Category: Faculty Insights

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

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 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.

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Streaming insights: Recent podcasts by MIT Sloan faculty

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 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.

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Binge on business insights--MIT Sloan Executive Education 2016 webinars

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 3 months and 5 days ago

If you missed any of our webinars in 2016, we have good news--you can access all the complimentary recordings in our webinar library. Jump right in and explore the latest research and innovations from MIT Sloan faculty.

Leading in a World of Uncertainty, with Deborah Ancona
Learn MIT's unique approach to executive leadership that will help you make your organization knowledge-driven and truly innovative.

The Dynamics of Climate Change—From the Political to the Personal, with John Sterman
Take a tour of C-ROADS—cutting-edge simulation software developed at MIT and used by political leaders and businesses around the world to explore the dynamics and projected impact of climate change.

The New Frontier in Price Optimization, with David Simchi-Levi
Hear the latest breakthroughs in the development of pricing models that combine machine learning and optimization to significantly improve revenue and reduce inventory risk.

Digital Disruption: Transforming Your Company for the Digital Economy, with Jeanne Ross
Find out how you can create a digital strategy for your organization that is responsive to ever-changing customer demands, new technology, and organizational learning.

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Unlocking the potential of analytics: A Q&A with Ben Shields

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 4 months and 6 days ago

Ben Shields is a Lecturer in Managerial Communication at MIT Sloan. His research focuses on the intersection of social media technologies, data analytics, and audience behavior in the sports, media, and entertainment industries.Shields served previously as the Director of Social Media and Marketing at ESPN.

Recently we asked him a few questions about the topic of sports analytics and his upcoming MIT Sloan Executive Education program, Sports Analytics Management.


MIT: The MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference is happening in the spring. Can you tell us a little about this conference?

Shields: The MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference is the premier event in the industry. Founded in 2007 by MIT Sloan alum and Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey and CEO of Kraft Analytics Group Jessica Gelman, the conference has grown from about 175 participants in its first year to more than 4,000 in 2016. A similar crowd will be on hand this year.

The conference is the nexus point for the most innovative researchers, executives, and students to share new analytics approaches, debate current trends, and network. It is an energetic, fun, and fascinating event that never fails to make you smarter.

MIT: Following the conference is the very first session of your new MIT Sloan Executive Education program, Sports Analytics Management. Is this program intended to pick up where the conference leaves off? What prompted you to design this course?

Shields: Through the influential conference, MIT Sloan has become a hub for sports analytics research and practice. However, the conference lasts only two days. With our Sports Analytics Management course, we are expanding the dialogue and learning opportunities about this fast-growing and exciting field of sports analytics throughout the year.

Our course is designed to complement and extend key themes from the conference. Critically, we focus on helping students develop an analytics strategy and program that works for their organization or initiative. Whereas conference attendees will learn about new research methods and key trends, students in Sports Analytics Management will have the opportunity to synthesize this new knowledge into actionable plans going forward. Today, the biggest barrier to unlocking the potential of analytics is often not a technical one; it’s how leaders and organizations set up and manage an analytics program. We address the latter in our course.

The sports industry has been a pioneer in the analytics revolution, and there is so much we can learn about analytics management from studying it. I designed this course to help executives in all industries identify strategies and best practices in sports analytics and apply and refine them to their own efforts.

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Monetization lessons from Pokémon Go

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 5 months and 10 days ago

Marketing lessons from Pokemon Go and Catherine Tucker of MIT

Marketing successes often spark a series of copy cats—companies that decide the best approach to a quick marketing win is to just "do what they did" and reap the same benefits. Sadly, that almost never works. Mostly this is because what makes the marketing campaign successful is its uniqueness, and a copycat campaign lacks just that. So for all those companies thinking they should copy the wildly popular Pokémon Go, it’s time to put the brakes on that idea.

But there are some marketing strategies—or, more specifically, monetization strategies—that companies can learn and co-opt from Pokémon Go’s commercial and viral success. Catherine Tucker, Professor of Marketing at MIT Sloan School of Management, touched on these in her TechCrunch article, "The Monetization Promise and Pitfalls of Pokémon Go." We've summarized them below.

Develop target partner personas
One might think nearly every business—especially small business—would appreciate the extra foot traffic from Pokémon Go players hunting rare characters. Some businesses with traditionally long lines and a tendency towards rapid ordering and service are not necessarily the right place for people to be playing games on their phones, however. Imagine being in a lunchtime line at a typical New York pizza place, only to be held up by Pokémon Go players glued to their phones—that’s not going to go over well with the other patrons, or with the counter staff (think Seinfeld’s famous Soup Nazi!).

On the other hand, Tucker points to franchise companies like Jamba Juice. "For starters, Pokémon Go and Jamba Juice have similarly youthful brand images ... At the very least, it's unlikely that Pokémon Go customers searching for Pokémon would inadvertently annoy Jamba Juice's existing customers." Lesson: think about how your customers, their demographics, and their behaviors map to those of your ideal partners' customers.

Don't over-value your data
Consumer or user data was once thought of as extremely valuable. What kind of powerful and successful business could Foursquare build based on all that data it was acquiring (where and how frequently its users dined at and visited various types of businesses)? Well, one rather disastrous pivot later and that question will never be answered. As Tucker points out in her article, Waze and Facebook both have volumes of location-based data. Pokémon Go also has location-based data. It’s all valuable, but not unique. If you think data is your monetization strategy, proceed with caution.

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Next steps for C-ROADS and climate change

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 6 months and 1 day ago

Earlier this spring, MIT Sloan Professor John Sterman presented an important and well-attended live webinar, The Dynamics of Climate Change--from the Political to the Personal. One of the highlights of the webinar was a live demonstration of C-ROADS (Climate Rapid Overview and Decision Support) a free, award-winning computer simulation that helps people understand the long-term climate impacts of policy scenarios to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In the live Q&A sessions immediately following the webinar, Sterman fielded a great number of questions from the audience. However, there were simply more questions than could be answered in the time allotted. We recently posed three of the larger, unanswered questions to Sterman, and we have shared his responses below.

What's next for C-ROADS?
The next steps for C-ROADS are driven by the negotiations and conversations occurring during the Paris climate agreements. First, there will be a new interface that will be easier to use and more widely available. (You can view a video preview of it here). And while the team behind C-ROADS will continue to work with negotiators and policymakers, they are also actively seeking to increase the number of skilled users. If you are interested in learning how to use C-ROADS in any setting--from the classroom to the community room to the boardroom--you can join the movement at: https://www.climateinteractive.org/programs/world-climate/

The team behind C-ROADS also has a number of other related projects in the prototype phase, one of which is EN-ROADS, a simulation tool (similar to C-ROADS) for understanding how we can achieve our energy transition and climate goals through changes in energy use, consumption, and policies. The tool focuses on how changes in global GDP, energy efficiency, R&D results, carbon price, fuel mix, and other factors change carbon emissions, energy access, and temperature. It is ideal for decision-makers in government, business, NGOs, and civil society.

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Podcast roundup: MIT Sloan experts lend their voice to the latest business insights

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

Podcasts

Need something to listen to on your next commute? How about podcasts by experts here at MIT Sloan? Hear what our faculty has to say about critical issues ranging from collective intelligence to innovation to neuroscience and how these issues affect organizations and executives around the world.

Collective intelligence: its impact on our society today and tomorrow
What is collective intelligence and how does it impact the future of organizations? MIT Sloan Professor and Director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence Thomas Malone defines collective intelligence, and explains the components that contribute to a "smart" group--as well as changing hierarchical structures in the workplace, and how collective intelligence is helping to address the problem of global climate change. Professor Malone leads the Intelligent Organizations 4Dx (live online) course.

Applying the benefits of neuroscience in the working world
Tara Swart--world-renowned neuroscientist, psychiatrist, and coach of C-suite executives--comments on the positive and negative effects of technology in our professional lives, the prevalence of the imposter syndrome among executives, and some simple measures to ensure we maximize our brainpower on a daily basis. MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Swart leads Neuroscience for Leadership and Applied Neuroscience: Unleashing Brain Power for You and Your People at MIT Sloan Executive Education.

What four-year olds know that adults don't about creativity
What is creativity and why do many of us lose it as we grow older? MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Hal Gregersen talks about the barriers to creativity brought on by our society and what we can do to overcome them. Gregersen teaches in The Innovator's DNA: Mastering Five Skills for Disruptive Innovation and Innovation and Images: Exploring the Intersections of Leadership and Photography.

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Price optimization: Q&A with Professor Simchi-Levi

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 9 months ago

MIT Sloan Executive Education recently hosted the latest in its INNOVATION@WORKTM webinar series, entitled “The New Frontier in Price Optimization," with MIT Professor David Simchi-Levi. The webinar, now available on demand, which drew hundreds of attendees from across the world, presented recent breakthroughs in the development of models that combine machine learning and optimization for pricing that significantly improve revenue and reduce inventory risks

During the webinar, Simchi-Levi presented a case study on Rue La La—an online retailer with whom he worked that offers invitation-only flash sales—to answer the question: “How can we generate an effective forecast for a product we’ve never sold before?” His second example, Groupon, a daily deal website and mobile application offering things to do, see, eat, and buy, focused on how to combine forecasting with learning on the fly to understand the probability that a customer will purchase a product at a specific price. Simchi-Levi’s third case-in-point was the story of B2W Digital, the leading e-commerce company in Latin America, which took price optimization even further by leveraging forecasting, learning on the fly, and optimization.

The event included a live question and answer session and was immediately followed by a Facebook chat with the webinar audience. Recently we spoke with Professor Simch-Levi to dig deeper into the topic of pricing optimization.

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