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

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 day 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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Interview with EDP participant and Administrate CEO John Peebles

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 days ago

John Peebles

We recently interviewed John Peebles, CEO of Administrate and a 2014 participant of the Entrepreneurship Development Program, via Skype. Below is a transcript of our conversation. His company, Administrate, offers an integrated, Software as a Service (SaaS) management system for training providers. The company went to market in 2012 and has customers such as PwC, Elsevier, Scania and learndirect. It’s based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

What led you to the MIT Sloan Entrepreneurship Development Program?

Let me start by saying that, honestly, I have never really enjoyed the academic setting. During college, I was always kind of tinkering, consulting [as a programmer]--I was learning concepts from those experiences more than in the classroom. Classes were boring to me, and I didn’t like the homework. Getting out of college was great--it was a miracle that I graduated, actually. For the most part I consider myself a self-taught programmer, despite having a computer science degree.

Back in early 2014, a colleague gave me a brochure about EDP, and I said no way. But people here in Scotland kept saying how great it was and when I heard it described as many semesters of info presented in a week-long crunch, I thought, that’s actually an environment I might enjoy!

Because I have a computer science degree (not business), despite having a lot of on-the-job experience running companies, I have always felt there were gaps in my understanding of business concepts. I was looking for this program to address some of those, and I felt pretty confident it could be in part because I had read Professor Aulet's book, Disciplined Entrepreneurship, shortly before the application period.

Also it's important to note that entrepreneurs here receive a lot of support from the Scottish government, and they covered most of the cost of the program and travel for me to attend, which was incredible. Without that, I wouldn't have been able to go.

Tell us a little bit about your company, and the stage it was in at the time you enrolled.

The Administrate team back then was 10 or 11 people. We were a small start-up that had spun out of a training company, where they had developed software to manage training workflow and measure training results. Turns out there was a lot of demand for access to this tool--training organizations and HR traditionally get no love in the software space--so Administrate was built to address the pain points of training managers and senior executives.

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Upping the IT quotient: A custom program for News Corporation

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 9 days ago

news media

With business units as diverse as 20th Century Fox, The Times, MyNetworkTV, National Geographic Channel, and Fox Interactive Media, News Corporation touches 70% of the world's population every day. While its vast reach and numerous holdings are a plus in terms of a successful business model, these elements make for a complex organization, along with challenging leadership responsibilities.

In an effort to assist its executives and strengthen its organizational structure, News Corporation’s then Senior Vice President and CIO Dave Benson turned to MIT Sloan for help—in particular, Peter Weill, whose book, IT Governance: How Top Performers Manage IT Decision Rights for Superior Results, Benson was reading at the time. Weill is a Senior Research Scientist at MIT Sloan and the Director of the School's Center for Information Systems Research (CISR).

Benson's ultimate goal was to enhance the company executives' skill set so that they could manage their IT operations like businesses and better align the IT activities with the company's diverse business units. Weill suggested a custom program because of MIT Sloan's research and expertise in finance, marketing, leadership development, and generating business value from IT—as well as the program's tailored curriculum and one-on-one coaching aspects. "The key to the success of this program was the combination of MIT Sloan’s reputation, a strong customized curriculum, outstanding faculty, and the ability to deliver it all without relieving people of their day jobs," says Benson.

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A leadership skill you can't afford not to perfect

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 15 days ago

Quick. Name the top three leadership skills that define a good executive. If you didn’t mention negotiation, you’re missing a big one. Knowing how to negotiate is not only one of the most important leadership skills, it’s also one of the most empowering, according to MIT Sloan Professor Jared Curhan.

Negotiation

As executives and leaders, we are called upon to negotiate every day. Sometimes a negotiation is necessary to resolve a critical issue like hiring or firing a team member. Other times, it might be as mundane as deciding who will make the coffee run. Regardless of the scope of the negotiation, knowing how to negotiate is a core leadership skill and one that executives can benefit from honing. Professor Curhan says negotiation is “how we achieve things in the world. Negotiation is a potentially powerful and transformative tool. It’s something all of us do all of the time. And for many, it’s a source of control.”

What defines a successful negotiation experience?

Although we negotiate often, it might not be something we enjoy. In fact, for many people negotiating is difficult and uncomfortable. Professor Curhan explains there are several behaviors that can make the difference between a successful or unsuccessful negotiation. One of the first steps in any negotiation process is to ask the right questions. Curhan says the most important question is “What don’t I know?” or, what is it that I am most worried the other person will ask? Preparing answers to these kinds of questions is a good place to start. Furthermore, Professor Curhan says the preparation for a negotiation “is 90% of the determinant of whether you will be successful in the negotiation.”

Next, says Professor Curhan, it’s important to find some common ground from which you can both begin. If there are areas where you and the other person are in agreement, you’ll be starting from a positive position and also conveying a cooperative attitude. Balance is key. “The challenge is to balance the tension between empathy and assertiveness … there are certain things you want to accomplish, but you also want to maintain the relationship.”

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The next generation of MOOCs bring added benefits to lifelong learners

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 24 days ago

Avatars at MIT

Several years ago MOOCs, or Massive Online Open Courses, were touted as the latest and greatest in executive education. While they certainly have enjoyed much success, there’s always room for alternatives when it comes to a virtual, remote education experience.

In fact, a few of the downsides of MOOCs when compared to on site programs—a lack of ready accessibility to professors as well as the benefits of networking face-to-face with classmates—are what led to the next generation of virtual online courses: SPOCs, or small private online courses. Although many MOOCs and SPOCs share similar attributes—such as their online format and the use of video lecture components—there are differences. With SPOCs, for example, the admissions process can be more rigorous. Participants may be required to take an entrance exam, supply references, and have accrued a certain amount of time in the working world.

Of course, one major difference is the size of the class. SPOCs, by definition, are smaller, often comprising just 100 to 200 students, instead of the 1,000 to 2,000 that typically comprise a MOOC. In addition, many SPOCs break the class into even smaller groups that meet online periodically during the program, allowing participants a more intimate experience and one in which they are more readily able to share ideas and feedback with each other. Many participants in SPOCs also have an opportunity to interact more closely with class instructors.

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Is your online persona projecting the right image?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 2 days ago

"In our digital age, it's no surprise that the use of video is increasing in all industries, whether it is in a business setting to encourage employees to take action, teaching videos to train employees, or videos to boost morale," says MIT Professor Edward Schiappa. "Videos are a powerful medium and if we want to encourage people about certain behaviors, it is more powerful to show and not just tell through a visual channel."


profile

The expression "a picture is worth a thousand words" may have started as an advertising slogan, but there is no question that visual images are just as powerful in today's digital age as they were in predigital society. In fact, in a society where people often meet for the first time via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram, visual elements are an important part of an online profile, professional or otherwise. The question to ask is, "Are you the master of the visual messages that you are sending personally, professionally, or on behalf of your organization?"

As a society, we innately make inferences based on images and often make snap judgements from those inferences. In turn, those judgements affect how we are perceived by the people we want to influence in our daily lives, whether they are friends, family, or potential employers. According to Edward Schiappa, MIT Professor and expert in the field of digital communications, there are three things to think about when it comes to visual persuasion in the digital age and identifying who you are online.

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Price optimization: Q&A with Professor Simchi-Levi

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 29 days 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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Could a scandal like Volkswagen's happen to your organization?

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

Volkswagen

Just over seven months ago, MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Otto Scharmer wrote in the Huffington Post about one of the top headline-grabbing stories: Volkswagen's diesel deception scandal. Unfortunately for Volkswagen, the scandal shows no signs of going away any time soon. It was only recently that a federal court in San Francisco announced a settlement where Volkswagon would fix or buy back nearly 500,000 diesel cars in the U.S.

There are still more components to settling the issue. According to the New York Times, "Lawyers in the case are still negotiating the fines that Volkswagen must pay, as well as the compensation that owners will receive." The same article cites Kelley Blue Book as estimating the "cost of buying back all the cars in the U.S. at $7 billion." Then, of course, Volkswagen has to address the same diesel emissions issue in Europe.

One might wonder how a highly respected automobile manufacturer and global brand could intentionally deceive its customers and the public to this extent. According to Scharmer, "The VW disaster is a leadership failure of epic proportion. It's connected to a leadership style and culture that, until now, was the source of incredible pride and success." As Scharmer points out in his Huffington Post article, that culture "prevented leaders from reading and recognizing information that, in a culture of fear and control, no one ever wants to communicate upwards--thereby preventing the company from learning as a system."

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