MIT Sloan Action LearningTHINK ACT REFLECT Action Learning at MIT Sloan
“Our action learning projectsfundamentally change people.Beyond engaging students in real business decisions, our projects develop resilient leaders who in the field drive innovation, understand an organization’s purpose inthe world, and experience the impact that a single individual can have.”David C. SchmittleinJohn C Head III Dean
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48 Countries where host organizations are located 100% MBA students do Action Learning in the Organizational Processes class “Through G-Lab, you get access to very talented and motivated young people. When they come here, they don’t just talk to our executives, but to everyone in the company. The organization gets to be exposed to these students who are smart and interested and are going toG-Lab | Samba Tech, Brazil, 2012:Working with Brazil’s leader in streaming apply what they’ve learned.”video, the G-Lab team was asked to help developa potential platform strategy and embarked Luis Navas | CEO, Conexiaon benchmarking and competitive analysis of Buenos Aires, Argentinarelevant businesses, evaluated courses of action,and developed a communications plan.
400+ Action Learning projects at host organizations in the past decade 75% MBA students elect to take at least one Action Learning lab The Origins of Action Learning From the Application and Implementation of Industrial Dynamics class in 1964 to the core Organizational Processes course in the 1990s to the start of Global Entrepreneurship Lab (G-Lab) in 2000, MIT Sloan has a long history of sending student teams into companies to undertake a variety of hands-on projects around the country and the world. In the past decade alone, MIT Sloan’s commitment to action learning has produced a bold expansion of courses that speak directly to the motto of the Institute itself, mens et manus, or the connection of mind and hand. As a result, Action Learning at MIT Sloan has irrevocably changed the learning landscape at MIT Sloan and its peer institutions, creating a model that has been imitated but not matched in the scope and popularity of offerings. Each year, more than 500 students enrolled in over a dozen courses will travel to upwards of 30 countries and work with dozens of host partners in tackling some of the most pressing managerial issues of the day as they THINK. take part in a rare opportunity to think, act, and reflect, in real time, in real-world settings. ACT. Today, with more than a dozen lab experiences to choose from, Action REFLECT. Learning at MIT Sloan fosters academic, intellectual, and cross-cultural exploration while also introducing students to a host of career options. While knowledge integration is the overarching learning objective, so too are the following: to manage complex challenges and make reasoned decisions in unfamiliar situations to adapt to new or uncertain environments and exercise leadership to think critically and creatively to work collaboratively and productively on a team to identify personal strengths and address gaps in knowledge through reflectionG-Lab Case StudyTeams Aid Conexia During Rapid GrowthFor three consecutive years, the Buenos Aires-based firm, Conexia,has utilized Global Entrepreneurship (G-Lab) teams in the midstof the company’s rapid growth and as they looked to expand theirprovision of electronic billing and reconciliation services beyondthe Argentinean healthcare market. “Our company is growing veryfast, 50 percent per year, so we have more problems than people,”said Conexia CEO Luis Navas. “Working with G-Lab is a great way toaddress some of these problems, and we know they are going to beaddressed by people who are very qualified.”
32% MBA students take two or more Action Learning labs 30+ Faculty teach and mentor student teams across Action Learning labs The Education of Effective Leaders According to Professor Richard Locke, who with Professor Simon Johnson co-founded G-Lab more than a decade ago, Action Learning is the best way to educate management students as well as the best method for MIT Sloan to fulfill its mission. “Action Learning engages students in cycles of learning, acting, and reflecting,” said Locke. “Students better understand the theories, frameworks, and analytics from the classroom, their real-world application, and the additional learning that is necessary to implement solutions. It’s the best way to teach people how to be effective managers.” The “how” begins with a one-semester core to provide a base of knowledge essential for participation in the portfolio of course and curricular activities that fall under the action learning umbrella. These offerings, Locke said,theory “teach substantive knowledge, so if you do G-Lab, you have to know about entrepreneurship. If you want to do product development design, you haveinto to know organizational processes. These experiences teach you how to respond to the most pressing challenges in the new world.”practice Action learning opportunities also teach students how to function effectively in teams under dynamic, fast-paced, and unpredictable circumstances. Students are likely to face risk within their projects, but it is risk within a resilient learning environment. In addition, Action Learning at MIT Sloan also has both desired and realized outcomes from the host of local, domestic, and worldwide opportunities. Faculty cite the chance for students to apply what they’ve learned in courses to date which will shape their managerial experience, while students often cite the inspiring, life-changing experiences where they were able to put theory into practice.SAMPLE PROJECTsChina Lab | Corning Gorilla Glass, 2011: L-Lab | Oxfam America and the UN World GHD-Lab | Daktari Diagnostics, 2011: The team was asked to develop a new market Food Program (WFP), 2011: The L-Lab team For a startup medical diagnostics company,strategy to provide stakeholders in the value investigated ways to provide some of the a GHD team performed research on Uganda’schain with incentives to adopt Gorilla Glass– poorest communities with weather index CD4 testing market to inform the company’san exceptionally durable glass used for insurance and crop insurance in exchange for post-clinical, go-to-market strategy.screens in electronic devices–for the U.S. work, by integrating into government safety netsand China markets. and WFP’s food and cash-for-work programs.
“On the whole I enjoyed the time I invested into G-Lab — perhaps more so than any classroom learning, it is a holistic experience that helps openS-Lab | Gillette, 2010: The S-Lab team was your eyes to the great diversity and challenge ofcharged with helping Gillette’s South BostonManufacturing Center understand its energy being a global citizen and business person.”usage across the plant, identifying the majorloss areas, and recommending efficiency Michael Chen | MBA ’12, Smowtion Teamimprovements with the potential for application Buenos Aires, Argentinaat other P&G plants.
3 New Action Learning labs added in 2011-12 — P-Lab, Puerto Rico Lab, and GO-Lab 96 Students on four International Study Tours visited eight countries in 2012“ The world is always changing and we’re trying to change with it, and the best way to do that is to give the students a lot of voice and have them tell us what they want to do and why. We want to create an environment where students really want to work hard; they want to India Lab | Akshaya Patra, 2011: create relationships with companies that are extremely Working with one of the world’s premier nonprofit organizations, the India Lab team strong and then see where that takes them.” recommended the structure for a strategic roadmap to achieve Akshaya Patra’s vision Simon Johnson | Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship of feeding 5 million children by 2020. Professor of Global Economics and Management
500 Student seats per year for Action Learning labs 493 MIT Sloan students took Action Learning labs in 2011-12 Lasting Impact Time and time again, those involved with Action Learning at MIT Sloan say that while case studies provide structured static scenarios, student learning is strengthened by hands-on, real-world experience. While some institutions may rely upon the building of knowledge by relating past corporate experiences or through short-term internships, MIT Sloan has built a framework of experiential opportunities that provide real settings with real problems to be solved; a combination of the theoretical and the practical come engagingly to life. While the School’s model has been replicated both domestically and abroad, no institution to date has the variety or flexibility of offerings currently available at MIT Sloan, where nearly 500 degree candidates outcomes per year enroll in Action Learning courses that may take them to New York, Washington, D.C., or as far as emerging markets in Asia, South and America, and Africa. results Among the most valuable outcomes, Action Learning builds a sense of confidence when students tackle a problem, come up with a creative solution that leverages their knowledge and access to MIT resources, and make a difference to their host organization. The experiences also reinforce teamwork on a deep level of engagement. Students can also make or change career directions or choices, as one student traveling to Vietnam may be enticed by the available entrepreneurial opportunities, while at the same time another taking the Finance Research Practicum may decide that leaving a post at the Federal Reserve Bank was a spot-on decision. “People really do come back from Santiago or the Philippines or Uganda with a sense that business activity can be a tremendous engine for the delivery of society’s needs,” said Dean David C. Schmittlein. “That comes together with a sense that a single person, with the right set of tools, can make a positive difference, so that further develops their set of values, personal empowerment, and impact.”GHD-Lab Case StudyProblem Solving in Sub-Saharan AfricaInitially charged with the development of a new staffing model forthe Warmbaths Hospital in Bela Bela, South Africa, Kelsey McCarty,MBA ’10, and her Global Health Delivery Lab (GHD-Lab) teammateshad their task change upon their arrival to focus solely on staffingfor the maternity ward, as well as other general recommendations.“We feel that the changes we were making could really help, and onanother level, this is a hospital that receives no attention from anyonemost of the time,” said McCarty. “The staff … had this renewed energyabout doing their own work. They were not going to let our efforts bein vain. That kind of energy and commitment was inspiring.”
118 MIT Sloan MBAs took two or more Action Learning labs in 2011-12 9% of MBA students take three or even four Action Learning labs 100% of Master of Finance and EMBA students take Action Learning labs global reach, global impact With a host of laboratory courses and experiential opportunities that take students around the United States and the world, Action Learning continues to serve as a cornerstone of the MIT Sloan experience, providing opportunities that create a depth of knowledge developed by hands-on exploration, innovation, and leadership. russia usa portugal japan mexico haiti china uae india nigeria brazil australiareal- chileworld south africaimpactArgentina Colombia Hungary Kenya Nigeria Russia Swaziland UgandaAustralia Costa Rica India Lesotho Panama Rwanda Taiwan UKBrazil Germany Indonesia Malaysia Peru Senegal Tanzania UruguayCambodia Ghana Israel Mexico Philippines Serbia Thailand USAChile Haiti Japan Nepal Portugal Singapore Turkey VietnamChina Hong Kong Jordan New Zealand Romania South Africa UAE Zambia “ There was a great deal of learning on the ground which you can’t do out of books. You also get amazing first- hand success cases on business which you don’t hear as much of in the press. It is good for students to meet withGO-Lab | Sistole, Colombia, 2012: these successful businesses, even in a country where theThe GO-Lab team addressed some of the keychallenges of expansion and integration as government is not working and the infrastructure is notSistole, the leading below-the-line marketingagency in Colombia, looked to increase its there, and realize that the issues are very different.”activities, clients, and influence in Latin Tavneet Suri | Assistant Professor of Applied Economics, Study Tours Faculty MentorAmerica and beyond.
Action Learning at a GlanceChina Lab GO-LabMIT Sloan students and international MBAs Executive MBA Global Organizations Labfrom some of China’s leading universities Teams of high-performing, Executive MBAcollaborate on multinational business teams to students work on the cross-border integrationconsult with emerging Chinese entrepreneurs. challenges their multi-national host companies want to fix. E-LabEntrepreneurship Lab India LabTeams of science, engineering, and manage- Students work on projects with Indianment students participate one day a week, companies and non-governmentalon-site, with the top management of high-tech organizations to share insights andstartups to gain hands-on experience in recommend strategic directions.funding, starting, and running new ventures. Study ToursEM-LAB International Study ToursEnterprise Management Lab Organized by students, Study Tours offerSmall teams of students learn to apply MIT Sloan students a chance to workintegrated management perspectives with organizations to explore businessand practices within large for-profit and practices within global cultures.nonprofit organizations. L-LabFinance in Action Leading Sustainable SystemsWithin the Finance Group, several action L-Lab combines classroom learning onlearning opportunities are available, giving sustainability and leadership with actionstudents a rare firsthand look at a wide array learning on real-world projects withof fiscal challenges facing organizations in partner organizations.different parts of the world. LGO Finance Research Practicum Leaders for Global Operations An academic course held over the Independent Activities Period (IAP) in January in which Dual-degree candidates working toward a students work in teams on projects proposed master’s in engineering and their MBA bring by external sponsors. a unique perspective to organizations by utilizing their engineering skills to define Proseminar in Corporate Finance and problems and analyze solutions, coupled with Investment Banking Students tackle original research problems in their business acumen developed through financial engineering that have been posed by the MIT Sloan curriculum. leading experts from the financial community. P-Lab Proseminar in Capital Markets and Managing Sustainable Businesses Investment Management for People and Profits This proseminar has two principal goals: to P-Lab integrates classroom learning with bridge the gap between finance theory and finance practice; and to introduce students real-world team consulting projects where to the broader financial community. students examine the challenges, concepts, and emerging practices at the intersectionG-Lab of people and profits. Global Entrepreneurship Lab S-LabG-Lab immerses students in a one-semester Sustainable Business Labclassroom and one month, on-site consulting CONTACT USexperience working alongside entrepreneurs in S-Lab crafts business approaches to If you would like to be a hostemerging nations. environmental and social issues while company for an Action Learning working with all types of organizational opportunity, or if you haveGHD-Lab structures: from traditional manufacturing any questions about hosting aGlobal Health Delivery Lab firms and new startups to nonprofits and team, please contact us by governmental organizations. calling +1 617-324-9615 orTeams of students work directly with partnerorganizations in the health sector spending emailing firstname.lastname@example.org weeks on-site to carry out an intensive,practical improvement project designed with On behalf of the faculty and staffMIT faculty and other expert guidance. of Action Learning at MIT Sloan, we look forward to partnering with you.
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