as doing plain old-fashioned, day-to-day work.

But this day was a little different. I was using the robot to attend a Sloan Fellows and EMBA Alumni event on campus in Cambridge, MA.

As I logged onto the unit (via a website) I saw my colleague, Lisa, waiting for me at the front desk. Having asked the robot to drive me to where Lisa was standing (the robot has mapped the floor space and can either be used in autonomous or manual mode), I had just enough time to give myself a pep talk.

"Please don’t trip anybody up, don’t knock coffee cups out of anyone’s hands, and above all please don’t fall down the stairs with the Robot, again," I murmured to myself in a positive mantra.

Continue reading

Search innovation@work Blog

Subscribe to Blog by Email

Cutting-edge research and business insights presented by MIT Sloan faculty.

Interested in writing a guest post?