Taking #OurAccord personally for Earth Day

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 8 days ago

Taking #OurAccord personally for Earth Day

People often think of climate change as a policy issue, one that is best dealt with through legislation and mandates. In fact, when MIT Sloan Professor John Sterman presented a webinar on the topic, The Dynamics of Climate Change—from the Political to the Personal, one of the questions asked by the audience was how they can take political action to help solve the climate change problem. Sterman reminded them that solving the climate change problem does not have to be something only addressed on the scale of the Paris Accord. Local governments and even individuals can play a role in changing day-to-day behaviors that ultimately impact the world in which we live.

"In the face of uncertainty, it's all the more important to express and act on support for #OurAccord at individual, relational, and organizational levels," said MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Jason Jay in a recent post, referring to current politics. "At the individual level, we can all work toward a healthy, vibrant, low-carbon lifestyle. At the relational level, we must build our skills in going beyond the choir and having conversations about climate change and sustainability with people who don't agree with us." Jay's most recent book, Breaking Through Gridlock: The Power of Conversation in a Polarized World, offers tools for conducting the difficult conversations we must have about climate change.


The Greenovate Awards

Take, for example, the 10th Annual Greenovate Boston Awards. Coinciding with Earth Day, this year's awards will recognize outstanding achievement in climate action and environmental sustainability in the Boston community. Award categories include waste reduction, sustainable food, alternative transportation, and community engagement, among others.

While finalists for these awards feature corporate initiatives, government officials, and nonprofits focused on environmental issues, they also include many individuals from various Boston neighborhoods. Here are just a few.

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Hot off the presses: The latest books by MIT Sloan faculty

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 11 days ago

Learn new strategies for starting companies, solving conflicts, and harnessing the digital revolution. Check out these recent titles, written by our faculty.

Disciplined Entrepreneurship Workbook by MIT Sloan's Bill Aulet

Disciplined Entrepreneurship Workbook
By Bill Aulet

A companion piece to MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Bill Aulet’s Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup—a book that transformed the way professionals think about starting a company—the Disciplined Entrepreneurship Workbook demonstrates ways to implement practical steps in the entrepreneurship process, such as how to conduct research or interact with customers. It also includes worksheets, a visual dashboard to track progress, creativity tools, and real-world examples that help entrepreneurs set their businesses up for success. Aulet teaches in the Entrepreneurship Development Program and the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program and is Managing Director of the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship at MIT.


Breaking Through the Gridlock

Breaking through Gridlock: The Power of Conversation in a Polarized World
By Jason Jay and Gabriel Grant

You probably recall the last time you had a disagreement with someone, possibly about a political, social, or environmental issue. Did you have a breakthrough? Or did you get stuck and retreat to your own camp? Breaking through Gridlock: The Power of Conversation in a Polarized World, is a new book co-authored by MIT Sloan Lecturer Jason Jay that offers ways to turn difficult confrontations into positive dialogue. Through practical exercises and examples, this book explains how to communicate when you are on opposite sides of an issue. Jay, who is Director of the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative, teaches in Strategies for Sustainable Business.


Handbook of Collective Intelligence edited by Thomas Malone

Handbook of Collective Intelligence
Edited by Thomas W. Malone and Michael S. Bernstein

Selected by Choice magazine as an “Outstanding Academic Title” for 2016, The Handbook of Collective Intelligence, edited by MIT Sloan Professor Thomas Malone, includes essays by various authors who examine interconnected groups of people and computers doing intelligent things collectively and cover disciplines such as artificial intelligence, cognitive and social psychology, and organization theory. Malone is Director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence.Learn new strategies for starting companies, solving conflicts, and harnessing the digital revolution. Check out these recent titles, written by our faculty.

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What makes MIT Sloan's Advanced Management Program different? Ask Joe Hartz.

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 26 days ago

If you're a senior executive seeking improved performance and confidence at managing organizations, then you may be exploring advanced management programs (AMPs). Why select MIT?

In 2016, Joe Hartz, then COO (now CEO) of UGI Energy Services, asked himself the same question. In pursuit of an exceptional advanced management program that would meet his needs and fit his schedule, he narrowed his choices to Columbia, Wharton, and MIT. "I felt that MIT was the most comprehensive offering in the time period that fit my schedule best," says Hartz.

Hartz was part of a succession plan for his company and preparing for the role of CEO at the time he began his AMP search. His executive management team thought it would be good for him to spend a few weeks away from the office to think about new trends in businesses and get an up-to-date, holistic, executive learning experience.

Smaller class size leads to big payoffs

When Hartz arrived at MIT, he realized that while several other participants were in similar transitions, each member of the cohort was unique, and that the class size was small and highly selective. "We were 20 extremely different people," said Hartz. "There were only a couple of Americans in the class. I met folks from different parts of the world, from different businesses and roles--it was a very diverse and talented group. That setting was an incredible experience for me."

The selective cohort of international participants is a differentiating factor for MIT Sloan's Advanced Management Program. Each year, AMP is limited to 35 participants and is often smaller, as it was for Hartz's 2016 program. This smaller size promotes interaction between faculty and participants and enables great collaboration and rapport to develop over the span of the month-long program. "Our conversations--both in the classroom and over beers after class--were extremely thought provoking." Says Hartz.

Seasoned executives hail from around the world, with the majority traveling from Europe, Asia, and South America. Also due in part to the small size of the group, participants develop meaningful friendships--and even successful business partnerships--with their global peers.

"On the weekends during the program, we stuck together. We went sailing, we took the catamaran to Cape Cod one Sunday. We had some long walks around Boston, and we did the museum tours," said Hartz.

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MIT’s My Sister's Keeper creates a lively support network on campus

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 28 days ago

MIT's My Sister's Keeper

Any college campus can be an intimidating place. Feelings of isolation are not uncommon for undergraduate and even graduate students. For black women on campus, that sense of disengagement is often heightened. MIT wanted to address this issue while supporting the continued success of its black women students. This was the impetus behind the collaborative initiative, My Sister’s Keeper, launched last year with the goal of building community for black women at MIT.

"We wanted something unique," says Helen Elaine Lee, Director of the MIT Program in Women's and Gender Studies (WGS) and Founder of the initiative. "We hope to provide emotional and psychological support, foster kinship and community, strengthen academic performance, and cultivate engagement in social, political, and cultural matters beyond the classroom."

"I remember what it was like to be a college student in a new environment," says Karinthia Louis, a program manager for MIT Sloan Executive Education who also serves on the planning committee for My Sister's Keeper. "You're away from home, you automatically feel out of place. It's easy to stay in your bubble. My Sister's Keeper can change that by offering a variety of memorable experiences to bring black women on campus together."

The group's inaugural gathering last fall drew more than 160 people to the R&D Commons on campus. Attendees were surveyed about what they most wanted from the organization, and the responses revealed that black women students want someone they can turn to for mentoring and advice.

The organization has created "sister circles" to provide this connection--small groups of five or six students, staff, and faculty united by common interests. The circles are encouraged to meet regularly and share experiences. Each circle deliberately teams undergraduates with at least two older women. "Our goal is to build bonds and mentoring relationships. But we also want it to be mutual, so that we can learn from each other," say Louis.

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What makes a high-performing team? The answer may surprise you.

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

More women make teams smarter according to MIT's Thomas Malone

What sets high-performing teams apart? Strong leadership? Skilled team members? Shared goals? Maybe. But what if we told you that one of the key drivers of team performance was how many women were on the team?

Numerous studies continue to show the value that gender diversity has proven in boosting productivity and the bottom line within all levels of a company, from entry level to the boardroom, as well as the critical role women play in enhancing the collective intelligence of groups--as demonstrated by the research of MIT Sloan Professor Thomas Malone.

Malone, who is the head of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, says that when it comes to team performance, the more women the better. Research by Malone and his colleagues, Anita Woolley and Christopher Chabris, shows that the collective intelligence of a group rises when there are women involved in that group. And in fact, the more women, the better.

"In our study, if there were more women in the group, the group performed better," says Malone. In their New York Times article, "Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others," Malone and his colleagues wrote of their study, "Teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. Indeed, it appeared that it was not 'diversity' (having equal numbers of men and women) that mattered for a team’s intelligence, but simply having more women. This last effect, however, was partly explained by the fact that women, on average, were better at 'mindreading' than men."

By "mindreading," Malone is refering to the skill of social perception. Social perceptiveness is a kind of social intelligence; it's the ability to discern what someone is thinking through some means of human observation, especially if they are good at reading emotions from other people's eyes. Malone's research suggests that the performance of teams (and companies) can be dramatically improved when members can improve upon this skill, regardless of the industry.

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Implementing IIoT: A systems challenge disguised as a technological one?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 10 days ago

Industry 4.0

The current challenge facing operations across the globe can be summarized as follows: Make an increasing variety of products, on shorter lead times with smaller runs, but with flawless quality. Improve our return on our investment by automating and introducing new technology in processes and materials so we can cut prices to meet local and foreign demand. Mechanize – but keep your schedules flexible, your inventories low, your capital costs minimal, and your work force contented.1

While these words succinctly address the majority of challenges companies are trying to address with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), it should be noted that they come from Wickham Skinner's 1966 Harvard Business Review article, "Production Under Pressure."

Advances into IIoT and initiatives such as Industry 4.0 may seem to operations executives to be more of a threat to defend against rather than an opportunity. Perhaps this is why a 2016 Cisco survey found leaders skeptical regarding investment in IIoT2. As expressed by Daryl Miller, vice president of engineering at Lantronix, "Companies need to keep the IoT simple by adapting their existing systems to become compatible with the IoT."3

In other words, the introduction of a new technology often reveals a lack of understanding of the current system, rather than that of the new technology. Therefore, adoption of IIoT is primarily a systems problem, rather than a technological one.

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Sustainability tools demystified: MIT Sloan launches SHIFT

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 11 days ago

There are a seemingly endless number of sustainability challenges to solve, and an equal number of tools with which to address them. If you’re a sustainability practitioner, you might feel overwhelmed with number of resources available. Consultants, academics, and companies all create tools and guides to help practitioners—each with a slightly different approach. How do you whittle down the hundreds of carbon footprint tools available, for example, to find the best tools for your purposes?

While having a lot of tools is typically a good thing, wading through this glut of resources can slow companies down in the journey toward sustainability—and even prevent them from implementing sustainability measures altogether.

Enter SHIFT (short for Sustainability Help, Information, Frameworks, and Tools), an online aggregator that helps its users find, compare, and choose the correct sustainability tools for research and business purposes. A cross-sector collaboration led by the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan and Valutus, the mission of SHIFT is to make it easier for leaders at all stages of development to “hardwire” sustainability into their organizations. SHIFT is both a platform of resources and a community of practitioners working together to curate and review tools based on their own experiences. The platform also includes curricula that combines resources into a sequence that supports individual and organizational learning.

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How to beat the winter blues--tips from neuroscience

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

What Dr. Tara Swart has to say about the Winter Blues

For many, the cold winter weather--with its endless, dreary days and forecasts of impending blizzards--is not the most uplifting, especially towards the end of winter, when we feel we should be seeing daffodils rather than snow. Concomitant with gloomy forecasts is a similar state of mind known as the "winter blues." Research says this mood change is not merely in our heads. In fact, numerous studies have documented the overall feeling of malaise, which has a name: seasonal affective disorder, or most appropriately SAD for short.

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Tara Swart, neuroscientist, leadership coach, medical doctor and executive advisor, says that SAD is thought to be caused by the way our bodies respond to daylight.Melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate our sleep, is released by the pineal gland in the brain into the bloodstream. Because this gland is activated by darkness, in shorter daylight hours in the winter, higher levels of melatonin are produced, causing lethargy and feelings of low energy.” Swart explains the production of serotonin--a hormone responsible for maintaining mood balance--can also decrease because of a lack of sunlight, which can lead to feelings of depression and negatively affecting our sleep and appetite.

Does winter weather affect productivity?

While the changing seasons can have a physical impact on our brain, to what extent is our cognitive function and performance level affected by the colder weather? Swart says opinions differ. While some studies show our brain activity is reduced in the colder months and can lead to sluggishness, other studies show that although brain activity is reduced, our performance levels remain the same--or that the brain is actually more efficient in the winter. Those who believe brain activity is reduced during the winter think shorter days may be the reason. Conversely, research has also shown that our attention span increases during the summer when days are longer

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