MIT Sloan Executive Director of Executive Education Peter Hirst
From Innovation Insights
Back in 2012, a storm poised to wreak havoc on the east coast posed a challenge of another kind to both me and my colleagues at MIT Sloan Executive Education. Though there were of course the more grave concerns of human health and safety related to Hurricane Sandy, directly in the path of the oncoming storm was our brand new and hotly-anticipated course on big data, one of the first of its kind for executives.
Over 100 top executives had enrolled in the course, conducted by leading faculty members Erik Brynjolfsson and Sandy Pentland, and we were faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. The challenge was clear – find a way for attendees to experience the course in spite of the storm, or postpone and potentially cancel it altogether. Innovation is woven into our DNA at MIT, and we developed a solution that not only suited the needs of the situation, but led Executive Education at MIT Sloan down a new and exciting path to learning.
The mantra of youth sports where “everyone gets a trophy” is permeating professional leagues. These days every team can claim some semblance of winning. In the bygone era of the NFL, two teams made the playoffs and that consisted of one game, the Super Bowl. Today six teams from each conference advance, and there is talk of adding more. In MLB, it used to be that the league leaders won the pennant and then went to the World Series; now, five teams in each league make the playoffs. In the NBA and the NHL, meanwhile, more than half of all teams make the post-season.
As the definition of post-season success broadens and winning becomes a commodity, a team’s performance isn’t enough to stand out in the $750 billion sports industry. And at a time where traditional revenue streams are under pressure and the competition for money, media, and sponsors remains stiff, sports organizations have to be more innovative.
So, what should they be doing to drive revenue? How can they use technology to attract and interact with fans? And, in the Age of Big Data, what’s the best use of analytics to increase ticket sales? These are some of the questions on the table at the 2015 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
I recently joined 25 of my MIT classmates on an MIT Sloan Technology Trek to Seattle.
Technology is a hot area at MIT Sloan — 26 percent of the graduating class last year went into high technology jobs — so technology treks are very popular.
They are an important tool for students to learn about company cultures. However, we’re not just looking at how many hours we’ll work or how comfortable the lifestyle is. We want to feel like we’re making an impact on others in real ways, and we want to know that our MBA education is truly adding value at the organization.
Treks are a unique opportunity to ask questions and learn from employees, who are frequently alumni.
In addition to learning more about the roles of MBA grads, I also wanted to see if I could deal with Seattle’s climate. Growing up in India and living in New England for the last nine years, I knew that the Northwest would be quite different.
The current crisis in higher education has three characteristics: it’s overpriced, out of touch (with society’s real needs), and outdated (in its method and purpose). But the solution, a true 21st-century model of higher education, is already emerging: it’s free(or accessible to everyone), it’s empowering (putting the learner into the driver’s seat of profound personal, professional, and societal renewal), and it’s transformational(providing new learning environments that activate the deepest human capacities to create — both individually and collectively).
Today I would like to share some preliminary insights from our ongoing experiment, “U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society, and Self” (Watch a 7-minute video about it here), a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) developed with MITx and delivered through edX.org.
A frequent criticism directed at MOOCs is that the learning that happens in them is not as effective as the learning that happens in a classroom. That’s why, in the U.Lab, we didn’t try to replace the classroom. Instead, we decentralized it, then took the learning out of the classroom altogether.
MIT Sloan Lecturer Ben Shields, the former director of social media and marketing at ESPN and co-author of The Sports Strategist, talks about deflate-gate, the investigation into whether the New England Patriots used deflated footballs in the Jan. 18 AFC championship game. Shields explains why the Patriots are prone to negative press and social media backlash and what the organization should do as a result.