MIT Sloan Executive Education innovation@work Blog

Category: Insights from our Associate Dean

Space exploration: MIT experiments in open floor, unassigned seating

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 day ago

MIT experiments in open floor, unassigned seating

In May, our team, along with five other groups at MIT Sloan School of Management, will move into a gorgeous space with amazing views, cool furniture, and a whole new outlook on how we work. There won’t be any offices, corner or otherwise, for anyone including the most senior managers, and our group, the Office of Executive Education, has gone even further and abandoned assigned seating altogether.

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Leading with integrity, part 2: Doing the right thing is a shared success

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 months ago

Principled leadership

Leadership can take many forms. Leaders can be humble or egotistic, measured or impulsive, inclusive listeners or single-minded dictators. I believe that it’s important to distinguish between personal qualities that may appear harsh as opposed to truly unethical behavior. Sometimes obliviousness to the effects of one’s words and actions can be mistaken for deliberate disregard for people’s feelings and possibly even for rules and laws. The opposite can be true, also ...

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Leading with integrity, part 1: Does a hard line lead to a slippery slope?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 months and 15 days ago

Leading with Integrity by Peter Hirst

When prominent CEOs resigned from White House advisory councils a while ago, their action sent a message—sincerely held personal beliefs and espoused corporate values trumped potential business benefits of remaining close to political power. The names of these CEOs reverberated through the public discourse attracting considerable praise of their personal integrity. Yet, far too often, business leaders are cast in less flattering light.

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Can AI startups compete with Google?

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

Can AI startups compete with Google?

The extraordinary AI boom is being spurred by tech giants like Google that seem to be making headlines daily with their record-breaking AI research studies. But what does this mean for the larger tech ecosystem, in particular the smaller start-ups that we count on to occasionally upend the behemoths? Without the same kind of access to enormous data sets, what’s a startup in the AI space to do?

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You’re never done: 10 years of digital transformation at MIT Sloan Executive Education

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 5 months and 12 days ago

10 Years of Digital Transformation at MIT Sloan

Saying that organizations need to be serious about digital transformation is like saying that people need to be serious about breathing. Digital transformation is not a matter of choice, no matter the industry, geography, size or structure of your organization. However, you do have a choice in how you go about ensuring your organization’s success or, frankly, survival, as technology continues to influence and often define how business is done.

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Making sense of IoT with the best of MIT

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 11 months ago

Contributed by Peter Hirst, Associate Dean, MIT Sloan Executive Education

Making Sense of IoT with the Best of MIT

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending the Internet of Things World Forum (IoTWF) in London, and participating in several conference events as a speaker. One panel in particular--"IoT in Society," which focused on the intersections of various areas of life and work—brought the idea of interconnectedness into high relief. The Internet of Things is--of course--not limited to "things" or just to the Internet or even to the tech sector. As business leaders grapple with the IoT reality and prepare their organizations and themselves for the future, understanding the importance of interconnectedness among different sectors of business and life is essential.

Here at MIT, we have a long history of different kinds of thinkers collaborating, which is just what organizations need to be doing, and which makes the Institute a naturally appealing place for managers to learn how to develop the skills needed to lead in the era of IoT. We have faculty members in engineering and technology, and science and social science, as well as business--all at the cutting edge of their fields, but also used to actually interact with each other and collaborating both in research and teaching. And so the ability to bring all of those resources into an executive education program, for example, and collaborate with partners from across departments, is unusual for a business school. MIT's Sloan School of Management is in a fortunate position to tap into the whole of MIT.

The executive education programs that we offer--in partnership with the School of Engineering, the Office of Digital Learning, MIT Media Lab, and the Computational Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL)--are about "demystifying" IoT, as our Digital Capability Leader Paul McDonagh-Smith puts it. A tech industry veteran, McDonagh-Smith knows where we need to shed the light. Prior to working with us, he spent decades at companies like Nortel and Avaya, and now is driving a lot of the development of our IoT-focused programs and making sure that we engage the best partners from across MIT.

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Developing principled, innovative leaders: What does MIT Sloan's mission mean today?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 year and 5 months and 19 days ago

Contributed by Peter Hirst, Associate Dean, MIT Sloan Executive Education

Peter Hirst MIT Sloan Executive Education

Perhaps as an antidote to the level of discourse on leadership during this year's U.S. presidential elections, Brexit, and the seemingly endless supply of corporate scandals (Wells Fargo being the latest example), I've been thinking a lot about the MIT Sloan mission recently: " ... to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice."

The phrase "principled, innovative leaders" especially has been on my mind—what does it mean, really? What qualities make a principled, innovative leader? Who are the principled, innovative leaders of our generation? Steve Jobs? Oprah Winfrey? Mark Zuckerberg? Are they empire builders or trail blazers? Maybe both? Are they always in the spotlight or working quietly behind the scenes? What difference does it make to employees, customers, shareholders, and society as a whole that business leaders are principled and innovative? The list of questions goes on and on, and it seems like a perfect opportunity to engage the wisdom of crowds to find answers.

Why is this important? Knowing what the MIT Sloan mission means to you can potentially guide the direction of our future executive education programs. That's why in the coming weeks I plan to ask anyone who is willing to share an opinion to do so. Please feel free to share examples or opinions of what principled, innovative leadership means to you, using the comment tool on this blog. What would you be encouraging me to keep in mind while I am thinking about articulating and implementing our vision of principled, innovative leadership at MIT Sloan Executive Education?

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Life of purpose and other discoveries from the FRED Forum 2015

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 1 month and 20 days ago

Contributed by Peter Hirst, Associate Dean, MIT Sloan Executive Education


Motivating leaders is not hard--these are the people who are used to raising their hand when no one else will. The big question is what drives them each and every day and how do they sustain that drive? What inspires them and compels them to action? And what can we learn from them? Answering these questions and developing the practice of leadership to make the world a better place is the goal of FRED Leadership incubator. The organization's annual conference, the FRED Forum, is something I look forward to with great anticipation, and this one was no exception.

Held last fall in Denver, Colorado, the FRED Forum 2015 focused on the question of purpose--in work and in life. The four-day conference brimmed with inspiring talks, thought-provoking workshops, illuminating field trips, and opportunities to learn from leaders from a variety of backgrounds for whom the purpose of their work is to improve the lives of others and make the world better.

Finding purpose through discovery and reflection

Richard Leider

(Photo: richardleider.com)

On the first day, Richard Leider, a renowned executive life-coach and author, guided us through a workshop on how to identify and articulate our individual purpose in life. An interesting experiment in self-reflection, it was no small task by any measure. Leider encouraged us to think of purpose along six essential principles:

  1. Purpose is a choice.
  2. Purpose is a practice.
  3. Purpose is an aim outside yourself.
  4. Purpose begins with believing you have one.
  5. Purpose is more than saying "yes" to what you already have, it's also saying "no" to deterrents.
  6. Purpose gives life focus and meaning.

While each person's purpose is a deeply personal matter, Leider pointed us in a general direction of leading a meaningful life by growing and giving, as people and as leaders in our fields.
Of course, having a clear purpose does not guarantee that you will succeed, but striving in the right direction will get you closer to fulfilling your purpose, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The next several speakers shared lessons and perspectives gained from experiences that could have easily embittered them but instead gave their work a clear purpose.

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