Technology, Organizations, and Innovation: Putting Ideas to Work
Date: June 22-26, 2015 | Tuition: $4,000 | Continuing Education Units (CEUs): 3.0
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Innovation typically begins with a new technical concept or other bright idea. But the idea is just the first step on the long path to successful innovation. Technical change usually requires organizational changes as well. These changes include providing resources for technical development and acquiring the support of others in the organization or in outside organizations. Gaining this support requires negotiation, bargaining, and coalition building. Organizational change, then, is a very complex process. Change of this sort can be very difficult. Significant innovations can be resisted, fall victim to competing ideas, or fail to be sustained.
Thus innovators need their original idea and a vision of how the world will change if the innovation succeeds. The real bottleneck in achieving success is the organizational change needed for implementing that idea. This course focuses on strategies to overcome the bottlenecks: how to build the needed coalition of supporters who will enable the necessary organizational change. This change process is not captured by simple cookbook procedures, so we will investigate a variety of detailed, original case studies, rich in lessons for innovation success and failure. The cases are drawn from many sectors, public and private, from the U.S. and other countries. We will also explore the diversity of innovation experiences of the class participants.
In evaluating organizational innovation strategies, there are obvious differences between public and private sector organizations. Yet while the incentives are often very different, the underlying processes of innovation are very similar in the two sectors. We are particularly interested in public - private interactions. Successful innovation strategies in the private sector often involve effective exploitation of public organizations, while public innovation usually requires mobilization of support from the private sector.
Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings, and tools (10%)
Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (50%)
Industry Applications: Linking theory and real-world (40%)
Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (50%)
Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (50%)
Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (10%)
Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (50%)
Advanced: In-depth explorations at the graduate level (40%)
Among the Topics to be Covered
The Innovation Process: Overview and Introductory Cases
Innovations usually begin with an invention, a new idea or technical concept. Then there can be a vision of how the invention will be widely adopted. The details of implementing that vision are less glamorous but no less necessary. Implementation and acquiring resources often involves organizational change. But that requires bargaining and coalition building. What strategies do successful innovators use to build coalitions within and across organizations? How are individual incentives offered and exploited? How are the issues framed? How are goals defined, enlarged, or altered over time? How is coalition solidarity maintained? Case example: Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center. What did Steve Jobs see that Xerox management missed?
As digital technologies for modeling and simulation offer more value for less money, they provoke fundamental challenges to organizational culture and design. Increasingly, digital models and prototypes are key platforms for managing risk and creating value. They allow for cost-effective creativity, encourage profitable improvisation, and inspire organizations to collaborate in unexpected ways. Thus innovative prototyping styles help generate innovative teams. What is the relationship between how leading innovators model reality and how they actually manage it? How do we explain prototyping failures compared with prototyping successes?
Lean Production as an Innovation
Lean production evolved at Toyota as a new set of arrangements for managing technical change. It now includes a complex web of organizational interrelationships. How does this system actually work? Why did this system evolve at Toyota instead of GM? How did Toyota transplant it to American plants and workers? What is the significance of the recent corporate stumbles at Toyota?
Corporate Strategies for Reshaping Their Environment
Sophisticated entrepreneurs often find that changing public regulatory policy is the key to getting new technology accepted. DuPont had substitutes for CFCs which were too expensive to market until CFCs themselves were phased out. Makowski and Company foresaw natural gas-fired power plants in New England if Canadian and U.S. regulations were reshaped. But Cape Wind has tried for a decade to get approval and funding to build wind turbines off Cape Cod. How did these companies envision the new opportunities? How did they form coalitions to influence public policy? What accounts for comparative success or failure?
Transplanting Lean Thinking
How can the Toyota management concepts be transplanted to very different, non-industrial sectors? Why did Starbucks and Britain’s Tesco supermarkets adapt these processes? Where and why have these ideas met resistance?
Analyzing a Startup in Real Time
Wireless grids are a promising new technology for linking smart objects to each other and the internet. Their potential use spans emergency first responder communications, college campuses, and entertainment media. The technology was developed at universities with public research funding. Now Professor Lee McKnight is trying to commercialize the concept with a for-profit startup. His team has had to negotiate with major partners (European telephone companies and U.S. software makers), seek out equity funding from many sources, and try to create a favorable regulatory standard. Their success has varied greatly from year to year. Is this the year for their breakthrough?
Innovation Teams in Hospitals
Hospitals in Western Europe and the U.S. feature cutting edge medical technology. But most have been slow to upgrade their organizational processes to fully meet their patients' needs. For a decade, Paul Levy was President of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, a Harvard teaching hospital in Boston. His first task as CEO was to implement a financial management plan to turn around a hospital headed for bankruptcy. When financial balance was reestablished, he moved to the task of stimulating clinical teams to improve the quality of the care they delivered. The hospital became nationally known for its program to reduce hospital acquired infections, which can prevent patient deaths. Levy now consults with hospitals around the world on how to stimulate similar innovations.
The Innovation Culture in Boston
What is new about the contemporary startup culture? Is it a new way of innovating or a more fluid approach to long standing issues? Can it survive the failure rate of so many startups? How do startups in the biotech sector differ from those based on software?
Innovation from a European Perspective
Many of the general issues in creating innovations and implementing organizational change can be seen across the industrial world. But how important are the local contexts? Do European cultures, funding, and regulatory agencies make the efforts significantly different? Is there a distinct European innovation process?
Innovation in the Defense Sector
The U.S. military is one of the largest supporters of basic research and buyers of advanced technology. How do the incentives and constraints in these agencies differ from their civilian counterparts? Do they seek out technology that leads to new roles and capabilities (such as smart phones in the civilian world) or are they more interested in strengthening existing missions?
Changing Your Organization
Using the strategies and insights developed from the case studies, we will analyze in detail innovation experiences drawn from the participants.
Participants of this course will:
- Explore how organizational change is usually the key bottleneck in implementing new ideas and technology
- Analyze Toyota’s implementation of its lean engineering system and how it actually functions
- Identify the issues in applying lean thinking to different business sectors and other countries
- Understand the difficulty of implementing organizational change in hospitals and identify strategies to overcome this
- Compare the innovation process in the U.S. and Europe and evaluate whether the differences are more or less important than the similarities.
Who Should Attend
Private and public managers, consultants, and academics who are working to promote and sustain innovations through organizational change.
Typical participants have come from Samsung, Corning, Shell, Intel, Siemens, Northrop Grumman, Monsanto, Toyota, Halliburton, EMC, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and numerous military labs, Allianz SE, MITRE, Akamai Technologies, the CIA, Deere & Co., Booz Allen Hamilton, the European Commission, and other firms, government agencies, and universities around the world.
Course schedule and registration times
View 2014 Course Schedule. The 2015 course has been extended from a four-day format to five; it will cover the same topics as in 2014 but with extended sessions to allow for more discussion. The five-day schedule will be posted here when it is finalized.
Class runs 9:00 am - 5:00 pm every day.
There will be a dinner for course participants and faculty on the first evening.
jill pate, raytheon
"This course is essential for anyone assigned the daunting task of implementing technology innovation in their business or organization."
stephen f. bush, ge global research
"This course went to the heart of creating innovation within organizations. Any institution would benefit from a thorough understanding of the complexities involved; they are presented in this program by experts who have witnessed and managed these complexities first-hand."
margarida matos rosa, financial affairs, portugal (former fulbright scholar)
"The course realistically analyzes the complexity of institutions—public and private—when facing the challenge of innovation. It excels in showing the intertwining of policy, politics, science, innovation, and market dynamics."
senior strategic planner, u.s. department of defense
"The course material and international makeup of the course fostered an intellectually rewarding learning environment. Not only did I expand my own professional network, I brought back specific cases and examples I could apply to enduring challenges in my own office."
associated creative director, grupo PÃo de AÇÚcar
"Very interesting lectures. Alumni from all over the world, from different backgrounds and organizations. The course provided a new way to see innovation, much more from a social point of view instead of a technical view. It was an amazing experience. It gave me another way to see innovation processes. It was good to realize that innovation does not have to be a technical process, but it must be conducted in a more social way. I feel much more confident now."
development head, farmaceutica paraguaya S.A.
"The course was very well organized, with remarkable lectures and lecturers."
business consultant, genesyslab
"Not a class, not a lecture, a real live learning experience with colleagues from different industries, languages, and cultures."
Hotels located on the east side of the MIT campus, within walking distance of the course location are: The Kendall Hotel, Cambridge Boston Marriott, and Cambridge Center Residence Inn. Hotels within a short cab ride are: Royal Sonesta Hotel, Hyatt Regency Cambridge, and Le Méridien Cambridge. Please see our Accommodations page for more information.
About the Program Faculty
All of the seminar leaders are current or former MIT faculty or research associates. Several have also had extensive experience in government and the corporate sector, and all have published extensively on the topics of organizational change and innovation.
Sanford L. Weiner, a Research Affiliate at MIT’s Center for International Studies, is a policy analyst who has focused on technology and organizational change in the chemical, health and defense industries. He is now working on the public health responses to pandemic flu, the changing environment for innovation in the Defense Department, and green energy technologies.
Johannes Fruehauf is Executive Director of LabCentral, a new shared lab facility in Kendall Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is also the founder of Cambridge BioLabs (CBL), a contract research facility servicing startup and virtual companies in Kendall Square. CBL specializes in the development of startup ideas and validation of scientific concepts and helps investors make informed decisions before larger amounts of capital are deployed. The experience at CBL resulted in the joint development of the LabCentral concept. He is a serial biotech entrepreneur, a co-founder of ViThera Pharmaceuticals, Deltix, and Cequent Pharmaceuticals, and an advisor or Board member to numerous life sciences companies and non-profits. Dr. Fruehauf is the author of over 20 peer reviewed publications and named inventor on nine patents related to RNA interference and bacterial therapeutics.
Paul Levy was CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center from 2002 to 2011. Previously he was Professor of Urban Studies at MIT, where he was actively involved in the restructuring of the electric power and telecommunications industries. Levy has also been Chairman of the Massachusetts Public Utilities Commission and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, where he managed the $4 billion cleanup of Boston Harbor. He is the author of Goal Play!: Leadership Lessons from the Soccer Field, CreateSpace, 2012.
Lee McKnight is an Associate Professor in the School of Information Studies, Syracuse University; a Research Affiliate of the Program on Internet and Telecoms Convergence at MIT; and President of Marengo Research, a consultancy. His writing, research interests, and consulting span policy, economic, business and technical aspects of the emerging global information economy. His new book (with Tyson T. Brooks) is Wireless Grid Edgeware for the Internet of Things: Cloud to Edge Secure Resource Sharing Architecture and Applications, Imperial College Press/World Scientific Press 2014.
Tim Rowe is the Founder and CEO of the Cambridge Innovation Center. CIC houses over 450 startup technology companies, and is perhaps the densest collection of startups anywhere in the world. Over 1,000 companies have gotten their start at CIC, and venture capitalists have invested over $1.9B in these companies to date. Rowe is also a Founder of New Atlantic Ventures, a $120M early stage venture fund. He is also the founder of the Venture Cafe Foundation dedicated to promoting connections among entrepreneurs through a weekly networking gathering; and chairman of Lab|Central, a shared wet laboratory space. Rowe's past work includes the Boston Consulting Group in Boston, Madrid, Tokyo, and Singapore.
Harvey M. Sapolsky is Professor of Public Policy and Organization, Emeritus and former Director of the Security Studies Program. He is a long-time specialist on innovation in the defense and health and communications sectors, and is now studying the restructuring of the defense industry.
Michael Schrage is a research fellow with the Sloan School of Management's Center for Digital Business and a visiting fellow at Imperial College's [London] 'Innovation and Entrepreneurship' program. He is the author of several books on the role of collaborative tools and technologies in enabling innovation, including Shared Minds, Random House, 1990 and Serious Play, Harvard Business School Press, 2000. He's done consulting and advisory work for Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, British Telecom, BP, Siemens, Embraer, Google, iRise, the Office of Net Assessment, and other organizations.
John Shook is Chairman and CEO of the Lean Enterprise Institute. He learned about lean management while working for Toyota for nearly 11 years in Japan and the U.S., helping it transfer production, engineering, and management systems from Japan to NUMMI and subsequently to other operations around the world. While at Toyota's headquarters, he became the company's first American kacho (manager) in Japan. In his latest book, Managing to Learn, he describes the A3 management process at the heart of lean management and leadership. Shook is an industrial anthropologist.
James P. Womack is co-author of the best selling The Machine That Changed The World (with D. Jones and D. Roos), Free Press, 2007, which examined Toyota's lean design system; and Lean Thinking (with D. Jones), Free Press 2003. His Lean Enterprise Institute now works with a wide range of other corporations seeking to implement these ideas around the world.
This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can also offer this course for groups of employees at your location. Please complete the Custom Programs request form for further details.
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