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Monthly Archives: July 2013

MOOCs: the true costs of free online education

Faculty Author: Michael Cusumano, MIT Sloan School of Management

Free isn’t necessarily good, especially when it comes to Massive Online Open Courses, or MOOCs—a recent development in distance education. While traditional online courses charge tuition, carry credit, and limit enrollment to a few dozen to ensure interaction with instructors, the MOOC is usually free, credit-less, and caters to thousands of students at a time. The New York Times dubbed 2012 “The Year of the MOOC,” and it has since become one of the hottest topics in education.

But how free are MOOCs? Given that there are real costs and quality issues associated with any type of higher education, what are some possible downsides of a free or low-fee college education?

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Retailers & Paula Deen: discontinue or pull products?

The recent news around Paula Deen demonstrates the bind retailers get into when making deals with celebrity product endorsers—what do you do if (or when) the celebrity finds herself or himself in a scandal?

Many brands, with the notable exception of QVC, have terminated their relationships with Paula Deen—or have at least appeared to sever their ties with her. But making press statements about ending partnerships is slightly different from the actual impact on retail operations. After all, there are still products sitting on the shelves.

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Managing virtual teams for peak performance

In the 2012 study “Untapped Potential of Virtual Teams,” Siemens Enterprise Communications designed and executed a research survey generating responses from nine countries, covering North America, Latin America, and Western Europe. The goal of the survey was to find the real-time problems companies struggle with that involve virtual teams and their effect on operations, efficiency, and the overall bottom line. The results shows that:

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Fixing the divide between IT and business executives

This is the first in a series on bringing transparency into the IT/Business leader discussion.

IT executives and business leaders are forced into a corporate marriage—and it can sometimes feel like IT is from Venus and business is from Mars. This type of relationship can be painful for those involved and harmful for the company.

Four separate studies conducted by George Westerman, Research Scientist in MIT Sloan’s Center for Digital Business, found that the solution to making IT and business understand each other and communicate better is transparency.

“Transparency turns bad into good, overcomes suspicion, and helps both parties move forward,” said Westerman in a recent webinar, IT is from Venus, Non-IT is From Mars: Bridging the IT and Business Leader Divide to Improve the Value of IT.”

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Will risk result in reward for Boeing’s Dreamliner?

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been making headlines since it was introduced to the public in 2003. Unfortunately, recent headlines have not been good. Boeing’s manufacturing decisions for their leading-edge airplane present a good case to examine when considering outsourcing versus vertical integration.

As MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Donald B. Rosenfield asks in his class, Developing a Leading Edge Operations Strategy, “How much supply risk is too much?”

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