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MIT Campus, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Implementing Improvement Strategies: Dynamic Work Design

November 1-2, 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

Managing Technical Professionals and Organizations

November 1-2, 2018

Technical professionals' goals and incentives are often different from those of other employees, and so are the management challenges that arise. Drawing on the wealth of research and industry experience of faculty and leading practitioners, Managing Technical Professionals and Organizations explores proven, practical, and innovative strategies for maximizing the contribution of technical professionals. This intensive program focuses on the management and motivation of technical professionals in the innovative organization, and in particular:


  • How creative individual contributors work together on risky projects, processing information under conditions of uncertainty;
  • How to address critical problems and issues dealing with staff professionals and members of project teams, including cross-functional teams;
  • How to work effectively with prima donnas and independent spirits.

The Learning Experience
Organizations that are designed and managed for doing the same things well repetitively, as in manufacturing and operations, are not particularly appropriate for doing something well once, as in R&D. Running a technical organization presents a unique set of management problems. How do you motivate and reward technical professionals to maximize their performance and creativity? How do you create an organizational structure that will contribute to success, not inhibit it? How do you deal with creative individual contributors, project teams, and innovative professionals? How do you build and sustain high motivation and vitality while preventing complacency? How do you utilize "marshaling" events for building more collaborative, innovative activities? And how do you move information and technology effectively across organizational structures?


This unique two-day program focuses on issues critical to the effective management of technical professionals and cross-functional teams. Its principles and strategies can be applied in any organization where research, development, engineering, or computer-related technology developments need to take place in a timely, effective, and successful manner.

Participants will learn principles and strategies of crucial importance to any organization where R&D, engineering, and/or computer-related technologies lie at the core of the business. Upon completing this program, participants will gain a thorough understanding of the following subjects:


  • Managing risk taking and uncertainty in technical projects
  • Managing and motivating your technical professionals
  • Developing effective reward and incentive systems for technical professionals
  • Creating a highly motivating work environment
  • Managing and leading creative individual contributors
  • Maximizing the technical productivity and vitality of teams
  • Leading and managing more effectively across organizational structures
  • Leading system change within established corporate cultures
  • Transferring technology and information flows between and within organizations
  • Organizing for innovative product development
  • Managing the tensions among development efforts and cost/schedule pressures


"This was my fourth program and it was the very best by far. Professor Katz is Mel Brooks meets Yoda -- pearls of wisdom delivered in an extremely engaging manner. Highly recommended." ~ Past Participant Matthew K.

Systematic Innovation of Products, Processes, and Services

November 5-6, 2018

Design and development projects today face a complex landscape of interrelated challenges, including technological feasibility, customer desirability, business viability, and environmental sustainability. This program explores the process of systematic innovation in product development, business processes, and service design, with a special focus on the end-to-end design and development process, beginning with creation and ending with commercialization and ongoing product/service lead­ership.

The program introduces a structured approach to design and customer analysis processes that draws on important trends that have become essential to successful innovation in today's businesses: the digitization of all business processes; the blending of product and service into integrated solutions; considerations around environmental sustainability; and the use of globally-distributed teams.

Participants will learn how to lead these innovation processes in a fluid world where the best-made assumptions can, and often do, change midstream. Participants will also have an opportunity to discuss these frameworks and apply them to their own personal responsibilities and experiences.

The concepts and frameworks covered in this program will enable participants to understand:

  • Why the process of innovation can be systematic?structured, reliable, and repeatable
  • When it makes sense for entrepreneurial firms to compete directly with established firms
  • How to evaluate market opportunities and identify customer needs in a systematic way
  • What actions you must take to capture some of the value you create with new products and services
  • How to structure an effective concept development process
  • How design iterations, project milestones, and reviews can be used to manage  a staged or spiral process
  • How products and processes can be designed for environmental sustainability
  • How design of services differs from new product development 
  • What is the impact of Generation Y employees on the creative process

MIT Campus, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Implementing Enterprise-Wide Transformation

November 6-7, 2018

NEW for 2017

We know through research and practice that two thirds of enterprise-wide transformation efforts fail to meet their intended objectives. Why? In today?s world, disruption can emerge from any place, any time and in ways unexpected. Leaders often ignore or miss the early warning signals, due to a variety of factors, including cultural inertia, lack of disciplined scanning and decision making processes, and siloed behavior that tends to discount troubling signs that impact other parts of the organization. When unit leaders turn inward to protect their entities, organizational agility becomes that much harder to achieve.


But effective leaders and their teams can beat the odds that their organizations? transformation efforts will fail. How? They set proactive agendas that create an inspiring future for employees. They build trust-based cultures of openness and transparency, combined with the discipline to spot and solve significant problems collectively as a team. They align the ?messaging? of their agendas with the metrics, milestones, and rewards that provide a clear line-of-sight for employees to understand how they can contribute and what behaviors are valued in their organizations.


During this two-day program, you will learn to spot potential derailers that prevent successful transformations; more importantly, you?ll learn how to become a successful transformation leader in your organization. Research based and practitioner led, the program environment is designed to help executives create a blueprint for their organization?s near- and longer-term transformation. Guest speakers will help to further demonstrate important conceptual examples, and significant time will be designated for peer collaboration and plan development.

This program is intended to help you:

  • Spot the warning signals of organizations in need of transformation
  • Create a proactive transformation agenda
  • Build a collective leadership capability to drive organizational transformation together
  • Create the disciplined processes to spot and address mission-critical capability gaps
  • Build the vital organizational networks needed to solve complex transformation challenges
  • Align messaging with metrics, milestones, and rewards
  • Create agile organizations by developing resilient leaders and employees
  • Develop a blueprint for transformation for your organization

Cambridge, MA

Marketing Innovation

November 6-7, 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

Implementing Industry 4.0: Leading Change in Manufacturing and Operations

November 8-9, 2018

The term "Industry 4.0" refers to the combination of several major innovations in digital technology that are poised to transform the energy and manufacturing sectors. From advanced robotics and machine learning to software-as-a-service and the Industrial Internet of Things, these changes enable a powerful new way of organizing global operations. But how should executives lead this change within their own organizations so as to not negatively impact production, customer satisfaction, and corporate culture?


Implementing Industry 4.0: Leading Change in Manufacturing & Operations is a new program designed to help executives implement large scale technological change. Topics discussed include:

  • New business models and forms of operations that are currently being enabled by technological innovations such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
  • The "hidden factory" that results from a counterproductive and unpredictable mix of old and new technologies. Over time, this results in an unknown "process" that delivers defect-laden products behind schedule.
  • The importance of decoding cultural and workforce factors prior to making an investment in new technologies
  • The overemphasis on visioning at the expense of fully understanding existing systems, the context in which those systems are operating, and the people who must use the technology
  • Ways to increase a factory?s "IQ," leading to more productive and safer operations
  • The role of the front-line leader in the adoption and successful execution of the new technology


* This course is not focused on the features or selection of specific Industrial Internet of Things/IIoT technology products or services. Instead, it is intended to help senior leaders in manufacturing and operations who are deploying Industrial Internet of Things technologies to obtain greater value from their businesses by diagnosing the states of their systems, measuring activities appropriately, and overcoming cultural obstacles to deployment of productive technologies.

In this program, executives and frontline managers will explore methods and tools that individuals, teams and organizations can use immediately to get the greatest value from technological change. Participants of this program will learn how to:

  • Identify current-state problems that need to be removed prior to the introduction of new technology
  • Eradicate "hidden factories" issues in process models and operations development of workforce skills
  • Successfully incorporate new technologies without disappointing customers, overburdening employees, and hurting short-term cash flow
  • Sequence the introduction of IIoT to accelerate adoption and time to cash flow
  • Use IIoT to leverage existing Lean/Six Sigma/continuous improvement efforts
  • Develop a coherent roadmap they can share with their entire company

One of a Series: MIT Holidays

MIT Closed - Veterans Day

November 12, 2018

Cambridge, MA

Developing a Leading Edge Operations Strategy

November 13-14, 2018

Enterprises are increasingly complex, with supply chains, manufacturing, and service delivery processes spanning cultures and time zones, geographies and geopolitical situations. To navigate this intricate world filled with new and different kinds of risk, executives need to know how to make the most efficient use of a company?s material, people, and processes; how to manage more complicated global networks; how to optimize service and quality levels of performance; and how to minimize risks yet maintain required capacities. This program will draw on real issues confronting manufacturing and service companies today, providing strategic frameworks to enable executives to make smart choices so their companies can deliver the high-quality products and services they are committed to providing their customers.


Many participants attend this program along with Supply Chain Strategy and Management.

In this program, senior managers will learn new approaches to operations strategy that were developed at MIT and based on best-practice research conducted among the world's leading service and manufacturing companies. Participants will gain an analytic view of operations and strategic insights into:


  • Vertical integration and the factors that affect strategic decisions
  • Process design and process engineering
  • Integration of people systems with technical systems
  • Global facility network strategies and the future of supply chain management
  • Strategic implications of process technologies
  • Capacity and risk management, including capacity factors, supply and demand management
  • Outsourcing, supplier power, and trends in supplier management

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