Archive: November 2014

What can enterprise architecture do for your organization?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 3 months and 24 days ago

As the business world continues to digitize and grow in complexity, many businesses will need to avail themselves of “enterprise architecture”—the process of defining every aspect of an organization’s structure for the successful development and execution of strategy. Enterprise architecture may not be synonymous with enterprise transformation, but it is a means to that end.

There are some significant challenges to leveraging enterprise architecture for success. By definition, architecting a business is a vast undertaking; designing every aspect of an organization’s structure including people, processes, strategies, and accountabilities requires time, resources, and education. The biggest challenge blocking most businesses from prioritizing enterprise architecture is its emergence as a new discipline. Because it is new, most organizations don’t know what enterprise architecture is and/or how to utilize it. 

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The world according to MIT

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 4 months and 4 days ago

MIT has long been recognized as a pinnacle of science, technology, and all things innovative. And, it has the credentials to prove it: in the last few years the institution has been recognized as the #1 college in the country by QS, a leading global career and education network; as the fifth-best college in the country by Forbes; and at or near the top in nearly every category in the U.S. News &World Report's annual rankings of the United States’ best colleges and universities.

These honors are certainly noteworthy in and of themselves, but to put them into perspective it helps to examine arguably the most remarkable honor of all: if MIT were a country, it would have the 11th largest economy in the world.

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Managing the seasonality of products

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 4 months and 4 days ago

The seasonality of products is an issue that manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and consumers are well aware of. We all know back-to-school advertising, products, and sales hit stores in July. Soon after, we see Halloween items. And before Halloween even arrives, we start to see Christmas advertisements and promotions. Getting ahead of the season has become standard operating procedure.

But when is it too early to issue a seasonal product? Many craft beer aficionados are beginning to argue that the practice of "seasonal creep" has gone too far. Simply put, seasonal creep is when a beer specific to a season appears on store shelves way before the season actually hits. The best example is the category of pumpkin beers.

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Work Without Limits

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 4 months and 8 days ago

By Dr. Peter Hirst, Executive Director of MIT Sloan Executive Education

At the end of October, an important event took place in Norwood, MA--the Work Without Limits Annual Conference and Career Fair. Work Without Limits is a Massachusetts-based statewide network of engaged employers and innovative, collaborative partners that aims to increase employment among individuals with disabilities. Their goal is to position Massachusetts as the first state in the nation where the employment rate of people with disabilities is equal to that of the general population.

The conference received national attention when Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez addressed the 350 attendees during her speech. "Like you, we believe the road to change is to focus on the positive, to emphasize what all people—including people with disabilities—can do," she said and encouraged "employers and workers across the country to continue to work towards more inclusive workplaces every month, and every day of the year." Full article

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Should retail stores be open on holidays?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 4 months and 8 days ago

We recently watched a conversation on social media on the subject of retailers choosing to open on holidays--in this case, the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S. It's quite the heated topic: it has spawned a Facebook page urging consumers to boycott stores open on Thanksgiving, and there are any number of memes floating around listing the retailers who are choosing to open. And unfortunately, many of those retailers are the biggest ones here in the States.

One would think there's little controversy in urging businesses to let their employees have a day off of work to spend at home celebrating the holiday. But the "other side" can point to the fact that we have a free market society, and businesses can choose to operate (for the most part) however they want. The dark--and somewhat unspoken--side of that argument ignores the fact that many of these businesses are retailers and many retail workers are not given a choice in the matter. A common comment, of which we've seen a few variations, is that if people don't like working on Thanksgiving, they can just go get another job.


Opinions like these reveal some biases people have against retail jobs, display a lack of understanding of the retail market, and fly in the face of some hard facts. One might think of retail jobs as the domain of teenagers and retirees who simply need some "extra cash." That idea is simply not true. As MIT Sloan School of Management Adjunct Associate Professor Zeynep Ton pointed out in the webinar, "The Good Jobs Strategy: Why Good Jobs are Good for Business," there are 4.3 million salespeople in the U.S., the average sales associate is female and 38 years old, and many of them are supporting families. These retail jobs are considered "bad jobs," due to their low wages, erratic schedules, and lack of opportunities for advancement. But while it may appear one retail job is just like the next, few people, regardless of income level or other demographic information, can just "decide to go get another job." Employees need to factor in seniority, benefits, transportation, and numerous other variables that impact their ability to change jobs.


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The case for a corporate sustainability dashboard

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 4 months and 18 days ago

A recent article in MIT Sloan Management Review, "Bridging the Sustainability Gap," details the challenges businesses face in getting investors to recognize--and presumably reward--sustainability efforts. In essence, corporate sustainability efforts are growing in importance, but mainstream investors do not yet view them as relevant. The challenge, as laid out by the article, is that for investors to care, companies need to be able to measure and report on their sustainability initiatives and results. But why measure something few people seem to care about? It's a classic, chicken-or-the-egg dilemma.

The article states, "With modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) technologies and software, it's a solvable problem if management has the will." So maybe now is the time for companies to build and rely on a sustainability performance management dashboard. Corporate dashboards are used throughout many large enterprises and mid-sized businesses to measure, monitor, and make decisions on data for managing finances, operations, risk, and more. If you can measure it, and have trusted data to rely on, chances are you can create a dashboard for it. 

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Crisis management consultant says MIT Sloan programs strike the right balance

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 4 months and 18 days ago

Being known as an “international man of disaster” is a good thing in the case of Hsing Lim, a crisis management consultant who works with business, government, and non-profit organizations to offer assistance when natural disasters strike.

Lim, who earned his Management and Leadership certificate from MIT Sloan in 2008, was on hand on March 11, 2011, when the command ship of the U.S. 7th fleet received word that the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami had struck. Due to his close ties with the government, military, and corporations in Japan and the United States, Lim was able to offer his crisis management expertise to help with relief efforts in the devastated areas.

“For the tsunami recovery, I worked with governments, militaries, aid agencies, business corporations, and civil societies in Japan, the U.S., Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, Singapore, and several EU countries to source essential items and organize fundraising projects.”

Lim began focusing on disaster management shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. The independent consultant has received numerous awards and commendations for his efforts. Lim also has been lauded by David Boden, past president of the American Association of Singapore (AAS), as a key contributing member of the American community in Singapore and for his volunteer role as Chair of the AAS Community Philanthropy Committee. 

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