Entrepreneurship Center expands to better serve its mission

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 4 days ago

MIT's Entrepreneurship Center expands to better serve its mission

With its reputation as an entrepreneurial hotbed, it’s no surprise that MIT has recently invested approximately $10 million to expand and renovate the 26-year-old Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, located at One Amherst St. in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The center is responsible for entrepreneurship across all five schools at MIT starting with education but also extending well outside the class room with student clubs, conferences, competitions, networking events, awards, hackathons, student trips, and most recently accelerators. Last year, students who work at the center started more than 50 new companies.

An additional 2,700 square feet were added for a total of 7,200 square feet of space dedicated to all things entrepreneurial in the heart of Kendall Square. The redesigned center now features an expanded maker-space workshop (ProtoWorks), event space, nine conference rooms equipped with wireless presentation systems, a café, and phone booths that provide free international calling. The Center is equipped with room scheduling software created at the nearby Cambridge Innovation Center.

"The thoughtfully-designed space will enable new and expanded collaboration across campus, with students from all parts of the Institute exploring entrepreneurial interests in a dynamic environment," said MIT Sloan School of Management Dean David Schmittlein, who added that the space was designed to accommodate the need for creativity and collaboration.

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Next steps for C-ROADS and climate change

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 7 days 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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Certificate helps executive “future proof” his career

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 12 days ago

MIT Sloan Certificate holder Robert Robertson

Robert Robertson is president of the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute and recently received an Executive Certificate in Strategy and Innovation at MIT Sloan Executive Education. In this interview, Dr. Robertson shares his thoughts about the experience and how he has applied those lessons in his professional endeavors

Initially, what made you consider the MIT Sloan Executive Certificate?
The reason I chose the MIT Sloan Executive Certificate was because of the reputation of the School and recommendations from previous attendees.

Can you share some lessons learned from your MIT Sloan experience? Were you able to apply them in your workplace?
The scope and speed of change challenges us all to think outside the box, and these programs afforded the means to address that reality. The training was very practical and relevant. The programs provided excellent cases and exercises that engaged everyone, and in addition, there was a very good range of participants, which added value to the work. Also, the ability to link disruptive innovation to my work was very useful.

What were the highlights of your experience with the programs you completed?
The instructors, the environment, the materials, and the planning by all involved were highlights of the programs. In fact, I have retained the materials and still use them. They are excellent! All of the faculty presenters were well prepared, and the sessions were definitely world class. It is difficult for me to single out any one instructor in particular. In my experience, all of the professors reached an exceptionally high standard across the board.

Was there anything that surprised you about the programs?
What surprised me initially was the consistent quality across all of the courses. Also, the diversity of the cohorts and the ease with which you could work with the participants was really a plus. It was an enriching experience to be able to work with people from so many different factions. For example, I had course mates from the U.S. military, the European commission, and a large Japanese company. The differences in terms of experience that the participants brought to the table were applicable immediately to my current situation.

Were you able to connect with your classmates? If so, what were the benefits of doing so?
The networking opportunities were an important aspect of the classes. I have had good connections from the certificate experience and have maintained contacts in Southeast Asia, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh, who have shared emerging issues, trends, and problems—and given me good feedback, which has assisted me in my teaching.

Did the programs meet your expectations? Would you recommend them to colleagues? Overall, the programs exceeded my expectations. They were well organized, and the takeaway materials were excellent. I found the programs to be a very useful and well worth the time and energy to attend. I would highly recommend the experience.

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"Big Blue" builds client relationships through innovative customer program

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 21 days ago

IMB builds client relationships through innovative customer program designed by MIT

A culture of innovation has been a hallmark of IBM since its founding in 1911. With more patents than any other technology firm in the world and five Nobel Prizes earned by its employees over the years, it’s no surprise that innovation colors everything "Big Blue."

The technology leader--which has a presence in more than 170 countries including Mexico--has been focusing on building customer loyalty and strengthening its client relationships. To that end, IBM Mexico executives recently collaborated with MIT Sloan to create a custom program that would help its customers address the challenges they face on a daily basis. The ultimate goal was to provide customers with unbiased information and build their trust--a concept known as trust-based marketing.

With that goal in mind, MIT Sloan faculty and program directors met with IBM Mexico staff to adapt the Essential IT for the Non-IT Executives program for their particular needs. The resulting custom adaptation began with a two-day session where 30–50 executives, comprising three teams from each customer, met in Mexico City. During the session, CEOs, CFOs, and CIOs from IBM Mexico's customer base viewed IT challenges with fresh eyes--as a strategic resource for profit and growth rather than a cost center. In turn, MIT Sloan faculty provided critical frameworks and expertise, explaining the strategic role IT can play in an organization. The multi-module program included action-learning projects and an MIT-designed project simulator.

Roberto Sanchez, Director of Marketing at IBM Mexico, said IBM chose to adapt the Essential IT for the Non-IT Executives program because it addressed the challenge of looking at IT as a strategic resource for profit and growth. In addition, he said IBM Mexico was interested in gaining a better understanding of and relationship with its clients and helping the executive teams build stronger bonds with one another in the long run. According to Sanchez, the dynamic of the participants made the custom program especially productive. "While it's true that people learn through experience, at the end of the day, smart leaders also acknowledge that they should be reading more, learning from others, keeping their knowledge fresh."

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Workplace flexibility's win-win streak

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 28 days ago

working from home

The push for flexibility is ever present in the workforce. People want to have more say in how they organize their time and orchestrate their day and, as a result, remote work is widely gaining traction as a viable way of conducting business by many companies, large and small. Just 20 years ago, only 9% of U.S. workers worked from home on occasion. Today, that number has risen to 37%, and the number of people telecommuting full-time has grown 103% over the last 10 years.

"Job seekers consistently report that telecommuting is the most desired form of flexible work, with many willing to take a pay cut, forfeit vacation time, or give up matching retirement savings plans for a telecommuting work arrangement," said Sara Sutton Fell, Founder and CEO of FlexJobs, the leading online service for professionals seeking telecommuting, flexible schedule, part-time, and freelance jobs. Fell is also the founder of Remote.co, a resource that provides expert insight, best practices, and valuable support for organizations exploring or already embracing a remote team as a significant portion of their workforce.

"In fact, millennials, who now comprise the largest generation in the workforce, placed flexible working ahead of other priorities such as professional development training, reputation of the companies’ leaders, and a sense of purpose when evaluating a job prospect," said Fell.

Companies can attract and retain talent by offering flexible work opportunities. And studies continue to show that teleworkers are more productive and satisfied with their job than their office counterparts.

New findings make the case for flexible work arrangements

New research released earlier this year found that workers partaking in a workplace flexibility program at a Fortune 500 company were happier and less burned out than employees at the same company who chose not to participate.

The study was co-authored by researchers from MIT Sloan School of Management and the University of Minnesota and was the first time a randomized controlled trial was used to measure the effects of workplace flexibility at a U.S. company.

MIT Sloan professor Erin L. Kelly and University of Minnesota professor Phyllis Moen split employees from the IT division of a Fortune 500 company into two separate programs before observing them for a year. Half of the 700 employees participated in a pilot program called "STAR: Office," where they engaged in flexible work practices designed to increase their sense of control over their work lives. The initiative focused on results, rather than face time at the office. Managers in the STAR program also received training on how to show more support for their employees' work preferences and personal lives.

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Custom program helps global giant Schlumberger integrate product development and innovation technologies

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 6 days ago

Schlumberger integrate product development and innovation technologies

How does a legend in the oil field sector maintain its leadership position? Schlumberger--known for its industry-leading technology and deep expertise in the oil field sector--recently challenged itself with that question. The global company employs approximately 100,000 employees who hail from more than 85 countries and encompass 140 nationalities. With such a diverse workforce, the ability to share knowledge and ensure smooth teamwork is critical to the success of its business.

"Our personnel have grown much more diverse over the last few decades, and our increasingly decentralized R&D operations are regularly generating new product lines," explained Schlumberger's Management Development Director Joe Perkins. "The challenge for us is to find a common language that will enable us to look at innovation and product development as an integrated chain, from the field to the lab on through to our business operations."

With that goal in mind, Schlumberger executives decided to collaborate with MIT Sloan to develop a custom program, which was inspired by several Schlumberger senior executives who participated in the School’s popular program, Driving Strategic Innovation: Achieving High Performance Throughout the Value Chain (DSI). A joint program with IMD, the DSI program draws on an integrative value chain framework created at MIT and helps participants learn how to build organizational relationships that facilitate knowledge transfer within the firm and across the value chain.

While enrolled in the DSI course, the executives discovered that MIT Sloan's ability to integrate advanced research, new technology, and innovative business practices was exactly what Schlumberger needed to stay ahead of the competition. They also realized that the DSI course encompassed critical elements that could be applied at Schlumberger--from causal loops in the energy market to innovation, value chains, supply chains, and marketing.

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What's your company's rallying cry?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 5 days ago

get your executive team in synch, like the the U.S. women’s eight

Rowing is, perhaps, the ultimate team sport. Regardless of the number of oarsmen/oarswomen or the size of the boat, the way to win is to row together as a team. A team of weaker individuals rowing as a team will beat out a team of stronger athletes rowing out of synch. Without that commitment to work together, the boat has no "swing."

The world recently saw how a committed rowing team can achieve the nearly unthinkable: the U.S. women's eight, in capturing the Gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, won their 11th straight world and Olympic title. As Time pointed out, "The Cold War-era Soviet Union hockey team won 14 straight world titles from 1963-1976. No other national team run, really, is comparable."

What makes it even more remarkable is that unlike a sports dynasty that may lose one or two key players a year due to trades or retirement, rowing might only keep one or two team members from year to year. This year's US women's team in Rio consisted of two members who rowed and won the Gold medal at the London Olympics, and seven Olympic rookies. (An "eight" consists of eight oarswomen and one coxswain). When other crews threatened to pull away and win the Olympic gold medal in Rio last week, coxswain Katelin Snyder began her rallying cry: "This is the U.S. women’s eight." That simple phrase, chosen at the most critical moment in the push for gold (the boat was in third at the time), may not sound like much to us, but the women were charged by it. She was reminding her team that a legend was on the course. They were there to capture the gold, and their 11th championship.

The team that rows together, wins together

It takes hundreds of hours of training to row in synch, as a team, and experience the elusive swing of a boat. Somedays, practice can feel like eight individuals rowing one clunky boat. The others are magic. Organizations, in their pursuit of business success, can take insipiration from these Olympic efforts. After all, aren't all companies striving to cultivate a winning team that out performs the rest of the field, despite turnover or inherent weaknesses?

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Learning about climate change through interactive simulations

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 12 days ago

Learning about climate change through interactive simulations

Scientists like to think that fact-based presentations using the best scientific evidence could change the opinions of people who don't believe in climate change. Unfortunately, that approach doesn't work. Even seeing the impact of climate change doesn't always work; NPR recently reported that some visitors to the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska, still dispute climate change, despite seeing first-hand how quickly the glacier is shrinking. That's not just a story about a few people: Research shows that showing people research doesn't work. If facts and evidence don’t work, and first-hand experience doesn't work, can anything help people learn for themselves that climate change is real, and that the world powers and developing countries alike must act now to prevent further damage to human well-being?

John Sterman, Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management at MIT Sloan, believes the answer is yes. Sterman says "No one can tell you what to think. The key is creating an environment in which people can learn for themselves." But how can this be done for climate change? By the time the effects are obvious, it will be too late. In such situations, simulation is the best method.

As Sterman detailed in a recent MIT Sloan Executive Education innovation@workTM webinar, "The Dynamics of Climate Change—from the Political to the Personal," C-ROADS (Climate Rapid Overview and Decision Support) is a free, award-winning computer simulation that helps people understand the long-term climate impacts of policy scenarios to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. C-ROADS translates how national and international policy changes will affect greenhouse gas emissions, average global temperatures, sea level, and ocean acidification. Users--be they policy makers, scientists, business and community leaders, citizens, or students--can analyze up to 15 different nations or negotiating blocs at the same time, while also asking "what-if" scenario questions of the model. The model runs in less than a second, so users get immediate feedback showing the likely impacts of their policies. "No one tells you what scenarios to try," Sterman says. "You are free to explore and see what it would take to limit global warming and climate change."

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