Executive Insights Blog

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Developing an Innovation Driven Entrepreneurial Advantage (IDEA)

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Jonathan Lehrich is a lecturer and program director of the MIT Executive MBA program, and a member of the MIT Sloan MBA class of 2005.

The first-year MIT EMBAs recently completed the IDEA module, our deep dive into “Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurial Advantage.” Each one of those words is important. This is not a course about entrepreneurship or technology alone. Rather, it’s about entrepreneurship with a specific focus on how innovation can give a competitive edge to both startups and existing firms. It’s intended for students excited by innovation – an excitement shared by every student here – and its social and economic outcomes.

This intensive five-day course is an immersion in the MIT ecosystem. So while the EMBAs attend classes and learn...

Leading Innovation in the Public Sector: An Interview with The World Bank’s Elizabeth Petheo

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Elizabeth Petheo works for The World Bank in Washington, DC. Throughout her career she has led international development projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean. She is also a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2014.

Executive Insights: What would you say are the benefits of the MIT Executive MBA (EMBA) to someone coming from the public sector/international development into this program?

Petheo:

There are two ways to look at that question: the benefits you get from the breadth of the program and the benefits you get from depth.

The first is the breadth of the general management skill set. Regardless of functional area or industry, or even public or private sectors, working more effectively as a team and managing...

Five Startup Strategies to Encourage Innovation

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Diane Rucker is former Strategic Technology Manager at Seagate in Bloomington, MN and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2014.

One evening, as I was walking by the MIT Media Lab, I noticed a man ahead of me carrying four or five laptop cases slung over his shoulders. I called out, “Even for MIT, that’s a lot of computers!” Turning to grin at me, he introduced himself as Kyle, an occasional Sherpa (and program director) for the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship at MIT.

Kyle is an entrepreneur. He started his first business after graduating from college, two weeks after he was married. He sold the business four years later, but by then he had “caught the bug.” So far, he has three companies to his credit.

What makes the culture of...

3 Lenses for Management Success

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Dedric Carter is a former senior advisor for strategic initiatives in the Office of the Director National Science Foundation in Arlington, Va. and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2014. He is currently associate dean of engineering and professor of practice at Washington University in St. Louis.

In moving quickly, we can easily become entrenched in our own perspective, oblivious to other forces that may affect our business success. One technique for calibrating what we see involves viewing an initiative through three types of lenses: political, strategic design and cultural.

The Three Lenses

The strategic design lens is that of the organizational architect. The architect designs strategies, processes, and procedures that fit the environment and facilitate the organizations...

The Consistency Trap: How to Avoid Predictable Mistakes

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Jason Stack is a Program Officer at the U.S. Office of Naval Research in Arlington, Va. and a member of the MIT Sloan EMBA class of 2014.

While working at my previous company our senior management made a bet-the-company move to fundamentally redesign our product lines. Unbeknownst at the time, the new design had a subtle yet fatal flaw. Once discovered and alerted to leadership, the reactions were all too familiar: “We have to make it work,” and “We’re committed to the way forward,” and “This is too important to fail.” Unfortunately, this was not a minor detail that could be fixed by clever engineering, and the firm declared bankruptcy as a result.

At work here was the Consistency Principle, which is based on a predictable human behavior,...

Predicting Consumer Behavior with Data Analytics: Example Show of Hands Mobile App

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Amjad Hussain is CEO of SilkRoute, a global e-Commerce and supply chain solutions provider in Detroit, MI, and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2012. He also is an investor in the mobile polling app Show of Hands. Tony Bacos is founder and president of Show of Hands in Beaverton, OR and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2012.

If you’re not familiar with it, business analytics can seem like black magic. After all, people talk about taking a huge amount of data, crunching some algorithms, and voila – they get all the answers to their business questions. It’s not as simple as that, but it’s also not as out of reach for most companies as you might think. And when used in the right way, it can greatly increase a company’s value proposition.

For Example&...

How to Make a Reorganization an Opportunity for Renewal and Growth

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Fernando Dangond, M.D. is head of medical affairs for neurodegenerative diseases for the U.S. at EMD Serono in Rockland, MA. and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2012.

Companies invariably go through cycles with ups and downs - and often the inexorable “re-org” period. How you come out of crises depends largely on your personality, your training, and your attitude on life, both personal and professional. This post is a sequel to my early post on "The Power of Strategic Communication: How to manage change and corporate reorganization".

Do you accept continuous risks? Are you comfortable with organizational change? Even when the re-org is complete, are you still thinking “Titanic” and looking for a way out? Or are you the type of leader that sees an...

An Entrepreneur’s View on Networking at MIT

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Serial entrepreneur Roger Cockroft is chairman and CEO of Buhive LLC in Annapolis, MD. and Buhive AS in Norway, and a member of the MIT EMBA Class of 2014.

When you get to a certain level in business, networking becomes a challenge. You become the gatekeeper of your network, and others want to gain access and exploit it. Finding a safe environment can be very challenging if not impossible, especially for entrepreneurs. You want to meet people, yet there is the need to be protective and defensive. A certain amount of suspicion is required until you are comfortable bringing someone into your inner circle of trust. This is how you survive.

The most fantastic thing about MIT Sloan’s EMBA program is the network of some 200 executives from around the world. By sharing meals,...

8 Ways to Make Work-From-Home Arrangements Succeed

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Charles Rizzo is CFO at John Hancock Mutual Funds in Boston, MA. and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2013.

In this day and age, organizations are moving quickly towards remote capability and a mobilized virtual workforce. Flexible work arrangements – meaning employees setting up work-from-home capabilities (WFH) -- are becoming a common means for increased employee retention and enhanced work-life balance. Employees appreciate benefits, such as reduced commutes, better work-life-balance, and improved health as a result of reduced stress and increased job satisfaction. WFH policies also help reduce employer real estate costs and can facilitate effective business continuity plans.

While there are numerous benefits of work-from-home arrangements, there also are some key issues...

What is Special About a $2 Bill?

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Erik Mintz is Director of Constant Contact's EventSpot product in West Palm Beach, FL. and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2013.

On Dec 3rd, 2011, I discovered I was not alone in my admiration for $2 bills. On this day, during our first semester at MIT (EMBA class of 2013), we were discussing “financial instruments” with Professor Christopher Noe. Professor Noe took from his wallet a Bicentennial $2 bill and asked the following question, “If you were doing a balance sheet today, what is the value of this $2 bill?” What happened next was amazing. A number of the classmates proceeded to remove a $2 bill from their wallets.  Some students were carrying a $2 bill in their car; others had a collection of them at home. Clearly, Professor Noe was not...

The Culture Multiplier Model of Leadership: 7 Ways to Enhance Your Management Results

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Michael Murray is Industrial segment and area sales director at Analog Devices in Wilmington, MA. and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2014.

An entrepreneurial approach to managing people can and does work at an established global organization as well as at small companies. It comes down to culture and a willingness to promote an entrepreneurial spirit across the company and to enable risk taking, innovation and invention.

To create this environment, leaders and their front-line managers need to excel at developing their people, driving strategic alignment, and inspecting the goals of the firm while continuously improving their own leadership skills to stay current and sharp. For me, this was a big part of why I came to MIT Sloan’s EMBA program.

Through classes, including...

How a Serial Entrepreneur Applies MBA Lessons to Running a Preschool

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Bruce Huang, Ph.D., is a serial entrepreneur, founder of Cranehill Learning Services, Inc. in Dallas, TX and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2012

As the founder of private schools, my goals are to drive enrollment and offer quality education to preschool through twelfth grade students. In particular, I want to increase enrollment in our preschools, as students who enroll at that age often continue into the upper grades. However, the preschool market is pretty crowded and there is intense competition.

Defining Your Basis of Competition

Applying lessons from my Strategy class, I found that there are two main ways to compete. I can be a cost leader -- meaning that our tuition is lower than our competitors -- or I can differentiate our schools from the pack. We’ve offered...

Incoming Students Represent “Extraordinary Diversity”

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Jonathan Lehrich is a lecturer and program director of the MIT Executive MBA program, and a member of the MIT Sloan MBA class of 2005.

Since the MIT EMBA program was launched, we’ve strived to increase our global reach through both the curriculum and the student body. In fact, the diversity of students’ perspectives is an important part of the program. Classroom learning is that much richer when people come from different geographic and cultural backgrounds.

This year’s incoming class represents our most international group yet. Of the 114 students, 42% are of international origin with 12% based outside the U.S. They are commuting to MIT from as near as Bermuda, Canada and Mexico, and as far as Chile, France, Netherlands, Panama, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

The...

4 Ways to Empower Your Team and Achieve Better Results

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Erik Waal is senior director of global systems, storage and backups at Monster Worldwide, Inc. in Boston, MA. and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2014.

Leadership is a term that is completely overused, seldom realized when present, and quickly highlighted when absent. The function of leadership is not only to motivate, but also to empower. Dwight D. Eisenhower perhaps described it best: "You don't lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership."

The core of leadership is really people skills. If you’re in the business of management, you're in the business of people. Using this lens, you can look at leadership in an entirely new way. Following are some ways to challenge yourself to be a better manager: 

Everybody Has Off...

The Art and Science of Pricing

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Rosalind Sullivan is chief financial officer of Cenegenics® Health in Las Vegas, NV. and a member of the MIT Executive MBA class of 2013.

A lot of companies price their products and services incorrectly. As a result, they leave money on the table, or they overcharge and drive away customers.

In a recent Pricing class, I learned just how much price can impact the bottom line. For example, a company with an 8% profit margin and a 1% increase in price realization will boost profits by 12.5%. All it took was finding the optimal price.

But pricing correctly is easier said than done. Many businesses base price on the “three Cs”: cost, competition and customers. None of those are optimum strategies. Here’s why:

Cost:
Most companies price their products and...

Using System Dynamics to Predict New Technology Adoption…and More

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Rob Nachtrieb is lead scientist at Lutron Electronics, chair of the controls section of the NEMA Lighting Systems Division, and a technical advisor to USNC of the IEC. He is a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2012 and has co-taught System Dynamics with Prof. John Sterman.


System dynamics is a powerful tool with applications in every industry. It can be used for a range of purposes from better understanding market dynamics to optimizing human resource strategies to projecting the lifespan of a business.

How System Dynamics Can Improve your Business

How does it do all of this? I’ll give you an example of how it can show the evolution of a market in the lighting industry. Currently, there are four common types of light bulbs in the residential market: incandescent, halogen,...

Influence Without Authority

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Amit Varma is the Sr. Product Marketing Manager at High Connection Density in Sunnyvale, CA. and a member of the MIT Sloan EMBA class of 2014.

Management requires a lot of skills, but one skill is often underrated but critical to success: the skill of influence without authority. A unique challenge exists when you own a deliverable, yet you do not manage the people who are directly responsible for executing the deliverables. This leads to the need to influence others to help you achieve your objectives without the direct authority over them.

While there is no simple rulebook for successfully influencing without authority, there are strategies that can be invaluable management assets. Here are some examples taken from the MIT Executive MBA program, in particular courses on...

The Strategic Value of Commitment and Consistency

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Brian Harrison is the director of insurance and financial planning marketing at Commonwealth Financial Network in Boston, MA and a member of the MIT Execuitve MBA class of 2014.

In his bestselling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini dedicates a chapter to the notion of commitment and consistency, illuminating “our nearly obsessive desire to be (and appear) consistent with what we have already done . . . we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision.” In other words, the more a person commits to a certain task or activity, the more likely that person is to continue doing that task or activity.

Putting it Into...

8 Tips for Structuring a New Business

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Dave Markert is the founder and president of Tactical Systems Engineering in Newport, R.I. and a member of the MIT Sloan EMBA class of 2013.

In the military, there is a saying that when you’re flying an airplane at 400 knots, you had better be thinking at least at 401 knots. The point is that you always need to be thinking one step ahead of the jet or something bad will happen. Although I’m no longer a Naval aviator, that saying is still applicable in my current career as an entrepreneur. Without a background in business, it was only a matter of time before something “bad” happened to my startup. That is what drove me to MIT Sloan’s EMBA program.

I’ve corrected my company’s course thanks to many of my classes, but the sessions on innovation...

Think Outside the Classroom

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Jonathan Lehrich is a lecturer and program director of the MIT Executive MBA program, and a member of the MIT Sloan MBA class of 2005.

When new graduates tell us that the MIT EMBA program has transformed them, they don’t just mean the curriculum. They are talking about the entire experience, inside and outside the classroom, on and off campus. So when we design the program, we design the full gamut of mid-career education, including a robust selection of extracurricular activities.

These activities are a critical part of our program, as classroom learning only takes you so far. The more we can create forums in which people connect and share their experiences, the more those experiences benefit everyone. In addition to broadening perspectives and expanding knowledge, these out-...

Clouds of Change in the IT Industry

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Mike Keogh is former Senior Vice President of Infrastructure Strategy for CompuCom in Dallas, TX. and a member of the MIT Exeuctive MBA class of 2013.

The IT industry is going through a major change with the rise of the cloud computing paradigm. I’m seeing this first-hand in my business, which is in the IT infrastructure outsourcing space. This change is going to disrupt some current business models and create many new opportunities for value creation and capture. Our goal is to leverage this change and double the size of our cloud and infrastructure business in the next few years. But what will it take to get there? How will we handle this huge adjustment in the market because of cloud computing?

Identify Interlocking Sets of Capabilities

Applying several key learnings...

Three Tips From the Digital Content Frontier

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Frank Golding is a director (Head of Sport, North America) for Google/YouTube in New York City and a member of the MIT Executive MBA class of 2013.

On YouTube, everyone is a sports fan. It’s just a matter of degree. Anyone may drop in for an instant and become avidly engaged with a sport topic. I call this moment, “instant avidity.” At some point, every one of the 800 million of us that visits YouTube each month will find ourselves looking for that key highlight, historical clip, instructional video, or even live game. You are at that moment the most rare and sought after fan of them all. You are an avid fan, even if only for an instant.

As YouTube and other digital content providers navigate the digital content frontier we are no longer beholden to pre-programmed...

9 Tips for Navigating Difficult Negotiations

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Dr. Carlos Rueda is chairman and medical director of the Department of Psychiatry at the Orange Regional Medical Center and Catskill Regional Medical Center in Orange County, NY. He also is a member of the MIT Sloan EMBA class of 2013.

When I negotiate, there is a lot more at stake than money. My negotiations are with mentally ill patients -- who are often inherently distrustful and delusional -- to determine whether they will agree to voluntarily take medications or if they need to be committed by a court order and forcibly administered medication.

The court process is difficult for the patient and undermines the therapeutic relationship with the doctor. It’s also quite costly for the hospital. The goal is to avoid that outcome by providing the best treatment in the least...

Practical Business Analytics: From Pricing Strategies to Medical Outcomes

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Ivan Salgo, MD, MS, is senior director of Global Cardiology at Philips in Boston and a member of the MIT Sloan EMBA class of 2012.

Analytics can turn cryptic data into insightful, effective decision-making. In general, it involves two broad approaches: clustering existing data to “see useful patterns” and applying machine learning on past data to “predict the future”. While “Big Data” has been the cornerstone of many sophisticated business models at firms such as Google and FedEx, the “New World” is generating data faster than managers can process it and presenting new opportunities and new challenges for decision-makers.

Following are two cases of using analytics to drive business decision-making. One uses a simple histogram analysis...

How to Navigate Pricing When Customer Budgets are Tight

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Nitin Jain is an IT solution and strategy executive within the Federal Healthcare Practice for IBM Global Business Services in Washington, D.C. and a member of the MIT Sloan EMBA class of 2014.
 

Cost pressure in the U.S. public sector, as well as in many other industries, is a disruptive force that is encoraging companies (sellers) to build differentiated capabilities. Additionally, the pressures of sequestration budget cuts and an ongoing effort to address the federal budget deficit are causing government agencies (buyers) to do more with less. As a result, at IBM (a seller) we’re focusing on ways to maintain our competitive edge in light of this challenging and uncertain landscape.

A big part of my job involves making pricing and bidding decisions. How do we decide...

6 Ingredients to Raise Venture Funding

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Jeremy Macdonald leads marketing for the MIT Executive MBA program, is an angel investor, and a member of the MIT Sloan MBA class of 2005.

Raising venture funding can be a little like playing Where’s Waldo?: you try really hard to find something that has a lot of false positives. One of the problems is that investors are often too polite and not direct enough. Let’s flip this process on its head and think about some ingredients to start up success that you will be rewarded for focusing on no matter whether you raise money or not! It also happens that these are things that are at the top of many investors’ minds, so hopefully you will end up closer to your goal.

Team, Team, Team:
Just like the real estate adage; location, location, location. The most important...

Turning Your EMBA Program from ‘Executive’ into ‘Entrepreneurial’

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Jonathan Lehrich is a lecturer and program director of the MIT Executive MBA program, and a member of the MIT Sloan MBA class of 2005.

Higher education abounds with acronyms.  We abbreviate the names of our schools (MIT, HBS, BU) and our programs (BS, PhD, MBA, EMBA, and others).  Often these acronyms become so commonplace that one forgets what they stand for.  Take the EMBA.  Most understand the MBA part – it’s the degree you receive – but what’s the “E”?  Some think it stands for Electronic or even Easy.  Both are wrong: the E stands for Executive, for the level of the experienced leaders who want to challenge themselves, challenge convention, and challenge the status quo by applying what they learn.  But in the...

The Quintet’s Gauntlet

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Eyas Abu-Raddad and Sree Koka are members of the MIT EMBA class of 2013. Eyas is a research advisor and head of PK/PD at Chorus, a division of Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, IN. Sree is a professor and chairman of the Department of Dental Specialties at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who change the world.  As we move towards our June 2013 commencement day, the lectures and passion of Professors John Van Maanen, Richard Locke, Nelson Repenning, John Sterman and Charles Fine reverberate with the clear and compelling drumbeat of the Sloan mission.  These men have “made it” in their chosen fields; they have published numerous papers and textbooks, given honorary lectures,...

The Capabilities Trap: 5 Tips for Avoiding It

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Guha Bala is president of Vicarious Visions, Inc. in Albany, NY and a member of the MIT Sloan EMBA class of 2013.
 

When you have a set of resources committed to a product and you don’t meet your quality target, there is a tendency to redouble efforts to meet that target. But by doing this, you become stuck in a “work harder loop” to solve a problem that you might not have the capability to fix. Given that we only have 24 hours in a day, simply working harder robs the team of the bandwidth required to develop the capability to fix the problem. In other words, time spent on “working harder” robs from time needed to “work smarter.” As a result, the quality gap becomes greater and you become less able to solve the problem.

This is an...

The Firefighting Tipping Point: Avoiding the Agile-Fall

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Dan Bachiochi is a vice president of software engineering and technology in the Electronic Trading Platforms Group at State Street Corp. in Boston and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2014.

A friend of mine and I were recently discussing some problems he’s been having at work.  He is managing director of product and software development at a $130-million dollar business.  The business is growing steadily, but headcount is flat and almost everyone in the organization is spending a larger amount of time on production support.

What’s the problem?

As it turns out, his company’s situation is remarkably similar to one we recently studied in our Organizational Processes course.  Product development can be permanently derailed by natural organizational...

Using Consensus Building as a Global Workforce Strategy

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Rob Lentz is vice president of international delivery at Acxiom in Little Rock, Ark. and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2013.


If you look at the evolution of business footprints over the last 20 years, many companies began in one country like the U.S. and became optimized over time for that specific geography. However, they may have more recently bought into another market, suddenly acquiring different employees, technologies and engineering platforms. Now, they are in multinational territory.

I’m currently looking at how our company is evolving as a multinational entity. We formed a taskforce on global workforce strategy and are moving toward identifying what we need to complete this evolution. Here are some of the things that I’ve learned from MIT and am...

EMBAs Meet Global Business Challenges with GO-Lab

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Jonathan Lehrich is the Program Director of the MIT Executive MBA Program, a lecturer at MIT Sloan, and a member of the MIT Sloan MBA class of 2005.

As our executive MBA program continues to grow, so does the program’s capstone project, Global Organizations Lab (GO-Lab). We recently kicked off the second year of the global management course with more companies in more locations, which means more diversity and more impact.

This year, student teams are working with 12 companies located throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Near East to help solve major international business issues.  In this capstone of the EMBA experience, students apply everything they’ve learned and build on their own experiences, in a new and dynamic environment.

The six-month lab...

Learning When To Say NO

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Shankaran (Shanks) Srinivasan is an international program manager at 4D Security Solutions, Inc., a firm that provides integrated security solutions worldwide for critical infrastructure.  Shanks is a member of the MIT Sloan EMBA class of 2013.

Whether you are in a startup or a large company, you don’t want to have to say NO to a potential client. Every dollar helps to build your business so you figure out ways to staff projects as needed. You ask questions like:

- How much revenue will this produce?
- What strategic benefits will be realized?
- What resources will be needed?

However, not all projects are created equal and saying YES to everything has pitfalls. It leads to projects that consume resources and do not deliver the intended results. It leads to a culture...

The Art of the Pivot: Applying the Scientific Method to Entrepreneurship and Innovation

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Shehryar Ahmad is chief marketing officer of BMA Asset Management, former manager of the rock band Junoon (the “U2 of Pakistan” - The New York Times), and a member of the MIT Sloan EMBA class of 2013.

Having worked in finance and the music industry, I appreciate that business is both a science and an art. Some aspects are data-driven and analytical while others are more intuitive. There are occasions when there is enough time to make decisions based on the best data available, and then there are times when you have to use your best judgment based on instincts and experience. When it comes to entrepreneurship and innovation, the key is finding the balance between the two and staying flexible enough to apply them as needed.

Infatuation Is Not Contagious
A good example...

How To Turn An Idea Into A Startup

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Andrea de Souza is director of informatics, data analysis and finance at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT in Cambridge, Mass. and a member of the MIT Sloan EMBA class of 2013.


I was recently inspired by an entrepreneurship class at MIT Sloan to further explore an idea that I’ve been kicking around for awhile.  While I am new to entrepreneurship I thought I would share some of the steps I have taken to turn an idea for a “LookBook” for IP into a start up. The idea is to provide an online marketplace to match inventors with those seeking innovation.

Here are some steps to help turn your idea into a startup:

1. Seek Early Feedback

During class, we tested our ideas with class members. The “LookBook” idea received far more positive...

From the Hunter to the Hunted: Think About Strategy Today

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Tom Cole is vice president of Atlantis Operations at DENTSPLY Implants in Waltham, MA. and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2013.


When your business is growing fast, you don’t always have time for long-term strategic thinking. If your product is successful and customers are willing to pay a premium price, then strategy often falls by the wayside. But eventually, there comes a time when low-cost competitors or other business models will begin to challenge your success. You’ll be a lot better off if you’ve done some strategic thinking before then.

Flying under the radar

This was the case for the dental company I cofounded, which was acquired by a larger company in 2007. Even after that acquisition, our strategy was pretty much to fly under the radar since our...

Finding Strategic Value In Your Tax Department

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Rubi Iniguez is vice president/head of U.S. Tax for Reed Elsevier in Newton, MA and a member of MIT Sloan’s EMBA class of 2012.

Tax departments are often regarded as a necessary evil. Instead of being innovators, they often are perceived to be backward looking. This makes sense given that we usually deal with things that have happened in the past. But it’s also important for tax groups to have a good understanding of the overall business to play more of a strategic role. So the big question is: What does it mean to be strategic when you live and die with the details?

What Is The Life Expectancy Of Your Business?
Every business model is mortal so it’s important to understand the life expectancy of your business. If you change nothing, how soon will it die?...

Larger EMBA Class Enriches Learning Experience

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Jonathan Lehrich is the Program Director of the MIT Executive MBA Program in Cambridge, MA and a member of the MIT Sloan MBA class of 2005.

This year we have doubled the EMBA program to two cohorts. We have increased the size of the class of 2014 to 114 students, up from 70 in the class of 2013. And we have welcomed an exceptional class, comprised 25% of women, that averages 16 years of work experience – continuing our commitment to world-class management education for active, senior leaders.

But why increase the class at all? To increase the richness of the academic experience. A larger class creates an environment that allows for even broader cross-learning and collaboration. It also deepens networking opportunities, as students form tight-knit bonds in the program that...

6 Ways to Capture Value in a Competitive Marketplace

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Tom Dengenis is CEO of Synchro Ltd. in Birmingham England and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2013.

Knowing how to live in the woods doesn’t make you an environmentalist any more than running a business helps you to truly understand the underlying forces of the market. But the business environment we operate in demands an understanding of what levers to pull in order to move markets in our favor.

Here are some levers that will help you create and capture value in a competitive marketplace:

Lever 1: Strategic Pricing

Pricing is often simply a tactical decision, i.e. the objective is to maximize economic profits. However, pricing can also be an important part of a company’s strategy and help differentiate the company from competitors.  Being able to look at...

The Power of Strategic Communication: How to manage change and corporate reorganization

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Fernando Dangond, M.D. is head of medical affairs for neurodegenerative diseases for the U.S. at EMD Serono in Rockland, MA. and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2012.

Corporate reorganizations are common in this economy. Yet they frequently cause a lot of frustration among employees who want more communication about what is going on. That’s not surprising, especially when layoffs are likely. In addition to causing stress, reorganizations also can lead to inefficiencies in terms of how companies use their manpower and establish new processes.

Here are some tips for improving communication and facilitating a smooth reorganization.

Be Clear on the Reasons:
Gather data and clearly frame the strategic reasons that are motivating the reorganization. This will help a build a...

4 Pieces Of Practical Advice for Women Entrepreneurs (From OnStartups)

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The following is a repost from OnStartups by Kate Endress. Kate is the CEO and cofounder of DITTO.com, a new cutting edge ecommerce site selling a curated collection of designer eyewear including prescription sunglasses. Kate is a graduate of Stanford Business School and was previously a private equity investor before becoming an entrepreneur. This is such a good post on my friend and MIT MBA 2005, Dharmesh Shah's blog OnStartups that I have posted it verbatim.

Despite the scary statistic that women lead just 8% of venture-backed companies, I believe that there has never been a better time to be a young, female entrepreneur. There are an increasing number of great female role models who serve as inspirations.

Yahoo's decision to hire Marissa Mayer to run the struggling web...

8 ways to effect change and drive value in healthcare (or any other industry)

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Sree Koka is a professor and chairman of the Department of Dental Specialties at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. as well as a practicing dentist. He is a member of the MIT Sloan EMBA class of 2013.

In the world of healthcare, the concept of value is very poorly understood. Revenue generation is primarily from reimbursement for procedures performed and, consequently, often not proportional to the value created. Optimal patient care is why most of us entered healthcare in the first place, yet the current reimbursement system places this key value pretty far down the value chain.

Organizations present a myriad of competing initiatives, which if not aligned or clearly prioritized, lead to confusion.  As a department head, I spend a lot of time thinking about how my group...

6 Lessons for Encouraging Innovation in Large Corporations

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Gary Smith is the founder of Beacon Management Consulting and a member of the MIT Sloan EMBA class of 2013.


There are many reasons why innovation is difficult for large companies. At the top of the list is the fact that their employees tend to be risk adverse and stay for a long time. While there are benefits to high employee retention rates, it also means they are reinforcing the same ideas over and over again.

The new ideas that are seen often only lead to incremental improvements, squeezing out a few basis points here or a few days off of a project schedule there. It’s common for a big company to make marginal improvements to a 20-year-old process rather than scrap it to adopt a newer system. They’d rather tweak a dinosaur that still functions than take a risk..

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When not to enter a market

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Zafer Sahinoglu is a senior principal member of technical staff at Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs (MERL) in Cambridge, Mass. and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2013.

Two years ago, I conducted research to develop fast charging stations for electric vehicles. Even though our business units in Japan were manufacturing and selling the entire components essential to build a charging station, our parent company was not interested in manufacturing pedestal charging stations. This puzzled me: Why was the company only producing the components? Why didn’t we build the entire charging station?

I found the answer in a Competitive Strategy course when I did a “Five Forces” analysis of the industry to identify the advantages and disadvantages of entering the charging...

Finding the Right Framework for Globalization

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Collaboration is the essence of globalization and managers play a critical role in sharing their knowledge across all of a company’s affiliates. Globalization is not about standardization and centralization, but rather about synergy and interdependence. As a result, going global (setting up country affiliates) and being global (sharing knowledge and best practices) are two very distinct states of being for businesses.

That said, there are many globalization frameworks companies can use as they move toward a regional or worldwide footprint. The question is: Which one is right for them? Should they develop customized tools for different locations, allowing for offices to respond to different markets’ needs (high national responsiveness)? Should they focus more on...

Thinking outside of the box: How to Use an Innovation Council to Drive Change

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Charles Rizzo is CFO at John Hancock Mutual Funds in Boston, Mass. and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2013.

What can an investing company learn from a huge retail store like Wal-Mart? As I saw from our leadership coursework, the answer is: a lot. From Wal-Mart’s concepts of sustainability to its constant focus on generating cost savings, improving operations, using data, and eliminating waste, the company’s business practices inspired me to think about how they could be applied to our businesses at John Hancock. 

I had been looking for a way to get my professional staff more engaged and connected to our business aside from their normal day-to-day responsibilities. I wanted to create a structure that would be fun and at the same time unlock their creative side...

Congratulations to Our First EMBA Program Graduates!

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I'm delighted to announce the graduation of our inaugural MIT Executive MBA class. This is a remarkable group of executives. They juggled demanding jobs and a rigorous academic program in order to gain the advanced management techniques needed to drive their careers and make significant impacts on their organizations and the world.

When these 62 students began this program two years ago, they arrived with an average of 17 years work experience, which is far more than in a typical EMBA program. More than half of the class already held an advanced degree, nearly three-quarters were in director-level positions or above, and 51% were based outside of New England with several commuting from other countries.

Results have been swift. Over half of the class has been promoted or taken...

Applying value creation lessons to consolidate an industry

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Irshad Ahmed, is president and CEO of Pure Energy Corp. in Paramus, N.J. and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2012.

There are major changes happening in the biofuel industry. Public policy is aggressively attempting to shift our dependence away from nonrenewable energy sources. Our country’s goal is to produce and consume 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022 in order to decrease our usage of gasoline and diesel fuels. In other words, about 25% of our transportation liquid fuels need to come from renewable energy resources in the next 10 years.

While this is a huge and daunting challenge, it’s a great one to have and I’ve been applying my knowledge from MIT Sloan’s EMBA program to help my company lead the way in this area.

A New Business Model

I’m...

MIT EMBA Survival Guide

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Tony Bacos is General Manager at Hubbub Health in Portland, Oregon and a member of the MIT Sloan EMBA class of 2012.

Being a member of the inaugural MIT EMBA class of 2012 has nearly all been fantastic. For some of us (including me) the unpredictability and frontier nature was actually a big draw. One of the realities of going first at anything is that you have no point of reference - you can’t ask anyone who has walked the path before you, “So…what should I expect?”

While I won’t guarantee that I can provide a remotely helpful answer to that question for you, I can at least share a few of the things that I discovered along the way that helped me survive and thoroughly enjoy my EMBA journey. If you happen to be a ~40 year old technology exec who flies...

Think globally but act locally

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Willie Wu is managing director of PQD International in Plano, Texas and a member of the MIT Sloan EMBA class of 2012.


As companies grow from local to global, there are a lot of critical decisions to make. They need to decide whether to retain their hub and spoke system – where the headquarters is the hub and regional offices are the spokes – or to embrace a distributed model, such as a “meta-national” with high global integration and national responsiveness as well as a strong emphasis on global knowledge sharing. They need to decide how people in each country will share knowledge and figure out a fair reward system.

Discussions on this topic both in classes and during our Global Organizations Lab (GO-Lab) resonated with me as my company is headquartered...

Plugging into innovation

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Shahriyar Rahmati is a vice president of the Gores Group in Los Angeles, CA and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2012.

My day job is pretty amazing – I work with a group of highly intelligent, highly driven people at a private equity firm in Los Angeles.  I don’t lack opportunities to make impactful or important decisions. The key question for me is: Am I bringing the best thought leadership possible to bear on my decisions, and how do I make sure that I’m not just fishing from a pool of similar ideas and backgrounds and letting “group-think” assure the wisdom of my actions?

I came to MIT Sloan’s EMBA program to make me better as a thinker and as a business professional.  That sounds pretty philosophical, but you don’t want to be &...

Applying lessons from entrepreneurship to public education

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Shawn Atlow is director of facilities, legislation, and grants and funding for the Los Angeles Unified School District in Los Angeles, Calif.  and a member of the MIT Sloan EMBA class of 2013.

Working for a government agency, I wasn’t sure how the MBA curriculum would apply to my job. It turns out to apply more than I ever imagined. Even the entrepreneurship classes have been right on target for the ways my organization needs to think and innovate, especially in light of the current economic environment. Here are a few examples:

Find a framework

A key step for entrepreneurs is finding a framework for evaluating opportunities. You need a way to filter the opportunities you’re considering to ensure that you offer value to your stakeholders/customers without wasting...

Moving Beyond Compartments with O-Lab

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Nathaniel F. Wienecke is vice president of Global Government Relations at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Washington, DC and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2012.

Compartmentalization is a human tendency. After all, when we’re at work, we think about work. When we’re at home, we focus on home. And when we’re at school we put our energy into studying. While we can apply a lot of what we learn in MIT Sloan’s EMBA program to our jobs, I wasn’t really expecting my system dynamics class to fit into my ‘compartment’ of government relations.

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However, the Organizations Lab (O-Lab) that we take midway through the program showed me not only that it does apply, but that it can significantly improve a process at my company.
O-Lab...

What is your mocha?

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Shajahan Merchant is cofounder and managing partner of Intellectual Capital Services, Inc. in New York City and a member of the MIT Sloan EMBA class of 2012.

When you go to Starbucks and order a mocha, it costs quite a bit more than a regular cup of coffee sold in that same store. Why is there such a price difference? Do the extra ingredients cost significantly more? Is a mocha much more labor intensive to make?

Discussing this question in our Economics class, the answer turned out to be none of the above. There is just a segment of the market that really likes mocha and is willing to pay more for it. So a good question to ask yourself is: How do I identify the “mocha” in our business? What product or service can we offer that consumers would be willing to pay more for?.

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Lessons for Growing Your Business

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Dave Markert is the founder and president of Tactical Systems Engineering in Newport, R.I. and a member of the MIT Sloan EMBA class of 2013.

As a Navy officer for more than 20 years, I didn’t have a lot of reasons to learn about venture capital, marketing strategy, or pricing. This all changed when I founded a defense engineering firm. I am now part of the MIT Executive MBA program and have some reflections on growing a business.

Start VC networking before you NEED it

When I retired from the Navy and founded an engineering firm, I thought our funding options were to bootstrap the startup or find a strategic partner – we’ve done both.
However, the lunchtime guest lectures at MIT Sloan, with entrepreneurs and VCs, have been incredibly eye opening. My company is...

Business Analytics: An Un-tapped Competitive Advantage for Most Companies

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Amjad Hussain is CEO of Silk Route, a global e-Commerce and supply chain solutions provider in Detroit, Mich., and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2012.

When I started MIT Sloan’s EMBA program, I expected that my classes would include some business analytics, which is also my line of business. However, I was very pleasantly surprised to find that my core classes and electives exposed me to advanced topics in business analytics and systems dynamics. I found myself gaining new knowledge and refining my business.

Here are a few things every company can do when planning business analytics:

Get it all together

Many companies have massive amounts of data for the different aspects of their business, but it sits in silos separated by different systems. Getting it all together...

Working Harder vs. Working Smarter: Why “doing more with less” can be a very costly decision

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Liz Larsen is a management consultant in Boston, Mass. and member of the MIT EMBA class of 2012.
 

It’s natural to think that if you just work harder, you can do more with less. In a world with increasing economic pressures, everyone wants to find ways to cut costs, and many managers are staffing projects with leaner teams than ever. Maybe they’d ideally like to have a team of 10 people assigned to a project, but think they can get away with only eight in order to save the company money. The outcome is fairly predictable: Projects inevitably fall behind and managers end up spending significantly more money and time in an attempt to help get them back on track – often two to three times the original budget

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What’s even more...

The Paradox of Learning (i.e. Sometimes to move forward, you need to take one step back)

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Jeff Thomas is vice president of instrument development at IDEXX Laboratories in Westbrook, Maine and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2012.

It’s not unusual to see the price of new products go down over time. Look at the price of the first e-readers compared to the options available today. New products are refined over time to improve performance and enable production at higher volumes, which eventually leads to a lower price. When the topic of “learning curves” (the effects of learning) came up in our Microeconomics class, it was in the context of manufacturing environments.  Prof. Stokes discussed how cost savings arise from repetition of ongoing production. As companies learn through practice in manufacturing, they are able to lower their costs.

Here are...

How Exclusivity Can Kill Deals - and 3 tips for evaluating projects

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Mo Hussain is the founder of Accel Mobile in Boston, Mass, and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2013.

I’m the founder of a mobile technology company and a few years ago, I found myself negotiating a potential multi-million dollar contract with the head of a telecom conglomerate overseas. The conglomerate was hesitant to sign the deal due to my company’s small size, but I finally found some leverage. I had reviewed their quarterly reports and the one line that I could understand involved the number of users, which was increasing but at a rate that was lower and lower each quarter. Pointing this out, I made the case for how my technology would provide an innovative solution, avoiding the trend towards a growth plateau, and they signed the deal. At that moment, I realized...

Lessons for Managing Your Innovation Pipeline

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Megan Cramer, Ph.D., is the science and technology director for the US Navy's Program Executive Office (PEO) Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) in Washington, D.C. and a member of the MIT EMBA class of 2012.

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A significant part of my job for the U.S. Navy involves looking at both near- and far-term technologies and determining how to transition these technologies to our acquisition programs that will reach the Fleet. This technology analysis can be incredibly challenging given that in a particular week I might be looking at varying technologies such as that involving steel, software, sonars, radios, networks, autonomy, or unmanned vehicles. It is important to have a coherent framework to consider these very different technologies and to create a technology roadmap..

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