Nelson Repenning

Associate Dean of Leadership and Special Projects, MIT Sloan School of Management, School of Management Distinguished Professor of System Dynamics and Organization Studies,
Faculty Director, MIT Executive MBA Program


Nelson Repenning

Nelson P. Repenning is the Associate Dean of Leadership and Special Projects at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Professor Repenning also serves as the faculty director for the MIT Leadership Center. 

Nelson’s early work focused on understanding the inability of organizations to leverage well-established tools and practices. He has worked extensively with organizations trying to develop new capabilities in both manufacturing and new product development. He has also studied the failure to use the safety practices that often lead to industrial accidents and has helped investigate several major incidents. This line of research has been recognized with several awards, including best paper recognition from both the California Management Review and the Journal of Product Innovation Management. In 2003 he received the International System Dynamics Society’s Jay Wright Forrester award, which recognizes the best work in the field in the previous five years. Building on his earlier work, today Nelson focuses on developing the theory and practice of Dynamic Work Design--a new approach to designing work that is both effective and engaging—and Dynamic Management Systems, a method for insuring that day-to-day work is tightly linked to the strategic objectives of the firm. In 2011 he received the Jamieson Prize for Excellence in Teaching. He is also a partner at ShiftGear Work Design and serves as its Chief Social Scientist.

Faculty Media

  • [Innovation@Work Blog] If You Think Process Improvement Only Works on the Factory Floor, Think Again

    “Intellectual work is different. But contrary to the argument that process improvement ‘only works in the factory,’ my experience is that, when properly applied, the concepts and principles...

  • [Innovation@Work Blog] Speeding the Cure for Cancer: Financial Engineering and Dynamic Work Design

    A business school may not seem like the most logical place to find a solution for virulent disease, but it is.

  • [Innovation@Work Webinar] Useful Doesn't Always Mean Used: Understanding the Dynamics of Learning and Capability

    In an effort to boost capability, companies often invest significant time and money in efforts to incorporate these innovations in their day-to-day operations. Nonetheless, such efforts often fail....

  • [Innovation@Work Blog] Process Improvement—Useful Does Not Mean Used

    Lean production, high performance work systems, virtual communications, and collaboration applications are all examples of the latest tools, technology, and processes executives are encouraged to...

  • The Most Underrated Skill in Management

    There are few management skills more powerful than the discipline of clearly articulating the problem you seek to solve before jumping into action.

  • There's One Question You Must Ask Before Solving Any Problem (It's Also the Most Underrated Management Skill)

    MIT Professor Nelson Repenning says this skill is the best way to enhance individual and organizational problem-solving.

  • Let’s Get Visual: Visual Management and Dynamic Work Design

    Visual management is a key part of the Dynamic Work Design toolkit and absolutely critical to creating an effective Dynamic Management System.

  • Nelson Repenning on Business Dynamics

    Professor Nelson Repenning discusses system dynamics, a technique developed at MIT for solving complex problems, and MIT Sloan Executive Education's week-long program, Business Dynamics.

  • Nobody Ever Gets Credit for Fixing Problems that Never Happened

    Nelson Repenning and John Sterman's paper on creating and sustain process improvement.

  • Capability Traps and Self-Confirming Attribution Errors in the Dynamics of Process Improvement

    To better understand the factors that support or inhibit internally focused change, we conducted an inductive study of one firm’s attempt to improve two of its core business processes.


Contact Information

Office: E60-380
Phone: 617-258-6889
Fax: 617-258-7579
Support Staff
Name: Esther Simmons
Phone: (617) 324-4292

Useful Doesn't Always Mean Used: Understanding the Dynamics of Learning and Capability
Discover how exceptional companies improve their organizational performance—and why others fail.