Nelson Repenning

School of Management Distinguished Professor of System Dynamics and Organization Studies,
Associate Dean of Leadership and Special Projects


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 Webinar] How Not To Manage In A Crisis - And A Few Tips for Managing Better

    The COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed two major changes in how most of us work. Crises often reveal the best and worst of how organizations function and thus offer an opportunity to learn and improve...

  • 5 Ways to Avoid Ineffective Meetings

    Meetings should be a time for raising issues and working with teammates and senior leadership. But many of them end up inefficient and unfocused. Here’s how to avoid that.

  • An 8-Step Guide for Improving Workplace Processes

    Visualizing knowledge work makes problem-plagued processes easier to improve. This 8-step guide can get you there.

  • Breaking Logjams in Knowledge Work

    How organizations can improve task flow and prevent overload.

  • [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...

  • Improving Patient Flow with Dynamic Work Design

    We can “reconcile activity with intent” in the workplace by making it easy for people to know why they do what they do, and to understand how their activities affect given outcomes.

  • 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.


Contact Information

Office: E60-300
Phone: 617-258-6889
Fax: 617-258-7579
Support Staff
Name: Dawn Mackenzie
Phone: (617) 324-4292

How Not To Manage In a Crisis

Crises often reveal the best and worst of how organizations function and thus offer an opportunity to learn and improve. In this webinar, Nelson Repenning discusses an alternative approach to organizing decision making processes that's been proven useful in any situation that requires rapid and ongoing change, crisis or otherwise.

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.