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Cambridge, MA

Strategies for Sustainable Business

April 2-4, 2018

For decades, MIT and MIT Sloan have been sustainability thought leaders, from Jay Forrester?s work on World Dynamics to our groundbreaking research on high performance work systems, to the formation of the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan?an effort that is shaping modern discourse on sustainability.


Strategies for Sustainable Business connects executives with MIT professors and researchers who are currently breaking new ground in sustainability thinking and practice. Faculty combine interactive lectures, case studies, games, diagnostic exercises, and deep reflective work for a highly engaging experience. Participants place current business practices in a socioeconomic context and walk away with well-grounded strategies for making sustainability a reality in their organizations, industries, and communities.


Course curriculum


Day 1--WHY: This first day focuses on why sustainability is THE challenge of our generation, and its materiality to participants? particular business. Case studies reveal how industries are changing to adapt to the business risks--and opportunities--presented by megatrends like climate change and globalization.


Day 2--WHAT: Through lectures, discussions, and a hands-on system dynamics simulation (?Fishbanks?), participants will learn about available strategies at the operational level, in their extended supply chain, and across their industry. They deepen their understanding of the environmental and social dimension of sustainability and the limits of voluntary action.


Day 3--HOW: Participants chart a course toward the "hardwiring" of sustainability in their enterprise by building coalitions for change and undertaking process improvement. Lectures and discussions draw on the latest research by program faculty and include lessons on how to influence organizational culture, run experiments, conduct difficult conversations, and engage people to undertake important projects. Participants will leave the classroom knowing their next steps to move the ball forward.


"I joined this course with the highest expectations, and both professors exceeded them by far. Their work and ideas on the different dimension of sustainability gave me a different way to reflect about my professional goals and even personal beliefs."
?Froylan Hernandez-Ruiz
Senior Attorney for the Latin America Region
The Nature Conservancy

Participants will learn effective strategies for leading and effecting change on multiple levels?from the individual to the organization to the industry?and how to apply them effectively in both the short and long term.


In Strategies for Sustainable Business, participants will:

  • Gain an appreciation for the key dimensions of unsustainability and leverage points for change
  • Learn what strategies for sustainability are available at all levels of the organization, and which are most relevant to their organization
  • Understand opportunities for business value creation through more effective, sustainable use of natural and human resources and cross-sectoral collaboration
  • Learn to assess business strategies and some public policies with a distinctive, holistic, and systems-based perspective on sustainability
  • Build an action plan for innovation and continuous improvement on sustainability
  • Receive feedback from faculty so that they are better equipped to implement, influence, and lead when they return to work

MIT Campus, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Implementing Improvement Strategies: Dynamic Work Design

April 3-4, 2018

This program provides practical tools and methods for sustainable improvement efforts of any scale, in any industry, and in any function. It is built on a foundation of principles and methods called Dynamic Work Design and can be adapted to any type of work in any type of organization.


Proceeding from principles, not practices, is a key to sustainable change, allowing integration with current culture, processes, and practices, while delivering fast results with little overhead of training or major initiatives. The method has proven to work in businesses as diverse as oil/gas, DNA sequencing and engineering/innovation and works at the scale of discreet problems or organizational-wide strategic efforts. Improvement begins to happen in rapid and natural ways; results begin showing up almost immediately.


This process improvement training program is inspired by the collaboration between instructors Don Kieffer and Nelson Repenning who integrated industry practice and academic investigation over a 20-year period to develop Dynamic Work Design. Students will learn to identify the value-added elements of their own work and of their organization and more importantly, identify opportunities for improving and how to get started based on a framework of principles and methods.

Please note: The subtitle of this program has changed. The program was previously named "Implementing Improvement Strategies: Practical Tools and Methods."

The main purpose of this program is two-fold: one is to help participants understand how continuous improvement strategies, sustained over a long period of time, affect core business metrics and contribute to the success of the organization, from bottom-up and top-down perspectives; and the other is how to change the way managers see work and their own roles as leaders in the culture of improvement. This program will enable participants to:


  • Understand the principles and approaches that drive improvement; and apply them in all areas in the context of a particular company, thus creating a tangible culture of continuous improvement
  • Implement improvement naturally in their everyday work, not from a prescribed list, but from a deep personal understanding of the principles
  • Recognize successful improvement initiatives already in place and build on them
  • Identify the true value-added aspects of work performed by individual workers and the entire organization
  • Ensure that business targets and improvement activities are tightly linked at every level
  • Develop inquiry and evidence-based problem solving skills for individuals and for organizations
  • Transform managers from controllers to enablers by leveraging the relationship between designing the work well and the engagement of employees that follows
  • Generate ?pull? from within the organization for new methods of work
  • Make results (and problems) visible so that they can be addressed constructively
  • Not just remove defects, but learn how to design work correctly from the beginning

Essential IT for Non-IT Executives

April 5-6, 2018

Do you feel as though everything regarding IT takes too long and costs too much? Do you lack the language and instincts to make good decisions regarding IT? Is your company falling behind the competition in your use of technology?


Essential IT for Non-IT Executives offers essential IT management training to help non-technical senior business managers work with, oversee, and generate value from IT. Drawing on MIT Sloan research, faculty present strategies for instituting a working relationship between IT managers and business managers based on transparency?clear communication about IT performance and decision processes. The program is not meant to make an IT specialist out of every manager, but to make every manager confident in resolving IT issues and working with IT staff to make better decisions and to deliver better process change. 


This IT management course will help you optimize your role in the use of essential technology for competitive advantage.

Participants in this program will learn where IT is going, where it fits into their organizations, and how to govern it well. Managers will walk away thinking differently, being able to talk differently with the company's IT professionals, and armed with real-life examples they can use to adjust and improve their organizational processes. Namely:


  • How to design processes to use IT better
  • How to work with IT people to make better decisions
  • How to drive transformational change throughout the organization

Key areas of discussion will include:


  • Governance: Effective IT management requires active involvement from both business and IT managers. A firm understanding of roles and responsibilities for specific decisions will help minimize potential areas of conflict.
  • Discipline: IT cannot be everything to everybody. It is essential to set realistic goals and to manage everyone's expectations throughout any IT-related initiative. Discipline is essential in getting business value from IT.
  • Organizational Architecture: A well-managed, standardized platform is the foundation of IT effectiveness, risk management, and agility.
  • Transparency:Transparency is key to better decision-making and business value from IT. Managers should identify specific issues a company needs to solve through IT, define and follow assigned milestones, and keep close track of success metrics.
  • People and Culture: IT is more than just a technology challenge. Don?t forget the people and culture. Simply understanding the vocabulary and knowing how and whom to ask IT-related questions can help non-IT managers make great strides toward organizational change.

Cambridge, MA

Marketing Innovation

April 5-6, 2018

Even the most brilliant innovation can fail if you don?t know how to market it. In other words, just because you build it doesn?t mean they?ll come. Marketing Innovation helps participants leverage marketing concepts and research to better influence the outcomes of new products and innovations. Participants learn how to evaluate market attractiveness, think about the design and management of distribution channels, and understand pricing architectures.


The first day of the course provides a strategic and practical approach to understanding consumer decision making, analyzing company strengths, and assessing the competition. This strategic approach is applied to real world examples to help technical executives learn to identify the right product for the right market opportunity. On the second day, the course turns to practical issues, including pricing architectures, building channel relationships and marketing communications decisions. Participants will learn the pros and cons of digital marketing and explore how to leverage new digital techniques to optimize marketing outcomes.


After completing the two-day program, participants will have learned a common language that they can use to interact more effectively with the marketing and strategy professionals in their own firms.


Please note: Marketing Innovation is replacing Strategic Marketing for Technical Executives, also led by Professor Catherine Tucker. Because of some overlap in curriculum, this new program is not recommended for previous participants of Strategic Marketing for Technical Executives from the last four years.

Participants of this program will learn how and when to contribute to their organization's marketing strategy. Technical executives and non-marketing managers will learn how to: 


  • Develop a strategic framework for assessing market opportunities
  • Anticipate and take advantage of surprising inconsistencies in the customer decision process
  • Leverage pricing architectures best positioned to help capture value
  • Choose the digital marketing channels best suited for their product and market
  • Communicate more effectively with the marketing team

Cambridge, MA

Communication and Persuasion in the Digital Age

April 10-11, 2018

Advancements in technology and the rapid proliferation of digital media, data analytics, and online collaboration require executives to lead their organizations with sophisticated communication skills, adapted for these new ways of working. To be a successful leader today, you must be able to effectively persuade and influence at all levels, in person and virtually, and with supporting data.


Edward Schiappa and Ben Shields draw on cutting-edge communication research, theories of persuasion, studies on parasocial interaction, and empirical studies on compelling storytelling to help participants solve problems, make quality decisions, and motivate people. Session topics include speaking persuasively, visual persuasion, communicating quantitative information clearly, and adapting messages to audiences.

The program will help you leverage new communication skills and harness the power of persuasion to:


  • Influence attitudes and change behaviors in your organization
  • Understand how new technology shapes the way we work and communicate
  • Bring your message and your medium into alignment
  • Support your message with data analytics
  • Manage virtual communications with power and presence
  • Apply the latest research to become a confident and inspiring public speaker
  • Create a compelling story to galvanize and motivate people
  • Adapt and deliver your message across different media channels and to diverse audiences
  • Advance the level of discourse within your organization

MIT Campus, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Platform Strategy: Building and Thriving in a Vibrant Ecosystem

April 10-11, 2018

In 2013, fourteen of the top 30 global brands by market capitalization were platform-oriented companies ? companies that created and now dominate arenas in which buyers, sellers, and a variety of third parties are connected in real time. In today?s networked age, the cloud, social media, and mobile devices are fueling this platform competition, and more and more companies want in. However, many companies do not succeed in becoming platform leaders because their technology and/or business strategies fall short.

While many platform strategies are well known (e.g. Apple?s iTunes), there are other less-heralded platforms that are exploring new ways to create and capture value. These include: dynamic pricing, usage fees, highly targeted product and service offerings, inbound marketing, and network effects.

Key questions the faculty explores include:

  • Is a customer segment with the highest ?willingness to pay? the most valuable segment?
  • When is tying a customer to a platform (sometimes called ?lock in?) counter-productive?
  • Which pricing formats seem to boost revenues but actually slow platform adoption?
  • How can companies get in front of the common evolution patterns of platforms?
  • When should leaders be wary of ?platform envy??

Through case studies and Q&A, experienced managers will emerge with insights for refreshing their company?s strategic approach and participating profitably in the multi-sided marketplaces of the future.

By the end of this two-day course, participants should be able to:


  • Identify examples of traditional and non-traditional forms of platforms
  • Describe the common evolution patterns of multisided platforms, including same-side vs. cross-side network effects
  • Identify customer and user groups whose affiliation with the platform is most valuable
  • Decide whether to try to ?tie? customers to a platform or not ? the value of open vs. proprietary networks
  • Design strategies to undermine an established platform or to defend against such attacks
  • Describe the principles of platform pricing and how to inform the design of an effective pricing format
  • Recognize the concrete implications of trade-offs in platform design, governance, and staging
  • Decide whether a given value proposition is best developed as a stand-alone platform, or as a complement embedded into another platform?s ecosystem?or whether to pivot away from platform strategies all together.

Cambridge, MA

Analytics Management: Business Lessons from the Sports Data Revolution

April 12-13, 2018

Analytics are the present and future of sports, on and off the field. While the sports industry is an analytics pioneer, data driven decision-making has become essential to business success in nearly every industry. Starting an analytics program, however, is easier said than done. Taught by renowned sports strategist Ben Shields, this program provides executives insight into the sports industry’s “secret sauce” and helps them apply it immediately to the development of their own analytics program.


The first day of the program focuses on designing an analytics strategy. Faculty will introduce a strategic framework for developing an analytics program. Executives will learn how sports organizations have applied this framework on both the team personnel and business sides. Day one will conclude with an action-learning exercise to guide students in developing a working draft of their analytics strategy.


On the second day, the curriculum will focus on implementation. The success of an analytics program is not only driven by sound strategy but also the ability of an organization (and its executives) to execute through effective leadership and management. Critical topics on day two include making the right technology decisions, building and organizing an analytics team, and communicating data for impact. The day will close with a capstone session on leading an analytics transformation during which participants will share their new analytics vision for their organization.


Note: This is not an advanced data science course. This program is designed for executives who are looking for strategic insights and action plans on the management of analytics.

Cambridge, MA

Building, Leading, and Sustaining the Innovative Organization

April 12-13, 2018

This program is designed to help spark the breakthrough ideas business leaders need to create successful competitive products for the future. Drawing on the latest MIT Sloan research, the program will offer a set of strategies for growing companies in the face of changing markets, technologies, and consumer demand. Specifically, participants will be presented with:

  • Tactics for dealing with the internal politics and resistance to change that can threaten innovation initiatives and early-stage developments
  • Techniques for building innovation streams
  • Processes for collecting competitive intelligence, forecasting technology change, and gathering information on user needs
  • Methods for identifying better innovations more quickly, including the lead-user method for discovering breakthrough products, services, and strategies; and innovation toolkits that enable managers to design their own mass-customized products and services

Takeaways
Participants will learn about the steps required to drive strategic innovation in the organization, including how to:
  • Get the right mix of people and skills to generate innovative ideas efficiently
  • Develop the processes required to support these people
  • Build cultures that encourage innovative behaviors
  • Decide which ideas are right for investment, and which new business opportunities are worth pursuing

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