Participant testimonials offer insight into MIT Sloan Executive Education programs

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 23 hours ago

Executives who pursue advanced education at MIT Sloan come from a variety of different industries, professional backgrounds, and global locations. But they all have one thing in common: a thirst for knowledge.

Whether you are honing new skills, planning a career change, or looking for new perspectives on touch business challenges, it can be helpful to hear what others have to say about their own experiences in the pursuit of lifelong learning. Feedback from executives who have already taken a program or two at MIT Sloan can be invaluable. It's also a chance to hear how former participants are applying lessons learned back at the office.

Visit our  href="">YouTube Playlist to watch some recent video testimonials from global executives who have attended our open enrollment courses, earned their executive certificate, or completed advanced leadership programs. Listen as they share their thoughts on what motivated them to pursue advanced education, as well as details about specific programs and the faculty who taught in them. 

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Join the platform revolution

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 4 days ago

It's no overstatement to say that the two-sided networked market--or platform--model is one of the most important economic and social developments of our time. The platform model powers many of today's biggest and most disruptive companies, like Amazon and Airbnb, with others, like Nike, coming on board. Platforms use technology to connect people, organizations, and resources in an interactive ecosystem in which enormous value is created and exchanged. And researchers believe that the transformation is soon to hit a range of other economic and social arenas, from health care and education to energy and government.

Surprisingly, many people--even savvy business executives--remain unaware of how the platform revolution happened, or what to do about it. In a new MIT Sloan Executive Education program, Platform Revolution: Making Networked Markets Work for You (online)Geoffrey Parker, Professor of Management Science at Tulane University and Visiting Scholar and Research Fellow at MIT's Initiative for the Digital Economy, explores the escalation of IT-driven platforms over established product leaders--such as iPhone's rapid domination of its industry at the expense of Nokia, Blackberry, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and others. The four-week, online course also provides technology leaders with ways to prepare for even more rapidly unfolding disruption.

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Flexible jobs help make every day Earth Day

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 7 days ago

work from home

April 22, 2016 marks the 46th year of Earth Day, a movement that gave voice to an emerging consciousness, channeling human energy toward environmental issues. And while this one day brings wider recognition to achieving any number of sustainability goals, each and every day is an opportunity for people to think and act in ways that can impact climate change.

One surprising way people and companies can have a positive impact on climate change is to offer employees flexible work options. According to Flexjobs, the leading job search site specializing in telecommuting, part-time, freelance, and flexible jobs, “Much of an individual’s carbon footprint is based on when, where and how he or she is required to work.”

In fact, the company found that if people who held telework-compatible jobs worked from home just two days a week, the U.S. would:

  • Save nearly 52 million gallons of gas
  • Save over 2.6 million barrels of oil
  • Reduce wear and tear on highways by over 1 billion miles a year

"In the U.S., where commuters travel primarily by car, where access to public transportation is often limited and inconvenient, and where super commuting is on the rise, we need to do more to promote the environmental benefits of working from home," says Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs. "Remote work generates meaningful benefits, from lowering commute-related gas and oil consumption, pollution, and carbon emissions to reducing a company’s need for office space to overall energy savings and minimizing the need for work-related travel through remote collaboration tools like web and video conferencing."

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Intuit embraces its digital strategy

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 11 days ago

cloud computing

Intuit, the Mountain View, California-based maker of business and financial management software, has made the move from packaged product to a purely online digital strategy. The company started in 1983 with its Quicken personal finance software--one of the early success stories in boxed software. But the company has recently decided to shed its PC roots and become a cloud software company, selling Quicken to a private equity firm in order to focus the business on their Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), or cloud, offerings--its TurboTax software and QuickBooks Online.

"[Intuit] is a classic case of a onetime disrupter being challenged by an upstart with a new approach and a simpler product," reported The New York Times, referring to Xero, a New Zealand company that offers a flexible, online accounting system for as little as $9 a month.

Intuit has made a bold move to embrace its digital strategy, which Jeanne Ross, Principle Research Scientist at MIT Sloan's Center for Information Research, defines as “an integrated business strategy inspired by the capabilities of powerful, readily accessible technologies and responsive to constantly changing market conditions.”

According to the The New York Times, Intuit’s digital reinvention strategy is bearing fruit. Subscriptions to its QuickBooks Online software grew 49% last year, and overall revenue grew 23%. QuickBooks Online now connects with about 2,000 apps, and the open structure has increased customer retention and helped feed customers into the TurboTax side of the business, especially its online version. 

In one sense, this strategy shift makes sense--more and more people are turning to cloud computing. However, according to the McKinsey & Company article, "From box to cloud: An approach for software development executives," only 8% of the revenues generated by the top 100 software vendors originate from SaaS models (as of early 2015). And seven of the ten biggest companies draw less than 5% of their software revenues from SaaS. Nonetheless, the global SaaS market is projected to grow from $49B in 2015 to $67B in 2018.

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Will surge pricing work at Disney?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 12 days ago

Disney crowds

One man's surge pricing (or demand pricing) may be another's price gouging. Uber, the ride sharing platform, has brought the idea of surge pricing to the forefront--when the cars are in high demand, the platform company raises its fares. Uber justifies the surge as a means to ensure reliability and availability for those who agree to pay a bit more.

Uber is not alone in adopting the demand pricing model. At the end of February 2016, Disney announced it would be adopting demand pricing for its amusement parks in California and Florida. This move has resulted in some backlash: The Economist, for example, wrote that "what Disney World is doing is old-fashioned price discrimination."  

Disney's new pricing model is more nuanced than just raising prices when its parks are in high demand. In fact, the demand pricing only affects single-day tickets to the company’s parks. As The New York Times explained, "At Disneyland, located in Anaheim, Calif., which attracts roughly 17 million visitors annually, single-day tickets now cost $99...'value' tickets, for Mondays through Thursdays during weeks when most schools are in session, will drop to $95." There will be separate prices for "regular" tickets and "peak" tickets. However, the new pricing has no impact on multi-day park passes. This is a key point, particularly for the Orlando-based parks, as most families vacationing at or near Disney World opt for multi-day park packages. It is worth noting that demand-based pricing, which is commonly used in the lodging and airline industries, has already been adopted by other themes park operators in the United States, including Universal Studios.

Along for the ride? The logic behind Disney’s surge pricing

While families spending their vacation at Disney will be mostly unaffected by the pricing strategy, day trippers will be more likely to feel the pinch. The new pricing model is designed to encourage day trippers to schedule their visits during non-peak days and seasons. Those day trippers are essentially provided an incentive to visit the park when there are fewer people. In theory, that could decrease the congestion at the parks during peak times and, accordingly, decrease the amount of time spent waiting in line for rides.

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HUB iLab Veracruz—an outcome of MIT REAP—is recognized with a national entrepreneurship award

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 18 days ago


HUB iLab Veracruz, an entrepreneurship booster organization launched in Veracruz, Mexico, was recently recognized by the Mexican Government with the 2015 Mexican National Entrepreneurship Award. iLab is a successful innovation‐driven program to enhance entrepreneurship throughout Veracruz and is an exciting outcome of the 2012-2014 MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT REAP).

MIT REAP is a capstone global initiative designed to help regions accelerate economic growth and social progress through innovation-driven entrepreneurship (IDE). Partner regions form multi-disciplinary teams and commit to a two-year learning engagement with MIT. During this engagement, teams work with world-renowned MIT faculty and the broader REAP community through a series of action-learning activities to build and implement a custom regional strategy for enhancing their IDE ecosystems.

Partner regions engage leaders from five stakeholder groups--government, risk capital, universities, entrepreneurs, and corporates--with MIT faculty over a two‐year period to leverage MIT expertise and frameworks, develop a customized IDE acceleration strategy and start the implementation process. One such partner region was Veracruz, which participated in the first two-year cycle of the program (2012-2014). Team Veracruz, led by Victor Hugo Moctezuma Aguirre, looked closely at the large industries that dominated their state and evaluated their current entrepreneurial ecosystems with the goal of implementing a strategic framework for driving regional IDE impact.

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Lester Thurow, former Dean of MIT Sloan School of Management, passes away

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 18 days ago

Lester Thurlow

Lester Thurow, who served as Dean of MIT Sloan School of Management from 1987 to 1993 passed away in late March. Thurow is the author of the best-selling book, The Zero-Sum Society, which covers the human implications of economic problem solving and interprets macroeconomics as a zero-sum game. Or, as it is commonly known as today, income inequality. Thurow's book offers a set of recommendations about how to balance government stewardship of the economy with free-market aspirations. In discussing inflation, poverty, and unemployment, Thurow told the Boston Globe in 1979 that, "All our problems have solutions, but not necessarily politically feasible ones." (Image courtesy of WGBH)

"A big part of our competitive problems stem from top management that doesn't understand the technology they are supposed to manage," said Thurow to the Boston Globe upon his appointment as dean. "Somehow we need to give managers without formal training in science and engineering and understanding, a competence, in technology."

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Will collective intelligence change the way we work?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 25 days ago

collective intelligence

We're in the midst of a transformation in how businesses are organized. Typical corporate hierarchies are starting to look overrated, and changes in coordination technology have the power to make work and innovation even more democratic. However, according to MIT organizational theorist Thomas Malone, most of us are still victims of a centralized mindset, the idea that in order to manage things it’s best to put somebody in charge who gives orders to other people. He urges us to look at the many new ways of organizing that allow more people to have more involvement in decisions--and for better results.

"Most people don't begin to realize how important and how pervasive and, in many cases, how desirable those new ways of organizing are going to be," said Malone, Professor of Management at MIT Sloan and the Founding Director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, in a conversation with MIT Sloan Management Review Editor-in-Chief, Michael S. Hopkins. "At the Center, we are looking at how people and computers can be connected so that collectively they act more intelligently than any one person, group, or computer has acted before." When taken seriously, this question leads to a view of organizational effectiveness that is very different from the prevailing wisdom of the past.

The new paradox of power: Give it to gain it

The most rapidly evolving kinds of "collective intelligence"--a phenomenon where a shared or group intelligence emerges from the collaboration and/or competition of many individuals--are those enabled by the Internet. Wikipedia and YouTube are the best-known examples of collective intelligence. Similarly, InnoCentive is a web community that outsources companies’ research problems and invites answers from anyone who wants to contribute, awarding a handful to cash prizes to the best of the bunch. And at MIT, the Climate CoLab uses crowdsourcing to harness the collective intelligence of thousands of people all over the world in an attempt to solve the problems of climate change.

These design patterns presented in technology-enabled collective intelligence is also represented more generally in the shift from traditional hierarchies to flatter organizational structures. For years, pockets of the U.S. military have been slowly taking decisions out of the hands of high-ranking commanders and entrusting them to teams of soldiers, who are told what problems to solve but not how to solve them. And last year, Zappos adopted a controversial flat organizational structure referred to as “holacracy.” By order of CEO Tony Hsieh, the company abolished managers, eliminated job titles, denounced its organizational hierarchy and instead adopted a radical new system of self-governance. Automattic, the firm behind WordPress, only employs a couple hundred people, who all work remotely, with a highly autonomous flat management structure.  GitHub is another highly successful firm with a similar structure.

Malone's book from 2004, The Future of Work: How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management Style, and Your Life, proposed that in an increasingly networked world, strict hierarchies would be less viable. The book also foreshadowed the decentralized “bottom-up” management model that has influenced companies like Zappos.


Another example of collective intelligence at its best is apparent in a different kind of workforce altogether--that of honeybees. As revealed by the research of Thomas Seeley at Cornell University, honeybees select the very best site at least 80% of the time--without the influence of the queen bee. By working together as a unified system, the organization (bee colony) is able to amplify its intelligence well beyond the capacity of any individual member of the group.  And they do this with no bosses or workers--with no hierarchy at all.

Louis Rosenberg is CEO of Unanimous A.I., a "swarm intelligence company" that develops technologies for collective intelligence that allow groups to combine their thoughts and feelings in real-time, to answer questions, make decisions, or just have fun. Like Malone, he believes that if there are ways for companies to make smarter decisions, it’s worth understanding them and exploring if new technologies can help us implement such methods.

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