MIT Sloan Executive Education innovation@work Blog

Archive: December 2015

INNOVATION@WORK webinar recordings from 2015—at your fingertips

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 2 months and 23 days ago

Thousands of people globally have listened to the MIT Sloan Executive Education INNOVATION@WORK Webinar Series, learning breakthrough concepts and innovations from MIT Sloan faculty. In case you missed them, here's a roundup of 2015’s recorded webinars from our always-accessible webinar archive.

Product Platforms: A Source of Competitive Advantage with Bruce Cameron
Companies from Toyota to GE use product platform strategies--the reuse of components, core technology, and design solutions across a range of products--to deliver more variety to their customers, lower costs, and compete more effectively.  Many companies, however, do not succeed in becoming platform leaders. Learn why they fail, and how product platforming can deliver ROI for your organization. 

Building Better Organizations with Collective Intelligence with Thomas Malone
Learn how your organization can be more productive, effective, and intelligent by harnessing organizational approaches made possible by the latest communications technologies. Drawing on numerous case studies, Professor Malone illustrates how collective intelligence works, and what it can do for your organization. 

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Five tips for increasing your productivity in 2016

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 2 months and 26 days ago

Extreme Productivity

Have you made your 2016 New Year's resolutions yet? If you're a high achiever, increasing your productivity next year may be on your list. Many executives come to MIT Sloan Executive Education seeking techniques for making themselves and their teams more focused, efficient, and productive, and several of our faculty are well renowned for their thinking on these topics. We've summarized some of their thinking below.

Tips for increasing your productivity in the New Year

  1. Robert Pozen, Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan and author of the best-selling book, Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hoursrecommends starting with setting and prioritizing goals. "Most professionals have not taken the time to write down their goals and prioritize them. Without a specific set of goals to pursue, many ambitious people devote insufficient time to activities that actually support their highest professional priorities," Pozen told us in our previous post, "Ready, set, prioritize."
  2. Dr. Tara Swart, Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan recommends you make a serious and dedicated commitment to getting seven to nine hours of quality sleep. "There's a perceived 'cut off' at the neck. In reality, there is a strong brain-body connection. The conditions of our bodies directly affects the quality of our thinking," Swart comments in the previous post, "The leadership skill you’re neglecting? Sleep". Despite many people claiming they only “need” a handful of hours of sleep each night to be productive, science proves that’s a myth; 98-99% of people physically require the recommended amount of sleep.
  3. Pozen also advises people to cut through the clutter. "First, let's understand that professionals are held back from being productive by both external and internal forces. External forces are things like emails and meetings--burdensome tasks that can detail even the most promising schedule. And internal constraints, like procrastination and perfectionism, can make us our own worst enemy. Pozen provided tips for how professionals can cut through the clutter in "Five tips for improving every-day productivity."

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Our most popular posts of 2015

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 3 months and 3 days ago

This past year was a busy one for MIT Sloan Executive Education and for our blog. As we prepare for a new year of news to report, we wanted to take a moment and look back at some of 2015's most popular blog posts. In case you missed them, below are links to the five most frequented stories of 2015.

Who will power the IoT economy?
From driverless cars and sensor-laden industrial equipment to connected kitchens and smart cities--the Internet of Things (IoT) is cropping up everywhere. Yet many employers are struggling to find the talent to propel the rapidly developing IoT economy towards the full extent of its promised value. Read more

Why platforms beat products every time
Is the product business model broken? According to Professor Marshall Van Alstyne, Research Associate with the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, and moderator of the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium panel, "Platform Shift: How New Business Models are Changing the Shape of Industry and the Role of CIOs," the answer is definitely yesRead more

Simple rules to govern complex things
A general premise of MIT Sloan's Creating High Velocity Organizations is that if you have simple rules to guide your action--in even the most complex situations---you have huge advantages over complex analogies, anecdotes, and best practices. Read more

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Companies and employees still struggle with work-life balance

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 3 months and 6 days ago

work-life balance

This post is the first in a series designed to help our readers achieve a more productive, healthy, and less stressful 2016. 

Work-life balance seems an ongoing struggle for both organizations and individuals. In fact, it's such a pervasive issue that Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research, and education, offers tips to reclaim work-life balance control.

On the one hand, there are organizations like Amazon that seem to shun the idea of work-life balance. A recent New York Times piece "Inside Amazon: Wrestling big ideas in a bruising workplace," described the company as one at which "culture stoked their [employees’] willingness to erode work-life boundaries." The exposé detailed a business that rewards employees toiling long and late and subjects employees to "marathon conference calls on Easter Sunday and Thanksgiving, criticism from bosses for spotty Internet access on vacation, and hours spent working at home most nights or weekends." The New York Times piece even quoted (on record) an Amazon employee who stated, "One time I didn’t sleep for four days straight." 

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MIT entrepreneurs: The world's 10th-largest economy

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 3 months and 12 days ago

Living MIT graduates who have started and built for-profit companies do not qualify as a nation. However, if they did, they'd be the world's 10th largest economy, with gross revenue falling between the GDP of Russia ($2.097 trillion) and India ($1.877 trillion), according to a report released earlier this week.

"The report confirms what has long been clear: Our community's passion for doing, making, designing and building is alive and growing," President L. Rafael Reif wrote in an email to the MIT community. "As we do our part by continuing to foster our students' natural creativity and energy, it is inspiring to see the potential our alumni hold to extend MIT's power to do good for the world."

As of 2014, the report estimates, MIT alumni have launched 30,200 active companies, employing roughly 4.6 million people, and generating roughly $1.9 trillion in annual revenues.  An update to a previous reported authored in 2009, the new report outlines key entrepreneurial trends, such as the declining age of entrepreneurs, and alumni contributions to company growth and innovation, such as patents filed. Other key results for entrepreneurial impact and trends:

  • 25% of alumni have founded companies, with more than 40% of these labeled as serial entrepreneurs
  • 11% of alumni who have graduated in the 2010s have already founded companies, compared with 8% who founded companies within five years of graduating in the 1990s, and 4% in the 1960s
  • 80% of alumni-founded companies have survived five or more years, while 70% have survived 10 years. (Across the U.S., roughly 50% of all new companies last five years, while only 35% last 10 years.)
  • MIT entrepreneurs favor the East and West coasts: More than 30% of all the surveyed companies are located in Massachusetts, with 8% in Cambridge; 20% are located in California. Approximately 23% operate in other countries.

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The leadership skill you're neglecting? Sleep.

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 3 months and 13 days ago

Leaders, executives, and entrepreneurs strive to perform their jobs at the highest levels possible. In many of today's workplace environments, that means being 100% focused on both productivity and efficiency. We've all worked with the road warrior who can "sleep" (or not) on a red eye flight and show up at work the next day and put in a full 10+ hours of work. Or the co-worker who's at the office at 7:00am, and doesn't leave the office until 7:00pm. And in today's always-connected world, it is now the norm to respond to emails and continue to work outside of traditional work hours. In theory, those who approach their jobs with this attitude and commitment are the uber-dedicated, high performers of an organization.

However, research into how the brain works, and under what conditions the brain works best, points to these habits as being counterproductive.

"There's a perceived 'cut off' at the neck," explained Tara Swart, Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan during a live webinar, Neuroscience for Leadership. "In reality, there is a strong brain-body connection. The conditions of our bodies directly affects the quality of our thinking."

Truly high performing leaders and executives have agile brains, and agile brains are very important in today's stressful world. But stress and high cortisol levels, lack of sleep, dehydration, and lack of oxygen (lack of exercise) all have a scientifically proven negative impact on how the brain functions.

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Handoffs: A moment of value addition or value destruction

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 3 months and 17 days ago

Contributed by MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Steve Spear

The Wall Street Journal article, "The Most Crucial Half-Hour at a Hospital," describes how converting shift change from "data dump" to in-context, collaborative problem solving can have marked affect on patient wellbeing.

This rings very true to me, as nursing handoffs have featured prominently in our healthcare work. In Pittsburgh, the Perfecting Patient Care System applies the principles of the Toyota-based Perfecting Patient Care System™ to offer a unique approach to improving patient care through continuous problem-solving on the front line of care. For example, the system successfully reduced time at shift change from 45 minutes to 15 minutes in order to free one hour per day for nurses to focus on eliminating surgical site infections. 

Radically improving information exchange between acute and extended care facilities also proved critical in work conducted by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement targeted at reducing readmission rates.  Ensuring a sound baton pass of information--not just data, but rich in the information of context, interpretation, recommendation, and suggested follow up helped preserve continuity of care over the transition from one institution and care team to another. The system focused on solving problems that occurred on the front line of care as soon as possible, giving a great deal of discretion to and demanding a high degree of engagement by the people in the flow of work.

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