MIT Sloan Executive Education innovation@work Blog

Archive: May 2015

Automation today: Insights from the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 9 months and 23 days ago


In mid-May, MIT Sloan held the twelfth annual MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, which attracted more than 700 senior-level IT executives from around the world. The panel discussions spanned a wide range of topics, from the Internet of Things (IoT) to data privacy and cyber security, to the evolution of platform-as-a-service companies.

One of the day's early sessions gave attendees insights into the current state of automation, and where it will be going. When it comes to automation, the big question is "will robots take our jobs?" The answer is both yes and no.

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Architecture: Amplify your value by thinking beyond IT!

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 9 months and 23 days ago

Contributed by Jeffrey Ton, as originally published on May 4th on the Intel IT Peer NetworkTon is the SVP of Corporate Connectivity and Chief Information Officer for Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana.

"Wait, wait, wait ... before we talk about all these projects, shouldn't we talk about our operating model? Are we really as diversified as we think?"

I couldn't believe my ears! I looked across the table at the EVP who had just spoken. He was the newest member of our IT steering team and he was talking about business operating models. I nearly jumped out of my seat! "ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE AS STRATEGY!!!! You’ve read the book!??!" To say I was stunned was an understatement. This EVP had barely shown an interest in anything to do with technology or IT. The only reason he was even added to the steering team was because the partners wanted him to take a more active role in other areas of the business, obviously grooming him for bigger and better things. He, almost sheepishly, replied, "I saw it in the airport bookstore coming back from Phoenix yesterday and bought a copy. I'm not done reading it yet, but the first few chapters sure made a lot of sense."

I know I was stammering all over myself as I explained we had used that book as the foundation for building our IT Strategic Plan two years earlier. We HAD discussed and defined our operating model, we had designed core diagram, we were progressing across the stages of Enterprise Architecture Maturity. I excitedly whipped out the core diagram and began to explain the projects we were discussing in context of the diagram. You could literally see the lights going on for him.

The book we were discussing, Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, by Jeanne RossPeter Weill and David Robinson, has become my "bible" for guiding IT. While that discussion took place at a previous stop in my career, we used the same framework for developing the strategic plan here at Goodwill. In fact, it is the next step in our story. Last month, we discussed having a vision. Just like building a building, to turn that vision into reality you need an architect.

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Leader-led learning: The great differentiator

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 10 months ago

Contributed by MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Steve Spear. Spear teaches in Creating High Velocity Organizations and is author of The High Velocity Edge: How Market Leaders Leverage Operational Excellence to Beat the Competition.

Certain organizations "punch above their weight," generating far more value (that accrues to everybody, not just customers or just shareholders, etc.), faster, and more easily. This despite them having access to the same technical, financial, and human resources as all their counterparts--and thereby enjoying the same advantages and suffering the same constraints.1

This becomes a wickedly important differentiator: Either because of having to get more yield out of exactly the same resources available to everyone, or because of having to be on the cutting edge of bringing high value-add products and services to market ahead of rivals.

The difference? They know much better what to do and how to do it, so operate on a frontier of speed, timeliness, efficiency, effectiveness, safety, security, and so forth others barely perceive. As with all knowledge, the source of their profound knowledge is accelerated learning, and that accelerated learning is the consequence of garnering feedback out of experiences across the spectrum of operational, design, and developmental and using that to feed forward into the next cycle of experiences.

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MIT and Cambridge: Working hand-in-hand to foster innovation

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 10 months and 6 days ago

Walk down Broadway Street in Kendall Square today and no matter where you turn there is something exciting brewing: a new biotech company, a trendy restaurant, or a venture capital-funded think tank.

Galaxy Sculpture Kendall Square

However, four decades ago that wasn't the case. If you drove down Main Street in the 1970s, you were more likely to find abandoned buildings and empty factories. In contrast, today the area is a hotbed of innovation, entrepreneurship, and cutting-edge technology--as well as home to more than 150 high-tech companies, including global corporate giants like Genzyme, Google, Microsoft, and Biogen Idec. Another "giant" in the city—and one of the main reasons the area is known as an innovation hub--is MIT, the institution that has collaborated with the city to revitalize the area and has played an integral part in the area's resurgence.

"Kendall Square is the epicenter, but the reach is all around the edge of campus, "says MIT Provost Martin Schmidt, who is also Co-Chair of the MIT Building Committee.  According to Schmidt, there’s a plan afoot to create "a gateway and a sense of destination" in Kendall Square. In 2013, the City of Cambridge approved MIT's petition to transform 26 acres of Institute-owned property in the Kendall Square/East Campus area. The new zoning will preserve existing academic development potential and enable the creation of new housing, retail, lab and commercial space, as well as more engaging open space. Schmidt says future plans also include a new home for the MIT Museum, as well as more academic space, graduate dormitories, and a childcare center.

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Is reuse part of your digital strategy?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 10 months and 6 days ago

When most think of digital strategy, assets, and IT work, they think of efforts to develop new and innovative technology, systems, and processes. The focus is on how to build something completely new, or how to get rid of what already exists for something better. As a result, a new project can be compared to cooking from scratch. The end dish is includes a variety of ingredients, none of which were pre-made. It's an entirely new effort.

With that concept in mind, why do technologists and IT departments approach everything from scratch? Why has the idea of digital reuse not bubbled to the surface more? After all, as the illustration above shows, sometimes building on the work of others is a much more efficient approach to a project.

Peter Weill, Senior Research Scientist at MIT Sloan, and his partners, fellow MIT Sloan Research Scientist Dr. Stephanie L. Warner and Dr. Mark McDonald, Group Vice President at Gartner Executive Programs, designed a study to measure the effect of digital reuse strategies across 1551 firms in over 77 countries. The respondents were enterprise CIOs, business unit CIOs, and senior-most IT executives. In a research article published in the European Business Review, Weill, Warner, and McDonald revealed their findings. 

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Wales selected to participate in MIT's entrepreneurial economic development program

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 10 months and 14 days ago

MIT Sloan has added another cohort to its unique multi-year program that helps regions around the world implement an entrepreneurial ecosystem based on innovation. This year, the country of Wales has joined the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP), which is a joint effort between MIT Sloan Executive Education and the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said she was delighted that Wales has been selected to join REAP, adding that "the program builds on the extensive work already carried out in Wales to promote and support entrepreneurship."

Wales is one of eight regions selected from Europe, Asia, and South America to join the third cohort, which launches with the first of four interactive workshops at MIT in October 2015. As part of the program, each region selects a multi-disciplinary team of influential members who represent five key stakeholders--government, finance, academia, industry, and entrepreneurs--that inform and influence regional strategy.

Course participants attend two-and-a-half day workshops twice a year for at least two years. On site, they are exposed to the theory and practice of developing regional clusters of innovation-based entrepreneurship, collaborate by breaking down traditional boundaries, and focus on the common purpose of regional economic development.

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Simple rules to govern complex things

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 10 months and 20 days ago

By MIT Sloan Lecturer Steve Spear

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. They have a surprisingly narrow range of application.  

As for the class itself, we focused on managing many people working towards common purpose, in often complex and dynamic situations, trying to understand how some deliver far more value to market, more quickly and easily than others.  

Our "theory" is that performance altitude is a proxy for accumulated knowledge about what to do and how to do it, and accumulated knowledge is the byproduct of active learning dynamics. 

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