MIT Sloan Executive Education innovation@work Blog

Category: Strategy and Innovation

7 characteristics of effective strategic priorities

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 23 days ago

Strategic Priorities

A recent survey of more than 400 global CEOs revealed that the ability to execute strategy was their #1 challenge. Why? And what can be done about it? MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer and global strategy expert Donald Sull says leaders can improve strategy implementation by translating the complexity of strategy into guidelines that are simple and flexible enough to execute.

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Innovation, failure, and progress in the pharmaceutical industry: Takeda's Andy Plump speaks at MIT

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

Andy plump speaks at MIT

In the Innovative Leadership (iLead) Series by MIT Sloan and the MIT Leadership Center, top thought leaders share their views on business challenges and achievements. Here, Andy Plump—Chief Medical Scientific Officer for pharmaceutical leader Takeda—shares his thoughts on his company’s approach to drug development, as well as the role MIT and the surrounding biotech community plays in it.

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Neil Ackerman has put his MIT Sloan Executive Certificates to work—and to great success

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 4 months and 5 days ago

MIT Sloan Executive Certificate Holder Neil Ackerman

MIT Sloan Executive Certificate holder Neil Ackerman is a highly successful supply chain and strategy executive currently serving as Senior Director of Global Supply Chain Advanced Planning and Innovation for healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson. His accomplishments in supply chain innovation throughout his career have been many—so, it’s hard to imagine a time when Ackerman wasn’t sure where he wanted to go, or how he was going to get there. But for the now-accomplished executive, there were several turning points in his career that required deep thought, new ways of thinking, and giants leaps of faith.

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The need for speed: Steve Spear on why faster is better for business, and for the Navy

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 5 months and 3 days ago

Steve Spear is helping the Navy create high-velocity learning

There’s been tremendous encouragement for creativity and innovation as critical elements for success—rightly so. Bringing new forms of value to market creates the chance to reap rewards for providing better solutions to problems, some of which customers may not have even been able to articulate. Less well articulated is the essence of speed in capturing the benefits of new, novel, innovative, and creative.There’s been tremendous encouragement for creativity and innovation as critical elements for success—rightly so. Bringing new forms of value to market creates the chance to reap rewards for providing better solutions to problems, some of which customers may not have even been able to articulate. Less well articulated is the essence of speed in capturing the benefits of new, novel, innovative, and creative.

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If you think process improvement only works on the factory floor, think again

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 6 months ago

Dynamic Work Design

“Intellectual work is different," says Don Kieffer, Senior Lecturer in Operations Management at MIT and Managing Partner of ShiftGear Work Design. "But contrary to the argument that process improvement ‘only works in the factory,’ my experience is that, when properly applied, the concepts and principles underpinning Toyota and Lean methods produce more powerful results and far more quickly in the office.”

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MIT’s Charles Fine envisions the future of urban mobility

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 7 months ago

Faster Smarter Greener by MIT's Charles Fine

We’ve had a century-long love affair with the car and, for the most part, it’s been a great ride. But our relationship with automobiles is changing.

In the U.S., recent studies suggest that Americans are buying fewer cars, driving less, and getting fewer licenses with each passing year. People are more attached to their smartphones than their cars; millennials in particular value cars and car ownership much less than they value technology. Combine this disenchantment with the fact that, in many cities around the world, cars are not always the quickest mode of travel. And, of course, emissions from the rapidly growing number of cars threaten the planet. It makes one wonder: is our global love affair with vehicles cooling?

We recently spoke with MIT Professor Charles Fine about his new book, slated to hit the stands in September: Faster, Smarter, Greener: The Future of the Car and Urban Mobility. Fine teaches operations strategy and supply chain management in MIT's Communications Futures Program, and he is Faculty Director of the MIT Sloan Executive Education program, Driving Strategic Innovation: Achieving High Performance Throughout the Value Chain. His research focuses on supply chain strategy and value chain roadmapping, with an emphasis on fast clockspeed manufacturing industries. Fine's work has supported the design and improvement of supply chain relationships for companies in electronics, automotive, aerospace, communications, and consumer products.

Faster, Smarter, Greener brings Fine’s research into the future, envisioning a new world of urban mobility that is connected, heterogeneous, intelligent, and personalized—what Fine and his coauthors Venkat Sumantran and David Gonsalvez refer to as the CHIP architecture. This architecture embodies an integrated, multimode mobility system that builds on ubiquitous connectivity, electrified and autonomous vehicles, and an open, entrepreneurial marketplace.

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Certificate helps executive “future proof” his career

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 year and 5 months and 3 days ago

MIT Sloan Certificate holder Robert Robertson

Robert Robertson is president of the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute and recently received an Executive Certificate in Strategy and Innovation at MIT Sloan Executive Education. In this interview, Dr. Robertson shares his thoughts about the experience and how he has applied those lessons in his professional endeavors

Initially, what made you consider the MIT Sloan Executive Certificate?
The reason I chose the MIT Sloan Executive Certificate was because of the reputation of the School and recommendations from previous attendees.

Can you share some lessons learned from your MIT Sloan experience? Were you able to apply them in your workplace?
The scope and speed of change challenges us all to think outside the box, and these programs afforded the means to address that reality. The training was very practical and relevant. The programs provided excellent cases and exercises that engaged everyone, and in addition, there was a very good range of participants, which added value to the work. Also, the ability to link disruptive innovation to my work was very useful.

What were the highlights of your experience with the programs you completed?
The instructors, the environment, the materials, and the planning by all involved were highlights of the programs. In fact, I have retained the materials and still use them. They are excellent! All of the faculty presenters were well prepared, and the sessions were definitely world class. It is difficult for me to single out any one instructor in particular. In my experience, all of the professors reached an exceptionally high standard across the board.

Was there anything that surprised you about the programs?
What surprised me initially was the consistent quality across all of the courses. Also, the diversity of the cohorts and the ease with which you could work with the participants was really a plus. It was an enriching experience to be able to work with people from so many different factions. For example, I had course mates from the U.S. military, the European commission, and a large Japanese company. The differences in terms of experience that the participants brought to the table were applicable immediately to my current situation.

Were you able to connect with your classmates? If so, what were the benefits of doing so?
The networking opportunities were an important aspect of the classes. I have had good connections from the certificate experience and have maintained contacts in Southeast Asia, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh, who have shared emerging issues, trends, and problems—and given me good feedback, which has assisted me in my teaching.

Did the programs meet your expectations? Would you recommend them to colleagues? Overall, the programs exceeded my expectations. They were well organized, and the takeaway materials were excellent. I found the programs to be a very useful and well worth the time and energy to attend. I would highly recommend the experience.

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Why commonality sometimes fails

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 5 months and 10 days ago

Commonality, or the reuse and sharing of components, manufacturing processes, architectures, interfaces, and infrastructure across the members of a product family, is a strategy targeted at improving corporate profitability. Companies from Toyota to GE use product platform strategies to deliver more variety to their customers and compete more effectively. For example, Black and Decker uses shared motors and batteries across a range of power tools. Volkswagen models such as the Jett and TT share similar underbody components and other aspects.

Typical benefits of a commonality, or a product platform strategy, include:

  • Shared development costs
  • Common testing procedures
  • Production economies of scale
  • Amortized fixed costs
  • Reduced inventory

By definition, commonality seems like an obviously good thing. Why incur the cost of making different parts for different products if the parts do the same thing?  Because as it turns out, commonality is not always the right thing to do. And even when it is right, it can be difficult to achieve.

Dr. Bruce Cameron is a lecturer in MIT's Engineering Systems Division and a consultant on platform strategies. His research at MIT uses a healthy dose of systems thinking to tease out when commonality makes sense and how to get companies to pull it off. Cameron oversaw the MIT Commonality Study, which closely examined 30 firms over eight years. The study was the first work to uncover that many firms fail to achieve their desired commonality targets, showing weaker investment return on their platform investments. "That type of behavior and phenomenon is seen in studies that we did in automotive, consumer products, and transport," says Cameron.

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