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2015 Systems Thinking Conference (10/7/15)

SAVE THE DATE!

A Whole-Systems Approach to Product Design and Development
October 7, 2015
Wong Auditorium, MIT
8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Preregistration recommended

RELATED EVENTS

Preconference Back-to-the-Classroom Sessions
October 6, 2015
Wong Auditorium, MIT
2–5 p.m.
Preregistration recommended

SDM Information Evening
October 7, 2015
Morss Hall, Walker Auditorium, MIT
6–9 p.m.

Registration details

Virtual SDM Information Session (Available on Demand)

 

Learn about the MIT Master’s in Engineering and Management

Download the presentation slides

Designed for mid-career technical professionals, SDM offers full-time, part-time, commuter, and distance options. Graduates receive a master’s degree in engineering and management.

This virtual SDM Information Session highlighted SDM curriculum, matriculation options, industry connections, and career opportunities. SDM faculty, students and staff answered frequently asked questions. The new Integrated Design & Management track and the dual-degree MIT-SUTD program were discussed, followed by SDM faculty, students and staff answers to frequently asked questions.

SDM Info Evening, June 1

Please join us at The Kendall Hotel for an Information Evening on the System Design and Management (SDM) program, which offers a Master’s degree in Engineering *and* Management. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this exciting program designed for mid-career professionals, discuss career opportunities, and network with SDM alumni, faculty, students, and staff.

View event invite and RSVP

Wearables, Big Data, and Healthcare Innovation

Todd O. Coleman

MIT SDM Speaker Series

Todd P. Coleman, M.S., Ph.D., MIT; Associate Professor of Bioengineering, University of California, San Diego; Director, Neural Interaction Laboratory; and Codirector, Center for Perinatal Health

Date: April 10, 2015

Time: 11 a.m. — noon EDT

Location: Wong Auditorium, MIT

Free and open to all

About the Presentation

Interdisciplinary collaboration holds great promise for improving healthcare around the world. Combining wearable devices with expertise in engineering, medicine, information technology, and design, for example, can facilitate better decision-making by providing clinicians with the data most relevant to treating patients from afar.

In this presentation, MIT alumnus Todd P. Coleman (M.S. and Ph.D., MIT) will discuss the complex challenges involved in developing and implementing a suite of tools that transforms “big data” into “small, relevant” data to aid decision-making in perinatal health and chronic disease management. He will:

  • Describe how flexible, multimodal electronics can be combined with physiologically guided analytics algorithms to provide vulnerability profiles that can be efficiently implemented in the cloud;
  • Explain how this suite of human-computer interface applications blurs the line between man and machine, while enabling humans and computers to play to their individual strengths;
  • Offer thoughts on the challenges of interdisciplinary research, using examples involving professionals from electrical engineering, medicine, management, and design; and
  • Discuss the socio-political and legal implications of this work and how they can be addressed.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Todd P. Coleman holds B.S. degrees in electrical engineering and computer engineering (both summa cum laude) from the University of Michigan. He earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from MIT in electrical engineering and conducted postdoctoral studies at MIT in neuroscience.

Currently an associate professor of bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego, Coleman directs the university’s Neural Interaction Laboratory and codirects the Center for Perinatal Health. His research is highly interdisciplinary, focusing on the intersection of bio-electronics, medicine, and machine learning. He is conducting research in wearable health by wedding his research group’s expertise in large-scale analytics with its recent development of “epidermal electronics,” featured in Science in 2011. Current applications include perinatal health, chronic disease management, and cognitive monitoring during aging.

The National Academy of Engineering named Coleman a 2015 Gilbreth Lecturer. He is a science advisor for the Science & Entertainment Exchange at the National Academy of Sciences, and his research has been spotlighted by CNN, BBC, and The New York Times.

Todd P. Coleman, M.S., Ph.D., MIT

Hadoop-Based Data Exploration for the Healthcare Safety Net—Technical and Sociocultural Challenges to Big Data Usability

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesDavid Hartzband

David Hartzband, D.Sc., Research Affiliate, MIT Sociotechnical Systems Research Center

Date: April 6, 2015

Time: Noon — 1 p.m. EDT

Free and open to all

Download the presentation slides

 

About the Presentation

The concept of mining large, heterogeneous data sets (“big data”) to improve clinical outcomes and operational processes holds great promise for the healthcare industry. However, analytics have so far been underutilized by an essential component of the healthcare safety net—community health centers (CHCs), critical access hospitals, rural hospitals, and clinics. A look at the systemic reasons behind this lag offers useful lessons not only for healthcare, but also for many other industries.

In this webinar, David Hartzband, D.Sc., will outline a nonprofit-funded project designed to introduce Hadoop-based analytics into three CHCs and report preliminary results regarding data usability. Focusing on one clinical data set that goes back to 2009 and contains about 1 million diagnosis events, he will describe common challenges, including:

  • Accurately determining the annual number of patients served;
  • Addressing data quality idiosyncrasies, such as the mismatch of specific diagnosis codes with descriptions;
  • Tackling the substantial misalignment of clinical and financial data, which can make cost analysis impossible.

Data anomalies will be presented in the context of a large-scale cost/patient analysis, and the implications of these data anomalies will be discussed. Webinar attendees will gain insight into how to apply Hadoop-based analysis to a wide range of challenges in virtually any field.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

David Hartzband, D.Sc., is a research affiliate of the MIT Sociotechnical Systems Research Center. After a 25+-year career designing and developing software technologies—during which time he twice created billion-dollar revenue streams with products that he designed—he left industry to concentrate on healthcare information technology (HIT).

In the last 10 years, he has worked on the architecture of several of the largest health information exchanges in the country, designing and leading development of both practice management and electronic health records systems. In addition, he has consulted with many HIT companies, especially startups.

Hartzband recently served as principal investigator for a Department of Commerce/National Institute of Standards and Technology grant on providing trusted identities in cyberspace through the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace program, a White House initiative. He has also served as co-principal investigator for a Department of Health and Human Services project researching the use of electronic records to provide combined records for medical and behavioral health treatment. He continues to consult with several national groups working on healthcare transformation.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Systems Thinking in Mobile Networking: How Virtualization and Programming Change the Mobile Paradigm

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Kevin Shatzkamer

Kevin Shatzkamer


Kevin Shatzkamer, CTO of Mobile Networking and Distinguished Engineer, Brocade; SDM Alumnus

Date: March 23, 2015

Download the presentation slides

 

About the Presentation

The mobile phone network is among the most complex of complex systems, with tens of thousands of radios connecting thousands of physical locations performing hundreds of different tasks. Now mobile architecture is rapidly evolving, presenting new challenges as the distinction between physical and logical constraints change and the foundational assumptions upon which mobile networking was built shift.

As in any complex system, individual network functions have different availability, scalability, and performance-related metrics that affect the success of the mobile system as a whole. However, new tools and technologies, such as software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV), now threaten to nullify one commonly held belief in networking: that a logical function must be contained within a physical boundary. This can be a game-changer.

In this webinar, SDM alumnus Kevin Shatzkamer, CTO of mobile networking and distinguished engineer at Brocade, will:

  • provide an overview of the current architecture and mode of operations of mobile networks;
  • describe how systems thinking can be applied to highly complex, distributed problems in different arenas, using mobile networking as an example; and
  • offer general suggestions for industry and other domains.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

As CTO of mobile networking at Brocade, Kevin Shatzkamer is responsible for long-term strategy and architectural evolution at the intersection of cloud technologies, digital media assets, and mobility devices/networks. His work in these areas encompasses deep industry trend analysis, business strategy, and technical architecture and infrastructure evolution.

Shatzkamer works directly with customers on aligning long-term technology investment strategies with emerging trends. For mobile carriers, these architectures align with next-generation business models, including mobile + cloud, network function virtualization, software-defined networking, analytics, and digital media distribution and delivery.

Prior to joining Brocade in 2014, Shatzkamer worked for 15 years at Cisco. He has more than 50 patents issued or pending. He holds a B.Eng. from the University of Florida and an M.B.A. from Indiana University. As an SDM alumnus, he also has an M.S. in engineering and management from MIT.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

System Architecture and Bitcoin: The Opportunities and Challenges

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesSascha Boehme

Sascha Boehme, SDM Alumnus and Consultant, Boehme BankIT Consulting

Date: March 9, 2015

Download the presentation slides

Download the PowerPoint slides

 

About the Presentation

Bitcoin is far more than just another form of money. It is a crypto-currency and a peer-to-peer network that enables the secure transfer of a unique piece of digital property over the Internet, with no need for a trusted third party. This nascent technology has given rise to previously inconceivable business possibilities, such as instant, free, and secure money transfer, yet Bitcoin is still struggling with price volatility, security concerns, and regulatory hurdles.

In this webinar, SDM alumnus Sascha Boehme will offer a context for understanding how to innovate with Bitcoin. He will discuss:

  • Bitcoin’s history;
  • its revolutionary system architecture, which combines existing technologies and concepts in an entirely new way; and
  • how to think about the challenges and opportunities that arise from Bitcoin’s unique properties.

Whether Bitcoin succeeds or fails, distributed trust networks that enable strangers to conduct transactions remotely without the need for a neutral third party are here to stay.

Understanding the promise and potential pitfalls of this technology is essential to creating new paradigms that will not only spur businesses to evolve, but will provide commercial opportunities to the world’s roughly 2.5 billion unbanked people, opening the path to the alleviation of global poverty and oppression. The speaker will offer other examples.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us.

About the Speaker

Sascha Boehme is a consultant for Boehme BankIT Consulting specializing in systems engineering for financial institutions. He has worked as an IT consultant for the banking industry in Germany, where he built business intelligence and risk management systems. Previously, he spent 10 years working on the fixed income trading desks of investment banks including UBS, CIBC, and Dresdner Bank in London and New York. His areas of expertise include financial product management and sales, building decision support systems, and business process optimization.

At MIT, Boehme wrote his thesis on “Bitcoin as a Peer-to-Peer Network for International Payments.” He was a teaching assistant for a software systems architecture course, a research assistant at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, and a finalist in the MIT $100K Pitch Contest with his idea for a peer-to-peer money transfer business.

Boehme recently graduated from the MIT System Design and Management program with an M.S. in engineering and management. He also holds a B.A./ M.A. in business administration from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, where he specialized in banking and finance with a minor in computer science.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

SDM Holds First Project Forum and Core Technology Showcase

By Joan S. Rubin, SDM Industry Codirector

On January 12, 2015, Professor Olivier de Weck, faculty lead and coordinator of the SDM Core Teaching Team, welcomed more than 150 SDM master’s and certificate students, alumni, industry partners, staff, and invited guests to the MIT Media Lab for a day-long SDM projects forum and technology showcase.

First, de Weck introduced the members of the SDM Core Instructor Team and their areas of focus:

  • Bruce Cameron, Ph.D. (system architecture)
  • Bryan Moser, Ph.D. (project management)
  • Qi Van Eikema Hommes, Ph.D. (systems engineering)
  • Pat Hale, SDM Executive Director (systems engineering)

He went on to introduce the core teaching assistants, each one an SDM alumnus or student:

  • John Helferich (team lead)
  • David Erickson (director, SDM Certificate Program in Systems and Product Development)
  • Ricardo DeMatos
  • Vai Naik
  • Tina Srivastava
  • Parag Vijay

Next, de Weck gave a brief overview of SDM and its overall learning objectives, including discussing the creation of the new SDM core course as it has evolved from three separate one-semester classes into an integrated, intensive, three-subject sequence that spans the fall, January Independent Activities Period (IAP), and spring semesters.

The rest of the morning was devoted to a technology showcase in which SDM students displayed posters indicating their research interests in avionics, electronics, energy, healthcare, information technology, materials, transportation, and other areas. This was followed by an afternoon session in which industry partners and other invited guests described research opportunities in their domains. Students had an opportunity to indicate their interest in participating in these projects and were matched into teams by the TAs at the end of the day.

The event concluded with a dinner featuring a keynote presentation by Kaigham (Ken) J. Gabriel, president and CEO of Draper Laboratory. In addition to the technology showcase and the project forum, the 2015 IAP included the kickoff of student teams’ semester-long projects, a networks and graph theory workshop, a team-based design challenge, and lectures in system architecture and project management.

Professor Olivier de Weck

Improving Efficiency and Patient Safety in Intensive Care Units

 

Julia SomerdinThe challenge: A cost-effective, reliable, and real-time information system for monitoring the stress of patients in intensive care units (ICUs) is missing from current ICU systems. This presents an important opportunity because:

  • Five million patients are admitted annually to ICUs in the United States, with an average daily cost of over $10,000;
  • Post-surgery ICU patients require a higher level of acute care than most other hospitalized patients because they need services such as cardiovascular support, invasive monitoring, and intensive observation;
  • ICU patients, often unable to report on their stress and pain levels, rely primarily on nurses’ training and knowledge—yet, because nurses can visit patients only periodically, pain can only be assessed intermittently;
  • Pain and stress ratings are often subjective, even guesswork, and nurses treating the same patients often disagree with each other because of their varying levels of training and experience; and
  • The dramatically increasing demand for ICU beds has significantly added to the workload of nurses and physicians.


Here is a typical hospital setting in which patients are receiving intensive care and monitoring. Traditionally, nurses or medical staff check and record a patient’s status periodically.

Creating a means to remotely monitor stress and pain with real-time data visualization can help address these issues.

The approach: ICU Cam enables non-invasive monitoring of stress and pain using a remote smart camera mounted on top of a patient’s bed. Its capabilities include:

  • remotely measuring stress during complex dexterity tasks, such as surgery; and
  • transfer of reliable real-time results to physicians via data visualization;

ICU Cam uses a smart camera to automatically capture several patient vital signs and send this information to doctors in real time.

The tools: The embedded software system consists of four modules:

  1. Camera server-side data collection and processing
  2. Networking module for Wi-Fi transmission
  3. Client-side data receiver
  4. Graphical user interface that provides data regeneration and interpretation

The results: During lab testing, ICU Cam measured heart rate and heart rate variability with over 96 percent accuracy. Additional benefits may include:

  • Early detection of pain to help doctors provide early relief to patients incapable of self-reporting;
  • Reduced length of ICU stay, resulting in substantial savings for hospitals and insurance companies; and
  • Increased ICU efficiency and reduced nurse workload.

Physicians can review patients’ information on tablets and smart phones even when they are not physically in the hospital. If patients need urgent attention, a text alert message will be sent along with key patient information.

Next steps: Last fall, we visited local healthcare facilities to help us better understand problems in current ICU systems. At Boston Medical Center, Gerardo Rodriguez, M.D., anesthesiologist and critical care physician at the surgical ICU in East Newton, MA, gave us a tour, explained how patients are monitored there, and described the system’s shortcomings. He expressed enthusiasm about testing ICU Cam in patient care settings and discussed additional applications of this system to, for example, provide support for new doctors.

In the coming months, the ICU Cam team will:

  • improve the beta version prototype;
  • research hardware alternatives to reduce costs;
  • initialize clinical trial paperwork in MIT’s medical center to further understand the process; and
  • identify a large hospital for a pilot system launch.

For further information, please contact Julia Somerdin at jsomerdi@mit.edu.

About the Author
Julia Somerdin, SDM ’13, is an entrepreneur in healthcare/patient monitoring and a professional in the mobile communication industry specializing in system solution architecture and system integration. She holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from China’s Huazhong University of Science and Technology; an M.B.A. from Northeastern University; and, as an MIT System Design & Management student, she will earn an M.S. in engineering and management in 2015.

Update: IDM Curriculum Development

By Matt Kressy, Director, Integrated Design & Management

Editor’s note: The following is a snapshot of the curriculum under development for SDM’s new sister track, Integrated Design & Management (IDM). We wanted to share the vision as we design and build the program for the inaugural cohort entering this fall, but readers should keep in mind that curriculum details and requirements will continue to evolve. For the latest information, visit idm.mit.edu.

Philosophy

The IDM core curriculum combines the inspired, intuitive methods taught in the world’s best art and design schools with the systematic, analytical methods of the world’s best engineering and business schools. In this spirit, IDM is offered jointly by MIT’s School of Engineering and Sloan School of Management, and its graduation requirements reflect a balance of design, engineering, and management. IDM graduates earn a master of science degree in engineering and management conferred by MIT.

The IDM environment—ID Lab

The Integrated Design Lab (ID Lab) will be a physical space, an intellectual resource, and a state of mind—an immersive environment that inspires individual IDM students and IDM teams to create, to fail, to flourish, to succeed, and to support each other steadily throughout the process.

As a physical entity, ID Lab will be a maker space, i.e. a design studio environment with state-of-the-art tools such as 3D printers and robotic arms. A materials and methods instructor who is expert in all tools, fabrication methods, and material uses will provide group and individual instruction. The continuity afforded by dedicated ID Lab space will enable students to build prototypes and return to them later, quickly re-immerse themselves, and iterate as needed—all necessary steps to creating great products and businesses.

The IDM curriculum

Offering a powerful combination of state-of-the-art design, business, and engineering methodologies, the IDM curriculum will be:

  • taught by MIT faculty who will provide in-depth instruction on the product development/product design process;
  • supplemented with lectures by successful entrepreneurs, designers, engineers, and thought leaders who will share their experience, insight, and expertise; and
  • enhanced by IDM students as they learn to present their passions, concepts, rationales, and solutions professionally.

Tentative ID Lab schedule

IDM-required activities (two days/week):

  • Faculty lectures
  • Design workshops
  • Team project work
  • Guest lectures

Other degree requirements (three days/week):

  • Engineering and management foundation courses and electives
  • Work in ID Lab

Students may also have the chance to intern at top innovation companies and to work on design-related consulting projects.

IDM components

Sample IDM core lecture topics:

  • opportunity identification
  • user needs research
  • user experience
  • product specification
  • creative concept generation
  • concept selection
  • industrial design
  • prototyping strategy
  • economics of product design and development
  • environmental sustainability
  • intellectual property
  • product architecture
  • design leadership
  • risk management

Sample ID Lab workshop topics:

  • hand tools
  • power tools
  • machine tools
  • 3D printing
  • composites
  • laminates and forming
  • sketch modeling
  • CNC (computer numerically controlled) milling
  • user interface and user experience (UI/UX)
  • wireframes
  • thermoforming
  • mold making and casting

Team project activities may include:

  • Practicing product and business development processes using tools discussed in lectures
  • Receiving real-time feedback from faculty via informal design reviews;
  • Working on team building, brainstorming, and strategy
  • Engaging users—through interviews, observation, needs lists, personas, and image boards
  • Generating concepts—through sketching, modeling, rendering, wireframing, and storyboarding
  • Testing—using functional, emotional, market, business model, and selection techniques
  • Receiving formal design reviews

IDM projects

  • Student-generated or industry-sponsored project topics can be either tangible, three-dimensional hardware products or software or web-based products that offer solutions to societal problems. Major projects will lead to thesis topics, with the intent of a business launch.
  • IDM partners will have a dedicated, ongoing relationship with the program. They will be welcome to spend time in the ID Lab, attend design reviews, mentor students, and bring real-world perspectives to campus. IDM partners will be encouraged to engage in any projects in which they see potential through collaboration, licensing, or investment.

IDM partners

  • have a dedicated, intimate, ongoing collaboration with IDM
  • spend time in the ID Lab
  • attend design reviews
  • invest in student projects of their choice
  • get right-of-first-offer on products and intellectual property, subject to student interest and negotiated price
  • have priority access to hiring IDM graduates

M.S. requirements

  • IDM core with ID Lab: 38 units (required)
  • Management and engineering foundations: 12+ units each (required)
  • Engineering and design electives: 15+ units (required)
  • Management and leadership electives: 15+ units (required)
  • Internship (optional)
  • Consulting (optional)
  • Thesis: 24 units (required)

IDM program options

  • 13 months full time, on campus

 

  • 21 months part time, on/off campus

 

In the fall semester, students taking the 13-month option

  • arrive in mid-August for a “boot camp”/orientation;
  • participate in a three-week project in the IDM core to familiarize themselves with IDM’s product development process and philosophy;
  • engage in a four-week project, repeating the above process so that it becomes familiar;
  • participate in a final project near the semester’s end, working on it in great detail; and
  • make final presentations in which their products are demonstrated to fellow students, faculty, potential investors, and the general public.

During the one-month Independent Activities Period (IAP) session, students

  • manufacture 100 units of product to be offered for purchase at a sales gala open to fellow students, potential investors, and the public.

In the spring semester students taking the 13-month option

  • put what they have learned into practice for a major project that spans 28 weeks;
  • participate in another end-of-semester gala open to potential investors and the general public;
  • offer products for sale;
  • complete interdisciplinary theses based on their projects;
  • participate in consulting engagements and recruitment/hiring activities; and
  • join MIT SDM-IDM’s lifelong learning community of alumni, students, and industry partners.

IDM’s 21-month option is still under development.

Matt Kressy

Developing a Technology Roadmap for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Systems

The challenge: In 2010, pharmaceutical leader Merck & Co., Inc., launched Target ’15, a five-year plan to transform manufacturing operations. One of its key goals was to develop new manufacturing technologies that would enable at least one critical therapy to reach a minimum of 80 percent of the world’s population by the end of 2015. To accomplish this, we needed a proven technology strategy framework that would:

  • provide effectiveness at size scales that could span global enterprises and supply chains;
  • accommodate time scales that would cross long-range, multi-year planning targets;
  • manage complexity and deliver clear guidance to the organization on where and how to focus;
  • build on key lessons from multiple industries; and
  • provide insight that could transcend different technical disciplines.

The approach: SDM’s Technology Strategy course, taught by MIT Senior Lecturer Michael Davies, provided essential tools and methodologies to help Merck craft its first-ever long-range technology roadmap for manufacturing. Merck’s roadmap included:

  • identification, selection, acquisition, development, exploitation, and protection of key technologies; and
  • development of an organizational structure for continued alignment and action toward Merck’s access goals.

The tools: We created a blueprint that allowed Merck to drive technology development and investment activities across a global manufacturing operation with hundreds of connected supply chains within time frames that reached years into the future.

Our steps included:

  • developing a concrete, shared definition of manufacturing technologies as combinations of knowledge, processes, and equipment that transform raw materials into products and deliver them in a useful form to patients and customers; and
  • creating global operations-level systems views that allowed for holistic management and consideration of systems changes.

Taken together, this created a visual of the larger system that is the subject of Merck’s technology transformation and deployment.

In this global view, process unit systems up to the plant scale can exist within each box, while site- and enterprise-level integration occurs along pathways defined by the connection of different boxes. Each processing unit box can be further blown out as necessary, but the overarching scheme allows for the taxonomy of future roadmaps for each node and each pathway (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: An example of a pathway is AKOQR, which represents the pathway for a small-molecule pharmaceutical oral dosage form.

We followed stakeholder mapping processes to account for external and internal constituencies and to clearly identify key stakeholder groups. Evolving global trends were mapped inward from the customer market and societal needs and outward from the business drivers and manufacturer requirements (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Stakeholder map for Merck’s global operation.

Stakeholder mapping also enabled us to develop key performance indicators (KPIs) for the global system, thus collapsing the trends and drivers identified into workable and measurable goals. These KPIs produce very precise operational definitions around which global operations-level changes can be made.

During the needs and requirements definition phase, subject matter experts created technology inventories that we were able to use as repositories of internal and external technology efforts and innovations. The KPIs, trends, and drivers were used to prioritize technologies by time order and importance. This enabled us to create our initial manufacturing technology roadmaps. Individual technologies were generally at the single- and multi-phase system- and process-unit level; thus, the roadmap visualization allowed for plant-, site-, and enterprise-level integration and planning (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Stylized example of a technology roadmap.

Some stakeholder needs were well-articulated (e.g. a solution needed for a distinct problem), and others were not (e.g. a desire to impact a problem in a big way). As we assessed transformation at a global operational level, it was vital that our efforts combined technologies and defined value drivers. These dual dimensions and the trade-off space defined the risk posture clearly for our investments in various areas (see Figure 4).

Figure 4: Technology maturity is shown by extent of need.

A key technology management challenge was lack of visibility concerning how different efforts affect each other, including ones that need information from others to make a larger, more holistic transformation possible. In helping manage these interdependencies, we applied the multi-domain matrix (MDM). A mock version of an MDM is shown below for a sample manufacturing pathway.

Figure 5: Multi-domain matrix applied to manage interdependencies for technology initiatives.

The MDM shows relationships within like elements (e.g. the process to process connections in the design structure matrix [DSM] shown in the red box, or the operand to operand connections in the DSM in the blue box) or across unlike elements (e.g. operand to initiative, as shown in the area labeled 1).

Understanding the relationships between some of the most important potential efforts and the process or operands at the enterprise level was critical to managing multi-year efforts and to fostering the right knowledge-sharing and connections required as internal and external entities consider the portfolio of choices. The crosshairs within the matrix can represent the nature of the connection, e.g. “supporting,” “connected to,” or “integral.”

The importance of these technology initiatives and their ability to address multiple needs at the global operational level would not be seen if not for the mapping effort. Interactions between different global pathways were analyzed using DSM and MDM analyses. This created a portfolio of technology projects that is now managed through maturity by an enterprise-wide technology management process and governance, with information and knowledge refreshed annually as implementation progresses.

The results:

  • Merck has mapped and assessed more than 800 technologies with this process—focusing on 42 technologies in various time horizons organized into eight clear domain challenges.
  • The MIT SDM Technology Strategy class mindset, methodologies, and tools have helped Merck create a manufacturing-wide framework, language, and process by which strategies and investments can be discussed, debated, and ultimately managed.

As 2015 begins, Merck is well-positioned to meet its five-year goals for manufacturing and, more importantly, the company now has a robust and bullet-proof way of managing technology for the next half decade.

Editor’s note: The author wishes to thank Leigh Gautreau, SDM ’08, research manager at Endeavour Partners, LLC. As a teaching assistant for the SDM course, she was a critical reviewer of Chowdhury’s series, as well as of this article.

About the Author
Anando Chowdhury, SDM ’09, is director of Product Design: Innovation to Operations at Merck & Co., Inc. His four-part paper written for SDM’s Technology Strategy course when he was an MIT student laid the groundwork for Merck’s manufacturing technology roadmap.

Anando Chowdhury, SDM ’09

SDMs Join in Third Annual MEMPC PriSim Business War Games Competition

Four-Week, Online Competition Enlists Top Engineering Students to Execute Simulated Industry Takeover

The third annual MEMPC PriSim Business War Games Competition kicked off at the beginning of February. During the four-week, online competition, seven cross-university teams from top engineering schools—including MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Northwestern, Stanford, and the University of Southern California— participate in a business simulation where they act as management in the takeover of a domestic automobile company.

The competition is part of an overall initiative of the Master of Engineering Management Programs Consortium (MEMPC) to raise awareness for the master of engineering management (MEM) degree; expand its value-added opportunities; forge business partnerships with employers, potential job candidates, students, and faculty; and promote alumni networking.

“The MEMPC is dedicated to elevating the profile of the MEM degree, and its PriSim Business War Games Competition plays an important role in this initiative by fostering business skills and offering the opportunity to connect with future colleagues,” said Joan S. Rubin, industry codirector of MIT SDM. “The teams will compete directly against each other and their results will depend upon how the competitors interact, what new products are introduced, and how these products are supported.”

Rubin added, “The cross-school teaming requires members to work in a geographically distributed way, which closely emulates today’s real-world, global scenarios. Participants also have the opportunity to develop or further enhance robust social networks.”

Strategic management is at the core of all decisions made in the competition. Students start by conducting an analysis of the business environment and then articulate the vision and mission of their new organization. Each company begins the simulation with three vehicles and then must decide how best to improve product performance and potentially enter new market segments that offer opportunities for growth.

“As an industry leader in customized, computerized business simulation games, PriSim is proud to play an integral role in the MEMPC PriSim Business War Games Competition and provide an opportunity for future graduates to practice with the tools needed to be successful in their careers,” said David Semb, partner at PriSim Business War Games Inc. and adjunct professor at Northwestern University.

In 2013, several SDM students participated in the competition and each was assigned to a different multi-school team that played the role of a company in the domestic automobile industry. Teams managed short- and long-term objectives and made decisions about how to interact with competitors, what new products to introduce, and how to support new products. Each team was responsible for establishing its own organization.

SDM student Terence Teo, whose team won the competition that year, said his group began by identifying its company’s strengths and weaknesses as well as market opportunities and trends. According to Teo, his team succeeded in large part because the members were all willing to agree on a strategy—to maintain their product line of high-value cars with a small market and big margins. “We kept our focus on upgrading existing models and on introducing new vehicles quickly,” he said. Teo also credited his team’s success to the members’ respect for each other’s views.

The competition began the week of February 2 and will wrap up on March 5, 2015, when the leadership team at PriSim and the MEMPC will judge the submissions. Winners will be announced on March 6. For more information about PriSim Business War Games, Inc., visit www.prisim.com.

For more information, please contact:
Lois Slavin
MIT SDM Communications Director
617.253.0812
lslavin@mit.edu

How to Open-source the Creative Process: Democratizing Innovation, Product Design and Development, and Technology Strategy

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesAli Almossawi

Ali Almossawi, Data Visualization Engineer, Mozilla; Author, An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments; and SDM Alumnus

Date: February 23, 2015

Download the presentation slides (PDF)

About the Presentation

The creative process is a combination of engineering and design decisions, experimentation, iteration, integration, informed decisions, and luck—all of which hopefully culminate in a marketable artifact. The creator, with all the tools and knowledge available to him or her, is often presumed to know best. But, that’s not always the case.

In this webinar, SDM alumnus Ali Almossawi will discuss the benefits of expanding the creative process through open-sourcing on the Internet, where there are more creators, fewer industry gatekeepers, and endless opportunities to engage directly with users. He will:

  • describe a model for open-sourcing the creative process and how it can be used to build a self-sustaining product or business;
  • outline the key players—often a combination of professionals with expertise in technology, business, and/or design;
  • discuss what is needed for team members to work together effectively—and the pitfalls to avoid;
  • provide examples of failure, success, and failure leading to success; and
  • offer next steps that can be adapted and applied across all industries.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us.

About the Speaker

SDM alumnus Ali Almossawi holds a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT and a master’s degree in software engineering from Carnegie Mellon. He has spent time at Harvard, the Software Engineering Institute, and the MIT Media Lab, where his research involved creating predictive models of source-code quality as well as investigating architecture adaptability in software.

Almossawi currently resides in San Francisco, where he works on Firefox data visualization for Mozilla. He is the author of An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments, which has been read by 1.4 million people, and is currently writing a novella about computer algorithms. His work has appeared in Scientific American, Wired, Fast Company, and more.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Chevron: Using the Beer Game to Address Complexity

Shira Hetz By Shira Hetz, Analytics Business Analyst, Chevron

The challenge: Like many global corporations, Chevron is challenged with improving organizational thinking, fostering collaboration, and sharing best practices in the face of relentlessly increasing complexity in many areas of the enterprise. Specific factors include:

  • A large and geographically dispersed workforce;
  • A wide variety of services offered; and
  • A range of analytical methodologies in use throughout the company.

These factors present significant barriers to using a common analytical methodology across the value chain.

The approach: Chevron developed a comprehensive strategy focused on growing the organization’s capability in analytics. A key component was the Modeling and Analytics Community of Practice (M&A CoP), which was formed in 2011 to:

  • target individuals with varying levels of analytical experience across various Chevron business functions, such as drilling, supply and trading, information technology, etc.;
  • provide opportunities for these individuals to enhance their understanding of analytics; and
  • hold events focused on internal knowledge sharing.

In addition, Chevron identified universities specifically aligned with Chevron’s strategic recruiting needs and leveraged their learning exercises.

For example, Chevron has recruited from and collaborated with the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), for more than 10 years. The ongoing relationship with the Supply Chain Management Center of Excellence (SCM COE) within the McCombs School of Business has consistently encouraged Chevron’s participation in curriculum development and classroom engagement. This strategic alignment was the perfect context for implementing classroom education methodologies within a Fortune 5 corporation.

The tools: “The Beer Game” is a business simulation game centered on beverage distribution that was created by Dr. Peter Senge at the MIT Sloan School of Management in the early 1960s to demonstrate the dynamics of a supply chain. This game is played every year by students at Sloan, McCombs, and other universities as well as at corporations around the world..

Through multiple initiatives during the fall 2014 semester, it became apparent that several members of the UT Austin faculty were familiar with this experiential learning game, creating a perfect context for applying MIT’s systems thinking approach to the supply chain, which is a critical and dynamic component of the energy industry and virtually every other industry, large or small.

The game was hosted at Chevron’s downtown Houston office and open only to Chevron employees and contractors. The thirty participants, representing diverse levels of experience and business function, included, for example:

  • a newly hired data scientist;
  • an early career business analyst; and
  • a veteran global advisor in supply and trading.

The latter, Diego Jaramillo, business analyst for supply and trading, commented, “This game opened my eyes and assisted me to understand the effects of our actions and the complexity of a system like a supply chain.”

Wade Wallinger, general manager of Chevron’s Value Chain Optimization Center of Excellence, said, “As one who represents our executive sponsorship of the Supply Chain Management COE at McCombs, it is impressive to see the impact of this collaboration in action and how it is expanding the internal competencies regarding analytics and system thinking.”

The results: “The Beer Game” showed that each member of the value chain has a very direct, although not always instant, effect on the organization. This important lesson is invaluable for Chevron’s workforce.

Attendees from the M&A CoP gained insight into the dynamic aspects of the supply chain in a non-subject-specific way, and their view of their own impact on the system clearly changed. Several later shared what they learned within their respective teams.

Moving forward, Chevron will continue to look to its many university partners for learning opportunities as it builds its workforce through recruiting, classroom lectures, and workshops . MIT has created a brand of innovation that reaches beyond academics to impact industry, not only by educating highly talented individuals, but by creating academic methodologies such as “The Beer Game” that develop the growing analytics workforce.

The author wishes to thank fellow Chevron colleagues and University of Texas faculty and staff who helped make this opportunity a success.

Shira Hetz

To Model or Not to Model? Formalizing the Conceptual Modeling Thought Process to Benefit Engineers and Scientists

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesDov Dori

Dov Dori, Lecturer, Engineering Systems Division, MIT, and Harry Lebensfeld Chair in Industrial Engineering, Technion—Israel Institute of Technology

Date: February 9, 2015

Download the presentation slides

 

About the Presentation

Conceptual modeling began informally. As human beings evolved and began to make sense of the world, many constructed mental models of themselves as agents in a hostile environment. These models enabled them to make predictions and test hypotheses about behaviors that might increase their survival rate.

Similarly, engineers today develop mental models of the systems they design, and scientists construct such models to understand, explain, and predict natural phenomena. Conceptual models are both visual-graphical and verbal-textual, but almost always implicit and informal. Object-Process Methodology (OPM), recently approved as ISO 19450, is both an explicit conceptual modeling language and a paradigm for approaching systems modeling. OPM is bimodal. It represents the same model both graphically, in a single kind of diagram, and textually, in a subset of English—thus communicating to both sides of the brain.

This webinar will introduce the principles of OPM and demonstrate the value of OPM-based conceptual modeling in a variety of engineering and science domains. During this session, Professor Dov Dori will:

  • define and exemplify conceptual modeling and its benefits in various disciplines;
  • introduce OPM as a formal modeling language that is agile, lightweight, compact, and easy to learn;
  • show how OPM has benefited engineers and scientists in various disciplines; and
  • present a vision for the future role of conceptual modeling in improving endeavors across science and engineering.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us.

About the Speaker

Dov Dori has been affiliated with MIT’s Engineering Systems Division intermittently since 2000. He is the Harry Lebensfeld Chair in industrial engineering and head of the Enterprise System Modeling Laboratory within the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management at Technion—Israel Institute of Technology.

Dori’s research interests include model-based systems engineering, conceptual modeling of complex systems, systems architecture and design, software and systems engineering, and systems biology. He invented and developed Object-Process Methodology (the ISO 19450 Standard), has authored more than 300 publications, and has mentored more than 50 graduate students.

Dori previously served as associate editor of IEEE Transaction on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence and is currently associate editor of Systems Engineering, a publication of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE). He is a fellow of INCOSE and of the International Association for Pattern Recognition. He is also a member of the Omega Alpha Association, the international honor society for systems engineering, and a senior member of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and of the Association for Computing Machinery. Learn more about Dori here.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

How to Analyze and Visualize a Large, Interconnected Software System: A Study of Fedora 20 with Lessons for All

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesDaniel Sturtevant

Daniel Sturtevant, Ph.D., CEO, Silverthread, Inc., and SDM Alumnus
David Allan, Director of Software Engineering, Silverthread, Inc.David Allan

Date: January 26, 2015

Download the presentation slides

About the Presentation

When working inside a system of enormous scale, people often understand only the part with which they are involved. As long as the whole system is sufficiently modular, people tend to believe they can construct reasonably reliable mental models of their component and how it interfaces with others. However, this is not always safe; research shows that hidden structures can interconnect components of a complex system at higher levels, causing organizational problems that are difficult to see, understand, and address.

Fedora 20 is composed of more than 2,500 interconnected software packages developed and managed by globally distributed teams. Estimates have placed the number of software developers who have contributed at over 100,000. In this webinar, Daniel Sturtevant and David Allan will present research that addresses the architectural complexity of the Fedora Linux operating system and software collection. They will discuss:

  • How to visualize the system at multiple levels (including the view from 60,000 feet) and gain meaningful insights about its hidden structure;
  • How to benchmark across the system to better understand its composition and variations in complexity and quality; and
  • How this approach might be applied to other software systems.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us.

About the Speaker

Daniel Sturtevant, Ph.D., is an SDM alumnus and graduate of the MIT Engineering Systems Division doctoral program. He holds a research post at Harvard Business School where he studies software architecture and the software development process. He is also the CEO of Silverthread, Inc., a firm that helps organizations gain insights into business risk, productivity, and complexity. Prior to cofounding Silverthread, Dr. Sturtevant spent many years in the software field where he built Linux-based supercomputers, conducted research and development in cyber warfare, and helped manage a companywide effort to drive modularity into the source-code for a family of software products.

David Allan is director of software engineering at Silverthread, Inc. He has been building scalable systems for 15 years, designing technology to solve real-world problems. He previously worked as a software development manager at Red Hat, developing Linux device drivers and managing operations for a hosted software provider. He holds a J.D. from the University of Utah and an A.B. in English from Kenyon College.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

SDM Alum Honored for Leadership in Boston Innovation Community

Mona Vernon By Lois Slavin, MIT SDM Communications Director

On December 4, 2014, MIT System Design & Management (SDM) alum Mona Vernon was named one of Boston’s “50 on Fire” at a celebration recognizing the city’s inventors, disruptors, luminaries, and newsmakers across all industries. The award was established by Streetwise Media, a digital media and events company, and its local unit BostInno.

The 50 winners were carefully selected from more than 2,000 nominations. They were cited as a group for “mixing creativity, bravery, presence … and a special spark that is changing Boston in remarkable ways that flat-out cannot be ignored.”

Vernon, who is vice president of the Data Innovation Lab at Thomson Reuters, was honored specifically for her leadership role in the innovation community, including fueling the thriving Cambridge and Boston Innovation District’s startup ecosystem with early adoption of technology from big data startups such as Recorded Future and Tamr. She was also cited for creating the Data Innovation Lab.

Since its inception early in 2014, the lab has offered several events through the Knowledge Worker Innovation Series, a Thomson Reuters series created by Vernon. Inspired by innovators and entrepreneurs, the series features thought leaders and experts from industry and academia who discuss, dissect, and explore technology topics and trends, particularly in the big data arena. The events are free and open to all.

“Mona continues to inspire not only those at MIT and SDM, but many more in Boston and beyond,” said SDM Executive Director Pat Hale. “All of us here at SDM are very proud of her.”

View Vernon’s presentation in the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series: “System Architecture for Corporate Innovation: How to Run a Successful Initiative and Deliver Tangible Results.”

Mona Vernon, SDM ’09

Innovation at Mobile Technology’s Cutting Edge

Kevin Shatzkamer By Lois Slavin, MIT SDM Communications Director

Kevin Shatzkamer already had a bachelor’s in engineering and an MBA, yet he nevertheless decided to pursue a master’s in engineering and management through MIT System Design & Management (SDM). Why? The former distinguished engineer at Cisco and recently named CTO for mobile networking at Brocade wanted to learn more.

“I needed to learn how to apply my thinking in a more consistent, complete way and use that to go from patent to product to market,” he explained. “In addition, SDM offers a solid theoretical framework and a proven tool set that would enable me to more effectively lead innovation at technology’s cutting edge,” said Shatzkamer, who will graduate in February 2015.

Technology innovation has been an ongoing theme in Shatzkamer’s career. When he joined Cisco in 2000 as an intern, he was the company’s first official hire into the new mobile organization. He then became one of the first to be trained, and later to train others, in how to understand, apply, and develop new products in the emerging mobile market.

Over the next four years, Shatzkamer served as a consulting systems engineer, collaborating with customers (including the world’s 18 largest mobile operators) to develop a strategy and architecture for next-generation mobile standards and solutions. Cisco subsequently appointed him chief architect for mobile networking, putting him in charge of devising three-year strategies, architectures, and solutions based on customer demands and worldwide industry trends.

In less than 10 years, Shatzkamer became the youngest employee in Cisco’s history to be named distinguished engineer. He concentrated on long-term strategy and the evolution of Internet systems architecture. He looked specifically at the intersections of cloud technologies, digital media assets, and mobile networks across the entire value chain/ecosystem. “It was truly an honor to be selected for this role,” he said.

Shatzkamer now holds more than 50 patents and says his MBA gave him a good foundation for taking new technologies to market. Yet, he decided to enroll in SDM because the program offers a rigorous education in leadership, innovation, and systems thinking—combined with the opportunity to take courses at MIT’s No. 1-ranked School of Engineering and its world-class Sloan School of Management.

While he said his SDM classes have been invaluable, the lessons he learned from fellow SDM students—primarily experienced technical professionals—have been just as important because he has had an opportunity to gain insights from professionals with deep experience in arenas other than his own.

“I’ve learned how to apply various perspectives to my work, to look at different industries to solve problems within my own space, and to understand how seemingly unrelated developments and innovations from the past can provide vital clues to solving current and future problems,” he said.

As Brocade’s CTO of mobile networking, Shatzkamer will devote time to considering the mobile Internet as a system, as well as a system of systems, and will explore the implications of networking on mobility and the Internet of Things. He will think about what can be done with today’s technology as well as how it can evolve. He will also lead teams of innovators who will work to make this evolution happen.

In short, Shatzkamer plans to put MIT’s motto “Mens et Manus” (Mind and Hand) into practice. “MIT is about the practical side of innovation,” he explained. “The theory, tool set, and lessons learned at SDM will help me lead others to successfully transform their ideas into products at the cutting edge of technology.”

Kevin Shatzkamer, SDM ’14

Designing Intelligence

Jillian Wisniewski By Zach Wener-Fligner, MIT News correspondent

Jillian Wisniewski spent Thanksgiving 2009 at a US Army base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, with just weeks until the end of her deployment and return to the United States.

Back then Wisniewski, now a student in the System Design and Management program at MIT, was an Army captain working in aviation intelligence. Her team was a motley crew, including an experienced soldier who had worked in armor, a recent college graduate who had studied criminology, and a helicopter pilot who contributed his programming skills to her intelligence section after he was grounded from flight due to migraines.

“We had very diverse skillsets, but we worked together like a well-oiled machine,” she says.

The team practiced threat modeling and risk analysis — for example, figuring out the safest flight routes, operational times, and landing zones, with life-or-death ramifications. The team deployed in December 2008; within their first month, an American helicopter was downed in the Korengal Valley of northeastern Afghanistan.

Intelligence work was difficult. There were tons of data and many opportunities to make mistakes, owing to the complexity of the analysis and errors in the data itself.

So Wisniewski called upon the analytical skills from her undergraduate degree in operations research and applied them to intelligence collection and analysis. Not wanting to rely on existing databases to answer her team’s intelligence questions, she pushed to get raw data from various sources so that she could begin to direct other platforms, including pilots, to provide more detailed collection.

Wisniewski and her team ultimately came up with a methodology for efficiently collecting appropriate data, building a database of relevant variables, and implementing workflow practices that reduced errors and redundancies in processing and analysis. Perhaps most importantly, they started communication channels so pilots could benefit from intelligence gathered by those on the ground, and vice versa.

With improved methodologies, the team was able to contribute beyond the normal scope of duties for an aviation intelligence section. They felt invested in the mission and safety of coalition forces — so much so that on that Thanksgiving in 2009, the team found the prospect of returning home to be bittersweet. For Wisniewski, the art of tactical-level intelligence analysis is in helping to reduce uncertainty in future events; the act of leaving seemed to only to increase that uncertainty.

“I don’t want to be egotistical in saying what we had was great,” Wisniewski says. “But it is fair to say we had a great team dynamic. We were able to work systematically and effectively because we understood the mathematical foundation of our tools. And I think that process is replicable.”

Wisniewski’s interest in replicating the workings of that intelligence team on a large scale is what drew her to System Design and Management at MIT. The program, jointly offered by the School of Engineering and MIT Sloan School of Management, educates mid-career professionals in using systems thinking to address large-scale, complex sociotechnical challenges.

For Wisniewski, the program couldn’t be more applicable to her military work. Her thesis, “A Process Improvement for Tactical Level Military Intelligence Analysis,” will propose new intelligence solutions that better prepare and empower analysts to make smart intelligence judgments.

After Wisniewski graduates at the end of this year, she’ll head back to West Point, where she will teach in the Department of Systems Engineering and work with the Army Operations Research Center.

How she got there

Wisniewski grew up in Virginia and West Virginia with two older brothers. Her father commuted to Washington, where he worked in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. She hadn’t always wanted to go to West Point — in fact, she hadn’t even thought of it until the summer before her senior year, when her brother, Jake, a fellow Army soldier who went on to receive a Purple Heart for actions during one of his tours in Iraq, encouraged her to apply. At the time, he was a cadet within Virginia Tech’s Corps of Cadets, and his sister took to heart his advice to apply to the Academy.

She was intimidated by the hefty application: West Point applicants must go through intense physical performance and medical examinations and be recommended by a member of Congress, on top of the typical requirements for a college application. Wisniewski remembers thinking, “If I even finish this application, I deserve a badge or something.”

When she started the application process, she hadn’t been completely decided. Then came the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“That sealed the deal,” she says. “There was no doubt in my mind that if I got in, I would go. And that I would never quit.”

Wisniewski finished the application and was awarded no badge. Instead, she was accepted.

She was 17 years old when she first arrived at West Point. The rigor and discipline took some adjustment; at times, it all felt almost absurd.

“I didn’t realize what I was getting into,” she says. “We do have to wear uniforms at all times, and it does matter what color socks you’re wearing.”

In uniform, toting helmet and dummy rifle, often wearing a grin and a giant rucksack on her petite frame, Wisniewski soon earned the nickname “Myrtle the Turtle.”

“I thought it was funny, and also incredible. I remember looking at the long line of soldiers marching and just thinking, ‘This is so awesome, and I’m a part of it,'” she says. “I did get in trouble for smiling a lot.”

At West Point, Wisniewski studied operations research, which would directly impact her future work in intelligence. “My undergraduate education was more important to my field even than my military intelligence training,” she says. “At first I felt like I was playing dress-up. And by the end it was complete transformation. I felt like I had found a sense of purpose.”

Balancing it all out

On top of her studies and military work, Wisniewski is also a mother and a wife. She and her husband were high-school sweethearts who had their first date in 1999 and went to their prom together in 2002. They both went to West Point and have been together ever since.

She has two children, ages 7 and 2; balancing child care with the schedule of her husband, an MBA student at Harvard Business School, is no easy task.

“You’re trying to make the ideal happen,” she says. “You try to be a supermom and a super-student. I think I’ve learned the truth in the saying, ‘It takes a village,’ and I’m fortunate enough to have my mother to help care for my family. It’s challenging for all of us, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I think we will all benefit from this experience together.”

Jillian Wisniewski, SDM ’14

A Systems Approach to Fostering Innovation Ecosystems within Academic and Business Communities

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesRajesh Nair

Rajesh Nair, Visiting Scholar, Tata Center for Technology and Design, MIT; Founder, Chairman, and CTO, Degree Controls, Inc.; and SDM Alumnus

Date: December 1, 2014

Download the presentation slides (PPT)

Download the presentation slides (PDF)

About the Presentation

Although startups are key to economic growth and job creation, many people—particularly students—have a negative attitude toward entrepreneurship. Fear of failure, constant uncertainty, and financial constraints combine with a lack of training in needed skills to discourage potential entrepreneurs.

In this webinar, Rajesh Nair, a visiting scholar at MIT’s Tata Center, successful entrepreneur, and SDM alumnus, will describe a systems-based experiment conducted in India at small engineering colleges with no active entrepreneurship initiatives. This research addressed the following questions:

  • Is it possible to bring about a positive change in the average student’s attitude toward entrepreneurship?
  • Can suitable ecosystems be created at colleges to provide nurturing environments in which entrepreneurship and innovation can flourish?

Nair will describe:

  • a specially designed experiential curriculum and training in innovation, fabrication, and entrepreneurship;
  • how students created new ventures by interacting with their local communities to validate problems for business opportunities, ideate solutions, and fabricate prototypes—in effect creating healthy entrepreneurship ecosystems within their academic institutions and surrounding communities;
  • how these strategies can be applied and adapted by other academic institutions; and
  • how students’ attitudes toward entrepreneurship changed.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us.

About the Speaker

Rajesh Nair is a researcher at MIT who is developing methods to catalyze the work of community innovators and entrepreneurs to create local entrepreneurship ecosystems. His experiments in India have generated several startups (see Teaching Entrepreneurship in India). His current mission is to create 1,000 entrepreneurs in the next three years using the method he developed at MIT.

Nair is a product designer and a serial entrepreneur. The company he founded most recently, Degree Controls Inc., serves companies in the thermal design of high-reliability electronic products in medical, information technology, military, and consumer markets. He has developed several industry-standard products and holds 13 US patents. He received the Entrepreneur of the Year award from the New Hampshire High Tech Council and was a finalist at Ernst & Young’s EoY-New England program. As an MIT SDM alumnus, he holds an MS in engineering and management. He also has master’s degrees in manufacturing engineering (from the University of Massachusetts—Amherst) and electronic product design (from the Indian Institute of Science—Bangalore). He founded the annual TechTop National Innovation Competition in India, which is currently in its ninth year. As a visiting scholar at MIT’s Tata Center, he focuses on commercializing technologies developed at the center. He recently delivered a TEDxBeaconStreet talk on starting up entrepreneurs.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Developing Analytics for the Healthcare Safety Net: A Systems Approach

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesDavid Hartzband

David Hartzband, D.Sc., Research Affiliate, Engineering Systems Division, MIT

Date: November 17, 2014

Download the presentation slides

 

About the Presentation

Whether focused on big data, small data, or both, analytics is transforming healthcare by enabling better decision-making in both clinical and operational areas. However, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “Organizations that are part of the healthcare safety net, i.e., that deliver care in a variety of settings such as public hospitals, community health centers … free clinics, special service providers, and in some cases, physician networks and school-based clinics that deliver care to low-income, vulnerable patients are at risk.” Although many facilities receive state and federal funding, safety nets remain locally organized and managed, which means there is a patchwork of systems with little coordination and integration. Consequently, many care providers are poorly positioned to take advantage of advances in information technology (IT).

In this webinar, David Hartzband, D.Sc. will discuss current research devoted to learning how best to help federally qualified health centers make use of contemporary analytics. He will discuss:

  • Education for staff in urban and rural health centers that will help them distinguish between current data reporting practices and the kinds of inquiries that can be performed through new thinking and new technical approaches;
  • Why analytics is not an IT function, a software package, or a technical protocol;
  • The types of analytics-based inquiries that can be used to support an organization’s goals and significantly facilitate strategic decision-making; and
  • The systems approach to every aspect of a project, including development of an analytic infrastructure as well as cultivation of an environment in which different kinds of strategic questions can be asked and the results appropriately interpreted.

This webinar will also offer an overview of project assumptions, the process used to engage the health centers, the progress made to date, and the results of preliminary inquiries.

A Q&A will follow the presentation.

We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

David Hartzband, D.Sc., is a research affiliate in MIT’s Engineering Systems Division. After a 25-plus-year career designing and developing software technologies—during which time he twice designed and led the implementation of products with billion-dollar revenue streams—he moved into the field of healthcare information technology (HIT). In the last 10 years, he has worked on the architecture of several of the largest health information exchanges in the country, designed and led the development of both practice management and electronic health records (EHR) systems, and consulted with many HIT companies, especially startups.

He recently served as principal investigator for a Department of Commerce/National Institute of Standards and Technology grant on providing trusted identities in cyberspace through the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace program, a White House initiative. He is in the process of completing a U.S. Health and Human Services research project investigating the use of EHRs to provide combined records for medical and behavioral health treatment.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

 

Integrated Design for Product Success

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesMatthew S. Kressy

Matthew S. Kressy, Director and Senior Lecturer, Integrated Design & Management, MIT

Date: November 3, 2014

Download the presentation slides

About the Presentation

Excellence in product design is at the heart of success, yet more products fail than succeed. Integrating a balance of design, engineering, and business is critical, but challenging. Getting it right in the midst of uncertainty can be messy, complex, and daunting.

In this webinar, Matthew S. Kressy, director of MIT’s newly established Integrated Design & Management master’s degree track, will discuss why product designs can succeed or fail. He will provide a high-level overview of strengths and weaknesses in currently popular design approaches. Then he will discuss:

  • Characteristics of good design approaches that are interdisciplinary and user-centered, yet also maximize creativity and embrace failure as a stepping stone;
  • Characteristics of weak design approaches, such as siloed thinking and fear of failure;
  • The importance of early integration of all product development disciplines;
  • A new model for educating design, engineering, and management professionals to be “tri-lingual” in these disciplines and work together more effectively;
  • General guidelines and a checklist to help organizations accurately assess their resources; and
  • Next steps to consider.

A Q&A will follow the presentation.

We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Matthew S. Kressy, director of MIT SDM’s newly established Integrated Design & Management (IDM) master’s degree track, currently co-teaches product design and development classes at MIT and the Rhode Island School of Design. He has also co-taught at Harvard, Babson College, and Olin School of Engineering.

Kressy has extensive expertise in globally distributed, interdisciplinary, design-driven product development, from deep user research and concept generation to prototype iteration, risk reduction, and volume manufacturing. An entrepreneur and founder of Designturn, he has designed, invented, engineered, and manufactured more than 100 products for Fortune 500 clients and others, including Kronos, Massachusetts General Hospital, APC, the US Army, and Teradyne Corporation.

He holds a B.F.A. in industrial design from the Rhode Island School of Design.

About MIT Integrated Design & Management

Formally launched in 2014 as a new track within the MIT System Design and Management (SDM) program, Integrated Design & Management (IDM) integrates industrial design, engineering design, and other design disciplines with management. Offered jointly by the MIT School of Engineering and Sloan School of Management, IDM is targeted at early to mid-career professionals and will be taught in an innovative design studio format. Graduates will be awarded a master of science degree in engineering and management.

Potential students and industry partners can learn more about IDM by contacting idm@mit.edu. Please visit the IDM website for further information.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

A Systems Approach to the 2014 Midterm Elections: Voting to Achieve Systemwide Change

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesNicholas A. Ashford, Ph.D.

Nicholas A. Ashford, Ph.D., J.D. Professor of Technology and Policy, MIT Director, MIT Technology and Law Program

Date: October 20, 2014

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About the Presentation

Elections matter—especially the 2014 midterms. The challenges are especially acute this year because:

  • Gridlock, corruption, and diversionary tactics have compromised sound legislative and programmatic changes, as well as an independent judiciary; and
  • Media and self-serving politicians are sidestepping the debates we need to have around major issues.

Sustainable progress requires tackling a complex set of challenges that, if properly considered and addressed with the rigor of systems thinking, can help the United States reach a new level of inclusion and opportunity for all. This webinar will help explain how our elected officials can do better.

Professor Nicholas A. Ashford will discuss the most important barrier to making the transformation to a more sustainable financial and industrial system—lock-in or path dependency due to:

  • failure to envision, design, and implement policies that achieve co-optimization—i.e. mutually reinforcing, societal goals for economic welfare, environmental quality, and employment/earning capacity; and
  • entrenched economic and political interests that gain from the present system and current trends.

Ashford will describe a systems-based approach to facilitating technological and institutional changes while “opening up the participatory and political space” to enable new voices to contribute to solutions.

Insights from the book Ashford coauthored with Ralph Hall, Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development: Transforming the Industrial State (2011, Yale University Press), will inform the presentation.

About the Speaker

Nicholas A. Ashford is a professor of technology and policy at MIT and director of MIT’s Technology and Law Program. He holds both a Ph.D. in chemistry and a law degree from the University of Chicago, where he also received graduate education in economics. At MIT, he teaches courses jointly listed with the Engineering Systems Division (ESD)/Engineering, the Sloan School, and Urban Studies. He has also supervised graduate theses in the Technology and Policy Program, ESD, SDM, and the Master of Science in Management Studies. He has coauthored seven books and several hundred articles in peer-reviewed journals and law reviews.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Studying Health Care from Every Angle

Sahar Hashmi, SM '11 By Kathryn O’Neill
Courtesy of MIT Sloan

Dr. Sahar Hashmi, SDM ’11, is dedicated to medicine, teaching, and helping domestic violence victims

This past spring, Dr. Sahar Hashmi, SDM ’11, became one of the first two students to earn MIT Sloan’s new Healthcare Certificate. A medical doctor, a graduate of MIT’s System Design and Management program, and a full-time PhD candidate in MIT’s Engineering Systems Division, Hashmi is a recipient of the Hugh Hampton Young Memorial Fund Fellowship, which recognizes both academic achievement and the perceived potential of the candidate to have a positive impact on humanity. In 2013 she also received MIT’s Bridge Builder Award, which honors civic leaders who have formed partnerships across racial, social, economic, and geographic barriers for the betterment of their communities.

Recently, Hashmi shared her thoughts on her career and education with MIT Sloan.

Why pursue an MIT PhD when you already have a medical degree?
My PhD studies are teaching me to address and solve difficult, health care systems-related problems using various engineering tools. For example, I’m learning to improve design models of complex, chronic disease management for the current system of health care. This work, which is my career goal, may eventually save thousands of lives at once.

What inspired you to enroll in the new Healthcare Certificate program at MIT Sloan?
I took a class called Introduction to Healthcare Delivery in the U.S., which was taught by Associate Professor Vivek Farias and Professor Retsef Levi. It gave me full exposure to the type of systemic problems that currently exist in the health care industry. Also, Senior Lecturer Janet Wilkinson spoke with me in detail about the benefits of pursuing the certificate program. That inspired me to complete the program to enhance my ability to perform well in the field of my research, which is related to improving health care delivery processes in a cost-effective manner. I found the certificate program particularly useful since it provides a great in-depth overview of the basics of the health care system.

What were your key takeaways from the program?
This program provides opportunities to learn about health care in a systematic, comprehensive, and organized manner. It is important to understand and view the health care system as a complex, interdependent system. I believe in order to tackle any problem in health care, one must have the knowledge and the ability to view the problem from different angles and perspectives.

Action learning is central to the Healthcare Certificate program. What did you do to meet this requirement?
In this program we are required to work with a health care management company, hospital, or clinic to complete course requirements. The projects are team-based and allow people from various backgrounds with different skill sets to work together to achieve the goal of solving a specific issue that the CEO of the hospital or the management team is experiencing.

I really enjoyed this portion of the program as it allowed me to select a problem that currently exists in hospitals and perform operations management research to form recommendations to help solve that particular challenge. The work is pragmatic and challenging, and we are dealing with a real-life dilemma—not a theoretical case study. For instance, in one of the field projects, I was able to provide some useful feedback to a primary care clinic to solve the weekend patient scheduling problem faced by the physicians. Similarly, by working with a team of my classmates, I was able to help provide detailed insights into the problem of patient no-shows in a diabetes clinic. My team recommended specific interventions geared toward resolving this problem.

Through these experiences, I learned that the health care system features so much variation in delivering care processes and in managing each disease that it is almost impossible to standardize these processes in the system. Nevertheless, this is the ideal goal of health care management.

What professional commitments do you have outside of class?
I have done summer internships at hospitals associated with Harvard Medical School to learn more about my thesis topic, which is related to using models to improve the management of care for chronic disease patients.

Recently I also helped design and develop a new course called Medicine for Managers and Entrepreneurs, which is a required course in the Healthcare Certificate program here. It was an amazing experience as I learned a lot from the faculty. It combines academia with industry in a unique and creative manner, and I highly recommend it to both graduate and undergraduate students.

I’m passionate about teaching, so I have also served as a teaching assistant for various operations and supply chain management, integrated lean enterprise architecting, organizational transformation, statistics, and social sciences—related courses, both at MIT Sloan and in the Engineering Systems Division at MIT.

Another great opportunity for me came in 2011, when I was an invited speaker at the MIT SDM Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges; I gave a joint presentation on systems research in health care and education. I have also presented my work at various other conferences related to health care.

Do you have any volunteer activities?
I volunteer with blood and food drives as well as at free health clinics in Boston and Cambridge. I also donate my time to help victims of domestic violence and abuse. Many of these victims are highly educated women who have been forced to feel ashamed due to the cultural or societal stigma associated with voicing their abuse. I have traveled extensively, so I am very aware of how privileged we are to be living in the United States where women can speak and stand up for their rights.

Dr. Sahar Hashmi, SDM ’11

Where’s the Money? Migrating to a Global Digital Monetary Ecosystem

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesDr. Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Ph.D., Visiting Lecturer, Sloan School of Management and Engineering Systems Division, MIT

Date: September 22, 2014

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About the Presentation

The digital revolution is already hitting our wallets—increasingly turning money into information in the cloud while transforming mobile devices into windows on a global, digital economy. However, the evolution to a digital money ecosystem involves much more than converting cash, checks, and credit cards from physical to digital objects.

In this webinar, Dr. Irving Wladawsky-Berger will begin with a brief history of the evolution to a digital money ecosystem, then offer insights into its incessantly changing components and challenges. Attendees will hear the latest thinking on:

  • global payment infrastructures;
  • management of personal identities and financial data;
  • international financial flows among institutions (and between institutions and individuals);
  • government regulatory regimes; and
  • issues related to security, privacy, and more.

He will also discuss major opportunities across all industries and nonprofit sectors—as well as challenges.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us.

About the Speaker

Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Ph.D., retired from IBM in May of 2007 after a 37-year career with the company, where his primary focus was on innovation and technical strategy. He is currently a visiting lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Engineering Systems Division, adjunct professor in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group at the Imperial College Business School, and executive-in-residence at New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress. He writes a weekly blog, irvingwb.com, and is a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal‘s “CIO Journal.” He has an M.S. and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Move Over, Big Data! How Small, Simple Models Can Yield Big Insights

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesRichard C. Larson

Richard C. Larson, Ph.D., Mitsui Professor of Engineering Systems and Director of the Center for Engineering Systems Fundamentals, MIT

Date: September 8, 2014

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About the Presentation

Today’s emphasis on big data and data analytics may leave some folks thinking that management and policy insights can only arise from the analysis of millions of data entries. Nothing could be further from the truth! Sometimes less is more. In fact, an excess of numbers can engender more headaches than insight.

In this talk, managers and policymakers will learn how simple mathematical models of systems can improve intuition and lead to better decisions. Dr. Larson will provide concrete examples from his professional research and consulting engagements, then discuss general applications to industry. He will cover:

  • Flaws of averages—what they are and how to avoid them;
  • Square root laws—how to apply them to locating facilities and more;
  • Singularities—why and how managers of service systems must schedule idle time for servers or face huge waiting lines (aka the “elbow effect”);
  • Simple difference equations—how to use them to discover major system instabilities when inputs are year-to-year gross revenues;
  • Going viral—how a major demography parameter can apply to exponential explosiveness in many business sectors; and
  • Lateral thinking—and how it can sometimes make a problem go away.

Learn to cut to the chase, see the big picture, and stay out of the weeds!

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us.

About the Speaker

Professor Richard C. Larson has been a member of the MIT faculty for more than four decades, in four different academic departments. During this time he has also led an off-campus consulting firm that has invented novel approaches—inspired from operations research and industrial engineering—to complex systems problems in the private and public sectors. He has served as president of both the Operations Research Society of America and the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences. He has worked closely with a wide variety of organizations, including—in the private sector—banks, airlines, retailers, industrial gas distributors, amusement parks, and—in the public sector—the City of New York, many public school systems, the U.S. Postal Service, the World Bank, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, and numerous police departments. At MIT he has founded several initiatives, including MIT Learning International Networks Consortium and MIT Blended Learning Open Source Science or Math Studies.

Dr. Larson is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and cochairs a major panel on the application of systems engineering to health, cosponsored by the NAE and the Institute of Medicine.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

MIT Establishes New Master’s Track Integrating Design and Management Matthew S. Kressy named to lead, develop, and teach

Matt Kressy By Lois Slavin, SDM Communications Director

(September 3, 2014, Cambridge, Massachusetts) Matthew S. Kressy has been named director of the Integrated Design & Management (IDM) master’s degree track offered by the MIT System Design and Management (SDM) program. Scheduled to admit its first cohort in September 2015, IDM is the first MIT graduate program to offer a master’s degree that combines industrial design, engineering design, and other design disciplines with management. Like SDM, IDM is offered jointly by the MIT School of Engineering and Sloan School of Management and is targeted at early to mid-career professionals. Graduates will receive an MIT master’s degree in engineering and management.

Kressy brings to MIT extensive expertise in globally distributed, interdisciplinary, design-driven product development, from deep user research and concept generation to prototype iteration, risk reduction, and volume manufacturing. An entrepreneur and founder of Designturn, he has designed, invented, engineered, and manufactured more than 100 products for Fortune 500 clients and others, including Kronos, Massachusetts General Hospital, APC, the US Army and Teradyne Corporation.

Kressy’s experience in academia includes co-teaching SDM’s Product Design and Development courses (15.783 and ESD.40) at MIT since 1999. He has also taught at Harvard Business School, Babson College, Olin School of Engineering, and the Rhode Island School of Design (from which he holds a bachelor of fine arts in industrial design). Companies that have helped to fund projects in his classes include Intel, Nokia, Marriott, and General Mills. In his role as IDM director, Kressy will lead the new track’s development and teach its primary and required courses.

Professor Steven Eppinger, MIT Sloan SDM codirector, said, “Matt is a brilliant industrial designer. Not only is he a hands-on expert in interdisciplinary product development, he has consistently received teaching accolades from students at MIT and the Rhode Island School of Design over the past 15 plus years.”

Warren Seering, MIT School of Engineering SDM codirector, added, “In order to succeed, companies need design professionals with expertise in engineering and management, like those that MIT IDM will produce. Matt brings the perfect combination of industry experience, design expertise, and teaching excellence to IDM.”

About MIT Integrated Design & Management

Formally launched in 2014 as a new track within the MIT System Design and Management (SDM) program, Integrated Design & Management (IDM) integrates industrial design, engineering design, and other design disciplines with management. Offered jointly by the MIT School of Engineering and Sloan School of Management, IDM is targeted at early to mid-career professionals and will be taught in an innovative design studio format. Graduates will be awarded a master of science degree in engineering and management.

Potential students and industry partners can learn more about IDM by contacting Matthew S. Kressy at mkressy@mit.edu. Visit the IDM website for more information.

Matthew S. Kressy
Photo by Dave Schultz

System Architecture and the Evolution of E-Governance in Estonia: Lessons for Industries Around the World

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Andres Kütt, SDM ’11, Head Software Architect, Republic of Estonia

Date: July 21, 2014

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About the Presentation

Governments today operate in an increasingly globalized, interconnected ecosystem. Many look to e-services to provide better citizen services, but too often they find themselves stuck in the old paradigm of approaching a complex technical challenge from the perspective of policy-making and public governance.

This webinar offers an approach, based on systems thinking, to developing a technical framework for e-government architecture governance. This strategy can be applied to design and manage the system architecture of any loosely coupled, decentralized organization—whether governmental, corporate, academic, or nonprofit.

In this presentation, SDM alumnus Andres Kütt will:

  • describe the architectural challenges faced by governments implementing electronic services;
  • outline the thinking behind developing an architecture governance framework for e-governments;
  • present a framework developed for e-government, along with examples; and
  • explain how the framework applies to Estonia’s e-governance system, which is one of the most advanced in the world.

A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us.

About the Speaker

SDM alumnus Andres Kütt is the Republic of Estonia’s head software architect. He has more than 20 years of experience in software development for the financial and telecom sectors in both public and private organizations. Over the past 10 years, his focus has gradually shifted toward system architecture, a change that was strongly supported by his studies at the MIT System Design and Management (SDM) program. Through SDM he earned an S.M. in engineering and management from MIT; he also holds an M.B.A. from the Estonian Business School and a B.S. in mathematical statistics from the University of Tartu.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

System Architecture for Corporate Innovation

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesMona Vernon

Mona M. Vernon, SDM ’09, Vice President of Data Innovation Lab, Thomson Reuters

Date: July 14, 2014

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About the Presentation

Corporate innovation is no longer the sole responsibility of research and development units; it is becoming a real and urgent priority for CEOs. However, managing innovation is hardly ever as simple as consultants and social software vendors make it sound. In some cases, well-intentioned initiatives can have damaging, unintended consequences ranging from wasting valuable effort to disenfranchising employees.

Designing and deploying successful corporate innovation initiatives require an appreciation and application of basic system architecture principles. In this webinar, SDM alumna Mona M. Vernon will share heuristics for managing corporate innovation, with specific and actionable recommendations to consider when setting up a new initiative.

The presentation will:

  • make the case for the importance of system architecture for managing innovation;
  • define key concepts such as “lean startup” and “open innovation”;
  • address the implications of big data technologies on managing innovation; and
  • share data-driven insights from several industries on the strengths and weaknesses of common innovation tools.

A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us.

About the Speaker

Mona M. Vernon is currently building the Data Innovation Lab at Thomson Reuters. The lab will partner with internal business unit teams, customers, and third parties (such as startups and academics) to develop data-driven innovations. Previously, she ran the Emerging Technology group at Thomson Reuters and launched the Open Innovation Challenge program across the enterprise.

Vernon holds a B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from Tufts University and an S.M. in engineering and management from MIT, which she earned through the MIT System Design and Management (SDM) program. Her SDM thesis research focused on the role of customer experience in digital business strategy. Prior to joining Thomson Reuters, she worked in technology startups in product development and management.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Hacking Medicine and the Rx It Offers for Innovation in All Industries

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesAndrea Ippolito

Andrea Ippolito, SDM ’11, Ph.D. Student, Engineering Systems, MIT
Allison Yost, Ph.D. Candidate, Mechanical Engineering, MITAllison Yost

Date: June 16, 2014

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About the Presentation

Based at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, MIT Hacking Medicine brings together stakeholders who are passionate about changing the status quo in healthcare. The “hacking” approach fosters an ecosystem of empowerment for launching disruptive healthcare solutions. To date, more than 16 hackathons have been held across four continents, resulting in more than 600 idea pitches and the formation of more than a dozen companies—including PillPack, Podimetrics, Smart Scheduling, RubiconMD, Eagle Health Supplies, and Twiage.

In this webinar, you will learn how to apply the hacking approach to your industry and domain. Based on their experience in hacking medicine, MIT’s Andrea Ippolito and Allison Yost will:

  • discuss the hacking philosophy and the powerful promise of this approach;
  • describe what is needed to short-circuit (and continue to short-circuit) the flaws in innovation; and
  • share their mantras for hacking healthcare and medicine and reveal ways to develop mantras for innovation in your organization.

A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us.

About the Speakers

SDM alumna Andrea Ippolito is a Ph.D. student in engineering systems at MIT. While at SDM, she served as a research assistant in the MIT Lean Advancement Initiative, where she and fellow team members worked directly with the US Army’s chief of tele-health to architect the future delivery system for the US Department of Defense. Prior to coming to MIT, she worked as a product innovation manager at athenahealth and as a research scientist at Boston Scientific Corporation. Ippolito holds a B.S. in biological engineering and an M.Eng. in biomedical engineering from Cornell University.

Allison Yost is a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering at MIT. Her research focuses on designing microfluidic devices at the nanoscale for medical and biotech applications. She aspires to be an entrepreneur in the healthcare and medical space. Yost received her S.M. in mechanical engineering from MIT and her B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of New Hampshire.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Program Management Engineer Discovers Value of Systems Thinking

Juan Romeu, SDM '13 By Lois Slavin, SDM Communications Director

Juan Romeu, SDM ’13, joined MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program in January 2013 as a distance student, and he has already found that learning about systems thinking has made a significant difference in his professional evolution.

“I’m able to apply systems thinking at work in the decision-making process,” said Romeu, a program management engineer at Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, MI.

This process includes determining how to set and balance key product attributes; defining trade-offs that will deliver customer value without compromising those attributes; and using a holistic approach to propose product alternatives. “Every day I think more like a system architect than a traditional program manager,” he said.

Romeu got interested in becoming an engineer by watching his father, a chemical-industrial engineer in the automotive accessories industry. In high school, Romeu spent summer vacations helping his dad to design and build accessories for trucks and trailers. “He taught me how to interact with colleagues; to understand and negotiate with customers; and how hard you have to work to achieve your goals,” said Romeu, adding that those “working vacations” are what ultimately led him to choose engineering as his career.

After graduating from Universidad del Valle de México with a bachelor of science in mechatronics engineering, Romeu joined Ford of Mexico as a programs and engineering services trainee. He subsequently worked in computer-aided design, followed by a stint as a program management engineer, where he led the successful launch of the 2012 Ford Ikon in the Mexican market. For the past two years, he has served as the program management design studio engineer for the Lincoln brand.

Recognizing that business management was becoming increasingly important to his professional development, Romeu considered pursuing an MBA. He also thought about getting a master’s degree in engineering to further develop his technical acumen. But then he learned about SDM from colleagues at Ford of Mexico, an SDM partner company.

“I chose SDM because it offered the best of both worlds—engineering and management. It’s an unbeatable combination,” he said.

Since starting the program, Romeu has attended classes online in real time and used videoconferencing tools to collaborate on class projects with teams of SDM fellows—gaining the full benefits of his MIT education while continuing to work full time. These benefits include working with sophisticated mid-career professionals from a wide range of industries.

“The rigor of the methodologies and the diversity and excellence of the SDM cohort are helping me adjust my way of thinking about engineering management and shape my ability to analyze, understand, and manage projects and people,” said Romeu. “It will help me enhance my career in project management, where understanding how complex systems work will definitely assist in delivering the value that the customer is expecting.”

Currently Romeu is working on narrowing the topic for the required SDM master’s thesis. “I’m considering dissecting the design phase of the product development process in order to understand how to incorporate market and customer requirements into holistic engineering targets,” he said. “A system architecture approach, where objects of form and function are integrated to deliver value, will enable us to lay the foundation for designing a product that meets both aesthetic goals and functional targets. After all, [every product] not only has to look great, it also has to function well.”

Juan Romeu, SDM ’13

The Maturation of Model-Based Systems Engineering: OPM as the ISO Conceptual Modeling Language Standard

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesDov Dori

Dov Dori, Ph.D., Visiting Professor, Engineering Systems Division, MIT

Date: June 2, 2014

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About the Presentation

Model-based systems engineering promotes the use of modeling and models as focal design artifacts to enhance the rigor and robustness of systems engineering activities throughout the various phases of a system’s life cycle—with an emphasis on the early, conceptual phases.

The Object Management Group’s Systems Modeling Language (SysML) and Object-Process Methodology (OPM) are the two conceptual modeling languages currently in use. In this presentation, MIT Visiting Professor Dov Dori will:

  • highlight the working principles of OPM, with examples from various domains;
  • explain the differences between OPM and SysML; and
  • present the upcoming ISO 19450 OPM standard.

A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us.

About the Speaker

Dov Dori is a visiting professor in MIT’s Engineering Systems Division. He is the Harry Lebensfeld Chair in Industrial Engineering and head of the Enterprise System Modeling Laboratory at the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Weizmann Institute of Science, an M.Sc. in operations research from Tel Aviv University, and a B.Sc. in industrial engineering and management from Technion. His research interests include model-based systems engineering, conceptual modeling of complex systems, system architecture and design, software and systems engineering, and systems biology. Dori invented and developed Object-Process Methodology (OPM), the emerging ISO 19450 standard. He has authored about 300 publications and mentored 48 graduate students. He has chaired nine international conferences or workshops. He is an INCOSE fellow and a fellow of the International Association for Pattern Recognition. He is also a member of the International Honor Society for Systems Engineering, Omega Alpha Association.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Turning Waste into Energy, One Community at a Time

Adeyemi By Kathryn O’Neill, courtesy of News@MITSloan

On a good day, residents in Lagos, Nigeria, get eight hours of electricity—far from enough for a rapidly growing city of 18 million. To address this shortfall, students from across MIT have teamed up to launch a waste-to-energy company that will provide Lagos residents with cheap, reliable electricity.

“Lagos has a severe waste problem, severe unemployment, and an environmental problem. Millions of people are running diesel generators on a daily basis,” said Adetayo “Tayo” Bamiduro, an MIT Sloan MBA ’15 student from Nigeria. The company the students founded, NovaGen Power Solutions, aims to supply biogas to apartment buildings while providing local jobs. “The impact is social, environmental, and economic,” Bamiduro said.

The brainchild of Adeyemi “Yemi” Adepetu, a student in MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, NovaGen will collect organic waste from apartments and convert it into biogas to fuel generators. The system will be piloted this summer at a seven-unit building and scaled up to 10 buildings, serving 70 units in total. If the pilot succeeds, the next step would be for NovaGen to equip all 210 units managed by their partner real estate company, Property Mart Real Estate Investment.

“We think what’s available is too expensive,” Adepetu said. “Our idea was: Look at the technology out there, build locally, and make it affordable for people.”

While NovaGen will employ existing technology, it has a novel strategy, Bamiduro said. “The innovation is our business model. We’re not targeting large businesses or customers one by one. We’re looking for that sweet spot,” he said, wherein 20-70 families share one waste-to-energy system. “That’s why we picked real estate.”

The fledgling company has racked up a number of successes in entrepreneurship competitions. The team—which also includes Ellen Chen, a Master’s in City Planning (MCP) candidate in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning—was a semifinalist this spring in the MIT Africa Innovate Business Plan Competition, the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge, and the MIT $100K Pitch and Launch Entrepreneurship Competitions (emerging markets track).

Adepetu was recently named a finalist for the 2014 Echoing Green Climate Fellowship, which supports next-generation social entrepreneurs committed to working on innovations in mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Adepetu also has a Legatum Fellowship that supports his work on NovaGen and is supported by the MasterCard Foundation.

Born and raised in Nigeria, Adepetu said the idea for the company had been percolating for a long time before he came to MIT and was inspired to act. “I thought [NovaGen] was 10 years away. MIT was the crucial influence that took me from the corporate world,” said Adepetu, who spent several years working for United Technologies. “Before MIT… I thought I’d do this when I was done with my first career.”

At MIT last fall, Adepetu met Chen in New Enterprises, a class designed to help students launch startups. “I wanted to do something in emerging markets and Yemi’s was the only idea in a developing country,” said Chen, whose interest in housing inspired the idea of targeting residential real estate. Adepetu had originally envisioned serving hospitals.

Bamiduro was the next team member to join NovaGen, bringing with him crucial, up-to-date contacts with the Lagos business community. (Adepetu had been out of the country for nine years, but Bamiduro had just left a lead analyst role in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.) Bamiduro said his goal in attending MIT was to gain the skills necessary to create “a high impact energy venture that would employ a lot of people.”

NovaGen’s founders credited the MIT Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship for first believing in their idea, as well as the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, the MIT Venture Mentoring Service, MIT Africa Interest Group, and the student club Energy for Human Development with giving them opportunities to meet mentors and connect to others with a passion for energy and the developing world. “The ecosystem at MIT Sloan gives you the chance to test your ideas vigorously,” Bamiduro said. The MIT D-Lab group has also been a source of mentorship and advice, he added.

All three founders are committed to a future with NovaGen—although Chen won’t graduate until December, and Bamiduro won’t complete his degree until 2015. Adepetu, who will graduate this spring with a master’s degree in engineering and management, said he expects to spend the next couple years building the company in Nigeria, but the long-term plan for NovaGen is to build a U.S.-based multinational company. For now, the founders are actively seeking early seed investors, mentors, and additional business partners to help them move forward.

Adeyemi “Yemi” Adepetu

SDM Team Develops New Solar Power Solution

Alex PiñaSean Gilliland

Editor’s note: SDM students Alex Piña ’13 and Sean Gilliland ’13, cofounders of Avalanche Energy (AE), believe that solar energy should be accessible to everyone, everywhere. The company won first prize in the 2013 Boston Lean Startup Challenge, was a finalist at the New York Future Energy Pitch Competition, and was a semifinalist in both the MIT $100K Pitch and Accelerate contests. Visit AE’s website at www.avalanche-energyinc.com.

By Alex Piña ’13 and Sean Gilliland ’13
May 21, 2014

The challenge: A wave of interest in green energy has started to move across the nation as people seek to curb the greenhouse gas emissions generated in heating and providing electricity to homes. These greenhouse gases have become a focal point of concern as they have been increasing the rate of climate change, which has led to more severe storms and to other natural disasters. Still, today most people participating in the green revolution are wealthy enthusiasts; middle-class homeowners have been waiting on the sidelines, wary of “going solar” for several reasons, including:

  • significant upfront costs;
  • a long payback period for return on investment; and
  • the need for large arrays of solar panels, which can mar a home’s aesthetics.

These problems are particularly apparent in Southern California. Although the 7.7 million homes in this area experience some of the highest solar intensities in the nation, only around 100,000—less than 2 percent—are equipped with any kind of system for solar energy generation.

Figure 1. This map shows the intensity of solar radiation throughout the United States. Much of Southern California is in the red area of highest intensity.

The approach: Avalanche Energy asked the question: What prevents more homeowners from purchasing and installing solar energy systems—even in California where the state provides significant incentives to do so?

Conversations with potential purchasers of solar systems helped AE identify the three key factors outlined above. Of these, AE found that the primary factor is the roughly $20,000 price tag associated with installing a solar system that can generate and store enough energy for daily use. Recognizing that the acceptance of renewable energy cannot wait for existing products to drop in price, AE determined that a new approach is necessary.

The status quo for solar energy systems became a personal problem for Alex Piña and his family when they sought to supplement their natural gas hot water heating with solar power for their home in Colorado. After being unable to find a solar solution that met his family’s budget and space constraints, Piña realized that other people were likely facing the same problem. Visualizing this need, he decided to enroll in a program that would help him architect a solution while developing the management aspects of the project. At MIT, he gained a broader understanding of how to solve such a complex problem and was able to find a team as passionate about the subject as he was.

SDM provided Piña and his team with a multitude of perspectives and approaches to the challenges of system design and management as well as to product design and development. The team created a detailed profile of the target customers for solar power—their incentives, expectations, and frustrations with existing products. Based on this customer profile, the team sought to develop an all-in-one solution that would address each key point they had identified and enable middle-income homeowners to participate in the energy revolution.

The tools: SDM’s emphasis on systems thinking and systems engineering provided an excellent foundation for the creation of the final product, a patent-pending solar hot water collector. The team’s overall vision is based on real-world requirements analysis, and the group used problem decomposition to further refine their product and create a working prototype.

During the summer of 2013, the team enrolled in System Engineering and started analyzing their concept to ensure that it was sound technically. During the course, Piña, Gilliland, and their teammates (Scott Peterein and Pitiporn Thammongkol) performed a series of analyses that included design structure matrices, quality function deployment, and a problem-solving methodology called TRIZ. The result was a sound architectural framework.

Figure 2. This design structure matrix represents the general architecture AE used for its solar hot water and electricity generation system.

The team also utilized diagramming techniques from the object process methodology to determine the architecture of the system during their System Architecture class in fall 2013. The architecture AE developed was then used as the basis for an alpha prototype design.

Figure 3. This object process methodology diagram shows a residential solar thermal water heating system, demonstrating the function of each system component.

The results: AE team members used the information from their SDM coursework over six months to design a patent-pending double reflector solar thermal collector. This collector is roughly twice the size of a satellite dish and provides the equivalent of 8 kilowatt-hours of energy per day in the southwestern United States. The team’s design enables the system to more efficiently heat water while reducing the weight and size of the system through the use of two focused reflectors instead of the traditional single-reflector system. The water is then connected directly to a homeowner’s existing hot-water tank, providing high heat-transfer efficiency and substantially reducing system and installation costs.

The team has taken its vision for the solar future to the next step by manufacturing a full-scale working prototype. After performing functionality testing out of Piña’s Somerville, MA, apartment, the team tested the alpha prototype of their low-profile solar thermal collector at a home in San Jose, CA.

Figure 4. Alpha prototype of the patent-pending solar hot water collector that was tested in San Jose, CA. Photo courtesy of Avalanche Energy

During the test, the system was proved to have nearly 50 percent end-to-end energy transfer efficiency (i.e. amount of energy collected by the system that raised the water temperature divided by the theoretical maximum of energy available from the sun). The team was able to identify areas of improvement to help the system move closer to the theoretical maximum efficiency of 92 percent. (Current products for heating hot water using solar energy are about 60 percent efficient. Solar photovoltaics are only about 20 percent efficient.)

The AE team plans to offer a low-profile solar thermal collector that:

  • lowers the barriers for entry to solar power use;
  • immediately provides homeowners with savings on hot water heating bills;
  • provides a maximum energy benefit using a minimum of space; and
  • offers a platform that will be able to grow as the homeowner’s needs increase and change.

On top of all this, AE’s system, when installed in place of an electric water heater, will displace 3 tons of CO2 from the Earth’s atmosphere over 10 years. Avalanche Energy believes that combining all these benefits into one product will change the landscape of sustainable energy for this generation and empower homeowners to achieve the solar future today.

Next steps: With the successful completion of alpha prototype testing in January, the team is now moving to refine its product based on performance data and customer feedback. Since the students are still at MIT, they are beginning by installing the upgraded system on five beta sites across Massachusetts during the summer of 2014 in an effort to validate performance, gain additional customer feedback, and identify key suppliers and manufacturers necessary for full-scale development of the product. The team is also refining its go-to-market strategy, business model, and long-term financial projections.

Following a successful beta period, the team plans to continue product development and move toward realizing their vision of a solar future—an end-to-end replacement of non-renewable home energy sources with solar alternatives. Divided into three phases, AE plans first to focus on supplementing and eventually replacing other sources for heating water using solar thermal energy. This system would then become the backbone of a modular whole-home energy system that generates electricity in Phase 2. In the final phase, solar energy would also provide all home heating and cooling.

Figure 5. This chart shows AE’s planned rollout of product offerings in three phases.

The team is starting to accept investments from family and friends to cover initial startup costs and finance the first five beta units. In addition, AE will be trying to raise $100,000 through a Kickstarter project begun in the summer of 2014 to start financing the production and validation of their product and finalize development of the user-facing website. The final step of the funding roadmap will be to obtain angel or venture capital investment that will allow Avalanche Energy to begin distributing the product to target customers in California.

For more information, visit AE’s website.

Alex Piña

Sean Gilliland

Risks and Mitigation Approaches for Business System Integration

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesDaniel Mark Adsit

Daniel Mark Adsit, SDM ’13, Principal, Mergence Systems

Download the presentation slides

Date: May 19, 2014

About the Presentation

The successful integration of new technologies is essential to continual success in today’s fast-moving global economy, enabling businesses to upgrade their systems to be more effective, reliable, and scalable. Improved logistics systems, for example, have streamlined global supply chains by using technologies to optimize inventory levels across multiple warehouses. Similarly, modern transportation systems employ systems to break down traditional distance barriers and use new energy technologies to reduce their dependence on traditional fuels.

These transformational experiences require a critical alignment of business processes and technologies. Recognizing the importance of technology integration, organizations invest heavily in system implementation projects. Nevertheless, these projects often encounter unanticipated roadblocks to success.

In this webinar, Daniel Mark Adsit will discuss observed patterns in manufacturing and supply chain technology implementation projects across more than 15 countries—using examples that span diverse cultures, organizations, functions, departments, and technologies. The presentation will:

  • zero in on critical focus areas for businesses contemplating a major project;
  • highlight common yet unexpected obstacles;
  • discuss how stakeholder factors can significantly impact system adoption; and
  • outline steps to take to enhance strategies for addressing complex technology implementation dynamics.

A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us.

About the Speaker

Daniel Mark Adsit is the principal at Mergence Systems, which focuses on applying systems principles, methods, and tools to complex technology integration projects that impact critical business processes. Prior to forming Mergence Systems, he was a specialist in global supply chain and manufacturing integration projects in plants, sales offices, warehouses, and service centers at Eaton Corporation. He also served as a systems consultant to small organizations in the Ithaca, NY, area. In these roles, Adsit developed the ability to leverage complex technology to deliver practical value to users and stakeholders. As a graduate of SDM, he holds a joint master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT. He also has a bachelor’s degree in information science, systems, and technology from Cornell University.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Strategy, Simulation, and Analytics for the Complex World of Education

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesDaniel J. Sturtevant

Daniel J. Sturtevant, Ph.D., MIT SDM Alumnus
Jeanne Contardo, Ph.D., Independent Education Consultant,Jeanne Contardo
Senior Advisor, Business-Higher Education Forum

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Date: May 5, 2014

About the Presentation

Getting education policy right is essential if the United States wishes to improve its high standard of living, economic strength, and societal health. But even education reforms based on sound research and crafted by well-meaning experts have often failed.

This webinar will review some of the many systems-based reasons why education policy is notoriously difficult to get right. For example:

  • Policy is often crafted by committee in highly political and polarized environments.
  • Individuals rarely understand how the system operates, what policy innovations will lead to good outcomes, or even why successful interventions work.
  • Policymakers seldom agree on the system’s purpose, how to prioritize conflicting goals, how to measure success, or what principles should guide their actions.

In short, policymakers do not use a rigorous, systems-based approach to address the complex technical, business, and socio-political challenge of educating all children for a better world.

This webinar’s presenters have collaborated on projects with K-12 schools, colleges, foundations, and at all levels of the government and the military. They will discuss using system dynamics to help diverse stakeholders understand the education system and design and test policies using simulation modeling and demo the new Aligned Workforce Model, which examines how workforce outcomes would change if policies were implemented that emphasized workplace competencies such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and effective communication.

A question-and-answer session will follow the presentation.

About the Speaker

Daniel J. Sturtevant, Ph.D., is an SDM alumnus and recent graduate of the MIT Engineering Systems Division doctoral program. His SDM master’s thesis (conducted in partnership with Boeing) explored the 25-year decline in US-born engineering graduates despite their extremely high earning potential—a seemingly paradoxical violation of the law of supply and demand. Dr. Sturtevant has spent 15 years in the software field, where he built supercomputers, designed cryptosystems to prevent data theft, wrote Linux device drivers, and reverse-engineered computer hardware. He has built a variety of computer models applying system dynamics to explore educational questions and has worked with the Business-Higher Education Forum on several occasions to examine education problem of regional and national significance. He now works at Harvard Business School researching software architecture, its complexity, and its financial costs. He is also founding a startup, silverthread, Inc., focused on helping software development organizations reduce technical debt in large and long-lived systems. Dr. Sturtevant earned bachelor’s degrees in computer engineering and political science from Lehigh University.

Jeanne B. Contardo, Ph.D., is a higher education expert who specializes in strategic planning, cross-sector partnership development (particularly with the business sector), research and policy analysis, and project management. In recent years, her work has focused on the development of unique tools and resources that can influence education change and workforce alignment, including online simulation models, information clearinghouses, and a policy series analyzing broad education trends in science, technology, engineering, and math. Dr. Contardo earned her Ph.D. in higher education policy at the University of Maryland, College Park. She has a master’s degree in higher and post-secondary education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) in English from the University of Washington.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

SDM Sponsors MIT Sustainability Summit

April 30th, 2014MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program has become a major sponsor of the MIT Sustainability Summit, which will take place May 3-4, 2014, at the MIT Media Lab. The conference’s theme is “Coastal Cities, Sustainable Futures.”

“The MIT Sustainability Summit is student-led, faculty-advised, and joined by leaders in the public, private, and civil sectors—including our alumni. It is a fantastic example of what can happen when the MIT community of innovators comes together to tackle big challenges. Cities are a fantastic focus of our conversation this year; they are both sites of greatest vulnerability and hotbeds of innovation for new ways of living and working,” said Jason Jay, lecturer and director of the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan.

“Sustainability is one of the most complex and urgent issues of our time, especially around coastal cities,” said SDM Director Pat Hale. “SDM is honored to support the MIT Sustainability Summit and proud of SDM student Marianna Novellino, who is the summit’s managing director.”

Coastal cities are caught at the nexus of three forces that dominate the 21st century: rapid urbanization, climate change and destabilization, and continued integration of the global economy. What business models are contributing to the growth of these economic hubs? What policies are being discussed to combat unsustainable growth? What trends are shaping coastal cities’ development agendas? How best can industrial professionals, policymakers, urban designers, and communities connect to develop solutions to these challenges?

These questions and more will be addressed at the Sixth Annual MIT Sustainability Summit. Slated keynote speakers include:

  • John Fernandez, professor, Department of Architecture, MIT
  • Nancy Kete, managing director, Rockefeller Foundation
  • Brian Swett, chief of environment and energy, City of Boston
  • Aisa Tobing, senior advisor to the governor of Jakarta, Indonesia, for international affairs
  • Molly Turner, director of public policy, Airbnb

Panel discussion topics will include:

  • Designing the coastal cities of the future. This panel will explore current measures to guard against and recover quickly from natural disasters as well as ways to promote vibrant and attractive waterfront neighborhoods for the future.
  • The collaborative city. This panel will examine ways in which new companies, equipped with innovative business models, disrupt traditional notions of urban planning and economic development. What tradeoffs must cities make to accommodate the growing collaborative economy, and what impacts do these businesses have on social and economic equality?
  • Waste management and diversion from landfills—what’s next? This panel brings together experts in organic, can and bottle, and e-waste reuse to explore innovative ways businesses and regulators can increase the diversion of waste from landfills. How can we capitalize on recycling efforts? What are the economic and regulatory forces that shape waste management behavior?
  • Sustainable supply chains and coastal cities—a long and vital relationship. This session will cover the trends in supply chain designs. What are the implications of logistic networks in human economic activity and development in coastal cities?
  • Reinventing mobility. This panel will explore ways cities can reshape urban mobility to meet growing travel demands while strengthening transportation systems’ resiliency.
  • Infrastructure financing—what is the value of preventing damage? This panel will feature industry experts discussing innovative approaches and financial products for funding resilience-building urban infrastructure.
  • Opportunities by the sea. This panel will consider the perspectives of industry players along the coast as well as port regulators/operators in an attempt to find balance among businesses, food production, and even the provision of water while protecting oceanic resources.
  • Energy resilience for coastal cities. This panel will look at where and how resilience can be built into the energy system, as well as how private and public institutions can create and capture value. Recognizing that a low-carbon economy is a key solution for mitigating the effects of climate change, panelists will also explore opportunities to drive green development in coastal cities and beyond.
  • Planning for the new economy. This panel will consider how the interrelationship of environmental, economic, and social challenges transforms the way we conceptualize the planning, design, and management of cities.

Other highlights include:

  • Workshop: My City Garden/The MOVE Tour
  • Workshop: Greenhouse gas emissions through computer-aided analysis tools
  • Workshop: New England Climate Adaptation Project
  • Tour of Harpoon Brewery through sustainability lens

In addition to SDM, current sponsors of the Sustainability Summit include Keurig Green Mountain, the Tata Center at MIT, Zipcar, Complete Recycling, and Thoughtforms.

For more information, to register for the conference, or to inquire about sponsorship, please visit: sustainabilitysummit.mit.edu.

Eppinger Named Runner-up for POMS Best Paper Award

Rajesh Nair, SDM '12 Anshuman Tripathy By Lois Slavin, MIT SDM Communications Director
April 24, 2014

MIT SDM Faculty Codirector Steven D. Eppinger has been honored by the Production and Operations Management Society (POMS) as runner-up for its Wickham Skinner Award for Best Paper published in Production and Operations Management during 2013. The winning paper, “Structuring Work Distribution for Global Product Development Organizations,” was co-authored with Anshuman Tripathy, an associate professor of production and operations management at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore.

Tripathy, whose dissertation work the paper is based upon, holds a Ph.D. in operations management from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Eppinger, who is also the General Motors Leaders for Global Operations Professor of Management Science and Engineering Systems at MIT, received his Sc.D. from MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. His research centers on improving product design and development practices.

The award will be presented on May 11, 2014, during the POMS 25th Annual Conference held in Atlanta.

Steven D. Eppinger

Anshuman Tripathy

Rajesh Nair, SDM ’12: Teaching Entrepreneurship in India

Rajesh Nair, SDM '12, poses with his entrepreneuship students at Mar Baselios College of Engineering and Technology in Trivandrum, India.Rajesh Nair, SDM '12 By Kathryn O’Neill, MIT SDM Correspondent
April 11, 2014

A successful entrepreneur with two master’s degrees, Rajesh Nair, SDM ’12, applied to MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program to gain a broader, systems perspective on his business. What he got was a new mission in life—to tackle the problems of the developing world through entrepreneurship.

"I am still the CTO and chairman of my company, but now I see a much larger role that I want to play in the world," said Nair, who created an entrepreneurship program in India with the aid of a fellowship from MIT’s Tata Center for Technology and Design. "Now my goal is to create a program that can generate 1,000 entrepreneurs in the next three years."

A self-described "gadget designer," Nair got his first master’s in electronic product design and technology from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. But, he soon realized that a product’s design is only as good as it is manufacturable. So, he got a master’s in manufacturing engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Nair went on to found his own company, Degree Controls, which specializes in heat management for electronics. But after the business had become a multimillion-dollar venture, Nair found himself eager to investigate larger, systems challenges. "Every technical product we were making was a subsystem to a larger system, which in in turn was a subsystem itself—all finally serving a broader social system," he said. "That started to interest me a lot."

He decided to get another master’s degree—in engineering and management—from SDM because the program had something he couldn’t find anywhere else: "The program gives you that 30,00-foot view," Nair said.

At SDM, Nair realized that entrepreneurship could solve many of the complex, systems challenges facing developing countries like India, where he grew up. "If you can convert more graduates into entrepreneurs, they will go out and solve these problems and create jobs," he said. "If you look at the last 30 to 40 years, you see that almost all new jobs are created by startups. Existing companies were negative job creators."

For his SDM thesis project, Nair therefore decided to investigate whether entrepreneurship training could inspire college students to launch new businesses in India. Synthesizing many of the lessons he learned at SDM—in system architecture, system dynamics, product design and development, and more—Nair developed and ran a seven-week workshop on entrepreneurship at Mar Baselios College of Engineering and Technology, a small school in the south of India with no existing entrepreneurship program.

Rajesh Nair, SDM ’12, poses with his entrepreneuship students at Mar Baselios College of Engineering and Technology in Trivandrum, India.

"My thought was if I could go to the general population, a village or school, and teach them a basic method where any average student could take on entrepreneurial thinking, you could get more entrepreneurs," Nair said, who introduced students to a full range of entrepreneurship skills, from product design to business strategy.

The result? Out of 50 students, more than 30 now say they now want to become entrepreneurs, and the class spawned six startups—at a college that had produced just one student startup in the previous 12 years.

"These students helped me find my next mission," said Nair, who is now trying to streamline his workshop so that he can kick-start businesses more quickly; he plans to teach another workshop in India this April. "I think we can inspire the next generation to take the [entrepreneurship] risk."

Rajesh Nair, SDM ’12
Photo by Kathy Tarantola Photography

Applying Systems Thinking to Energy and Sustainability Challenges in Chile

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Jorge Moreno, SDM ’11, Cofounder, inodú
Donny Holaschutz, SDM ’10, Cofounder, inodú

Download the presentation slides

Date: April 7, 2014

About the PresentationDonny Holaschutz

Jorge Moreno

Over the past several years, Chile has faced an energy crisis that has impacted virtually all industries in that country. Caused by the scarcity of natural energy resources, tension between developers and conservationists, and a complex permitting process, the crisis has motivated energy and sustainability professionals to take a systems-based approach to mobilizing and managing projects in that country. The approach holds promise for planners around the world.

In this webinar, SDM alumni Jorge Moreno and Donny Holaschutz will present specific examples of how high-impact energy and sustainability projects have been driven from conception to operation in Chile.

Examples will include:

  • Working with the European Southern Observatory and the Chilean Energy Ministry to address planned increases in energy consumption while satisfying the need for reliable, cost-effective electricity and minimizing environmental impact;
  • Supporting small hydroelectric projects through codevelopment, planning, and risk management; and
  • Analyzing the complex systems at work in one of Chile’s largest food companies, identifying opportunities for improved energy efficiency, and developing an implementation plan.

The speakers will also provide a general plan of action for energy and sustainability solutions that can be customized and applied across industries. A question-and-answer session will follow the presentation.

We invite you to join us.

Learn more about this approach.

About the Speakers

SDM alumnus Jorge Moreno, an inodú cofounder, has extensive experience in the energy industry in the United States and Latin America. He holds a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

SDM alumnus Donny Holaschutz, an inodú cofounder, is a seasoned entrepreneur with experience in both for- and not-for-profit ventures related to clean and sustainable technology. He holds a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

SDM Alums Use Systems Thinking to Help Power Chilean Observatory

Jorge Moreno, left, and Donny Holaschutz at the Paranal Observatory.Figure 1. The European Southern Observatory's facilities.Figure 2. Artist's rendering of European Extremely Large Telescope.Figure 3Figure 4 By Jorge Moreno, SDM ’11, and Donny Holaschutz, SDM ’10
March 27, 2014

Jorge Moreno, SDM ’11, and Donny Holaschutz, SDM ’10, launched their consulting company, inodú, to bring innovative solutions to the globe’s energy and sustainability challenges. Recently, the company took on a major project to help the Chilean Energy Ministry and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) find energy supply alternatives for one of the most advanced observatory complexes in the world. Learn more about their work in this presentation, which is part of the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series.

Jorge Moreno, left, and Donny Holaschutz at the Paranal Observatory.

The challenge: With crystal clear skies and dry air, the European Southern Observatory is located in one of the best 1,000 square kilometers for astronomic observation on the planet (Figure 1). In the next 10 years, the ESO plans to expand its facilities by constructing the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) on a mountain in Chile known as Cerro Armazones (Figure 2). The E-ELT will be 22 kilometers from the existing Paranal Observatory. The addition of the E-ELT will triple the electricity consumption in an area that is currently isolated from the grid.

Figure 1. The European Southern Observatory’s facilities. © ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

Figure 2. Artist’s rendering of European Extremely Large Telescope.[1] © ESO/L. Calçada

The planned construction of the E-ELT and the challenges faced by the current energy system encouraged ESO to re-evaluate its energy supply strategy. Working with the Chilean Energy Ministry and ESO, inodú developed solutions that could help the latter cope with planned increases in energy consumption, identify energy efficiency measures, and satisfy the need for electricity in a more reliable, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly manner. The project led by inodú is part of a long history of collaboration between the Chilean government and ESO, and it aligns with the goals of the Chilean Energy Strategy 2012-2030, which aims to scale up the deployment of renewable energy projects and energy efficiency measures.

The approach: To re-architect ESO’s energy system and identify sustainable energy-efficiency measures, inodú used an integrated set of methodologies grounded in systems thinking. The company began by investigating the facts and key stakeholders’ perceptions of how the energy system should create value for current and future observatory operations. The team visited the Paranal Observatory facilities to evaluate the existing energy system and to learn what is needed for a night of observations. Finally, inodú engaged local suppliers of batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, and various types of fossil fuel generators to explore what potential energy solutions are available in the market.

The inodú team then developed energy system goals and requirements. By engaging the stakeholders and understanding the local context, the team was able to consider the system beyond purely economic considerations—including such properties as reliability, maintainability, flexibility, adaptability, reparability, modularity, evolve-ability, robustness, and environmental friendliness. The system goals and requirements synthesized by the team were used to establish a frame of reference by which all possible solutions could be evaluated.

Next, inodú employed a powerful modeling tool to evaluate many hybrid system configurations (solar, wind, batteries, and fossil fuel generators) and assess them in light of the defined system goals and requirements. These potential solutions were then compared to connecting the observatory to the grid, 50 kilometers from the facility. Finally, the team conducted a study to identify some of the legal and permitting challenges associated with the development of the project.

Figure 3. Potential hybrid system solutions shown against cost and environmental friendliness metrics.

The findings: The "design space" was defined and analyzed through the frame of reference set by the system goals and requirements. The team identified the following insights (Figure 3):

  • Based on wind and solar resource assessments, the expected observatory load profile, and equipment alternatives, the solar/fossil fuel generator hybrid solution will be more reliable, cost-efficient, and environmentally friendly than a wind/fossil fuel generator hybrid solution.
  • The size and number of the fossil fuel generators are the design variables that have the most impact on the current configuration’s environmental friendliness and cost efficiency metrics.

Understanding the stakeholders’ needs and constraints allowed the team to finally arrive at five potential solutions based on hybrid systems. In addition, the team evaluated the option of developing a transmission line to connect the observatory complex to the grid. The alternatives can power Paranal’s energy demand with the E-ELT included. A summary of the evaluation is presented in Figure 4. It was found that the cost of the transmission is comparable to the cost of developing hybrid-isolated system solutions in the region.

Figure 4. Evaluation of cases against defined requirements.

The results: By synthesizing the key stakeholders’ constraints and perceptions of how the energy system should create value for the observatory—as well as visiting Paranal to observe the system and the operators at work—inodú facilitated a joint fact-finding process that allowed the Chilean government and ESO to systematically evaluate different alternatives for providing energy to the Paranal Observatory and the future E-ELT.

Inodú found that developing a high-voltage transmission line to Chile’s Central Interconnected System is comparable in cost to developing a highly reliable hybrid isolated system. The development of a transmission line would elegantly satisfy the primary system goal, which is to facilitate astronomic observation in a more reliable, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly manner.

Special thanks: We would like to thank Marcel Silva from the Chilean Energy Ministry and Roberto Tamai from the European Southern Observatory for their support of this project.

Learn more about inodú

About the authors

Jorge Moreno
SDM alumnus Jorge Moreno, an inodú cofounder, has extensive experience in the energy industry in the United States and Latin America. He holds a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

Donny Holaschutz
SDM alumnus Donny Holaschutz, also an inodú cofounder, is a seasoned entrepreneur with experience in both for- and not-for-profit ventures related to clean and sustainable technology. He holds a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

Notes


1The E-ELT will have a 39-meter mirror, making it the biggest telescope in the world to observe in the visible and the near-infrared spectra. The total cost of the E-ELT is €1,083 million, spread over 10 years.

MIT Natural Resources Study Tour: Digging Deep into the Chilean Mining Business

Stakeholders and members of the MIT Mining and Oil & Gas Club, which was founded by SDM students.Diego Hernandez (right) with SDM alumni John Helferich (left) and Juan Esteban Montero (center)Participants in the MIT Natural Resources Study Tour at the Komatsu plant By Renato Lima de Oliveira, MIT Ph.D. Student, Political Science
March 25, 2014

An interdisciplinary group of researchers, faculty, and students from MIT and Harvard traveled to Chile in December 2013 to explore innovation, technology transfer in the mining industry, and a vision for the future of cities that are impacted by the exploitation of natural resources in a study tour organized by the MIT Mining and Oil & Gas Club (MOG), MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (better known as MISTI) Chile, and the MIT Sloan Latin America Office. The aim of the group was both to learn more about Chile’s mining industry and to exchange information and practices to further contribute to the industrial and social developmental of the Andean country.

Stakeholders and members of the MIT Mining and Oil & Gas Club, which was founded by SDM students.

Chile is the world’s largest producer of copper and is known for combining increasing levels of economic and social development with a commodity-based economy. "This trip was a concrete effort to increase the awareness and interest inside the MIT community about the natural resources industry on a global scale. At the same time, it helped to promote MIT to the stakeholders of the natural resources industry. We selected Chile because mining has been its most important industry for the last century," said Juan Esteban Montero, SDM ’12, one of the founders of MOG and himself a native Chilean. "During this trip, we had the opportunity to work together with people from every part of the industry, from engineers to community leaders and government officials. I think that MIT founder William Barton Rogers, who was a geologist and educator, would be proud to see the MIT students, researchers, and professors working together in a multidisciplinary way in one of the most important mining regions of the world." In addition to minerals, Chile is a large producer and exporter of wines, fruits, and forestry products.

The workshop kicked off December 1 in Santiago, with the opening ceremony of the Eighth Meeting of the Copper 2013 Conference. The Copper 2013 Conference, an important copper industry conference that takes place only every three years, featured presentations by MIT faculty and students, including Assistant Professor Antoine Allanore of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Miguel Paredes, Ph.D. student in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and Sergio Burdiles, Sloan Fellow ’12.

Also during Copper 2013, Nancy Leveson, professor of aeronautics and astronautics and of engineering systems at MIT, presented research based on her recent book, Engineering a Safer World (MIT Press, 2012). In this work, she proposes a model of systemic evaluation that leads to safer systems, the Systems-Theoretic Accident Model and Processes, or STAMP. She also presented the STAMP approach and its advantages over traditional methods during a meeting at the Chilean Safety Association (ACHS), which was very well received. "We want to bring the best practices to Chile, and this talk by Professor Leveson on system safety was really important to further our mission," said Sebastian Reyes, vice president of strategy at ACHS. The association provides safety and insurance solutions to half of the corporate market of Chile, employing about 5,000 people. Leveson was joined in introducing the STAMP model to Chile by John Helferich, SDM ’10, an MIT Ph.D. student in materials science. Helferich presented the model and its uses for food safety to the MIT Chile Club, which gathers the MIT alumni community from that country.

Diego Hernandez (right), ex-president of Corporacion Nacional del Cobre de Chile (Codelco-Chile), the largest copper production company in the world, with SDM alumni John Helferich (left) and Juan Esteban Montero (center), a cofounder of MOG, at the Copper 2013 Conference in Santiago, Chile.

In addition to participating in the Copper 2013 Conference, on the third day of the trip the group visited the Advanced Mining Technology Center (AMTC) at the University of Chile. The AMTC comprises almost 200 researchers working in five different groups: exploration and ore deposit modeling, mine planning and design, mineral processing and extractive metallurgy, mining automation, and water and environmental sustainability. In common, all groups aim to address the challenges facing today’s complex mining production. The AMTC produces both basic research as well as specific projects with mining companies, such as the Chilean state-owned Codelco and international giants BHP Billiton, Anglo American, and Vale. MIT students and faculty learned about the main projects that each research group is conducting, such as developing physical models of completely automated mineral extraction for underground mining, driverless cars for mining applications, and bacterial leaching of copper sulfide ores in underground mining. The principal investigator of this last project, Dr. Tomás Vargas, hosted the MIT group in its visit to the AMTC along with Rodrigo Cortés, manager of the technology transfer division.

Santiago has a significant concentration of the population, universities, and companies of Chile, but the mining industry is centered in other regions. Following mens et manus, the guiding MIT spirit of "mind and hand," the workshop proceeded to where production actually takes place, which meant traveling more than 1,000 kilometers from Santiago to Antofagasta, a municipality in the north of Chile in the Atacama Desert. The second part of the workshop started December 4 in Antofagasta and comprised visits to the Escondida mine and the Komatsu factory as well as talks with local stakeholders and social entrepreneurs.

The Escondida Copper Mine

Chile is the major world producer of copper, and the Escondida mine is itself the biggest copper mine of the world, producing 5 percent of global output. It was discovered in 1981, and commercial exploration started 10 years later. The mine is operated by BHP Billiton and employs about 15,000 workers and subcontractors. It is located at 3,100 meters (10,170 feet) above sea level and 170 kilometers (100 miles) from Antofagasta. There, the workshop participants had access to several facilities and productive process, getting to know this massive operation that is managed by state-of-the-art techniques and capital equipment. "While visiting Escondida, I had the opportunity to speak with local workers and I was extremely impressed with their dedication to improve their condition through innovation," said Jared Atkinson, an MIT Ph.D. student in geophysics.

Building a Better Antofagasta

On December 5, the MIT group dived into the reality of the mining city of Antofagasta. In different activities, the group helped to articulate a vision for the future of the city and to devise solutions to day-to-day problems. In a truly interactive and hands-on experience, the group started the day promoting Antofagasta’s first "hackathon" to discuss the future of the city, 200 years from now. A hackathon is a collaborative event focused on creating solutions to given problems, an idea originally created by computer programmers. This activity was followed by a meeting with local executives and social entrepreneurs, who provided their insights to the MIT students and also learned business, technology, and social practices from the group from Massachusetts.

Participants in the MIT Natural Resources Study Tour at the Komatsu plant.

Political scientists and economists frequently point to the unique developmental challenges that resource abundance brings. To help Antofagasta manage its resources, the workshop promoted a meeting with local stakeholders to discuss the future of the city that today is heavily dependent on the copper industry and susceptible to the fluctuation of commodity prices. An initial presentation by MIT Ph.D. candidate Julio Pertuze addressed the history of MIT and its more than 150 years of innovation and close collaboration with the industry.

Participants were then divided into two groups and worked to envision the headlines of a newspaper published 200 years from now. In this activity, they discussed what they want the city to be and what paths of action are conducive to long-term development and diversification. "Desert is the place to live: Antofagasta beats Oslo in quality of life," read one headline. This kicked off a discussion of quality of life in the city and opportunities for knowledge creation, adoption of renewable sources of energy, and sustainable environmental practices. "I think we have a lot of potential in Antofagasta. We have to believe in our capacity to innovate and build a better city," said Mathias Werth, an industrial engineer who participated in the hackathon and has lived most of his life in the city. Werth is manager of the Komatsu plant, a unit that provides support for heavy machinery used in the mining industry. The next day, Werth hosted the MIT visitors at the Komatsu factory, showing them all the facilities and revealing how the adoption of new technologies and production process has enabled this local unit of a multinational company to expand production, local employment, and markets beyond Chile.

Following the hackathon, local entrepreneurs joined the group from Cambridge for an exchange of knowledge and best practices. The meeting gathered participants from a variety of backgrounds, including startup investors, community organizers, college students, and cultural producers. Each of the more than 20 groups at the meeting presented their business activities and main challenges, followed by mentoring from the MIT students. Issues ranged from financial challenges such as raising capital to social issues, including improving local education and youth inclusion.

The mentoring activity was an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to meet each other, exchange experiences, and develop team solutions to common challenges with the help of the MIT team. To achieve that, students trained in the M.B.A. and Sloan Fellows programs presented their business experience and talked about business strategies and how to develop them, providing examples from their own personal experiences and methodologies developed through the MIT social enterprise program.

The message resonated with the locals. "What impressed me the most was the inspirational message that I heard today. No matter what happens, I know I want to be a successful entrepreneur," said Giselle Cerda, a native of Antofagasta who recently graduated with a degree in tourism and is working on a proposal for a social project aimed at improving the identification of inhabitants with the city and its history. The exchange of experiences was also a highlight for Grace Zamorano, a teacher who is trying to fund a project aimed at introducing recycling practices in the mining city. "It was really helpful and I heard lots of good ideas," said Zamorono.

December 6, the final day of the trip, was dedicated to a visit to the Komatsu plant and social projects in Antofagasta. Members of MOG praised the schedule and organization, which had being locally managed by Francisco Delpino, who is also a mining engineer. "I really liked the trip as a whole. We learned about the mining industry from many angles. This trip gave me a unique perspective about the people who work in this industry and the opportunities that technology can offer to solve problems and necessities that can change the production and human beings," said Yuly Fuentes-Medel, a postdoctoral fellow at MIT Sloan and one of the founders of MOG.

"The impact of this trip aligned well with the goals of the MIT Sloan Latin America Office. I was able to promote various academic programs to potential applicants, there was some serious exchange of cutting-edge research, and the students really committed themselves by not only observing what was happening but influencing and exchanging ideas through the hackathon and the entrepreneurship workshop with local stakeholders. These events encouraged new multidisciplinary ways of thinking," stated Julie Strong, director of the MIT Sloan Latin America Office.

Excited by the results of the trip, club members are already planning new activities. "This trip to Chile, with its sound planning and impressive execution, went beyond the highest expectations, adding real value and leaving a strong impression on all those involved. Initiatives like this must be repeated, and we have been analyzing scenarios for visiting East Africa, Brazil, or Australia, where the extractive industries are facing particularly interesting challenges," said Jorge Le Dantec, SDM ’13, president of MOG.

LIST OF PARTICIPANTS & ORGANIZERS

Antoine Allanore — MIT Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Bernhard Stohr — MIT M.B.A. ’13
Bill Finney — MIT Water Quality and Environment
Cristobal Garcia — MIT S.M. ’04
Emele Uka — MIT Chemical Engineering Undergraduate
Juan Esteban Montero — MIT Engineering Systems Graduate Student (Participant & Organizer)
Jared Atkinson — MIT Ph.D. Student, Geomechanics
Jason Gonzales — MIT M.B.A. Student
John Helferich — MIT Ph.D. Student, Materials Science and Engineering
Jorge Moreno — MIT S.M. ’13, Engineering Systems
Julie Strong — Director, MIT Sloan Latin America Office
Julio Pertuze — MIT Ph.D. Student, Engineering Systems
Nancy Leveson — MIT Professor Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems
Rachel deLucas — MIT Materials Science Researcher
Renato Lima de Oliveira — MIT Ph.D. Student, Political Science
Sergio Burdiles — MIT Sloan Fellow
Tomas Folch — Harvard Graduate School of Design Research Associate
Yuly Fuentes-Medel — MIT Postdoc, Sloan School of Management
Camila Nardozzi — MIT MISTI Program Manager MIT-Chile (Organizer)

‘Gap-Filling Organizations’: Competing at Speed in a Fast-Moving World

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Steven J. Spear, D.B.A., M.S., M.S., Senior Lecturer, Engineering Systems Division and Sloan School of Management, MIT

Download the presentation slides

Date: March 24, 2014

About the Presentation

Steven J. Spear

Determining, documenting, and addressing the gaps between an organization’s business requirements for products and services and the systems and capabilities available to achieve them is a challenge common to all industries. Many companies address this issue by deploying internal functions that reactively fill these gaps. Although these efforts may differ by sector and context, those that are successful share several common characteristics in a systems-based approach that Dr. Steven J. Spear describes as the creation of “gap-filling organizations.”

In this webinar, Spear will highlight some of the factors that make gap-filling organizations so useful:

  • Speed—Responding faster and with shorter lead times than the larger anticipatory organizations that they support
  • Super-focus—Diving deep into specific problems to drive custom-tailored solutions
  • Network multipliers—Maintaining a relatively small organizational core and involving subject matter experts as necessary

Spear will also discuss the importance of a degree of institutional independence for gap-filling organizations and how it can be achieved. This presentation will give examples of gap-filling organizations in a variety of settings, identify the capabilities that make them effective and unique, and provide first steps in creating similar capabilities within your organizations.

A question and answer session will follow the presentation.

We invite you to join us.

About the Speaker

Steven J. Spear, D.B.A., M.S., M.S., is a senior lecturer in the Engineering Systems Division and the Sloan School of Management at MIT as well as a senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. He is the author of The High Velocity Edge and several articles published in managerial and medical journals.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Daniel Adsit, SDM ’13: Systems Integration

Daniel Adsit, SDM '13 By Kathryn O’Neill, MIT SDM Correspondent
March 18, 2014

Daniel Mark Adsit, SDM ’13, discovered the importance of systems thinking—and of combining engineering with management—even before entering MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) master’s program.

In his first job, as a website designer and developer for small nonprofits, Adsit observed that business leaders frequently have trouble understanding the language of technology and that technical personnel, in turn, often lose sight of business objectives. "I started out as a technical person, but I realized that’s not really going to get it done," Adsit said. "Solving real-world problems is what’s important."

That’s why he chose SDM. "I’d thought about an M.B.A. but it never really felt like the right fit for me," said Adsit, who came to SDM with seven years of experience working on large-scale information technology and supply chain integration projects in more that 15 countries.

SDM offered Adsit the opportunity to work with other mid-career professionals who shared his interest in using systems thinking to solve large-scale, complex challenges. "In SDM you get a rich experience working with people from different industries and different backgrounds," he said. "I’d spent most of my career in manufacturing and supply chains, so it was wonderful to work with people from healthcare, software development, nonprofit, and the military who are all experiencing analogous systems challenges."

Adsit joined SDM from Eaton Corporation, where he worked as a specialist evaluating, selecting, and implementing new system technologies to improve information visibility, enhance business capabilities, and streamline global order fulfillment. Although he entered the program as an experienced systems integrator, SDM was able to provide him with fresh insights.

"What I got out of SDM was a way to organize the experiences I’d had and make sense of them," Adsit said. "The key takeaway from the program is about optimizing the overall system rather than any particular piece."

Adsit graduated from MIT in February and launched his own company—Mergence Systems—to put systems integration tools and techniques, including concepts learned at SDM, to work helping companies integrate new technologies into existing systems. "I make sure technology is delivering value in a way that is relevant to stakeholders and those using the system," he said.

While Mergence Systems is still a new venture, Adsit is already making use of his SDM skills—particularly those taught in Systems Engineering, a required course. "Quality functional deployment is really helpful for relating a system’s technical requirements to user needs," he said. "And, Pugh analysis can be used for evaluating, selecting, and combining concepts based on those underlying requirements."

Coursework from SDM Leadership: The Missing Link is also proving valuable. "That course is all about trying to have better interactions with people so you can better solve their problems," Adsit said. "It’s such a meaningful course."

When he’s not on the job, Adsit enjoys traveling—particularly to Eastern Europe—but he says he’ll always be glad he spent time in Boston with SDM. "Being involved with something at MIT was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said. "SDM is amazing."

Addressing Patient Wait Times with Systems Thinking

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Ali Kamil, SDM ’12, MIT SDM and Harvard Kennedy School of Government Graduate Student
Dmitriy Lyan, SDM ’11, Senior Product Manager, Amazon Web Services

Download the presentation slides

Date: March 10, 2014

About the Presentation

Ali Kamil, SDM '12

Dmitriy Lyan, SDM '11

The problem of prolonged and highly variable patient wait times in hospitals and emergency departments is well researched but as yet unsolved. This webinar will present findings from a 12-month study that explores the use of systems thinking to address this issue. The research was conducted at the LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) in Hyderabad, India, which has provided care for more than 15 million people—over 50 percent of whom were served free of charge.

The presentation will:

  • Outline the challenges faced by the LVPEI’s outpatient department (OPD) clinics, which serve 65 to 120 patients per day, with patient wait times ranging from 45 minutes to 6 hours;
  • Review time and motion studies of 430 patients at four LVEI OPDs;
  • Describe how researchers used qualitative and quantitative data to capture the operational structure of LVPEI OPD clinics and simulate daily patient flow;
  • Share contributions from key stakeholders;
  • Reveal the analysis used to quantify the impact of service demand, patient scheduling, and resource allocation factors on patient wait times and service quality; and
  • Summarize outcomes, including identifying the key policy levers that determine LVPEI’s effectiveness.

We invite you to join us.

About the Speakers

Ali Kamil is a graduate student at the MIT System Design and Management program and an M.P.A. candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. His research interests lie in employing big data, social computing, and system dynamics–based simulation tools to identify patterns in human behavior, connectivity, and activities in low-resource settings—specifically in developing and emerging markets. He is a member of the MIT Media Lab’s Human Dynamics group directed by Professor Alex “Sandy” Pentland. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

SDM alumnus Dmitriy Lyan has professional experience in both software development and investment management. While at SDM, his research focused on identifying critical performance factors and developing simulation models to tackle management challenges faced by organizations in healthcare and education. He is currently a senior product manager at Amazon Web Services. In addition to holding a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT, he has an M.S. in financial engineering from the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito School of Management at Claremont Graduate University and a B.S. in computer engineering from the University of California, San Diego.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Wilfredo ‘Alex’ Sanchez Honored for Leadership, Innovation, Systems Thinking

By Lois Slavin, MIT SDM Communications Director

sanchez copy

Alex Sanchez
Photo by Dave Schultz

March 10, 2014

On March 10, 2014, the SDM community convened for the presentation of the Class of 2013 MIT SDM Student Award for Leadership, Innovation, and Systems Thinking. The award, created by the SDM staff in 2010, honors an SDM student who, during his or her first year of matriculation, demonstrates the highest level of:

  • strategic, sustainable contributions to fellow SDM students and the broader SDM and MIT communities;
  • skills in leadership, innovation, and systems thinking; and
  • effective collaboration with SDM staff, fellow students, and alumni.

All nominees and the winner are selected by the SDM staff.

novellino copy

Marianna Novellino
Photo by Dave Schultz

This year’s winner, Wilfredo “Alex” Sanchez, received a cash prize. He was honored for numerous contributions, including:

  • serving as chair of SDM’s Student Leadership Council;
  • coordinating logistics for the MIT Career Fair attended by 6,000 students—including contracting, catering, mail service, hotels, and parking for 400 organizations and 1,500 human resources representatives as well as corresponding with 400 organizations to raise SDM’s visibility in advance of the event;
  • assisting with SDM Silicon Valley Tech Trek outreach and recruitment efforts; and
  • fostering an environment of inclusion for all SDM fellows by serving as an active member of Sloan LGBT, participating in an LGBT panel during fall 2013 Sloan Innovation Period, and meeting with Sloan LGBT AdMITs during campus visits.

Finalists for the award included SDM ’13s Suzanne Livingston and Marianna Novellino. Both were cited for several significant contributions, including serving as key members of WiSDM (Women in SDM) and cofounding (with others) the MIT Product Management Club (PMC).

livingston copy

Suzanne Livingston
Photo by Dave Schultz

Since its founding in spring semester, 2013, the PMC:

  • grew from fewer than 20 members to over 300;
  • offered meetings and workshops for students with experts from Microsoft, LuckyLabs, Google, Cisco, Yelp, the venture capitalist community, and product management educator John Mansour;
  • created a highly attended (80+ students) mock interview event that brought experienced project managers from Google, IBM, Akamai, and others to MIT to help students sharpen interviewing skills;
  • became the first SDM-initiated club to be recognized by Sloan, which provides significant funding and marketing opportunities;
  • established a partnership between MIT and the Boston Product Management Association (BPMA), enabling all MIT students to attend BPMA events and recruiting sessions at reduced membership rates.

In addition, Novellino:

  • Served as managing director of MIT’s 2014 Sustainability Summit and as a panel coordinator for the 2013 Sustainability Summit;
  • Helped coordinate 32 events during 2013 as a member of the SDM Student Life Committee; and
  • Currently works on water supply systems in rural communities in India as a Tata Fellow.

Congratulations and thank you to all!

Sagini Ramesh, SDM ’14: Gaining Engineering and Management Skills to Help Others

Sagini Ramesh, SDM '14, with her mother, son, and husband.Sagini Ramesh, SDM '14 By Kathryn O’Neill, MIT SDM Correspondent
February 27, 2014

As a volunteer in tsunami-ravaged Sri Lanka, Sagini Ramesh, SDM ’14, saw firsthand what it’s like to live without easy access to technology. That’s why her goal in attending MIT’s SDM master’s program is to gain the engineering and management skills she needs to help those less fortunate.

"I looked at SDM and I thought: Yes, it can help my career, but it can really help me help other people. And that was key," said Ramesh, who hopes one day to build a consulting practice providing technology to developing countries. "SDM will give me the knowledge, background, and connections to do that."

A native of Sri Lanka, Ramesh escaped the island’s civil war with her family when she was just 5 years old. She returned for the first time as a college student following the 2004 tsunami and discovered a country very different from Canada, where she grew up. "It was a culture shock," she said. "The northeast section where I was didn’t have grid electricity—they had to use generators. There were no cellphone networks and no Internet."

Ramesh had volunteered to rebuild houses, but she found her programming skills were in higher demand. So, she helped construct an ambulance tracking and medical records system for a local hospital. "This was first time I felt I worked on something meaningful," she said, noting that the experience opened her eyes to the advantages of a career in software. "We take a lot of things for granted growing up in North America."

Ramesh graduated from Waterloo University and went on to work as a software engineer for Vistaprint. She is currently a senior project manager for Vistaprint’s global customer service centers. She planned to attend graduate school, but initially she was unsure whether to pursue engineering or management. "I loved working with people from diverse backgrounds, strategizing and managing projects, but when I looked at an MBA, it honestly wasn’t so appealing to me," she said. "I am an engineer at heart: I want to understand how things work and how they come together, and have the technical aptitude to be able to design and innovate."

Then she heard about SDM, which combines management and engineering. "I looked at it and said, ‘Wow, this is perfect.’"

Ramesh started in January and has already put several lessons to use from her initial SDM projects. For example, a design challenge given to the cohort provided her with benchmarking experience she can directly apply at work. "I picked up skills I’ll be using the next time I select vendors," she said.

Meanwhile, Ramesh is advancing her long-term goals by taking a class in Humanitarian Logistics that centers on how to move materials into areas of need. "This is what I eventually want to do, so I’m learning how the supply chain works," she said.

She is also benefiting from SDM’s emphasis on team-building skills. "That’s very different from typical school, which is so competitive," she said. "[Here] you simultaneously learn from, and educate, each other.

It’s a familiar model for Ramesh. Raised by a single mother, Ramesh learned the value of education early as her mother worked factory jobs to put her and her sister through college. Ramesh, in turn, helped put her younger sister through medical school. And now, her mother is helping Ramesh and her husband—Ramesh* Sundralingam, a lab technician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center—care for their 3-year-old son, Ellalan, so Ramesh can attend SDM.

Sagini Ramesh, SDM ’14, with her mother, son, and husband.

"I wouldn’t be where I am without Amma [Mom]," she said. "She’s the biggest reason I could go back to grad school and work a full-time, demanding job."

* In the Tamil Sri Lankan tradition, wives take their husbands’ first names as their last names.

Sagini Ramesh, SDM ’14
Photo by Dave Schultz

Virtual SDM Information Session

Learn about the MIT Master’s in Engineering and Management

Download the presentation slides

Date: February 24, 2014

About the Presentation

Photo by John Parrillo

Learn about the MIT Master’s in Engineering and Management

Please join us online for a virtual Information Session on the System Design and Management (SDM) program, which offers a master’s degree in engineering and management. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this exciting program designed for mid-career professionals.

The MIT-SUTD Dual Masters’ Program will also be discussed.

For further information: sdm.mit.edu or sdm@mit.edu

Alchemist, a sculpture by Jaume Plensa, sits across from the main entrance to MIT.
Photo: John Parrillo

Understanding Integrated Circuit Security Threats

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Asif Iqbal, SDM ’11
Power and Performance Program Manager, Apple Inc.

Download the presentation slides

Date: February 10, 2014

About the Presentation

Asif Iqbal

The security threats to critical hardware- and software-based infrastructure are greater than ever, no matter what the domain. Always at high risk for tampering and historically compromised by software and social engineering attacks, critical infrastructures in the military, finance, smart grid, healthcare, public records, commerce, and other domains now face a new threat—fake and infected integrated circuits that infiltrate high-value, data-based systems. These “hardware Trojans” can cause serious damage to financial, safety, security systems, and more.

The goal of this webinar is to increase awareness of this new cyber threat and to outline countermeasures. The presentation will include:

  • a discussion of the taxonomy of existing hardware security vulnerabilities and an overview of root causes;
  • an explanation of how hardware Trojans enable malicious tampering of an integrated circuit (IC) by adding to or modifying a system’s electrical circuitry;
  • a discussion of specific threats, such as confidential information leaks;
  • examples of how hardware Trojans can be activated via hardware modifications to microprocessors, digital signal processors, application-specific ICs and commercial off-the-shelf parts;
  • an explanation of why conventional design-time verification and post-manufacturing testing cannot readily be extended to detect hardware Trojans due to their stealth nature, inordinately large number of possible instances, and wide variety of structure and operating modes; and
  • a high-level discussion of combat strategies.

A question and answer session will follow the presentation.

About the Speaker

Asif Iqbal is a power and performance program manager at Apple Inc. His areas of expertise include digital design, system architecture, modeling, and simulation of electronic systems. Recently, he worked on developing the 12-hour battery life for the 2013 Macbook Air and the 2013 Mac Pro. He holds several patents in cellular communications, high-speed digital design, and signal processing. As an SDM graduate, he has a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication from Jamia Millia Islamia. His research interests include cyber security, high-performance architecture, and product and innovation management.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

SDM Innovates Academic Core, Calendar

Pat Hale By Pat Hale, MIT SDM Executive Director
 

All successful organizations know that it’s not just risky but dangerous to rest on their laurels. Whether it’s IBM or SDM, no matter what the industry, the key to success is innovation.

This is especially true at MIT, where some of the world’s leading thinkers set the pace for leadership, innovation, and systems thinking. For example:

  • Professors Ed Crawley and Tom Magnanti developed and designed SDM in response to industry’s need to educate future leaders in 1996;
  • SDM has since led the Institute in developing a career-and-family-compatible degree-granting graduate program; and
  • SDM is jointly offered by the MIT School of Engineering and MIT Sloan School of Management and offers an interdisciplinary master’s degree in engineering and management.

A testament to SDM’s success is the fact that similar programs have been formed in Japan, Mexico, and other countries around the world.

Over the past 17+ years, SDM has continued to evolve and innovate to provide:

  • full-time, part-time, and distance options; and
  • an ever-widening range of academic offerings.

However, there’s more.

In 2014, SDM will initate significant academic and operational innovations that will better meet the needs of industry and our students. For example:

  • Beginning in August, all of SDM’s cohort-building on-campus “boot camps” will be held immediately before the start of the fall semester. The last traditional boot camp will run this coming January, and another will be offered in August for the 2014 cohort that will matriculate that month. This operational change was made to give SDM students the opportunity to matriculate as a cohort in the fall semester when most other new students arrive at the Institute. This will enable SDMs to foster relationships with a wider number of their peers across MIT.
  • SDM’s core curriculum in system architecture, systems engineering, and system and project management will evolve. Beginning in fall 2014, these three separate courses will be integrated into a single “SDM Core” course offered over the fall and spring semesters and taught by a team of SDM faculty. This effort is being led by Professor Olivier de Weck and a team of key stakeholders, including faculty, alumni, and industry sponsors. The intent is to provide a more integrated approach to systems engineering processes as applied in real-time across multiple industry domains.

All of us here at SDM are excited about these changes because we believe they will help the program continue to serve students and industry by offering education at the cutting edge of engineering and management, combined with leadership, innovation, and systems thinking. We look forward to celebrating these milestones as we continue our work to ensure SDM is the world’s premier program of its kind.

Pat Hale

Supply Chain and Risk Management: Making the Right Decisions to Strengthen Operations Performance

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Ioannis Kyratzoglou, SDM ’11
Principal Software Systems Engineer, MITRE Corporation

Download the presentation slides

Date: January 27, 2014

About the Presentation

Ioannis Kyratzoglou

Today’s global corporations face risks that range from the controllable (price fluctuations, currency volatility, market changes) to those that are beyond control (natural disasters). To counter supply-chain disruptions, best-in-class organizations apply mature operations and risk management practices to reduce their exposure to these risks and maintain a competitive advantage.

This webinar will discuss the supply chain operations and risk management approaches of large companies. Specifically, the presenter will:

  • Describe company operations and financial performance in the face of supply chain disruptions;
  • Propose a systems-based framework and set of principles to help companies analyze and assess controllable and uncontrollable risks; and
  • Explain four key principles that companies can use to better manage supply chain risks and prepare for future opportunities.

The presenter will also discuss how leaders can use this systems-based framework to better understand a company’s position in the market relative to its competitors.

About the Speaker

Ioannis Kyratzoglou is a principal software systems engineer with the MITRE Corporation. He has 30 years of experience in systems engineering and in the acquisition of large-scale software systems. He has served as chief engineer, senior technical advisor, and project leader on key projects involving close collaboration with the customer. He is currently responsible for the development of predictive systems performance analytics techniques for a large-scale project. As an SDM alumnus, he holds an S.M. from MIT in engineering and management. He also earned an S.M. in mechanical engineering from MIT and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the City College of New York.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

George Clernon, SDM ’14: Applying Systems Thinking at Analog Devices

George Clernon, SDM '14, mans a booth at Analog Devices' Design Conference 2013 in Frankfurt, Germany.George Clernon, SDM '14 By Kathryn O’Neill, MIT SDM Correspondent
February 20, 2014

A native of Ireland, George Clernon, SDM ’14, began looking for a graduate program several years ago that would combine systems thinking with advanced engineering and a management curriculum—but it wasn’t until after he moved to Boston that he found what he wanted in MIT’s SDM master’s program.

While he considered other U.S. options, his employer ultimately tipped the scales toward SDM. "My director had experience with SDM, and he said the MIT program was much better from a company point of view—it was much more aligned with what we needed to do," said Clernon, whose enrollment is sponsored by Analog Devices.

George Clernon, SDM ’14, mans a booth at Analog Devices’ Design Conference 2013 in Frankfurt, Germany.
Photo by Melanie Huber

Initially, he admits he doubted SDM could live up to its exceptional reputation. "At one of the information sessions someone said they were applying what they learned every day at work," he said. "I was pretty skeptical about that."

Just two months into the program, however, he’s a believer. "I regret my skepticism," said Clernon, who works as an engineering tools manager in Analog Devices’ core markets and marketing division. "There’s an ongoing application of learning as I come back to my day-to-day work."

During SDM’s month-long on-campus "boot camp" in January, for example, he took a class called the Human Side of Technology and learned the importance of putting emotions aside to focus on the problem at hand. "Even in engineering, which is fact-based, people’s personalities come into play," he said, explaining that people tend to become attached to their own ideas. "When you put emotions in the equation, you start making decisions about the emotion rather than about the facts."

Clernon said he is looking forward to gaining additional insights from his spring courses, particularly Technology Strategy, which provides strategic frameworks for managing high-technology businesses. "Analog Devices is No. 1 in analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters and has been for a long time," Clernon said. So, he hopes Technology Strategy will help him answer the question: "How do we develop new technology to be a disruptive force so we can retain our position?"

Currently, Clernon is endeavoring to develop a platform that will provide Analog’s core customers with online engineering tools to support the company’s 10,000-plus products. "We have so many products going to so many customers, there’s a strong need for a more systems-based approach," he said. "SDM is helping me further that solution and move it along at a better pace."

After 16 years with the same company, Clernon said he particularly values the opportunity SDM has given him to work with people from a wide range of industries. "One thing about coming to SDM is that it’s a great way to make yourself uncomfortable—not in a bad way but in a challenging way," he said. "I’m working with different people and organizations and it’s inspiring."

When he’s not studying, working, or taking classes, Clernon said he’s likely to be found playing with his 14-month-old son, Eoin, who loves Legos, and enjoying time with his wife, Cherry, who recently started her own baking business, Cherry With a Cake on Top. How does he manage it all? "I’ve just realized how much free time I had before that I was misusing," he said.

George Clernon, SDM ’14
Photo by Dave Schultz

Architecting a Future Tele-Health Care System to Treat PTSD in the US Military

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesAndrea Ippolito

Andrea Ippolito, SDM ’11
Ph.D. student, MIT Engineering Systems Division

Download the presentation slides

Date: January 13, 2014

About the Presentation

This webinar will offer insight into how the US military can provide high-quality, cost-effective, timely access to health care for soldiers and their families — specifically those with post-traumatic stress disorders who may not have easy access to bricks and mortar facilities.

Andrea Ippolito will report on findings and recommendations by an MIT team that researched how technology can help reach those at risk. In this discussion, she will:

  • Define the term “tele-health” and explain how technology can be used to treat behavioral disorders at a distance;
  • Explain the overall systems-based approach the team used to evaluate the current state of tele-behavioral health within the military;
  • Detail the specific enterprise lenses of strategy, policy, organization, services, processes, infrastructure, and knowledge used to examine psychological heath-care services; and
  • Share the architecture recommendations proposed to deliver improved tele-behavioral health services to soldiers and their families in the future.

A question and answer session will follow the presentation.

About the Speaker

While at SDM, Andrea Ippolito served as a research assistant to the MIT Lean Advancement Initiative. There she and her fellow team members worked directly with the US Army’s chief of tele-health to architect the future delivery system for the US Department of Defense. Ippolito is currently a product innovation manager at athenahealth, as well as a student in the MIT Engineering Systems Division’s doctoral program. Prior to coming to MIT, she worked as a research scientist at Boston Scientific Corporation. Ippolito holds a B.S in biological engineering and an M.Eng. in biomedical engineering from Cornell University.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Christopher Choo, SDM ’14: From the Singapore Grand Prix to MIT

Choo in the Grand Prix control roomChristopher Choo, SDM '14 By Lois Slavin, MIT SDM Communications Director
January 6, 2014

It’s been said that the best achievement is striving to surpass yourself, and that’s something SDM ’14 Christopher Choo knows a lot about. After several successful years working for the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix, the “next big thing” for Choo involves moving from the Far East to Cambridge, MA, then back to Singapore to earn two master’s degrees in about two years.

Choo arrived in the United States in January 2014 to matriculate into the MIT–Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) Dual Masters’ Program. The program offers outstanding individuals the chance to maximize their potential in the fields of technology and design. Successful applicants receive a range of benefits, including a full tuition scholarship to both the SDM and SUTD programs, a monthly stipend, round-trip airfare between the United States and Singapore, and more.

Choo will first spend one year at SDM completing the requirements for an MIT master’s degree in engineering and management, followed by one year at SUTD to earn a master’s of engineering degree in research.

Why would someone who already holds one advanced degree (a master’s in computing from the National University of Singapore) want to pursue two more—especially when he already has such a fulfilling and exciting career?

Choo summed it up in three words: “acquiring new knowledge.” He then elaborated: “SDM is ideal for someone like me who has varied interests across both engineering and management disciplines. Being plugged into the rigor of a full-time program in MIT’s world-class university environment and an SDM cohort whose members have worked in different industries, in various engineering and technical positions, will be a great way to absorb cutting-edge knowledge fast.”

Speed is one of Choo’s specialties, thanks to four years spent working with the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix. There he was responsible for race circuit infrastructure, track lighting, civil works, telecommunications, site electrical, on-site broadcasting, and logistics services. He worked with technical consultants to develop client requirements, review project specifications, and procure equipment and services. He also developed plans with government agencies regarding infrastructure, traffic management, radio frequency allocation, and aerial filming operations. Previously, Choo worked with the Singapore Tourism Board, which laid the groundwork for his Formula One foray. In total, he’s been involved in various capacities in six Singapore Grand Prix races.

SDM ’14 Chris Choo in the control room of the Singapore Grand Prix

Upon completing the dual degree program Choo said he may return to the Grand Prix or he may decide—after researching and writing two theses in two years—that he wants to switch gears and try something new. “I believe that both degrees will help me develop a broader foundation in engineering and management that will lead to exciting prospects in future,” said Choo.

Whatever he decides, one thing’s for sure—Choo will be looking to surpass himself once again.

Christopher Choo,
SDM ’14

Systems Thinking and the Inevitability of the Dreamliner Delays

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesYao Zhao, Ph.D.

Yao Zhao, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Rutgers University

Download the presentation slides

Date: December 2, 2013

About the Presentation

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner was the fastest-selling plane in the history of commercial aviation, but its development was a nightmare. The first flight was delayed by 26 months, and the first delivery was 40 months overdue with a cost overrun of at least $10 billion. Using the results of a comprehensive empirical study of the actual events and facts, this webinar will discuss strong evidence suggesting that the majority of delays were intentional.

Dr. Yao Zhao will:

  • Describe a mathematical modeling and analysis of economic drivers in joint development programs that showed the 787’s risk-sharing arrangement forced Boeing and its partners to share the “wrong” risk. This led each partner into a “prisoner’s dilemma” wherein delays were in the best interests of the firms even while they were driving themselves into disaster;
  • Discuss the reconciliation of the analysis with empirical evidence, which reveals the rationale behind many seemingly irrational behaviors that delayed this program; and
  • Suggest a new “fair sharing” partnership to share the “right” risk and greatly alleviate delays for development programs of this kind in the future.

This research was supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) Award No. 0747779.

About the Speaker

Dr. Yao Zhao is an associate professor in the department of Supply Chain Management and Marketing Sciences at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He earned a B.E. in aerodynamics and holds a Ph.D. in industrial engineering and management sciences from Northwestern University. His current research interests lie in supply chain and project management interfaces with applications in the aerospace, pharmaceutical, energy, and agricultural industries.

He is a recipient of an NSF Career Award (2008-’13) for integrating supply chain and project management. He currently serves as an associate editor for Operations Research and Manufacturing & Service Operations Management.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Using System Dynamics to Support Startups, Stimulate the Economy, and Create More Jobs

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesFady Saad, SDM '11

Fady Saad, SDM ’11
Co-founder, ePowerhouse
R&D Financing Director, Vecna

Download the presentation slides

Date: November 18, 2013

About the Presentation

Startups have the potential to stimulate the economy and create employment opportunities, but their failure rate is high. How can we help them succeed?

In this webinar, Fady Saad, SDM ’11,cofounder and CEO of ePowerhouse, will present a systems-based approach to cultivating the key activities necessary for sustained startup success:

  • growing financially;
  • continuously fulfilling stakeholder needs and aspirations; and
  • adapting to the specific conditions of the company’s evolving ecosystem.

Using a system dynamics model he developed himself, Saad will then describe a holistic, system-driven conceptualization of a startup and its internal dynamics—including human resources, product development, customers, and finances—followed by a discussion of the high-leverage points in the ecosystem.

A question-and-answer period will follow the main presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Fady Saad, SDM ’11, is cofounder of ePowerhouse, which provides a cloud-based platform to help startups grow. He is the strategist behind the company’s business model, go-to-market strategy, and customer acquisition efforts. He is also the financing director for research and development at Vecna, a healthcare research lab.

While at MIT SDM, Saad’s research focused on designing and modeling startups as adaptive complex systems and on understanding the effects of entrepreneurship ecosystems on startups’ viability. Previously, Saad worked at Nokia Siemens Networks in the Middle East, North America, and Europe, where he led and managed multimillion-euro acquisitions and bids. In his prior work at Siemens, he led the merger between Siemens Com and Nokia Networks in Egypt involving more than 700 employees.

Saad recently consulted to the World Bank and its International Finance Corporation on issues related to implementing industrial and entrepreneurship policies in developing countries. He has been heavily involved with the startup and investment ecosystem in Boston and is a frequent speaker, panelist, and mentor in the field of entrepreneurship. His academic background includes complex systems, management, industrial engineering, and design.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

SDM Announces New Admissions Deadlines, Core Curriculum for Fall 2014 Matriculation

By Lois Slavin, MIT SDM Communications Director
November 14, 2013

In 2014, the MIT System Design and Management (SDM) program will initiate significant academic and operational innovations that will better meet the needs of industry and our students, specifically:

  • Beginning in August 2014, all of SDM’s cohort-building on-campus "boot camps" will be held immediately before the start of the fall semester. This operational change from running "boot camps" in January was made to give SDM students the opportunity to matriculate as a cohort in the fall semester when most other new students arrive at MIT. This will enable SDMs to foster relationships with a wider number of their peers across the Institute. SDM’s new admissions calendar for August 2014 is available here.
  • SDM’s core curriculum in system architecture, systems engineering, and system and project management will evolve. Beginning in fall 2014, these three courses will be integrated into a single "SDM Core" course offered over the fall and spring semesters and taught by a team of SDM faculty. This effort is being led by Professor Olivier de Weck and a team of key stakeholders, including faculty, alumni, and industry sponsors. The intent is to provide a more integrated approach to systems engineering processes as applied in real time across multiple industry domains.
  • Required courses that were formerly taught in the summer will be moved to other terms to accommodate the growing interest in summer internships.

"Successful organizations know that it’s not just short-sighted but dangerous to rest on their laurels. Whether it’s IBM or SDM, no matter what the industry, the key to success is innovation," said SDM Executive Director Pat Hale. "All of us here at SDM are excited about these innovations because they will help the program continue to serve students and industry."

Improving PTSD Treatment for US Military Personnel via Enterprise Architecting

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesElizabeth Cilley Southerlan

Elizabeth Cilley Southerlan, SDM ’12
Strategic IT and Operations Manager, Health and Life Sciences, Oliver Wyman

Download the presentation slides

Date: November 4, 2013

About the Presentation

North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune is the home of “expeditionary forces in readiness,” which include active– and civilian–duty Marines, their families, and other military personnel. This webinar centers on how SDM alumna Elizabeth Cilley Southerlan used enterprise architecting to investigate the current state of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment at the facility’s existing military psychological health enterprise (MPHE) and to provide suggestions for the facility’s transformation.

In this webinar, Southerlan will discuss using enterprise architecting to:

  • investigate the camp’s current (as–is) state; and
  • work in conjunction with multilevel analysis techniques to create a framework that could support the transformation of this complex, multilevel enterprise.

She will also describe takeaways—including dominant views of the organization, its processes, and the importance of stakeholder analysis—and review suggestions for the MPHE’s transformation to better serve our soldiers.

We hope you can join us!

About the Speaker

SDM alumna Elizabeth Cilley Southerlan holds an M.S. in management and engineering from MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program and a B.S. in industrial engineering from Pennsylvania State University. Currently a strategic IT and operations manager in health and life sciences at Oliver Wyman, she has also worked at Accenture.

She is the recipient of the 2012 SDM Student Award for Leadership, Innovation, and Systems Thinking.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Jillian Wisniewski, SDM ’14: Systems Engineering, Operations Research, the US Army, and Two Kids

US Army Capt. Jill Wisniewski and colleagues in AfghanistanJillian Wisniewski, SDM '14 By Lois Slavin, MIT SDM Communications Director
November 5, 2013

She’s a US Army captain who earned a Bronze Star, a wife, a mother, and now an SDM student. Her name is Jillian Wisniewski.

A 2006 graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, where she earned an undergraduate degree in operations research (OR), Wisniewski chose to apply to MIT’s SDM master’s program because it offers technical depth, management breadth, and leadership skills through MIT’s No. 1 rated School of Engineering and its top business school, MIT Sloan. "I felt that an SDM education would enable me not only to apply systems engineering and OR concepts, but to effectively communicate those concepts to my future students as well," she said.

US Army Capt. Jill Wisniewski and colleagues in Afghanistan

Future students? Yes. After Wisniewski earns her MIT MS in engineering and management, adding "SDM graduate" to her list of accomplishments, she will also put "faculty member at West Point" on her resume, following in the footsteps of SDM alumni Nathan Minami, Kristina Richardson, and Joshua Eaton. She is slated to teach systems engineering during a three-year assignment, spending one of those years at the Army’s Operations Research Center.

"SDM will help me achieve my longer-term goals as well," she said, noting her plans to help significantly change the Army’s education for military intelligence analysts at user, operational, and strategic levels. "Intelligence personnel must sift through hundreds, if not thousands of data points to make sense of adversaries’ actions, yet they receive no training in basic data analysis," she explained. "Too often this results in misinterpretation and errors.

"So far I have been able to effect some change on a local level, but I would like to have a larger impact on the branch itself," she continued. "I believe that my SDM education, combined with teaching systems engineering and working at the Army’s Operations Research Center, will give me a solid platform to research, develop, and implement real solutions on a larger scale over the long term."

While Wisniewski is studying at SDM, her husband, Isaac Jahn, is attending the MBA program at Harvard Business School. High school sweethearts, they both attended West Point and served together in the United States and Afghanistan. Their oldest child, Anna, now 6, was born during their first assignment together at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. When both were deployed to Afghanistan, which is where Wisniewski received a Bronze Star for exceptional service as a squadron intelligence officer, Anna stayed in the United States with her paternal grandparents. The couple now also has a son, Isaac Edward, who is almost 2.

After managing to handle war-time deployment, Wisniewski said she is looking forward to a different type of adventure at MIT. "This is an experience that I am proud to share with my family. I am confident that the rigors of academics at MIT will provide a new set of challenges that will help us grow even stronger together and will ultimately enhance my contribution to the military."

Jillian Wisniewski,
SDM ’14

Security Threats in Integrated Circuits

Fig 1. Evolution of cyber-security threats over timeFig 2. Trusted and untrusted components of design and manufacturing chainFig.3. Vulnerable steps of modern IC life cycleFig. 4. A simple Trojan [Source: J Rajendran et al.]Fig. 5. Detailed taxonomy of hardware Trojans [Source: Wang et al.]Fig. 6. Classification of triggers based on digital/analog mechanismsXFig. 7. Example of Trojans with trigger mechanisms [Source: R.S Chakraborty et.al]Fig. 7. Example of Trojans with trigger mechanisms [Source: R.S Chakraborty et.al]Asif Iqbal, SDM '11 By Asif Iqbal, SDM ’11
October 22, 2013

With the ubiquity of embedded processors in almost everything, security has become a matter of grave concern. Digital hardware-software-based platforms are increasingly deployed in military, financial systems, and other critical infrastructures like smart grid, healthcare, public records, etc. These platforms have always been at high risk and have been historically compromised by myriad software and social engineering attacks. Adversaries have been exploiting the Internet and the "connected world" at will. There have been numerous cases and significant published literature showing that creative software techniques can sneak through the crevices of modern software systems. With the current available tools, such software threats are increasing; however, the sophistication of the hackers is on the rise.[i] At the same time, we are well aware of these hacks, and software security is a mature field of study. The figure below shows how software-related hacks have grown in sophistication over the years.

Fig 1. Evolution of cyber-security threats over time[ii]

So, what’s the next big thing in cyber security—the ultimate level of sophistication, the unthinkable destructive impact, and the crack in the backbone? The following short excerpt from an article in IEEE Spectrum[iii] builds context for the discussions to follow.

September 2007—Israeli jets bombed a suspected nuclear installation in northeastern Syria. Among the many mysteries still surrounding that strike was the failure of Syrian radar, supposedly state of the art, to warn the Syrian military of the incoming assault. It wasn’t long before military and technology bloggers concluded that this was an incident of electronic warfare and not just any kind. Post after post speculated that the commercial off-the-shelf microprocessors in the Syrian radar might have been purposely fabricated with a hidden "back door" inside. By sending a preprogrammed code to those chips, an unknown antagonist had disrupted the chips’ function and temporarily blocked the radar.

The above example was a case of an infected integrated circuit (IC) leaking information, a Type II attack that will be discussed later. If we think of the case mentioned above, the damage was the leak of information. However, thinking this through more deeply, it could have easily been a "kill switch" (Type III attack) with the potential to detonate the missile in the carrier jet or a Type IV attack capable of changing the target’s location. This is an infection at the most fundamental level, difficult to detect, incurable, and potentially destructive not only to finance and global resources, but also to human life.

Recently there have been numerous media reports that confirm this. For years, fake and infected ICs have been deeply infiltrating military warfare systems. With embedded smart processors handling data of increasing value, such as consumer banking credentials, security of other critical infrastructures is at risk. There are additional case studies noted in the appendix.

In response to this threat, hardware security has started to emerge as an important research topic. In the current literature, the agent for malicious tampering is referred to as a hardware Trojan horse (HTH). An HTH causes an integrated circuit to malfunction to perform some additional malicious functions along with the intended one(s). Conventional design-time verification and post-manufacturing testing cannot readily be extended to detect HTHs due to their stealth nature, inordinately large number of possible instances, and large variety of structures and operating modes.

An HTH can be designed to disable or destroy a system at some future time, or to leak confidential information and secret keys covertly to the adversary[iv]. Trojans can be implemented as hardware modifications to microprocessors, digital signal processors (DSP), application-specific ICs (ASIC) and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts. They can also be implemented as FPGA bit streams[v].

This paper borrows theoretical concepts and design examples from current research literature and my prior experience in circuit design. To build a theoretical context, I will start with the definition of hardware security and explain the intent of a secure hardware design. Building on this concept, I will expose threats posed by HTHs and methods for detecting them. Types of attacks with associated agents will be discussed. In the latter half of this paper, taxonomy is also presented along with design examples for a few classes.

What Is Hardware Security?

In abstract terms, the word "security" can be used to cover several very different underlying features of a design. Every system design will require a different set of security properties, depending on the type and value of the assets or the resource worth protecting; security is about trying to defend against malicious attack.

A property of the system that ensures that resources of value cannot be copied, damaged, or made unavailable to genuine users.

The fundamental security properties on which nearly every higher-level property can be based are those of confidentiality and integrity.

Confidentiality

An asset that is confidential cannot be copied or stolen by a defined set of attacks. This property is essential for assets such as passwords and cryptographic keys.

Integrity

An asset that has its integrity assured is defended against modification by a known set of attacks. This property is essential for some of the on-chip root secrets (keys, encryption algorithms) on which the rest of the system’s security is based.

Authenticity

In some circumstances, a design cannot provide integrity and instead provides the property of authenticity. In this case, an attacker can change the value of the asset, but the defender will be able to detect the change (by verifying authenticity) before the chip function is compromised. In some implementations, the chip may cease to function in the event of tampering.

Types of Attacks

IC security issues are mainly attributed or at least traced back to the physical security of the design or manufacturing facilities. Different mechanisms for performing attacks are broken down into four classes: hack attacks, shack attacks, lab attacks, and fab attacks.

Hack Attack

A hack attack is one where the hacker is only capable of executing a software attack. Examples include viruses and malware, which are downloaded to the device via a physical or a wireless connection. In many cases of a successful hack attack, the device user inadvertently approves the installation of the software, which then executes the attack. This is either because the malware pretends to be a piece of software that the user actually wants to install or because the user does not understand the warning messages displayed by the operating environment.

Shack Attack

A shack attack is a low-budget hardware attack using equipment that could be bought from a store like Radio Shack. In this scenario, attackers have physical access to the device, but not enough equipment or expertise to attack within the integrated circuit packages. They can use logic probes and network analyzers to snoop bus lines, pins, and system signals. They may be able to perform simple active hardware attacks, such as forcing pins and bus lines to be at a high or low voltage, reprogramming memory devices, or replacing hardware components with malicious alternatives. Some of the existing IC testability features, such as JTAG debug, boundary scan I/O, and BIST (built-in self-test) facilities, can be used to hack a chip’s functional state.

Lab Attack

The lab attack is more comprehensive and invasive. If attackers have access to laboratory equipment, such as electron microscopes, they can perform unlimited reverse engineering of the device. It must be assumed that attackers can reverse engineer transistor-level detail for any sensitive part of the design, including logic and memory. Attackers can reverse engineer a design, attach microscopic logic probes to silicon metal layers, and introduce glitches into a running circuit using lasers or other techniques. They can also monitor analog signals, such as device power usage and electromagnetic emissions, to perform attacks such as cryptographic key analysis.

Fab Attack

A fab attack is the lowest level of attack wherein malicious code is inserted into the net list or layout of an integrated circuit in the foundry or fabrication plant. Circuitry fabricated in the chip cannot be easily detected by chip validation.

Trust in Integrated Circuits

Security in integrated circuit design and manufacture is the final line of defense for securing hardware systems. Because of the fabless business model, third-party IP reuse, and untrusted manufacturing of the semiconductor industry, ICs are becoming increasingly vulnerable to malicious activities and alterations.[vi] [vii] These concerns have caused the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to initiate the Trust in ICs program.[viii]

An IC product development process contains three major steps and agents: design, fabrication, and test and validation. These steps are pictorially represented below along with their trust levels. An untrusted agent is a potential source of infection. IC security is more of a physical security issue, which can be held in check by tight control and vertical integration over the complete manufacturing process.

Fig 2. Trusted and untrusted components of design and manufacturing chain

Design

Specification

Design starts with specifications wherein alterations can be made to modify the functions and protocols or design constraints. This is considered to be a trusted component and insider attack is very unlikely. From my research to date, no cases have been reported; however, the possibility cannot be negated.

Third-party IPs and Libraries

Due to the ever-increasing complexity of designs and time-to-market constraints, high reuse is prevalent in the IC industry. This includes third-party soft/firm/hard IP blocks, models, and standard cells used by the designer during the design process and by the foundry during the post-design processes. These third-party IPs and libraries are considered untrusted.

CAD Tools

Cadence, Mentor Graphics, Magma, and Synopsys provide the industry-standard CAD tools for design. These tools are considered trusted. However, from my personal experience and interviews, design engineers have been using untrusted third-party TCL[ix] scripts (open source or proprietary) on trusted CAD software for design automation even in big design houses.

Fabrication

Fabrication involves preparing masks and wafers, which is an integrated manufacturing process of oxidation, diffusion, ion implantation, chemical vapor decomposition, metallization, and lithography. In the present context, with fabrication being outsourced to the third-party foundries, trust is in question. The adversary could change the parameters of the manufacturing process, geometries of the mask, or even embed a malicious circuit at the mask layout level. The mask information is contained in an electronic file format called GDS. Entire mask sets may be replaced by replacing the GDS and the adversary could substitute a compromised Trojan IC mask for the genuine one.[x]

Manufacturing Test

In the testing phase, test vectors are applied to the inputs of the manufactured IC, and output ports are monitored for expected behavior. Generally, the automated test equipment fails to detect a Trojan. However, test vectors or automated test equipment can be constructed to mask Trojans. Hence testing would be considered trusted only if it is done in the production test center of the client (semiconductor company or government agency).

Fig.3. Vulnerable steps of modern IC life cycle [Source: R.S. Chakraborty et al.]

Design Abstraction Levels

Trojan circuits can be embedded at various hardware abstraction levels. As we move to a lower abstraction level, the level of sophistication required increases, i.e. it is more difficult to embed a desired malicious functionality into lower levels of abstraction, as compared to higher levels.

The netlist or the gate level of a design is considered to be secure and must not be tampered with by hand. It is interesting to note that changes are made directly in the netlist or gate level at late design stages for legitimate purposes. An experienced engineer can insert a malicious circuit directly in the gate level.

The different levels of abstraction at which design is done and a Trojan may be inserted are listed below.

  • At the system level in different hardware modules and interconnection and communication protocols. This requires a low level of sophistication.
  • At the register transfer level (RTL), a Trojan can be inserted by coding its behavioral description along with the intended functionality of the chip. This is difficult in terms of physical access, but low in complexity of attack.
  • At the gate level a hacker can carefully control all aspects of the inserted Trojan, including size and location. Physical access is difficult and the hack is complicated.
  • At the transistor level, hacks are related to changing circuit parameters to compromise the reliability of the chip and cause ultimate mission mode failure. This is a very sophisticated attack, still in the trusted zone with difficult physical access.
  • At the layout level, hacks are related to foundry attacks and physical access is easier because of the untrusted zone. However, this hack has the highest level of sophistication.

Ensuring Authenticity

There are two main options to ensure that a chip used by a client is authentic, meaning it performs only those functions originally intended and nothing more. They are:

  1. Make the entire fabrication process trusted.
  2. Verify the trustworthiness of manufactured chips upon return to the clients.

While the first option is expensive and nearly impossible considering the current business climate and trends in the global distribution of the IC design and fabrication, the second option requires tightly controlling testing and validation to ensure the chip’s conformance with the original functional and performance specifications. Tehranipoor et al.[xi] call this new step silicon design authentication.

Deep Dive into Hardware Trojans

Hardware Trojans are modifications to original circuitry that are inserted by adversaries who have the malicious intent of using hardware or hardware mechanisms to gain access to data or software running on the chips. The example in Figure 4 shows cryptographic hardware with the output bypassed with a simple multiplexer. When the select line is high, the unencrypted input is sent to the output. The multiplexer is the Trojan here, which when activated by a trigger alters the intended functionality and sends the unencrypted data to the adversary.

Fig. 4. A simple Trojan [Source: J Rajendran et al.]

An interesting point to note here is that bypass structures like the one in Figure 4 are used routinely in design for debug and design for testability (DFT).[xii] It is very difficult to distinguish such modifications and detect this type of Trojan, which may be disguised as a normal debug function. There are many other characteristics of a hardware Trojan, such as small area and rare trigger, which make it difficult to detect. Hardware Trojan detection is still a fairly new research area, but it has gained significant traction in the past few years.

Difficulty of Detection

Detection of malicious alterations is extremely difficult, for several reasons.

  • Reuse. There is a great deal of third-party soft or hard Internet Protocol (IP) integration in ICs to accelerate the time to market. The IPs are getting increasingly small and detecting a small malicious alteration in a third-party IP is extremely difficult.
  • Small Size. Small, submicron, IC feature sizes make detection by physical inspection and destructive reverse engineering very difficult and costly. Moreover, destructive reverse engineering does not guarantee a comprehensive test, especially when Trojans are dispersed throughout the entire chip.
  • Low Activation Probability: Trojan circuits, by design, are activated under very specific low probability conditions, such as sensing a specific low-frequency toggling design signal or such analog parameters as power or temperature. This makes them unlikely to be activated and detected using random or functional stimuli during limited test times, but more easily triggered during the mission mode.
  • Insufficient Manufacturing Tests. Tests of manufacturing faults, such as stuck-at and delay faults, cannot guarantee detection of Trojans. Such tests are limited by test times, which are typically a few milliseconds per chip. Within this time frame, they cannot activate and detect Trojans. Even when 100 percent fault coverage for all types of manufacturing faults is possible, there are no guarantees as far as Trojans are concerned, since all functional use cases and state vectors are not exercised.
  • Decreasing Physical Geometry: Devices are getting smaller each day because of improvements in lithography. As physical feature sizes decrease, process (PVT) and environmental variations have a greater impact on the integrity of the circuit parameters (voltages, current, power, and I/O delay). This makes parametric detection of Trojans using simple measurement of signals ineffective.

Taxonomy of Trojans

Wang, Tehranipoor, and Plusquellic[xiii] developed a detailed taxonomy for hardware Trojans. Wang et al. suggest three main categories of Trojans according to their physical, activation, and action characteristics. Although Trojans could be hybrids of this classification (for instance, they could have more than one activation characteristic), this taxonomy captures the elemental characteristics of Trojans and is useful for defining and evaluating the capabilities of various detection strategies.

Fig. 5. Detailed taxonomy of hardware Trojans [Source: Wang et al.][xiii]

Physical Characteristics

The physical category describes the various hardware manifestations of Trojans. This type of category partitions Trojans into functional and parametric classes. The functional class includes Trojans that are physically realized through the addition or deletion of transistors or gates, whereas the parametric class refers to Trojans that are realized through modifications of existing wires and logic.

The size category accounts for the number of components in the chip that have been added, deleted, or compromised. The distribution category describes the location of the Trojan in the chip’s physical layout. The structure category refers to the case when an adversary is forced to regenerate the layout to insert a Trojan, which could then cause the chip’s physical form to change. Such changes could result in different placement for some or all design components. Any malicious changes in physical layout that could change the chip’s delay and power characteristics would facilitate Trojan detection.

Trigger Characteristics

Trojans can also be classified based on their activation or trigger characteristics. A Trojan consists of a trigger and a payload. The trigger function causes the payload to be active and carry out its malicious function. Once activated, the Trojan may continue to be in an activated state or return to its base state (one-shot activation). These triggers are further divided into two categories, externally activated and internally triggered.

Externally triggered Trojans require external inputs to act. The external trigger can be an adversary input or a legitimate user input or even a lab component’s output. User input triggers may include push buttons, switches, keyboards, or keywords/phrases in the input data stream. An external component trigger could be a signal that is received by an antenna or sensor and triggers a payload inside the circuit. The activation condition could be based on the output of a sensor that monitors temperature, voltage, or any type of external environmental condition (such as electromagnetic interference, humidity, or altitude).

An internally triggered Trojan is activated by an event that occurs within the target device. The event may be either time–based or physical condition–based. Common methods include hardware counters, which can trigger the Trojan at a predetermined time. These are also called time bombs. Triggering circuitry may monitor physical parameters such as temperature and power consumption of the target device. When these parameters reach a predetermined value, they trigger the Trojan. The Trojan in this case is implemented by adding logic gates and/or flip-flops to the chip, and hence is represented as a combinational or sequential circuit. Action characteristics identify the types of disruptive behavior introduced by the Trojan.

"Always On" Trigger

The "always on" trigger keeps the Trojan active, continuously deteriorating the chip’s performance. This trigger can disrupt the chip’s normal reliability and function at any time. This subclass covers Trojans that are implemented by modifying the chip’s geometries such that certain nodes or paths have a higher susceptibility to failure.

Another classification of Trojan based on triggers is done by Chakraborty et al.[xiii] Based on this classification, trigger mechanisms can be of two types: digital and analog.

Fig. 6. Classification of triggers based on digital/analog mechanisms[xiii]

Analog-triggered Trojans are based on detection methods of chip power or current levels. Digital-triggered Trojans can again be classified into combinational and sequential types. A combinational trigger is a logic function of internal circuit state variables. Typically, an attacker would choose a rare activation condition so that it is very unlikely for the Trojan to trigger during a conventional manufacturing test. On the other hand, sequentially triggered Trojans are activated by the occurrence of a sequence, or a period of continuous operation. The simplest sequential Trojan triggers are synchronous stand-alone counters, which trigger a malfunction on reaching a particular count. In general, detecting sequential Trojans is more difficult because the activation probability is lower due to the content and timing variables. Additionally, the number of such sequential trigger conditions for arbitrary Trojan instances can be insurmountably large for a deterministic logic testing approach, making testing and detection impractical.

Fig. 7. Example of Trojans with trigger mechanisms [Source: R.S Chakraborty et.al][xiv]

Payload/Effect-based Classification

Payload consists of the circuitry designed for the intended functionality. Payload can characterize a Trojan by the severity of the effect. A Trojan can change the function of the target device and can cause errors that may be difficult to detect in testing but are detrimental in mission mode. Another class of Trojans can change specifications by changing device parameters. They may change the reliability, functional, or parametric specifications (such as power and delay). Trojans can also leak sensitive information through a secret or already existing channel. Information can be leaked by radio frequency, optical and thermal means, and via interfaces such as RS 232 and JTAG. Trojan can also be designed to create backdoor access to assist in software-based attacks like privilege escalation and password theft. Trojans can hog chip resources, including bandwidth, computation, and battery power, causing the chip to malfunction, emulating a denial of service. Some Trojans may physically destroy, disable, or alter the configuration of the device (kill switches).

Another way to categorize Trojans is based on the type of circuitry: digital and analog. Digital Trojans can either affect the logic values at chosen internal nodes, or can modify the contents of memory locations. Analog payload Trojans, on the other hand, affect circuit parameters, such as performance, power, and noise margin. Another form of analog payload would be generation of excess activity in the circuit and accelerating the aging process of an IC and shortening its lifespan. All this happens without affecting the IC functionality.

Current Trojan Detection Methods

Detection of Trojans is extremely difficult for the reasons discussed in the previous sections. It is an important area of research that has led to the development of some Trojan detection methods over the past few years. These are categorized mainly as chip-level solutions and architectural-level Trojan detection solutions.

Chip-level Methods

Power and Current Measurement

Trojans typically change a design’s parametric characteristic by, for example, hampering performance, increasing or decreasing power, or causing reliability problems in the chip. Measuring current and voltage can provide information about the internal structure and activities within the IC, enabling detection of Trojans without fully activating them.

A weakness of such methods is that a Trojan can draw only a very small amount of current and that it could be submerged below the noise floor and process variation effects, thus making it undetectable by conventional measurement equipment. However, Trojan detection capability can be greatly enhanced by measuring current locally and from multiple power ports or pads, switching off certain sections of the chip, and thus increasing the small differential of voltage or current with respect to the normal operating parameters.

Timing-based Methods

In timing-based methods, Trojans can be detected by measuring the delays between a circuit’s inputs and outputs. Trojans can be detected when one or a group of path delays are extended beyond the threshold determined by the process variations level.

Many different samples from a process lot are checked under the same test patterns and compared. An outlier is a suspect of Trojan infection. This method uses statistical analysis to deal with process variations. However, it is not suitable for today’s complex circuits, which contain millions of paths between inputs and output. Measuring all these paths, especially the short ones, is not easy.

Architecture-level Trojan Detection

An attack can occur at different levels of design abstraction, for example at the specification, RTL, gate level, or post-layout level. At the most abstract level, the adversary can access the interpreter and perform software tampering, scan-chain readout, or a fault attack. At the hardware microarchitecture and circuit levels, the attacker takes into account power energy consumption or electromagnetic energy. As we ascend to an upper level of abstraction, the required sophistication of the attacking agent decreases and detectability of the Trojan decreases. This is because the automated synthesis and automated place and route process distribute the logic all over the chip area.

Design for Trust

One approach is to design chips for detectability of any tampering. The CAD and test community has long benefited from Design for Testability (DFT) and Design for Manufacturability (DFM). Design for Trust is another "ility" that is critical for Trojan detection. These design methods, proposed by the hardware security and trust community, improve Trojan detection and isolation by changing or modifying the design flow. They help prevent insertion of Trojans, facilitate easier detection, and provide effective IC authentication.

Some methods are physical-level tamper-proofing techniques, such as placing security parts into special casings with light, temperature, tampering, or motion sensors.

Suh, Deng, and Chan et al.[xv] have proposed a design-level tamper-proofing method. In their paper, they discuss an encryption microarchitecture featuring a high-end secure microprocessor. A secure processor is authenticated by a checksum response to a challenge within a time limit. The unique checksum is based on the cycle-to-cycle activities of the processor’s specific internal micro-architectural mechanism. The authors showed that small differences in the crypto-architecture result in significant deviations in the checksum.

The architectural detection methods are specific and have to be built into the design for easy tamper detectability. The chip-level methods are too high-precision and error-prone because it is so difficult to identify a trigger in the presence of chip noise and process variation.

Conclusion

The issue of IC security and effective countermeasures has drawn considerable research interest in recent times. This paper presents a survey of different Trojan types and emerging methods of detection. Analog Trojans present a major future challenge because there are numerous types of activation and observation conditions. Considering the varied nature and types of IC vulnerabilities, a combination of design and test methods would be required to provide an acceptable level of security.

Designs are inherently made secure each day. However, the hacker is always one step ahead!! Engineers are reacting to changing security needs. They are proactively designing in "trust-ability" and making designs more secure, but physical access is something beyond the control of the academic and engineering communities. Businesses have to be aware and procurement policies have to be improved. The threats to IC security are more severe in regards to physical security. Vertical integration of the entire manufacturing chain would bring up trust in the manufacturing process, enabling many Trojans to be controlled.

Appendix: Short Cases of IC Vulnerability[xvi]

The sensitive assets that each market sector tries to protect against attack are diverse. For example, mobile handsets aim to protect the integrity of radio networks, while television set-top boxes prevent unauthorized access to subscription channels. The varied type and value of the assets being protected, combined with the different underlying system implementations, mean that the attacks experienced by each also vary.

Mobile Sector

Two critical parts of a GSM handset are the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) code, a unique 15-digit code used to identify an individual handset when it connects to the network, and the low-level SIMLock protocol that is used to bind a particular device to SIM cards of a particular network operator.

Both of these components are used to provide a security feature: the IMEI is used to block stolen handsets from accessing a network, and the SIMLock protocol is used to tie the device to the operator for a contract’s duration. On many handsets both of these protection mechanisms can be bypassed with little effort, typically using a USB cable and a reprogramming tool running on a desktop workstation.

The result of these insecurities in the implementation is an opportunity for fraud to be committed on such a large scale that statistics reported by Reuters UK suggest it is driving half of all street crime through mobile phone thefts, costing the industry billions of dollars every year.

Security requirements placed on new mobile devices no longer relate only to the network, but also to content and services available on the device. Protection of digital media content through Digital Rights Management (DRM) and protection of confidential user data, such as synchronized email accounts, is becoming critical as both operators and users try to obtain more value from their devices.

Consumer Electronics and Embedded Sector

The requirements placed on consumer electronics, such as portable game consoles and home movie players, are converging with those seen in the mobile market. Increasing wired and wireless connectivity, greater storage of user data, dynamic download of programmable content, and handling of higher value services all suggest the need for a high-performance and robust security environment.

Security attacks are not limited to open systems with user-extensible software stacks. Within the automotive market most systems are closed or deeply embedded, yet odometer fraud, in which the mileage reading is rolled back to inflate the price of a secondhand vehicle, is still prevalent. The US Department of Transportation reports that this fraud alone costs American consumers hundreds of millions of dollars every year in inflated vehicle prices.

Security features typically encountered in these embedded systems are those that verify that firmware updates are authentic and those that ensure that debug mechanisms cannot be used maliciously.

Notes


iCyber Security in Federal Government, Booz Allen Hamilton

iiSource: Booz Allen Hamilton. www.boozallen.com

iii"The Hunt for the Kill Switch," IEEE Spectrum, May 2008

iv"The Hunt for the Kill Switch," IEEE Spectrum, May 2008

vAn FPGA, or field-programmable gate array, is a general-purpose programmable chip with logic blocks and programmable interconnections. FPGA often replace application-specific ICs for small-volume applications. A bit stream is the interconnection information between the logic elements of the FPGA. A bit stream defines the function of the FPGA.

viReport of the Defense Science Board Task Force on High Performance Microchip Supply, Defense Science Board, US Department of Defense, February 2005; http://www.acq.osd.mil/dsb/reports/2005-02-HPMS_Report_Final.pdf.

viiInnovation at Risk: Intellectual Property Challenges and Opportunities, white paper, Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International, June 2008.

viiihttp://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/MTO/Programs/Trusted_Integrated_Circuits_(TRUST).aspx

ixTool control language: Standard CAD tools support a common tool control language for automating design flows and batch mode jobs

x"The Hunt for the Kill Switch," IEEE Spectrum, May 2008

xiTowards a Comprehensive and Systematic Classification of Hardware Trojans, J Rajendran et al.

xiihttp://larc.ee.nthu.edu.tw/~cww/n/625/6251/05DFT0603.pdf

xiiiX. Wang, M. Tehranipoor, and J. Plusquellic, "Detecting Malicious Inclusions in Secure Hardware: Challenges and Solutions," Proc. IEEE Int’l Workshop Hardware-Oriented Security and Trust (HOST 08), IEEE CS Press, 2008, pp. 15-19

xivHardware Trojan: Threats and Emerging Solutions, Rajat Subhra Chakraborty et al.

xvG.E. Suh, D. Deng, and A. Chan, "Hardware Authentication Leveraging Performance Limits in Detailed Simulations and Emulations," Proc. 46th Design Automation Conf. (DAC 09), ACM Press, 2009, pp. 682-687.

xviSource: Building a Secure System Using TrustZone™ Technology, ARM Technologies white paper

Asif Iqbal, SDM ’11

How to Secure and Grow Your Islands of Profit

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesJonathan L.S. Byrnes

Jonathan L.S. Byrnes, Senior Lecturer, MIT

Download the presentation slides

Date: October 21, 2013

About the Presentation

“Islands of profit” is a term for the 20 percent to 30 percent of a business that provides all reported profits, subsidizing the 30 percent to 40 percent of the business that actually loses money. If you can secure and grow these islands of profit, you will retain the best customers for years, reaping huge profits and growth. If you fail to do so, your competitors will freeze you out of the best parts of the market for a long time.

This webinar will provide insights on how to accelerate your profitability through precision market targeting and sales execution. Dr. Jonathan L. S. Byrnes will describe how companies both large and small can increase market share while lowering costs and attracting new customers. He will cover:

  • How to lock in and grow the most profitable customers while reducing costs;
  • How to sell the most profitable products to the best customers to increase profits;
  • How to match sales and marketing resources to the best profit and growth opportunities; and
  • How successful companies have achieved this and how they managed the changes.

We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Dr. Jonathan L.S. Byrnes is an acknowledged authority on profitability management, with extensive experience spanning healthcare, transportation, software, retail, financial services, distribution, and other industries.

He has authored more than 100 books, articles, cases, notes, and expert submissions, including the award-winning Islands of Profit in a Sea of Red Ink. He is the founding partner and CEO of Profit Isle, which combines big data and change management to accelerate profitability of client revenues.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

SDM Alumni Networking Event

Please join us for SDM’s annual alumni-student mixer!

October 9, 2013
6-9pm
EVOO Cambridge
350 Third Street (Kendall Square)
Cambridge, MA
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Open to SDM alumni and students only.

We look forward to seeing you!

Understanding Patient Wait Times at the LV Prasad Eye Institute

Figure 1. Service time variability at LVPEI.Figure 2. Patient arrivals by time of day.Figure 3. Patient's adherence to appointments.Dmitriy Lyan, SDM '11, right, meets with two ophthalmologists at the LVPEI retina clinic in Hyderabad, India..Dmitriy Lyan, SDM '11, receives a free consultation from an LVPEI optometrist in Hyderabad, India.Ben Levitt By Ali Kamil, SDM ’12, and Dmitriy Lyan, SDM ’11
October 4, 2013

The challenge presented in this project was to reduce patient wait times and variability at LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) in Hyderabad, India. Since its inception, LVPEI has served more than 15 million patients, of which more than 50 percent were served at no charge. Each outpatient department (OPD) clinic sees 65 to 120 patients in a given day, with the average wait time ranging from 45 minutes to 6 hours. This variability in service time and associated long delays is a source of angst for patients, stress for hospital staff—who consistently work overtime, and damage to the reputation of the clinic in the region (see Figure 1). The MIT Sloan team was tasked with applying management and engineering principles to investigate the source of the variability and delays at LVPEI.

Figure 1. Service time variability at LVPEI.

The process

To understand the problem holistically, the team attempted to build a reference model of the problem experienced at LVPEI. From January through March 2013, the team:

  • Communicated with the leads from LVPEI’s clinical and administrative operations staff;
  • Conducted interviews with key stakeholders to understand patient flow dynamics; and
  • Focused on qualitative metrics, due to constraints in accessing actual data points.

To identify existing best practices in managing patient flows and reducing variability, the team also conducted research at Boston-area eye clinics—Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital, and Mount Auburn Hospital.

The team traveled to Hyderabad, India, in March 2013 to conduct on-the-ground research and collect quantitative metrics for patient service and wait times. Operating from the hospital, the team:

  • Conducted time and motion studies in four of LVPEI’s OPD clinics, including two cornea and two retina clinics;
  • Collected time stamps as patients and corresponding medical folders moved through the clinics;
  • Interviewed stakeholders, including faculty ophthalmologists in each of the studied clinics, administrators who oversee appointment scheduling and resource allocation, and operations professors from the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, to understand their prior work on patient wait time trends at LVPEI;
  • Conducted patient surveys at walk-in counters to understand the motivation for choosing the walk-in option, and surveyed patients at the checkout counter to gauge patient satisfaction levels and concerns about their LVPEI experiences;
  • Constructed a system dynamics model—based on the qualitative data gathered from numerous interviews and observations—that reflects the core structure of LVPEI OPD operations and simulates patient flow in a given day; the model was then validated by key stakeholders and calibrated to the data collected on site (see Figure 2); and
  • Worked with key stakeholders to validate and calibrate the data collected on site.

Figure 2. Patient arrivals by time of day.

Figure 3. Patient’s adherence to appointments.

The findings

Based on our work on the ground and subsequent application of system dynamics to determine the cause for variability and long service times, we showed that:

  • Given a fixed OPD capacity, patient wait times are largely a function of service demand, scheduling, and resource-specific factors;
  • Demand and scheduling factors include the complexity of patient cases, their volume, and the way they are scheduled in a given day; factors impacting resource allocation and utilization include patient workup time, patient investigation time, and the operating hours of the OPD clinic;
  • To accommodate larger daily volumes of patients, providers reduce the time they spend with each patient, thereby undermining the quality of care provided and increasing the likelihood of medical errors; and
  • Walk-in patients are the source of variability in the system and cause the established schedule at LVPEI to deviate.

Given the fixed OPD capacity and service staff, we recommended that LVPEI consider allocating blocks of time in the day dedicated specifically for walk-in patients and follow-up patients. Increasing awareness and enforcing adherence to an appointment-based scheduling system will enable predictable patient wait and service times.

Next steps

Further analysis is needed to study the relationship between the volume of patients, the number of incorrect diagnoses, and the number of patients that return to the clinic to receive additional treatment as a result of error. The team is continuing its work with LVPEI to obtain additional data on patient check-in and checkout times. Additionally, the team is working to make the system dynamics model robust under extreme scenarios and able to delineate among patient types—i.e. walk-in, appointment-based, or follow-up patients.

About the Authors

Ali Kamil is a graduate student at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. His research focuses on understanding managerial and organizational effectiveness in low-resource settings—specifically developing and emerging markets. His expertise lies in employing system dynamics–based modeling and tools to simulate complex operations and devise effective policy measures. Prior to MIT, Kamil was an engagement manager at Deloitte Consulting LLP, where he advised leading media, entertainment, and telecom clients in matters of competitive strategy, operations, and technology implementation/outsourcing. He holds a B.S. in computer science and economics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Dmitriy Lyan is a senior product manager of technical product at Amazon. He is a graduate of the MIT System Design and Management program, where he specialized in the development of performance management systems for shared value-focused organizations. In his thesis work, Lyan applied system dynamics methodology to explore performance dynamics in US military behavioral health clinics. Prior to MIT, he worked in the investment management and software development industries. He holds an M.S. in financial engineering from Claremont Graduate University/Peter F. Drucker School of Management and a B.S. in computer engineering from the University of California, San Diego.

Dmitriy Lyan, SDM ’11, right, meets with two ophthalmologists at the LVPEI retina clinic in Hyderabad, India.

Dmitriy Lyan, SDM ’11, receives a free consultation from an LVPEI optometrist in Hyderabad, India.

Children wait to be seen at the LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India.

Supply Chain and Risk Management

Constantine G. VassiliadisFigure 2Figure 3Figure 4Figure 5Table 1Figure 6Figure 7Figure 8Figure 9Figure 10Figure 11Figure 12Figure 13Figure 14Figure 15Figure 16Figure 17Figure 18Figure 19Figure 20Figure 21Figure 22Figure 23David Simchi-LeviIoannis M. KyratzoglouConstantine G. Vassiliadis

Making the Right Risk Decisions to Strengthen Operations Performance

By Ioannis Kyratzoglou
October 3, 2013

This study analyzes the supply chain operations and risk management approaches of large companies and examines their operations and financial performance in the face of supply chain disruptions. It proposes a framework and a set of principles to help companies manage today’s risk challenges and prepare for future opportunities. Using this framework, business leaders can increase their awareness of where their companies and their competitors stand.

Contents

Executive Summary

The MIT/PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Supply Chain and Risk Management Survey is a study of the supply chain operations and risk management approaches of 209 companies with global footprints. As globally operating organizations, they are exposed to high-risk scenarios ranging from controllable risks—such as raw material price fluctuation, currency fluctuations, market changes, or fuel price volatility—to uncontrollable ones such as natural disasters.

The findings validate five key principles that companies can learn from to better manage today’s risk challenges to their supply chains and prepare for future opportunities.

  1. Supply chain disruptions have a significant impact on company business and financial performance.
  2. Companies with mature supply chain and risk management capabilities are more resilient to supply chain disruptions. They are impacted less and they recover faster than companies with immature capabilities.
  3. Mature companies investing in supply chain flexibility are more resilient to disruptions than mature companies that do not invest in supply chain flexibility.
  4. Mature companies investing in risk segmentation are more resilient to disruptions than mature companies that do not invest in risk segmentation.
  5. Companies with mature capabilities in supply chain and risk management do better along all surveyed dimensions of operational and financial performance than immature companies.

"Capability maturity," as referred to above, was determined using our supply chain and risk management capability maturity framework. This framework assesses the degree to which companies are applying the most effective enablers of supply chain risk reduction (e.g., flexibility, risk governance, alignment, integration, information sharing, data, models and analytics, and rationalization) and their associated processes. The model depicts where a company stands in relation to its competition and the rest of the industry.

According to the survey results, as many as 60 percent of the companies pay only marginal attention to risk reduction processes. These companies are categorized as having immature risk processes. They mitigate risk by either increasing capacity or strategically positioning additional inventory. This is not a surprise as the survey also shows that most of these companies are focused either on maximizing profit, minimizing costs, or maintaining service levels.

The remaining 40 percent do invest in developing advanced risk reduction capabilities and are classified as having mature processes. Our research validated that companies with mature risk processes perform operationally and financially better—something for CEOs and CFOs to note. Indeed, managing supply chain risk is good for all parts of the business—product design, development, operations, and sales. Using the capability maturity model, companies can benchmark their ability to respond to risks and then increase their capability maturity to gain competitive advantage.

When Mature Risk Management and Operational Resilience Pay Off

On March 11, 2011[1], Nissan Motor Company Ltd. and its suppliers experienced a 9.0-magnitude earthquake as it struck off the east coast of Japan. The quake was among the five most powerful earthquakes on record. Tsunami waves in excess of 40 meters traveled up to 10 km inland, causing a "Level 7" meltdown at three nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi. The impact of this disaster was devastating: 25,000 people died, went missing, or were injured; 125,000 buildings were damaged; and economic losses were estimated at $200 billion.

In the weeks following the catastrophic earthquake, 80 percent of the automotive plants in Japan suspended production. Nissan’s production capacity was perceived to have suffered most from the disaster compared to its competitors. Six production facilities and 50 of the firm’s critical suppliers suffered severe damage. The result was a loss of production capacity equivalent to approximately 270,000 automobiles.

Despite this devastation, Nissan’s recovery was remarkable. During the next six months, Nissan’s production in Japan decreased by only 3.8 percent compared to an industrywide decrease of 24.8 percent. Nissan ended 2011 with an increase in production of 9.3 percent compared to a reduction of 9.3 percent industrywide.

How was Nissan able to successfully navigate a disruption of this magnitude so successfully?

  1. To begin with, Nissan responded by adhering to the principles of its risk management philosophy. It focused on identifying risks as early as possible, actively analyzing these risks, planning countermeasures, and rapidly implementing them.
  2. The company had prepared a continuous readiness plan encompassing its suppliers, including: an earthquake emergency response plan; a business continuity plan; and disaster simulation training. Nissan deployed these advanced capabilities throughout risk management and along the supply chain.
  3. Management was empowered to make decisions locally without lengthy analysis.
  4. The supply chain model structure was flexible, meaning there was decentralization with strong central control when required. This was combined with simplified product lines.
  5. There was visibility across the extended enterprise and good coordination between internal and external business functions.

These capabilities allowed the company to share information globally, allocate component part supplies on higher margin products, and adjust production in a cost-efficient way.

Why This Study?

Counterintuitive stories such as Nissan’s are at the heart of this study, illustrating that companies with highly mature capabilities in both supply chain management and risk management will be able to effectively address risks, outperform the market, and even gain competitive advantage.

We believe that linking the customer value proposition, sound supply chain operations, and robust risk management is key to success. Moreover, there are supply chain and risk management principles, frameworks, and processes that enable companies to address complex market challenges and achieve superior performance.

The MIT Forum for Supply Chain Innovation and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) launched the Supply Chain Risk Management Survey to assess how global organizations address these challenges and their impact on business operations. The survey was distributed to members of the MIT Forum for Supply Chain Innovation and worldwide clients of PwC. In total, 209 companies completed the survey. Appendix A characterizes the participant population.

The Challenges of a More Global Supply Chain

When a company expands from a local or regional presence to a more global one, the operations strategy needs to be adjusted to align with the changes. The economic crisis in Europe is a good example of this. Due to the decrease in demand for many products and services on the continent, companies are changing strategies, seeking alternate global markets. That’s when operations become more complex. Transportation and logistics become more challenging, lead times lengthen, costs increase, and end customer service can suffer. With a more a global footprint, different products are directed to more diverse customers via different distribution channels, which require different supply chains.

To address the challenge successfully, there are a number of questions companies need to consider as their operations globalize.

  1. What are the drivers of supply chain complexity for a company with global operations, and how have they evolved over the recent past?
  2. What are the sources of supply chain risk?
  3. How can vulnerability and exposure to high-impact supply chain disruptions be properly assessed and managed?
  4. How can supply chain resilience be improved?
  5. What supply chain operations and risk principles will guide the improvement of the company’s bottom line: the operations and financial performance?

Through this research, we aim to provide valuable insight in response to these questions.

What Are the Drivers of Supply Chain Operations Complexity?

Supply chains are exposed to both domestic and international risks. The more complex the supply chain, the less predictable the likelihood and the impact of any disruption. In other words, exposure to risk is potentially higher. We asked survey participants their views on how certain key supply chain complexity drivers have evolved over the past three years. The responses are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Evolution of supply chain complexity over the past three years.

In recent years, the size of the supply chain network has increased, dependencies among entities and functions have shifted, the speed of change has accelerated, and the level of transparency has decreased.

Overall, developing a product and getting it to the market requires more complex supply chains needing a higher degree of coordination.

What Are the Sources of Supply Chain Risk?

Risks to global supply chains vary from known-unknowns and controllable, to unknown-unknowns and uncontrollable ones[2]. In the Nissan case, the devastating natural disasters were unknown-unknowns (difficult to quantify the likelihood of occurrence) and uncontrollable (you cannot manage the expected risk and its impact).

To understand the level of exposure to diverse and broad-ranging sources of risk, we asked survey participants to identify the sources of risks faced by their supply chain. The results are shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Survey participants’ view on sources of risks faced by their supply chain.

Interestingly, all the top six risks, with the exception of environmental catastrophes, are known-unknowns and controllable to some degree.

To What Parameters Are Supply Chain Operations Most Sensitive?

Respondents replied that their supply chain operations were most sensitive to skill set and expertise (31%), price of commodities (29%), and energy and oil (28%). See Figure 3.

As an example of the energy and oil parameter, according to the US Department of Energy Information Administration, US diesel prices rose 9.5 cents per gallon in February 2012. Cognizant of the sensitivity and impact diesel prices can have on their financial bottom line, shippers adjust their budgets to offset the increased costs higher fuel prices produce.

Figure 3. Parameters to which survey participants’ supply chain operations are most sensitive.

How Do Companies Mitigate Against Disruptions?

What kind of actions do our survey respondents currently take to reduce the exposure of their supply chain to potential disruptions or to mitigate the impact? Nissan had a well-thought-out and exercised business continuity plan ready to kick into action to facilitate a quick recovery. And indeed, 82 percent of respondents said they had business continuity plans ready. See Figure 4.

Figure 4. Actions companies take to mitigate supply chain risk.

The Supply Chain and Risk Management Maturity Framework

Strengthen Supply Chain and Risk Management

As Nissan illustrated, to reduce vulnerability and exposure to high-impact supply chain disruptions, companies need advanced capabilities along two dimensions: supply chain management and risk management. But how can they understand the maturity level of their capabilities in these areas before designing ways to strengthen them?

The Seven Supply Chain and Risk Enablers of Maturity

There are seven factors that enable stronger capabilities in both supply chain management and risk management. By matching their practices against these seven "enablers," companies can assess how mature or immature their capabilities are. This is the basis of our Supply Chain and Risk Management Maturity Model—an empirical framework that applies set questions across the seven enablers.

  1. Risk governance—the presence of appropriate risk management structures, processes, and culture.
  2. Flexibility and redundancy in product, network, and process architectures—having the right levels of flexibility and redundancy across the value chain to be able to absorb disruptions and adapt to change.
  3. Alignment between partners in the supply chain—strategic alignment on key value dimensions, identification of emerging patterns, and advancement toward higher value propositions.
  4. Upstream and downstream supply chain integration—information sharing, visibility, and collaboration with upstream and downstream supply chain partners.
  5. Alignment between internal business functions—alignment and the integration of activities between company value chain functions on a strategic, tactical, and operational level.
  6. Complexity management/rationalization—ability to standardize and simplify networks and processes, interfaces, product architectures, and product portfolios and operating models.
  7. Data, models, and analytics—development and use of intelligence and analytical capabilities to support supply chain and risk management functions.

According to our survey, companies consider alignment between partners in the supply chain as the most important factor in enabling risk reduction (60%). See Figure 5.

Internal and external process integration is also very important (49%) and (47%). Risk governance (44%) and network flexibility and redundancy (37%) are also being included in the mix. Finally, despite recent advances, data, models and analytics (28%), and complexity management/ rationalization (26%) are low on the priority list. As analytics continue to mature, this may change.

Figure 5. Survey participants’ view on which capability enabler they consider the most important.

Four Levels of Maturity in Supply Chain Operations and Risk Management

Supply chain operations and risk management processes go hand in hand and complement one another. At lower maturity levels, the processes are decoupled and stand alone, but at high maturity levels they are fully intertwined. For developing and deploying capabilities to manage supply chain risk effectively, a high level of supply chain sophistication is an absolute prerequisite. There are four levels of supply chain and risk management process maturity:

Level I: Functional supply chain management and ad hoc management of risk. Supply chains are organized functionally with a very low degree of integration. They are characterized by high duplication of activities, internally and externally disconnected processes, and an absence of coordinated efforts with suppliers and partners. Product design is performed independently and there is little visibility into partners/suppliers operations. Inventory and capacity levels are unbalanced, leading to poor customer service and high total costs. There is no risk governance structure and poor visibility into sources of supply chain risk. Only very limited vulnerability or threat analysis is performed. Risk is managed in an ad hoc way with no anticipation or positioning of response mechanisms.

Level II: Internal supply chain integration and positioning of planned buffers to absorb disruptions. Supply chains are cross-functionally organized. Internal processes are integrated, information is shared, and visibility is provided between functions in a structured way. Resources are jointly managed and there is a higher level of alignment between performance objectives. Integrated planning is performed at strategic, tactical, and operational levels—leading to a single company plan. Risk management processes are documented and internally integrated. Basic threats and vulnerabilities are analyzed. Scenarios concerning the base integrated plan are conducted to position targeted buffers of capacity and inventory to absorb disruptions. Postponement or delayed differentiation product design principles are explored to improve response to changing demand patterns. There is minimum visibility, however, into emerging changes and patterns outside the company.

Level III: External supply chain collaboration and proactive risk response. Supply chains feature collaboration across the extended enterprise. Information sharing is extensive and visibility is high. Key activities such as product design or inventory management are integrated among supply chain partners. External input is incorporated into internal planning activities. Interfaces are standardized, and products and processes are rationalized to reduce complexity. Information sharing and visibility outside the company domain is exploited to set up sensors and predictors of change and variability to proactively position response mechanisms. Formal quantitative methodologies for risk management are introduced and sensitivity analysis is conducted. Suppliers and partners are monitored for resilience levels and business continuity plans are created.

Level IV: Dynamic supply chain adaptation and fully flexible response to risk. Companies are fully aligned with their supply chain partners on key value dimensions across the extended enterprise. Individual strategies and operations are guided by common objectives and fitness schemata. Supply chains are fully flexible to interact and adapt to complex dynamic environments. Emerging value chain patterns resulting from this interaction are probed and identified and higher value equilibrium points are achieved. At this level, the supply chain is often segmented to match multiple customer value propositions. Risk sensors and predictors are supported by real-time monitoring and analytics. Risk governance is formal but flexible. Full flexibility in the supply chain product, network, and process architecture and short supply chain transformation lead-times allow quick response and adaptability. Supplier segmentation is performed. Risk strategies are segmented based on supplier profiles and market-product combination characteristics.

Table 1 summarizes the criteria used as a basis for the questions and the maturity levels.

Table 1. Capability maturity classification model.

How Mature Are Company Capabilities?

The framework is a useful tool in evaluating each company’s capabilities. Importantly, according to our study, it shows that the majority of the companies surveyed have immature supply chain operations and risk management processes in place. See Figure 6.

Specifically, of the companies surveyed, only 41 percent were classified as having mature processes, based on their responses; 59 percent of companies have immature processes in place to effectively address incidents. Only a minority of companies (9 percent) are fully prepared to address potential challenges from supply chain disruptions in increasingly complex environments.

Figure 6. Companies classified by capability level.

Key Insights—More Mature Capabilities Lead to Better Operational Performance

Having assessed the maturity levels of the 209 companies in the survey, we then analyzed their business and operational performance indicators over the previous 12 months. Our aim was to understand the impact of disruptions on mature vs. immature companies.

The indicators cover a wide spectrum of company performance including profitability, efficiency, and service. Both the scale of the impact and the time it took to recover to prior or improved levels of performance were measured. These are the key insights from the 209 companies surveyed.

1. Supply chain disruptions have a significant impact on company business and financial performance.

To better understand the impact of disruptions[3], we assessed the performance of companies that faced at least three disruptive incidents over the previous 12 months. If performance indicators were negatively affected by 3 percent or higher, this was considered "significant impact." As Figure 7 illustrates, 54 percent said that sales revenue was negatively affected and 64 percent suffered a decline in their customer service levels. Across all the operational key performance parameters (KPIs) examined, at least 60 percent reported a 3 percent or higher loss of value. For example, in India’s textile industry, raw material costs rose by 6 percent due to India’s recent sharp currency fall, causing fabric prices to rise[4]. This currency volatility triggered a rise in total costs for fabric makers.

The importance of having mature capabilities in place to deal with supply chain disruptions is clear.

Figure 7. Percentage of companies that suffered a 3 percent or higher impact on their performance indicators as a result of supply chain disruptions in the previous 12 months.

2. Companies with mature supply chain and risk management processes are more resilient to disruptions than those with immature processes.

According to the survey results, companies with mature (maturity levels III & IV) supply chain and risk management processes are more resilient to disruptions than companies with immature (maturity levels I & II) processes. The more mature companies suffer lower impact and enjoy faster recovery.

Figure 8 shows the percentage of companies with more than three incidents that suffered an impact of 3 percent or higher on their performance as a result of supply chain disruptions in the previous 12 months.

Only 44 percent of the companies with mature processes suffered a 3 percent or more decline in their revenue compared to 57 percent with immature processes. The higher resilience trend for mature companies is common for all the KPIs examined. The difference is striking in key areas such as total supply chain cost, order fulfillment lead times and lead-time variability. These KPIs are among those most heavily impacted by supply chain disruptions, so mature companies gain a distinct advantage by investing in the proposed set of capabilities.

Figure 8. Performance of companies with mature vs. immature capabilities.

3. Mature companies that invest in supply chain flexibility are more resilient to disruption than mature companies that don’t.

Flexibility is critical to a company’s ability to adapt to change. A greater degree of flexibility allows companies to better respond to demand changes, labor strikes, technology changes, currency volatility, and volatile energy and oil prices. However, flexibility does not come free, and the higher the level of flexibility the more expensive it is to achieve. Similarly, achieving a higher level of service can be costly. It’s a difficult trade-off between the desire to minimize costs vs. investing in flexibility or increasing customer service levels.

We asked the respondents to identify the key supply chain value drivers for their leading customer value proposition. High customer service level (34 percent) and flexibility (27 percent) were cited as the top two drivers followed by cost minimization (22 percent) and efficient use of inventory (14 percent). See Figure 9.

Figure 9. Key supply chain value driver to match customer value proposition.

Two distinctive groups emerge from this response:

  • The cost-efficient group—mature companies that selected cost or efficiency as their key supply chain value driver.
  • The flexible-response group—mature companies that selected flexibility or customer service levels as their key supply chain value driver.

When we compared the performance resilience of these two groups, we learned that the flexible-response group fared significantly better. The performance of cost-efficient companies suffered more from the changes and disruptions in their supply chains, even though they possess mature capabilities in deploying their strategy. Mature companies investing in flexibility, responsiveness, and customer service demonstrate higher performance resilience compared to companies whose strategies emphasize cost and efficiency. Figure 10 highlights the major differences.

Figure 10. Performance of mature cost-efficient vs mature flexible-response companies.

Figure 10 also illustrates that the largest majority of cost-efficient companies (80 percent) face high variability in their supply chain lead times once a supply chain disruption takes place. This is interesting given that low variability is one of the key drivers of an efficient operating strategy.

4. Mature companies that invest in risk segmentation are more resilient to disruptions than mature companies that don’t.

Companies with different market value propositions prioritize different value dimensions in their supply chains. Today, companies often target different market segments and therefore have several customer value propositions. For example, one part of the product portfolio may emphasize price as the key differentiator while another emphasizes product innovation or product selection and availability.

We asked our survey respondents to identify the key value dimension of their leading customer value proposition. The top three choices were: quality (23 percent), innovation (14 percent), and price (14 percent). See Figure 11.

Figure 11. The key value dimension of the leading customer value proposition of survey participants.

Different value propositions—and the corresponding operating strategies—do not necessarily have the same risk profile. Value dimensions are not exposed to the same threats and vulnerabilities. As a result, the management of supply chain risk—exposure reduction and mitigation strategies—may need to vary significantly based on the value dimension.

Consider a value proposition emphasizing product innovation. The high speed of innovation, the corresponding lower forecast accuracy, the higher price risk, and the higher supply risk will essentially determine the type of strategy the company deploys with its supplier. If the price risk or supply risk is higher as a result of the speed of innovation then it is more likely that flexible risk-sharing contracts, rather than a buildup of inventory buffers is appropriate. Thus, risk strategies needs to be segmented according to the value driver.

We asked survey respondents whether they actively pursued risk strategy segmentation. Almost 60 percent do and 40 percent don’t. See Figure 12.

Figure 12. Percentage of companies that perform risk strategy segmentation.

We asked the 59 percent of companies that pursued risk segmentation, "What product differentiators do you use as a basis for risk strategy segmentation?" The top three choices were: strategic importance (56 percent), demand volatility (52 percent) and sales volume (45 percent). See Figure 13.

Figure 13. Key product differentiators for risk strategy segmentation.

Companies with mature capabilities were clustered into two main groups: those that perform risk strategy segmentation and those that don’t. We then compared the performance resilience to supply chain disruptions for both groups. We observed that mature companies investing in risk segmentation based on different value propositions demonstrated higher performance resilience than companies that did not invest in risk segmentation.

Figure 14 highlights the major difference between the two groups across operations and financial performance indicators. Of particular note is the sales revenue category. Only 32 percent of the mature companies that segment their risk management strategy were significantly impacted as a result of incidents that occurred. This compares to 70 percent of mature companies that don’t segment—a 38 percent difference!

Figure 14. Performance of companies based on risk strategy segmentation.

5. Companies with mature capabilities in supply chain management and risk management do better along all surveyed dimensions of operational and financial performance than immature companies.

We compared how company operations and financial performance differed between the mature and immature companies over the prior 12 months. As Figure 15 highlights, companies with mature capabilities in supply chain and risk management did better along all surveyed dimensions of operational and financial performance.

This finding suggests that there is a direct link between having mature supply chain and risk management capabilities and higher overall performance.

Figure 15. Business and financial performance difference between mature and immature companies.

The capability maturity evaluation will enable company executives to gain insight into the risk position and maturity of the company measured in terms of operations and financial performance.

Appendix A: Survey Demographics and Trends

The majority of the 209 survey participants are from Europe. Figure 16 illustrates the geographical distribution of survey participants according to where their headquarters are based.

Figure 16. Distribution of survey participants’ headquarters by region.

Figure 17. Distribution of survey participants by industry.

Figure 18. Distribution of survey participants by annual sales revenue based on 2011 reported sales revenues.

The majority of survey participants (64 percent) are manufacturing companies. See Figure 19.

Figure 19. Percentage of manufacturing vs. non-manufacturing survey companies.

A total of 83 percent of the participating companies have their manufacturing operations dispersed in multiple geographic regions while only 17 percent have them in the same region as their headquarters.

Figure 20. Distribution of companies by scale of operations globalization.

With 83 percent of the companies having operations across regions, we examined how the split of operations volume by regions compared with the split of their sales volume by region to get an indication of the use of regional vs. global operations strategies to meet demand. For the previous 12 months, we observed that sales vs. operation volumes per region were mostly aligned—indicating use of regional strategies by survey participants.

Figure 21. Comparison between manufacturing operations volume and sales volume by region.

This is a comparison between the current and the future operations volume in 2015 by region based on the expectation of survey participants. America’s operations remain constant. A 3 percent growth is shown for Asia and a corresponding 2 percent decline for Europe, indicating a shift of operations from Europe to Asia.

Figure 22. Comparison between current vs. future expected operations by volume.

Survey participants expect a drop in their sales volume in Europe by 2015 and an increase in sales volumes in most of other world regions with Asia, the Middle East, and Africa contributing the biggest part.

Figure 23. Comparison between current vs. future expected sales volumes by region.

Appendix B: Key Performance Indicator Definitions

The key operations[5] and financial performance indicators used in this study are described below:

Market value
The current market value of a company is the total number of shares outstanding multiplied by the current price of its shares. Recent research has shown that shareholder value can be significantly impacted by severe supply chain disruptions. An example is Mattel, the world’s largest toymaker, which had to issue a major product recall due to quality issues. Mattel’s stock price suffered a steep fall when the recall was announced in Q3 2007 and did not recover for many months.

Sales revenue
The revenues a company makes after the sale of its products. Supply chain disruptions or structural market shifts can impact a company’s ability to deliver the value proposition and lead to loss of sales volume and sales revenue.

Market share
The company’s sales over the period divided by the total sales of the industry over the same period. Loss of delivery capability or damaged brand image can lead to market-share loss, especially when the impact of a supply chain disruption is long-lasting.

Earnings before income and taxes margin
The earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) divided by total revenue. EBIT margin can provide an investor with a clearer view of a company’s core profitability.

Total supply chain cost
The sum of fixed and variable costs to perform the plan, source, make, and deliver functions for company products. Supply chain disruptions have an impact on total supply chain cost as a number of activities need to be expedited or redesigned across the various functions.

Supply chain asset utilization
Supply chain asset utilization is a measure of actual use of supply chain assets divided by the available use of these assets. Assets include both fixed and moving assets. Fixed assets enable direct product development, transformation, and delivery of a company’s products or services, as well as indirect support, and typically have greater than one year of service life. A disruption can directly impact the usability of assets and resources or cause their repositioning. As a result, the utilization of key assets and resources may deviate significantly from the set targets.

Inventory turns
Inventory turnover ratio measures the efficiency of inventory management. It reflects how many times average inventory was produced and sold during the period. A disruption or change may impact inventory efficiency either by introducing increased obsolescence or by changing inventory positioning and consumption plans.

Customer service levels
The probability that customer demand is met. The loss of delivery, customer communication, or customer service capability due to a supply chain disruption can impact customer service levels.

Order fulfillment lead time
The average actual lead times consistently achieved, from order receipt to order entry complete, order entry complete to start build, start build to order ready for shipment, order ready for shipment to customer receipt of order.

Total supply chain lead time
Total supply chain lead time in supply chain management is the time from the moment the customer places an order (the moment you learn of the requirement) to the moment the product is received by the customer. In the absence of finished goods or intermediate (work in progress) inventory, it is the time it takes to actually manufacture the order without any inventory other than raw materials. Supply chain disruptions can introduce significant delays across all stages of the supply chain.

Total supply chain lead-time variability
Total supply chain lead-time variability is the time variation around the total supply chain lead-time mean. Exposure to incident disruptions introduces variability and fluctuations in the standard lead-time levels within the supply chain.

About the Project Team

Professor David Simchi-Levi, MIT

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Engineering Systems Division, MIT

Professor David Simchi-Levi is considered to be one of the thought leaders in supply chain management. He holds a Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University. His research currently focuses on developing and implementing robust and efficient techniques for logistics and manufacturing systems. He has published widely in professional journals on both practical and theoretical aspects of logistics and supply chain management. He is also the editor-in-chief of Operations Research, the flagship journal of INFORMS, the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.

Ioannis M. Kyratzoglou

System Design and Management Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Mr. Ioannis M. Kyratzoglou is a fellow at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the School of Engineering. He holds a master of science and a mechanical engineer’s degree from MIT. He is currently a principal software systems engineer with The MITRE Corporation. His interests are in software engineering and data analytics.

Constantine G. Vassiliadis

Principal Manager, PricewaterhouseCooper, The Netherlands

Dr. Constantine Vassiliadis holds a Ph.D. from Imperial College, London, in process systems engineering. He has been working as a consultant on supply chain improvement programs with companies worldwide for the past 15 years. In parallel, he is involved in supply chain research and thought leadership initiatives with leading academic institutions.

References


  1. Nissan Motor Company Ltd.: Building Operational Resiliency: William Schmidt, David Simchi-Levi, MIT Sloan Management: Case Number 13-150
  2. Operations Rules: Delivering Value Through Flexible Operations, David Simchi-Levi, 2010, The MIT Press.
  3. Information about disruption impacts is self-reported by survey participants.
  4. www.business-standard.com, Fabric prices rise on weaker rupee, 5 September 2013
  5. David Simchi-Levi, Phil Kminsky, Edith Simchi-Levi (2008). Designing and Managing the Supply Chain: Concepts, Strategies, and Case Studies, 3rd Edition. McGraw-Hill Irwin

A Systems Approach to Airport Planning, Design, and Management

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesRichard de Neufville

Richard de Neufville, Ph.D.
Professor of Engineering Systems and of Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT

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Date: September 23, 2013

About the Presentation

Airports routinely suffer breakdowns, delays, and disasters that are the exception in other fields. When viewed as systems, airports are relatively simple compared to the aircraft they serve and the global communication networks they use daily. So, what’s the problem, and why don’t these systems work together correctly?

World-renowned expert MIT Professor Richard de Neufville will use specific examples to detail the inside story and the fundamental problem: how airports are planned, designed, and managed. To illustrate, he will discuss designers’ and managers’ major blind spots, namely:

  • Neither viewing nor developing airports as systems. Each airport and terminal building is, almost without exception, custom-made.
  • Failing to design airport systems. Standard practice is to design bits and pieces for particular purposes, implicitly hoping that the assemblage will function well together for the airport’s eventual actual needs.
  • Operators who routinely fail to successfully manage waits and delays. This is true even though functionally the airport consists of sequences of queues.

A question-and-answer period will follow the main presentation.

About the Speaker

Professor Richard de Neufville is the coauthor of Airport Systems Planning, Design, and Management (McGraw-Hill, with MIT Professor Amedeo Odoni, and assisted by Dr. Peter Belobaba and Dr. Tom Reynolds). Its second edition appeared in May 2013 and is a 50 percent rewrite from the first edition, since so much has changed in the last decade.

Dr. de Neufville also cowrote Flexibility in Engineering Design (MIT Press 2011, with Dr. Stefan Scholtes), which shows how to use design flexibility to maximize the expected value of design in the context of the inevitable great uncertainty about future demands.

He is a member of the Leadership for US Airport Cooperative Research Program. His many prizes include the Sizer Award for the Most Significant Contribution to MIT Education, the McKelvey Award for Aviation Excellence, and the US Federal Aviation Administration Award for Excellence in Aviation Education.

He has extensive practical experience, having participated in airport planning, design, and management on all continents except Antarctica. Recent international projects concern the redevelopment of a second airport in Bangkok; the planning of a new runway in London; and the design of a terminal in Manila, the Philippines.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from past presentations can be viewed at http://sdm.mit.edu/voices/webinars.html

MIT SDM Sponsors Conference on Big Data and Systems Thinking

Alchemist By Lois Slavin, MIT SDM Communications Director September 19, 2013

On October 10, 2013, experts from industry and MIT will meet in MIT’s Wong Auditorium for the annual MIT SDM Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges. This year’s focus is "Systems Thinking and Big Data: Going Beyond the Numbers."

Sponsored by the MIT System Design and Management (SDM) program, the event will highlight best practices for using systems thinking and big data to strategically deploy a company’s technical and managerial resources.

SDM Executive Director Pat Hale will open the day by framing the challenges and the competitive imperative of using systems thinking in conjunction with big data. A "back to the classroom" session on systems dynamics will follow, led by SDM faculty member J. Bradley Morrison, Ph.D.

Speakers will include several SDM alumni who have risen to the top of the big data arena in their industries. They include:

  • Troy Hamilton, SDM ’97, CIO, NYSE Technologies, Infrastructure Solutions, NYSE Euronext
  • Brian J. Ippolito, SDM ’98, President and CEO, Orbis Technologies
  • John Baker, SDM ’07, Founding Member, The Data Sciences Group
  • Sandro Catanzaro, SDM ’04, Cofounder and Senior Vice President of Analytics and Innovation, DataXu

A panel discussion on "Leveraging Big Data for Business Value" will be moderated by Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Ph.D., Vice President Emeritus, IBM, and Visiting Lecturer, Sloan School of Management and Engineering Systems Division, MIT. Panelists include:

  • Mona Vernon, SDM ’09, Senior Director, Emerging Technologies, Thomson Reuters
  • David Deitrich, Advisory Technical Education Consultant, Global Education Services, EMC
  • Puneet Batra, Former Chief Data Scientist, Kyruus

SDM Industry Codirector Joan Rubin will conclude the day with an overview of insights and next steps.

Additional information/registration

Jaume Plensa’s Alchemist sits across Massachusetts Avenue facing MIT’s main entrance. Comprised of stainless steel symbols and mathematical equations, this modern-day alchemist has been interpreted by some to represent the need to internalize knowledge so that it can then be used to address contemporary challenges and transform today’s world.
(Photo by John Parrillo )

Systems Dynamics-Based Strategies for Introducing Alternative Fuel Vehicles in India

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesAbhijith Neerkaje

Abhijith Neerkaje, Program Manager, SanDisk, and SDM Alumnus
Sergey Naumov, Ph.D. Student, MIT Sloan School of Management, and SDM AlumnusSergey Naumov

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Date: September 9, 2013

About the Presentation

In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption, India urgently needs to devise effective strategies for introducing fuel-efficient, nonpolluting, alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) into the marketplace. The challenge: In India as in many countries, the internal combustion engine is the dominant vehicle power train. This has resulted in significant tailpipe emissions in congested cities.

In 2013, the Indian government unveiled the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan to promote AFV sales in a coordinated manner. Although many similar, well-intentioned programs have been tried previously, the creation of sustainable AFV markets has remained a challenge. This webinar will outline how a multiplatform systems dynamics model can be used to explore the dynamics of adopting AFVs in India. In particular, participants will learn about using systems dynamics for:

  • modeling consumer choice;
  • modeling growth in consumer demand; and
  • understanding how the coevolution of auxiliary resources, such as refueling infrastructure, affects adoption of a new technology.

We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

SDM alumnus Abhijith Neerkaje was a Tata Fellow while at MIT. Currently a program manager at SanDisk, he has more than six years of experience leading new product introductions at General Electric. He is passionate about frugal engineering design, sustainability, and education.

Currently a Ph.D. student in the MIT Sloan School of Management, SDM alumnus Sergey Naumov has extensive experience in IT, energy, networking, and telecommunications. He has served as head of information technology at a Moscow-based battery manufacturer and R&D director at a startup energy storage company in Germany.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from past presentations can be viewed at http://sdm.mit.edu/voices/webinars.html

Cyber Security and Cyber Defense: A Systems Approach

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesCharles Iheagwara

Charles Iheagwara, Ph.D., Director, Cyber Security Practice, Unatek; SDM Alumnus

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Date: August 12, 2013

About the Presentation

Cyber espionage and cyber attacks are just two of the innumerable threats facing enterprise networks as a result of the ever-evolving technical landscape. Reasons include:

  • wireless and cloud domains that have expanded the perimeter of cyber defense;
  • a new underground economy that is not properly understood and which therefore challenges the design, operation, and effectiveness of enterprise cyber security; and
  • the resultant multiplicity of undefined, unforeseen, and often undetected threat vectors.

This webinar will provide:

  • an overview of the extended enterprise landscape and the cyber space ecosystem;
  • a high-level explanation of why current and/or traditional cyber security architecture fails to effectively protect networked institutional and corporate assets; and
  • an introduction to new concepts and ideas that can form the foundation of future cyber security architecture and shields.

About the Speaker

SDM alumnus Dr. Charles Iheagwara is a renowned cyber security expert with more than 13 years of practical field experience; he has also written numerous technical and academic articles on this topic. Dr. Iheagwara has worked with Lockheed Martin, KPMG, NASDAQ (via Edgar Online), and others with crucial security needs, and he has led risk advisory consulting engagements for a wide range of clients, including Reagan National Airport, Dulles International Airport, Metropolitan Airports Authority, Industrial Bank of Washington, and several US government agencies. He holds several graduate degrees including a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Glamorgan in the United Kingdom and an S.M. in engineering and management from MIT.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from past presentations can be viewed at http://sdm.mit.edu/voices/webinars.html

Designing and Operating Safety Systems: The Missing Link

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesJohn Helferich

SDM Alumnus John Helferich, Former Senior Vice President of R&D, Mars Inc., and Ph.D. Student, MIT Engineering Systems Division

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Date: July 29, 2013

About the Presentation

Hospital safety, aviation safety, food safety, product safety and virtually any safety system designed to prevent injury or death, share a critical, often overlooked component: the people who design, operate, and manage them. Recent research shows that they often make mistakes because they are rarely considered part of the system.

This webinar will address why and how to incorporate “safety of management” to minimize errors. It will cover:

  • examples of safety failures and high-level analyses of their origins;
  • a description of the STAMP (Systems Theoretic Accident Model and Process) model developed by MIT Professor Nancy Leveson and described in her book, Engineering a Safer World (MIT Press, January 2012);
  • ways that managers can use STAMP’s hazard analysis methods to make safer decisions; and
  • mitigation strategies for unsafe managerial decisions.

Webinar attendees will gain a preliminary understanding of how to apply systems thinking to incorporate STAMP and improve safety, no matter what the industry.

About the Speaker

John Helferich has 28 years of experience with every phase of R&D in the food industry. He has expertise in innovation, technical leadership, fundamental research, intellectual property, quality assurance and food safety, external advisory boards, and product development. He founded and led Mars’ Cocoa Sustainability Programs and is an expert in the strategic assessment and management of technology and innovation in the food industry.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Applying Systems Thinking to World Hunger: Seeking Solutions in Agriculture, Food Production,and Sustainability

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesHank Roark

Hank Roark, Senior Staff Systems Engineer and Researcher,
Deere & Co., and SDM Alumnus

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Date: July 15, 2013

About the Presentation

Systems thinking offers possibilities for simultaneously addressing the increasingly urgent and interrelated issues of world hunger and sustainability. This approach can help categorize complex components, such as:

  • global population, which is projected to increase from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050
  • agricultural production, which will likely need to double—largely in the same land area—to provide enough food, fuel, and fiber for all
  • technological, business, and socio-political challenges that will need to be overcome to sustainably satisfy human needs

This webinar will discuss how to use a systems framework to categorize these components. Sample issues to be explored include:

  • water productivity improvements
  • value chain challenges in sugar production
  • ways to identify the many intersecting engineering systems involved using a socio-technical approach

One goal of the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series is to frame methodologies and ways of thinking about issues that attendees can apply in any domain. In addition, this webinar is designed to spark attendees’ interest in agriculture, food production, and sustainability.

About the Speaker

Hank Roark has almost 20 years’ experience working for large corporations and startups. Most recently, his work and passion have focused on applying systems thinking to address the food needs of the world’s growing population. Previous experience includes leading multinational software product development teams, cofounding two companies, and providing consulting services in global finance, telecommunications, and travel and leisure. He has an S.M. from MIT SDM in engineering and management and a B.S. in physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Using Systems Thinking in a Travel Industry Startup

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesOmer Granot

SDM Alumnus Omer Granot, Cofounder and CEO, Cancelon

Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, the recording and slides will not be available.

Date: June 17, 2013

About the Presentation

More than $10 billion is lost annually by travelers and businesses that have made nonrefundable hotel reservations they cannot use. Presenter Omer Granot cofounded the startup Cancelon to provide a virtual marketplace for travelers wishing to sell and/or buy nonrefundable hotel reservations. Hotels and other travel-related companies can also sell and/or buy unsold or unused reservations through Cancelon; hotels’ listings are free!

Granot will provide a high-level overview of how his team is addressing several technical, business, and socio-political challenges using systems thinking. These include:

  • Projecting market growth and development
  • Continuing to strengthen cybersecurity
  • Managing big data
  • Decreasing response time
  • Securing a new round of financing to take Cancelon to the next level
  • Expanding partnerships with other companies working in online travel and social media
  • Continuing to improve the product, adding features, and enhancing the customer experience

Additional information: www.cancelon.com

About the Speaker

Omer Granot, cofounder and CEO of Cancelon, has extensive experience in IT. As an SDM alumnus, he holds an S.M. in engineering and management from MIT. He also earned a B.Sc. in computer science and mathematics from Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Trust Frameworks and Asymptotic Identity Proofing: A Systems Approach

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesDavid Hartzband

David Hartzband, D.Sc.
Lecturer, MIT Engineering Systems Division

Download the presentation slides

Date: June 3, 2013

About the Presentation

Any time confidential information is aggregated or stored on the Internet, there is an expectation of data privacy. This expectation may come from end users whose personal, financial, healthcare, and other sensitive information is being gathered (and potentially used), or from intermediate users such as doctors accessing health records, bankers accessing financial information, or from a variety of other sources.

Historically, privacy in such systems has been synonymous with security, and security policies have been defined within the confines of a single application or, at best, within a single closed distributed system. Many current systems use a federated approach to address these problems, but it should come as no surprise that a systems approach based on network principles is more effective at providing both security and privacy.

A White House initiative started in 2011, called the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), focuses on the provision of trusted identities in a variety of online contexts. The presenter, David Hartzband, D.Sc., is a principal investigator in a NSTIC grant funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The grant, titled “An Identity Ecosystem for Patient-Centered Coordination of Care,” links two health information exchanges with a unique policy-enabled authentication, authorization, and identity proofing system that can gather and utilize identity attributes from disparate sources and use them to provide a very high level of assurance for cyber identities. Hartzband will discuss several use cases from the grant pilot as well as the following topics:

  • The need for trusted identities in healthcare (and elsewhere)
  • The role of identity in online privacy and security
  • The design of the NSTIC healthcare project and pilot
  • The architecture and function of identity syndication
  • A probability model for identity syndication
  • What’s next in the development of trusted identities

About the Speaker

A lecturer in MIT’s Engineering Systems Division, David Hartzband, D.Sc., has spent more than 20 years in software design and development. He joined MIT in 2004 after serving as vice president for collaboration technology at EMC Corporation. He has a wide range of experience at both large and small companies, including Digital Equipment Corporation, Riverton Software, Upstream Consulting, eRoom Technology, and Documentum. Recently, he has worked almost exclusively in healthcare information technology, designing products and working with early-stage companies on business and technology strategy. In the past four years, he has worked on several large federal grants: he is the co-principal investigator for the SCAlable National Network for Effectiveness Research and principal investigator for the NSTIC Identity Ecosystem for Patient-Centered Coordination of Care.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Presentation slides and recordings of previous webinars are available at sdm.mit.edu/voices/webinars.html.

Software Systems Architecture in the World of Cloud Computing

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesChristine Miyachi

Christine Miyachi
Principal Systems Engineer and Architect, Xerox Corporation, and SDM Alumna

Download the presentation slides

Date: May 20, 2013

About the Presentation

Cloud computing is a disruptive technology that is emerging with new opportunities. Companies that move to the cloud can save both time and money.

This webinar will provide:

  • An introduction to several cloud computing basics;
  • A look at various architecture tradeoffs to consider when moving a software system to the cloud, including security, cost, and performance;
  • An overview of architecture principles that can be used in designing software for the cloud.

We invite you to join us.

About the Speaker

SDM alumna Christine Miyachi has almost 30 years of experience working for startups and large corporations. She is the chair of the IEEE Computer Society’s Special Technical Community on Cloud Computing and writes a blog about software architecture. She is a principal systems engineer and architect at Xerox Corporation and holds several patents. Miyachi graduated from the University of Rochester with a BS in electrical engineering. She holds two MIT degrees: an MS in technology and policy/electrical engineering and computer science and an MS in engineering and management.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Presentation slides and recordings of previous webinars are available on demand.

Technical Debt in Large Systems: Understanding the Cost of Software Complexity

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesDaniel J. Sturtevant

Daniel J. Sturtevant
Ph.D. MIT and MIT SDM Alumnus

Download the presentation slides

Date: May 6, 2013

About the Presentation

Many modern systems are so large that no one truly understands how they work. Because these systems exceed the bounds of human understanding, different design teams must work on separate chunks, glue their work together, and hope that the whole thing behaves as expected. In this process, high-level architectural design patterns (such as hierarchies, modules, and abstraction layers) play an important role. By keeping complexity under control, they give systems the ability to scale, make them more able to evolve, and reduce the likelihood of unexpected side effects or integration problems.

Attendees at this webinar will learn about the process and findings of a study in which Dr. Sturtevant:

  • measured architectural complexity across a large commercial software codebase as well as the different costs incurred by the firm that developed and maintained it;
  • estimated the multi-dimensional cost of complexity, which included increased defect density, depressed developer productivity, and increases in morale problems and staff turnover: and,
  • discovered that differences in architectural complexity could account for 50% drops in productivity, three-fold increases in defect density, and order-of-magnitude increases in staff turnover.

In this webinar, engineering leaders and other attendees will learn how they can use the tools and techniques outlined above to better position themselves for managing the technical debt in their large systems. By measuring architectural complexity and linking that information to important cost drivers, firms can better understand the cost associated with architecture problems and estimate the ROI of refactoring efforts aimed at improving a system’s design.

About the Speaker

Dan Sturtevant, Ph.D., is an SDM alumnus and graduate of the MIT Engineering Systems Division doctoral program. His recent work has focused on modeling complex socio-technical systems using network, system dynamics, agent-based, statistical, and other computational techniques.

Dr. Sturtevant is the CEO of Silverthread, Inc., a firm that helps organizations assess business risk, productivity, and complexity in software codebases and development organizations. Prior to cofounding Silverthread (with Professors Carliss Baldwin and Alan MacCormack of Harvard Business School and MIT SDM Senior Lecturer Michael A. M. Davies), Dr. Sturtevant spent many years in the software field where he built Linux-based supercomputers, conducted research and development in cyberwarfare, and helped manage a companywide effort to drive modularity into the source-code for a family of software products. He also cofounded Emtect Solutions, a consulting firm that uses enterprise architecture and system dynamics techniques to address education and workforce issues. Clients have included the Business-Higher Education Forum, the Office of Naval Research, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the city of Louisville, KY, Edmonds Community College, and the Manufacturing Industrial Council of Washington State.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Jonathan Pratt Named SDM’s Director of Career Development and Recruiting

Jonathan Pratt By Lois Slavin May 3, 2013

The MIT System Design and Management (SDM) program is pleased to announce that Jonathan Pratt recently joined SDM as director of career development and recruiting.

“We are fortunate—and delighted—that Jon has joined SDM in this capacity,” said Pat Hale, director of the SDM Fellows Program. “His expertise and superb track record in career development and recruiting for the MIT Supply Chain Management (SCM) program; his industry background and knowledge; and his knowledge of MIT and the Engineering Systems Division (ESD) will enable him to make significant contributions to the SDM program and the community it serves.”

Pratt spent almost five years in SCM as program manager for career development, recruiting, and alumni relations. His achievements include creating and fostering an SCM-specific career development strategy for individual and collective student needs; working closely with alumni, engaging them in both the career development and recruitment processes; and achieving manifold increases in the number of recruiting companies.

Prior to joining MIT, Pratt was a global recruiting and staffing manager at Stax Inc., a management consulting firm focused on in-depth research and analysis. He has also worked for State Street Corporation as a recruiter, CareerBuilder.com as an account executive, Comcast Media Group as a recruiter, and Robert Half International as an executive recruiting and staffing manager. He holds a BS in sports management/exercise management from Old Dominion University.

“Having worked in ESD’s SCM for several years and collaborated with SDM, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know SDM quite well,” said Pratt. “Its master’s in engineering and management offers a distinctive interdisciplinary curriculum in leadership, innovation, and systems thinking that is unsurpassed.”

“Moreover,” he continued, “because SDM Fellows are mid-career technical professionals with significant experience and achievements, they can offer prospective employers a unique and powerful combination of technical and managerial expertise—and the ability to use systems thinking to address today’s complex challenges. The career paths and achievements of SDM alumni clearly demonstrate this success in a wide range of organizations, and each graduating class is even stronger. I’m truly honored to be part of the SDM team and look forward to working with SDM Fellows, alumni, industry partners, and prospective employers.”

Companies interested in learning about recruiting SDM Fellows may contact Jon Pratt at sdm_careers@mit.edu.

Jonathan Pratt

Systems Thinking Webinar Series Marks Significant Milestone

Daniel Sturtevant

On May 6, 2013, at noon, the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series will offer its 50th webinar. “Technical Debt in Large Systems: Understanding the Cost of Software Complexity” will be presented by SDM alum and ESD Ph.D. Daniel Sturtevant. The event is free and open to all.

Founded in November 2010, the series is an MIT SDM distance learning offering that disseminates information on how to employ systems thinking to address the engineering, management, and socio-political components of today’s complex challenges. All webinars feature research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners, and are open to all at no charge.

According to Pat Hale, Director of the SDM Fellows Program, webinar topics have included leadership, innovation, software, product development and design, inventory management, safety, organizational transformation, Lean, and more. Because industries represented by the audience vary from defense, automotive, and aerospace to healthcare, energy, new drug development, and others, each presentation is designed to offer attendees a high-level view of how to apply systems thinking to complex challenges in their own domains.

“Literally thousands have attended the live webinars or listened to on-demand recordings,” said Hale. “We’ve received reports that in some companies, teams watch them to learn together. In addition, many folks attend regularly, no matter what the topic.”

The series was created by SDM Communications Director Lois Slavin, with the support of SDM Operations Manager Christine Bates. Each webinar is hosted by Lois, with Steven Derocher serving as technical director.

Access to previously recorded on-demand webinars can be found on our webinars page.

Daniel Sturtevant

SDMs Join First MEMPC Simulation Competition

MEMPC's first simulation competition By Lynne Weiss
April 26, 2013

Several SDM students recently had the opportunity to build their systems thinking capabilities and expand their professional networks when they participated in a simulation competition organized by the Master of Engineering Management Programs Consortium (MEMPC).

Founded in 2006, MEMPC was formed to raise awareness of the value of the master of engineering management (MEM) and similar degrees, as well as to share best practices, curricular innovations, and information among member institutions, including MIT, Northwestern, Stanford, Cornell, Duke, and the University of Southern California.

Mark Werwath, director of Northwestern’s MEM program, proposed the simulation competition to give MEMPC students an experience comparable to the business case and business plan competitions offered in traditional MBA programs. He also hoped that the multi-school teams would help students expand their professional networks beyond their own institutions.

The competition, MEMPC’s first, was managed and moderated by Jeff Lefebvre and David Semb of PriSim Business War Games. Both men are also adjunct faculty in Northwestern’s MEM program. "Business simulations are great at building systems thinking capability," Semb said in a recent interview. Lefebvre noted that simulations help engineers let go of the idea that there are "right" solutions to business problems.

The five SDMs who participated were Brian Hendrix, Daniel Camacho Gonzalez, Terence Teo, Shiladitya Ray, and Dexter Tan. Each was assigned to a different multi-school team that played the role of a company in the domestic automobile industry. Teams managed short- and long-term objectives and made decisions about how to interact with competitors, what new products to introduce, and how to support new products. Each team was responsible for establishing its own organization. "Teams could organize by function or by product line," LeFebvre said, noting that there is no one right way to organize any business or team.

The competition began February 11 after students had a chance to review the competition manual and explore PriSim’s website. The winning team was announced on March 11.

Teo, whose team won, said his group began by identifying its company’s strengths and weaknesses as well as market opportunities and trends. Teo felt that a big part of his team’s success was the willingness of members to agree on a strategy—to maintain their product line of high-value cars with a small market and big margins. "We kept our focus on upgrading existing models and on introducing new vehicles quickly," he said.

Teo also credited his team’s success to the members’ respect for each other’s views. One of the few areas of serious disagreement related to pricing. To get advice on this issue, they used one of the two "lifeline calls" to Semb that each team was allowed. Semb suggested they compare the prices dealers paid for cars to what they charged customers. "We realized we had to set a price that was competitive, and that let dealers make higher profits in order to motivate them," Teo said.

Hendrix said he volunteered for the simulation because he wanted to "reinforce some of the real-life experiences I’ve had and put some of the theory I’ve learned into action." A product development engineer for Ford Motor Co., Hendrix learned from the opportunity to make executive decisions regarding supply chain and brand management.

Although only one team came out on top, Lefebvre said that in his experience, participants on the teams that struggle most often learn the most. Tan, who works for Continental AG, a German auto manufacturer, agreed. Although his team finished fifth, Tan said he learned leadership skills and the importance of planning and communication. He was enthusiastic about the experience because it provided a "risk-free platform" for testing competitive innovation strategies that he has learned about in class.

SDM Fellow Terence Teo was a member of the winning team in the MEMPC’s first simulation competition. He and his teammates each received a Nexus 7 wifi tablet.
Photo by Dave Schultz

Flexibility in Engineering Design

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesRichard de Neufville

Richard de Neufville, Ph.D., Dr. h.c.
Professor of Engineering Systems and of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Download the presentation slides

Date: April 22, 2013

About the Presentation

Designed for those concerned with acquiring and implementing new products and systems, such as owners, managers, developers and engineers, this webinar will explain the concept of flexibility in engineering design, using non-technical language and many practical examples.

Professor de Neufville will cover:

  • the problems with predetermined forecasts and requirement sets;
  • the benefits of flexibility in engineering design and its role in developing products that can adapt to a wide range of uncertainties;
  • how flexibility in engineering design delivers value by reducing or eliminating downside risks, increasing access to upside opportunities, and ultimately producing overall win-win solutions and developmental strategies;
  • specific ways successful companies apply flexibility in engineering design, and;
  • a framework and next steps for applying flexibility in engineering design in your organization.

We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Richard de Neufville, Ph.D. and Dr. h.c., is a leader in the field of systems planning and design and author of “Flexibility in Engineering Design,” the first book in the new engineering systems series published by MIT Press. He has also published six other texts and currently teaches several MIT courses in this field that are directed generally to engineering systems, with a focus on product design, real estate, urban development, and airport systems design. Prof. de Neufville is currently involved in developing a wide range of flexibility analysis applications, including design of offshore oil platforms, civil engineering infrastructure, automobile plants and parts, and electrical power systems.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Christine Meier, SDM ’13: Diversity, Organizational Transformation, and Systems Thinking

Christine Meier By Lois Slavin, SDM Communications Director
April 19, 2013

Ask Dr. Christine Meier, SDM ’13, about ongoing themes in her career and her response will be brief and emphatic: "Diversity and a desire to help others".

Diversity is evident both academically and professionally. She holds a Ph.D. in human factors psychology from the University of South Dakota and an M.S. in educational research from West Chester University.

Moreover, Meier has worked in a wide diversity of settings, including Fortune 500 and 1000 companies, the U.S. federal government, a start-up, and a company of one that she founded. Often her roles involved technical, managerial, and/or leadership responsibilities. And the industries ranged from health care, financial services and mining safety to computer manufacturing and enterprise software.

The other theme of Meier’s career, helping others, is illustrated by her ongoing work in ergonomics, specifically mitigating repetitive motion disorders and making software accessible to users with disabilities. Her intention to serve humankind has become an ever-increasing emphasis in her career choices over the years.

For example, take Meier’s work at Ameriprise Financial. Hired to lead an already fully mature program to reduce repetitive stress injuries, she collaborated with the General Accounting Office (GAO) on an in-depth investigation of the program, which the GAO later identified as one of the five most successful programs in the U.S.

Meier said that the GAO found common elements that each program shared: management commitment; employee involvement; identification of problem jobs; training and education; and medical management. These later formed the basis for ergonomic Occupational Health Safety and Health (OSHA) regulations. And Meier subsequently adapted several elements for inclusion in an accessibility program at BMC Software that she created and led and for a program she developed from the ground up for Unisys.

Having already earned doctoral and masters degrees and made significant contributions in diverse business arenas while helping others, why would Meier return to academia for yet another degree? And why SDM?

"Virtually all of my understanding concerning enterprise design and transformation has been through on-the-job experiences, so the SDM curriculum will provide specific, state-of-the-art methodologies and tools taught by expert MIT faculty," she said, adding that she is currently a research assistant for Professor Deborah Nightingale’s Enterprise Architecting course. "I look forward to learning about and employing a systematic, systems-based approach for enterprise transformation that, along with my past experiences, would enrich my future work and provide exceptional value to my next employer. SDM’s focus on the technical, managerial and leadership components of success, as well as the opportunity to work on team-based projects with SDM fellows who, like me, have significant experience, offers exceptional opportunities".

And not surprisingly, given her focus on helping others, Meier added an excerpt from First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention that is one of her guiding principles:

"When you work hard and done well and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. No. You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed."

Christine Meier
Photo by Dave Schultz

SDM Fellows Create MIT’s First BigData Club

Peter Gloor

Inaugural event, featuring Sloan’s Peter Gloor, scheduled for April 25 and open to all

By Lois Slavin
April 18, 2013

The newly-formed BigDataExplorers@mit, the Institute’s first student club dedicated to big data, has announced its inaugural event, "COOLHUNTING: Tracking the Emergence of New Ideas through Individual, Organizational, and Social Network Analysis." Scheduled for April 25 in E51-149, the presentation will be delivered by MIT Sloan’s Peter A. Gloor, a research scientist at the Center for Collective Intelligence. Registration is free and open to all. Refreshments will be served.

According to the club’s co-founder and president, Rohan Kulkarni, the goal of BigDataExplorers@MIT is to create a platform to enhance understanding of various aspects of big data, explore its applications in a variety of fields, and network with other big data experts and enthusiasts. Kulkarni, a fellow in MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, emphasized that while the BigDataExplorers@MIT is student-run, membership is open to all members of the MIT community, alums, and the big data community at-large.

"Big data applications are so diverse and spread across so many industries that we felt it was imperative to create a common platform at MIT that would bring together folks from various domains and with varied expertise to discuss and explore this fascinating field," said Kulkarni. "We invite everyone to attend Dr. Gloor’s presentation and to get involved in developing the club’s speaker series and other activities."

Gloor will introduce and discuss the concept and framework of "coolhunting", which deals with analyzing the process of new idea creation by tracking human interaction patterns on three levels: global, organizational and individual. He will then describe projects in all of the aforementioned realms and engage the audience in a Q&A. An informal networking session will follow, along with a brief meeting for anyone who is interested in becoming a club member.

BigDataExplorers@mit was co-founded by Kulkarni, along with Carlos Alvidez, Sascha Boehme, and Juan Esteban Montero, who are also fellows in MIT’s System Design and Management program, and Aditi Kulkarni, Program Manager at Cigna. SDM is the club’s sponsor.

MIT Expert Richard de Neufville to Deliver Webinar on Flexibility in Engineering Design

Richard de Neufville By Lois Slavin
April 17, 2013

Flexibility in Engineering Design is the topic and the title of the April 22 offering of the MIT System Design and Management Program’s Systems Thinking Webinar Series. The presentation will be delivered by acclaimed MIT professor Richard de Neufville of the MIT Engineering Systems Division and department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Registration is free and open to all.
Details/registration.

Both an engineer and a system designer, de Neufville is currently focusing his research and teaching on inserting flexibility into designing technological systems.

"Major industrial and government projects show that the use of ‘real options’, enables managers to react to unanticipated events, which significantly increases overall expected performance," he explained.

This work implies a fundamental shift in the engineering design paradigm, from a focus on fixed specifications, to a concern with system performance under the broad range of situations that could occur. His book, "Flexibility in Engineering Design", (co-authored with Stefan Scholtes of the University of Cambridge) was published by the MIT Press in 2011.

In de Neufville’s webinar, participants will get learn about:

  • the problems with predetermined forecasts or requirement sets;
  • the benefits of flexibility in engineering design and its role in designing and developing products that can adapt to a wide range of uncertainties;
  • how to utilize flexibility in engineering design;
  • how flexibility in engineering design delivers value by reducing or eliminating downside risks, increasing access to upside opportunities, and ultimately producing overall win-win solutions and developmental strategies, and;
  • a framework and next steps for applying flexibility in engineering design in your organization.

De Neufville’s webinar is free and open to all. Details/registration

De Neufville is renowned at MIT and elsewhere for innovations in engineering education. He was the Founding Chairman of the MIT Technology and Policy Program, and author of 6 major texts on systems analysis in engineering. His work has received extensive recognition by many, among them the Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships, the NATO Systems Science Prize; the Sizer Award for the Most Significant Contribution to MIT Education; and the US Federal Aviation Award for Excellence in Teaching.

At present he is part of the MIT faculty team developing the new Singapore University of Technology and Design, which features a holistic education centered on technological design.

De Neufville is known worldwide for his applications in airport systems planning, design, and management and has been associated with major airport projects in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia — as well as others in Africa and Latin America.

In his spare time, he rows a single scull annually in Boston’s Head of the Charles regatta, and regularly goes on week-long hiking treks into the mountains.

Richard de Neufville

Understanding and Designing Complex Sociotechnical Systems

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesJoseph M. Sussman

Joseph M. Sussman
JR East Professor in the MIT Engineering Systems Division and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Download the presentation slides

Date: April 8, 2013

About the Presentation

While command of technical factors is necessary to understanding “critical contemporary issues” (CCIs), such as climate change, economic growth, mobility, large-scale manufacturing, health, and developing country megacities, more integrated knowledge is needed to address them.

This webinar is designed for engineers, managers, policy makers, health care professionals, educators, students, and others, across industries and disciplines, throughout the world. During this session, MIT’s Joseph M. Sussman, the JR East Professor of MIT’s Engineering Systems Division and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will:

  • define sociotechnical systems;
  • describe their components and characteristics;
  • discuss how we approach them;
  • describe how design solutions must focus not only on the advanced technologies that characterize contemporary life, but also on their relationship to the organizations and institutions through which they function;
  • discuss examples drawn from various fields.

About the Speaker

A member of the MIT faculty for 45 years, Joseph M. Sussman is the JR East Professor in the Engineering Systems Division and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT. He is renowned for his work on transportation issues, including regional strategic transportation planning (RSTP), intelligent transportation systems (ITS), and high-speed rail in the U.S. and abroad. Learn more about Professor Sussman here.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Photo by Barry Hetherington

Sussman to Present "Understanding and Designing Complex Sociotechnical Systems" at MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Joseph M. Sussman By Teresa Lynne Hill
March 26, 2013

MIT Professor Joseph M. Sussman believes that everyone, no matter what their profession, needs to understand the complex sociotechnical systems inherent in today’s most significant problems—plus what goes into designing solutions to the challenges they present. At his April 8th webinar, "Understanding and Designing Complex Sociotechnical Systems", Sussman aims to reach out to all attendees—engineers, managers, policy makers, healthcare professionals, educators, students, and more—across industries and disciplines, throughout the world.

Sussman believes that while command of technical factors is necessary to understanding what he calls "critical contemporary issues" (CCIs), such as climate change, economic growth, mobility, large-scale manufacturing, health, and developing country megacities, more integrated knowledge is needed to address them. He will define sociotechnical systems, describe their components and characteristics, discuss how they intersect, and argue that design solutions must focus not only on the advanced technologies that characterize contemporary life, but also on their relationship to the organizations and institutions through which they function. After defining the various kinds of complexity inherent in sociotechnical systems, he will discuss examples drawn from various fields including transportation and health.

A member of the MIT faculty for 45 years, Sussman is the JR East Professor in the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Engineering Systems Division. He is renowned for his work on transportation issues, including regional strategic transportation planning (RSTP), intelligent transportation systems (ITS), and high-speed rail in the U.S. and abroad. He is the author of the definitive textbook Introduction to Transportation Systems, and the recipient of many awards and honors in both disciplinary contributions and teaching. In his honor, ITS Massachusetts established the annual "Joseph M. Sussman Leadership Award" in 2002.

Sussman has worked extensively in computational applications to engineering problem solving, particularly in the transportation field, and contributed to the development of the Integrated Civil Engineering System (ICES) one of the most widely used computer systems in the engineering world. He developed the CLIOS (Complex, Large-Scale, Interconnected, Open, Sociotechnical Systems) Process designed to deal with many critical contemporary issues. He is currently developing a new methodology for regional strategic transportation planning (RSTP) embedded in the CLIOS Process, integrating ideas from strategic management, scenario-building, and technology architectures.

In an era in which all institutions — and especially research universities — must contribute to the solution of the global problems we face, Sussman’s goal is to educate "T-shaped" professionals who are able to integrate the vertical axis of in-depth technical expertise with a broad appreciation (horizontal axis) of institutional, managerial, and other socially-related fields of view.

Attendees at Sussman’s webinar will find new ways to view and understand complex sociotechnical systems and to think about designing solutions to address the challenges they present from one of the foremost thinkers at MIT. The MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series is honored to present Professor Sussman’s webinar.

Joseph M. Sussman, JR East Professor in the Engineering Systems Division and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT
Photo by Barry Hetherington

SDM ’12 Elizabeth Cilley Southerlan Receives Award for Leadership, Innovation, Systems Thinking

Elizabeth Cilley SoutherlanJuan Esteban MonteroAlvaro Madero By Lois Slavin, SDM Communications Director
March 26, 2013

On March 14, 2013, the SDM community convened for the presentation of the 2012 MIT SDM Award for Leadership, Innovation, and Systems Thinking.

The award, created by the SDM staff in 2010, honors a first year SDM student who demonstrates the highest level of:

  • strategic, sustainable contributions to fellow SDM students and the broader SDM and MIT communities;
  • superior skills in leadership, innovation, and systems thinking; and
  • effective collaboration with SDM staff, fellow students, and alums.

All nominees and the winner are selected by the SDM staff. In addition to Southerlan, this year’s nominees included Juan Esteban Montero and Alvaro Madero.

Southerlan was acknowledged for her numerous contributions to her cohort, the SDM program and the MIT community at-large. Among them are:

  • serving as logistics director for the MIT Career Fair where she helped increase SDM’s visibility in industry by positioning SDM students as front-runners for moderators of company and industry information panels;
  • working as an executive board member of Women in SDM (WiSDM), and collaborating closely with colleagues to put together the WiSDM symposium portion of the annual SDM conference;
  • organizing, as SDM social chair, several sponsored events for students only and with their families; and
  • working with SDM’s Marketing and Alumni Relations Coordinator Melissa Parrillo and Industry Co-director Joan Rubin to understand the program’s target demographics, gauge SDM’s presence by industry and geography, and confer on next steps.

Southerlan received a $1,000 check as part of her award.

Nominee Alvaro Madero was specifically cited for, among other contributions, co-chairing the 2013 SDM Tech Trek and serving as the SDM Industrial Relations Committee’s media chair. Nominee Juan Esteban Montero was recognized for founding the MIT Mining, Oil, and Gas Club which, in under one year, has over 150 members from the MIT student and faculty communities, as well as from industry and academic communities worldwide.

Elizabeth Cilley Southerlan

Juan Esteban Montero

Alvaro Madero

A Systems-based Approach to Product Design and Development in Patient–centric Health Care

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesAnand Yadav

Anand Yadav
Co-founder and product lead, Neumitra,
and SDM alumnus

Date: CANCELED

About the Presentation

In patient-centric health care, a product is expected to focus on the patients’ immediate needs while delivering clinical value to doctors. Between these competing goals, the product must balance the appeal of a consumer product with the quality of a medical device. A medical device must comply with strict regulatory requirements, undergoes fewer iterations, and costs more, while a consumer product undergoes many iterations to deliver better user experience and aesthetics at an affordable cost. Yadav will discuss Neumitra’s balanced approach developed during the design of bandu — a wearable biosensor and supporting analytical software. Neumitra aims to advance brain health and performance for daily life.

About the Speaker

Anand Yadav is a product lead at Neumitra, which he co-founded in 2010 as an SDM fellow at MIT. He previously worked at The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT where he developed process improvement solutions for high-throughput genome sequencing. Yadav was a member of the team that developed a large-scale automated system for the Human Genome Project at the Whitehead Institute. He holds a M.S. in engineering and management from MIT, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University and a B.E. in Mechanical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College, India.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

A Systems-based Approach to Product Design and Development in Patient–centric Health Care

Anand Yadav By Lois Slavin, SDM Communications Director
March 19, 2013

A systems-based approach to product design and development in connected health will be the topic for the March 25, 2013 offering of the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series. Anand Yadav, SDM alumnus and co-founder/product lead of Neumitra, will discuss how the company is developing a patient-centric product for healthy behaviors with aggregate analytics for clinicians to evaluate the effects of medications, therapies, and treatments. Pre-registration is required and can be completed here.

The product, named "bandu," is designed to fit into watch and bracelet templates and continuously measures the autonomic nervous system. The biosensing technology connects to a smartphone app to help the wearer stay healthy and productive. The autonomic nervous system is the body’s regulatory mechanism for controlling heart rate, respiration, and perspiration. Variations in symptoms are associated with stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, digestion, blood pressure, and other health metrics. Studies are underway to examine a wide range of symptoms from our stressful daily lives.

The technologies behind bandu monitor real-time changes in the user’s motion, temperature, and skin conductance to encourage healthy habits including exercising, practicing meditation, and listening to music. During daily life events, the watch-based biosensor alerts the wearer with suggestions on how to increase health, productivity, and happiness. The resulting data is used to triage medical care, evaluate treatment options, and identify pain points.

During this webinar, Yadav will:

  • provide an overview of brain health challenges, the current state of brain treatments, and the opportunities for innovation;
  • describe Neumitra’s technologies and their goals to address daily life demands and encourage healthy habits at home, during work, and for fun;
  • discuss the product development strategy that addresses the needs of clinicians and patients; and
  • describe an approach used in developing a connected health device balancing strict regulatory requirements with user-driven experiences and aesthetics at an affordable cost.

Yadav, then a SDM fellow, and co-founder Robert Goldberg, a neuroscientist, met at MIT in the Neurotechnology Ventures course taught by Ed Boyden and Joost Bonsen. They currently lead a team of engineers in driving the growth of their operations. Neumitra was founded to blend eastern and western approaches to medicine with "Neu" coming from the Latin for "new" and "mitra" from the Sanskrit for "friend". They soon realized the subtle homage to the Institute as well. The company has received seed funding from the founders of Boston Scientific and Yahoo and has won several prestigious awards. The company’s technologies are inspired by the effects of mental health treatments on their family members and the benefits of daily exercise, meditation, and even music in their personal lives. Yadav is a mechanical engineer who previously led an engineering group at The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. As a team member at the Whitehead Institute, Yadav helped developed a large-scale automated system for the Human Genome Project. He is deeply motivated to bring the benefits of meditation to daily life.

Anand Yadav

The Crises In Employment, Consumption, Economic Growth, and the Environment: Could a Shorter Workweek and a Greener Economy Provide Relief?

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesNicholas A. Ashford, PhD

Nicholas A. Ashford, PhD., JD
Professor of Technology and Policy, MIT; Director, MIT Technology and Law Program

Download the presentation slides

Date: March 11, 2013

About the Presentation

The crises we encounter today could be described as a ‘perfect storm.’ The global financial crisis that began in 2008 has left many people with too little money and/or willingness to spend. This results in too few goods and services being produced and too little being purchased. This in turn exacerbates unemployment and underemployment. As a result, a vicious circle is created in which less money is spent in consumption and in investment in subsequent and repeated cycles, further worsening the crisis in consumption. On the other hand, some people and economic actors consume too much from an energy and resource perspective, exacerbating environmental problems. Two solutions are frequently suggested to the present crises: spread work out through a shorter workweek and green the economy. An analysis of the likelihood of success of each is the focus of this presentation. Insights from a recent book: Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development: Transforming the Industrial State (2011, Yale University Press) will inform the presentation.

About the Speaker

Nicholas Ashford holds both a Ph.D. in Chemistry and a law degree from the University of Chicago, where he also received graduate education in economics. His courses, jointly listed with ESD/Engineering, the Sloan School, and Urban Studies, draw students from across the Institute and he has supervised graduate theses in the TPP, SDM, and ESD programs. In addition to his recent book, he has co-authored Environmental Law, Policy and Economics: Reclaiming the Environmental Agenda and has published six additional books and several hundred articles in peer-reviewed journals and law reviews.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Ben Levitt, SDM ’12: Using Systems Thinking for Sports Analytics and Defense

The Monday Morning QuarterbackBen Levitt By Ted Bowen
March 8, 2013

SDM ’12 Ben Levitt excels at the detail-oriented aspects of engineering—whether in his work at Raytheon or for MIT Sloan’s acclaimed annual sports analytics conference. The senior systems engineer at defense contractor Raytheon has won accolades for weeding out bugs and inefficiencies and for guiding complex projects to timely completion. Moreover, as a designer/developer for the Sloan conference, he created two of its most popular events. Now, as Levitt looks toward tackling more technical and complex projects both inside and outside of the workplace, he’s finding the key is not just accounting for more variables, but also factoring in whole new categories of variables.

Levitt, trained as an industrial engineer, incorporated some of that discipline into his work as systems developer, project manager and efficiency expert. He started out as a manufacturing engineer with an eye toward efficiency and minimizing defects. At Raytheon, he adapted his techniques for improving manufacturing processes for use in systems and software engineering, and testing his calculations through complex software algorithms and models. He went on to focus on systems and software engineering for missile defense systems including following his products through the entire product lifecycle. And he received a Raytheon Technical Honor award in 2010.

As an undergraduate, Levitt gravitated to industrial engineering because it draws on other engineering disciplines to produce tangible results. In a similar fashion, he sees the MIT System Design and Management program as a way to tap into and integrate seemingly disparate bodies of knowledge to solve complex problems. He chose SDM for its dual engineering and management focus and for its flexibility, which has allowed him to concentrate on subjects most relevant to his current job and the next stages of his career.

Levitt said the SDM program’s management strategy offerings were eye-opening. For example, he learned how personnel strategies could affect quality in ways that are not immediately apparent, but become especially relevant in tight deadline situations when employees are tired, but there is still zero margin for error.

His academic focus includes engineering systems, interoperability, and corporate innovation. His evolving research delves into the dynamics of system interoperability and systems safety in the defense industry.

As a welcome break from the defense world, Levitt, who competed in cross-country for Division I Lehigh, was a student organizer for the 2013 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, held March 1st and 2nd. The student-run conference, named the Super Bowl Of Sports Analytics by Forbes magazine, was in its 7th year and attracted over 2,700 attendees.

Levitt was given the authority to build two panels—an in-game coaching session entitled "Monday Morning Quarterback" and another called "Big Data". He developed the panels and lined up participants from sports, business, media and technology sectors.

The in-game coaching panel used video and audience interactivity to encourage the panelists, a collection of the NFL’s best coaches and managers, and the audience to explore the use of analytics in all aspects of play calling.

The big data panel, composed of the world’s best data experts, discussed how tomorrow’s top athletes, coaches and sports franchises can turn petabytes of ‘motion capture’ and multispectral data into competitive advantage.

The Monday Morning Quarterback: In-Game Coaching Panel included (left to right) Jack Del Rio, defensive coordinator, Denver Broncos; Tony Reali, host, ESPN’s Around the Horn; Thomas Dimitroff, general manager, Atlanta Falcons; Brian Burke, founder, Advanced NFL Stats; Ben Levitt, panel producer/developer and SDM ’12; Herm Edwards, ESPN football analyst and former head coach, Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets.
Photo by SLY Photography

Ben Levitt

An Analysis of Global Opportunities for Chile’s Mining Industry

MIT MOG logoEnrique Miranda

Enrique Miranda, General Manager IIMCh

Date: Thursday March 7, 2013

Time: 5:00 pm EDT

Location: 66-144 (map)

Free and open to all

Refreshments will be served.

About the Presentation

Chile’s copper reserves and its production level are positioning the country for international opportunities. This presentation will analyze the future of Chile’s copper supply and compare it with global demand for copper and other minerals. Demand fundamentals, especially for copper, will be discussed and differentiated by industry sector.

The presentation will also outline, from the perspective of the IIMCh (Chilean Association of Mining Engineers), the challenges for Chile in light of the current high demand for its copper.

About the Speaker

Enrique Miranda is currently general manager of the Chilean Association of Mining Engineers.

Miranda’s experience, mainly in finance and operations, spans over 20 years. Among the important Chilean companies he has worked for areCODELCO and Telefonica Chile.

He is an alumnus of the MIT Sloan Fellows Program (1989) and received a degree civil engineering/mining from Universidad de Chile. Miranda is also a pilot and a member of the Club Aereo de Santiago.

Enrique Miranda

Leadership for Learning Organizations: Lessons from healthcare, sports, and more to help you obtain better results

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesPaul F. Levy

Paul F. Levy, Author

Download the presentation slides

Date: February 25, 2013

About the Presentation

The world is rife with process improvement methods designed to deal with systemic issues facing manufacturing and services firms. Although proven tools, such as Six Sigma, Re-engineering, and Lean, exist to build learning organizations with enhanced efficiency and deliver higher quality products to customers, most organizations never achieve these goals. Why do so many work redesign efforts fail?

Paul Levy offers answers in a story-laden presentation based on his experience in several important leadership roles. These include serving as CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and executive director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. Levy’s presentation will also draw from his work in coaching girls’ soccer over two decades. His recently published book, “Goal Play! Leadership Lessons from the Soccer Field”, draws on experiences gleaned from both parts of his life. Whether you are a CEO, department head, division manager, a professional who wants to work with others to improve the systems in your organization, or a volunteer in your community, this presentation offers insights to help you provide value wherever you are.

About the Speaker

Paul F. Levy served most recently as CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where he saved this Harvard-affiliated academic medical center from financial turmoil that was leading to bankruptcy. Later, he introduced unprecedented levels of transparency into the health care field, resulting in substantial improvements in patient quality and safety, while enhancing financial results and market share. Previously, as executive director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, he led the program to clean up Boston Harbor, executing a massive environmental remediation project ahead of schedule and under budget. He is the author of the recently published book, “Goal Play! Leadership Lessons from the Soccer Field”.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Can a Shorter Workweek and a Greener Economy Provide Relief?

Nicholas Ashford By Teresa Lynne Hill
February 23, 2013

On March 11, 2013, MIT Professor Nicholas Ashford will deliver a presentation entitled "The Crises In Employment, Consumption, Economic Growth, and the Environment: Can a shorter work week and a greener economy provide relief?" As part of the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series, the event is free and open to all. Recording and slides are available here.

The webinar, based on Ashford’s new book, Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development: Transforming the Industrial State describes a "perfect storm" of global circumstances threatening to exacerbate the widening gulf between rich and poor, environmental degradation, and industrial stagnation.

Ashford will discuss the effects of the global financial crisis that began in 2008 and has left many people with too little money and/or willingness to spend. In the US, a loss of some 40% of family wealth has drastically reduced purchasing power, resulting in too few goods and services being produced and thereby further increasing unemployment. The poor do not have access to essential goods while other economic actors consume too much energy and resources, exacerbating environmental problems at local and global levels. Neither financial resources nor sufficient willingness to take commercial risk provides adequate incentives to innovate. Two solutions are frequently suggested to address the present crises: spread work out through fewer weekly working hours to reduce unemployment and excessive consumption and green the economy. An analysis of the likelihood of success of each is the focus of this webinar.

In his presentation Ashford will argue that reforms have overlooked structural problems in the economic system and the worsening economic well-being and earning capacity of individual citizens. New metrics beyond GDP and productivity are essential to evaluate the effectiveness of policies in pursuit of stable and sustainable development.

Ashford will suggest a new perspective, examples, and next steps for attendees from a wide array of sectors and industries. These options will describe key relationships and potential remedies for those grappling with these challenges and the need for innovative policy in monetary, fiscal, employment, environmental, and other systemic elements of the crisis. For example:

  • industry—how to focus on producing more environmentally-sound essential goods and services for a larger segment of the population, and create opportunities for employment. This requires a shift from pursuing profit at all costs.
  • academia—how to broaden its perspective in a trans-disciplinary sense to address all aspects of sustainable development in its research and teaching, specifically in economic welfare, innovation in products and services, environmental impacts, and employment creation. He will describe how curricula restructuring and hiring of a broader-oriented faculty are essential.
  • government—how to integrate its industrial, financial, environmental, employment, and trade initiatives rather than adopt a piecemeal approach to societal problems and demands. Reform of the financial sector and job creation should receive immediate and paramount attention.
  • other interested attendees—how to reframe concerns from a focus on economic recovery to transforming the industrial state.

Professor Ashford came to MIT in 1972 as assistant director for the Center for Policy Alternatives. He has become the Institute’s only faculty member with the title of Professor of Technology and Policy. Holding a JD as well as a PhD in chemistry, he teaches courses in environmental law, policy, and economics; law, Technology, and public policy; and sustainability, trade, and environment. He is the author of several hundred peer-reviewed articles in academic journals and law reviews, and has written or co-authored seven books. Environmental Law, Policy and Economics (2008, MIT Press), coauthored with Charles Caldart, focuses on the issues to be discussed in the seminar as they have played out in the US. Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development (2011, Yale University Press), written with MIT PhD Ralph Hall, is the culmination of 13 years of research.

Nicholas Ashford

Shingo Kawai, SDM ’13: Globalizing Research and Development

Shingo Kawai By Lynne Weiss
February 21, 2013

Shingo Kawai, a senior research engineer for Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) Network Innovation Laboratories, is pursuing a master’s degree in engineering and management because he wants to "systematically solve problems in complex systems" and address technological and social problems.

Although he already holds a Ph.D. in electronic and electrical engineering from Tokyo Institute of Technology, as a manager in charge of research and development operations in his lab, Kawai came to believe that his training as a researcher was not enough. In collaborating on product development and maintenance with colleagues at NTT operating company Acess Network Service Systems Laboratories and with corporate customers on solution sales, he realized that he had developed strengths not commonly held by other NTT researchers.

Kawai explained that while he and many of the other NTT researchers have very strong engineering skills, simply developing technology is not sufficient in today’s business world. "The research needs to guide the company in the right direction, so even technological managers must be trained in strategy and corporate management perspectives," he said.

Consequently, he began to explore pursuing yet another degree.

"Initially I considered MBA programs that could help me gain a corporate management perspective," Kawai said. However, when he discovered MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program he was especially impressed that it was offered jointly by the Sloan School of Management and the MIT Engineering Systems Division within the School of Engineering. Because he could study both technology and business at MIT, he chose SDM.

While Kawai’s first and most important learning goal will be to gain insight into global innovation management, corporate management, and organizational strategy, he also wants to learn leadership skills for a global business environment.

The reason? Although Kawai’s research for NTT has been in fiber optic systems, he believes that no single laboratory or company can conduct research on the scale needed for present-day applications. In the long term, he is interested in globalization of research and development. He believes that collaboration with research institutions in other countries is especially important because cultural factors must be considered in conducting research. For example, people in different societies will place different value on various telecommunications services, and may be willing to pay more—or less—to receive them. In short, successful collaboration with research and government institutions, as well as with local telecommunications firms, is essential to creating the added value his company needs to survive.

When Kawai is not working, he enjoys scuba diving off Japan’s Izu peninsula and has taken about 100 hours of underwater video of rare fish and other unusual sights.

Shingo Kawai

Brian Hendrix SDM ’13: Combining Engineering, Management, and Auto Design

Brian Hendrix By Ted Bowen
February 21, 2013

While working in the quintessential assembly line business, SDM ’13 Brian Hendrix avoided becoming overspecialized. In his dozen years at Ford Motor Company, he had assignments in product design, research and development, manufacturing, and quality control. This broad range of experience gives Hendrix, who was trained as a chemical engineer, the versatility to address the needs and opportunities of a Big Three automaker that is in the midst of another reinvention.

Now several years into a major transformation, Ford is recasting its product and marketing strategies, consolidating platform and vehicle designs, and promoting a less hierarchical, more accountable management culture, one that is receptive to new technologies and better attuned to customer demand. And while the company is not immune from product issues, its new approach encourages business units to address problems more openly and earlier in the development cycle.

This dovetails with expertise Hendrix gained in quality control, including the Six Sigma system developed at Motorola in the 1980s that aims to raise quality by identifying defects and their likely causes. Hendrix has trained Ford employees in Six Sigma and productivity analysis and was responsible for adding quality control, benchmarking and testing to the design and manufacturing of power train products.

After earning a bachelors degree in chemical engineering at the University of Michigan, Hendrix became the third generation in his family to work for Ford when he joined the company as a paint supervisor. After several years and numerous productivity improvements, he moved into power train operations, where his analysis of the resources that went into transmission production resulted in over a million dollars in savings. He went on to oversee engineering projects and train managers, engineers, and autoworkers in Six Sigma methodologies.

Hendrix then rotated to planning the integration of tools in the manufacturing process for Ford’s Livonia, Michigan transmission plant. In 2006, he shifted to focus on quality engineering, devising benchmarks for senior managers to track product failures and developing guidelines to improve the soundness of air induction systems.

Shifting to product design, he tapped into the more creative side of engineering. While developing high-pressure ducts for the Ford Mondeo line in Europe and Asia, he designed an engine noise suppressor, or resonator. Ford applied for patents based on his design and the resonator is now in production as an option on some vehicles.

This experience led Hendrix to rethink his advanced training. Rather than follow the auto executive’s traditional MBA route, he preferred the creativity and rigor of an engineering focus. The integrated technology and management approach of MIT’s System Design and Management program, with its emphasis on systems thinking, suited his plans.

"At high levels of leadership, systems thinking becomes even more critical due to the complex, open-ended problems you encounter," he said. "I want to develop more into the type of manager who looks at an array of requirements and makes the right decision based on that array."

Decisions informed by a dual emphasis on technology and management can steer automakers away from choices that favor short-term profits over quality, according to Hendrix. And, in the case of Ford, because the company increasingly looks to develop future generations of vehicles internally rather than via acquisition, there is a greater need to integrate engineering, design, and business strategies.

Systems thinking can help companies address the various factors influencing the design and development of vehicles, whether government regulations, customer demand, or the physics of the environment, according to Hendrix.

He is currently a lead product development engineer for air induction systems and turbo ducts for Ford trucks. Post-SDM, Hendrix intends to continue with his passion in a role in the auto industry.

Brian Hendrix

Cultivating Leadership for Learning Organizations

Paul F. Levy By Lois Slavin
February 20, 2013

The February 25th virtual presentation in the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series, entitled "Leadership for Learning Organizations", will feature author Paul F. Levy, former president and CEO of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIMDC), former executive director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), and soccer coach for over 20 years. In this webinar, Levy will draw on commonalities from these seemingly disparate environments, discuss challenges in each, show how they were addressed, and share thoughts on how to apply the concepts and tools in a wide variety of venues, from the workplace to the playing field.

Levy’s signature achievement as president and CEO of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center was helping to integrate two newly-merged and well-respected hospitals with vastly different cultures and infrastructures, which needed to learn to work together while under the threat of bankruptcy. He accomplished this through creating a culture based on eliminating preventable harm, transparency of clinical outcomes, and front-line driven process improvement.

Earlier in his career during his tenure as the MWRA’s executive director, Levy oversaw the cleanup of Boston Harbor, then known as the "dirtiest harbor in America." He oversaw the $3.8 billion invested in the treatment facilities at Deer Island and worked with governmental and community stakeholders to achieve what is widely recognized as one of the nation’s greatest environmental achievements.

Levy’s recently-published book, "Goal Play! Leadership Lessons from the Soccer Field," explains how his 20+ years experience in coaching a local girl’s soccer team taught him tools and techniques for leading in business and public service.

During his webinar, Levy will cover several areas, including:

  1. Definitions of leadership and learning organizations
  2. How to assess complex issues, no matter what the venue,
  3. using qualitative and quantitative information

  4. Developing frameworks to manage individual team players’ learning process
  5. How to help an organization learn to behave more consciously
  6. Examples of cultivating company-wide vigilance to continually unveil and address systemic risks
  7. Next steps that webinar attendees can take in their own organizations.

Details/registration.

Paul F. Levy

From Politics and Finance to Power Grids and Products: Addressing Complexity in the Interconnected World

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesDan Braha

Dan Braha, PhD
Visiting Professor, MIT Engineering Systems Division

Download the presentation slides

Date: February 11, 2013

About the Presentation

How can we manage the financial crisis? How do civil unrest, religion, and rumors spread, and how is that related to epidemics and earthquakes? Can human behavior and societal systems be studied in the same way as biological systems and complex man-made systems?

In this webinar and post-event recording, Dr. Dan Braha will demonstrate how the field of complexity research provides clues to these intriguing questions. He will focus on why and how complex socio-economic systems evolve and why these large scale engineering systems fail and offer guidelines that can be applied across industries and organizations around the world.

About the Speaker

Dan Braha, PhD, has contributed to a wide spectrum of research areas. In particular, he has advanced the area of complex systems by introducing novel methodologies for understanding the functionality, dynamics, robustness, and fragility of large-scale socio-engineered, economic, political, and managerial systems. These systems—like power grids, large-scale projects, financial systems, or societal systems—are so ubiquitous in our daily lives that we usually take them for granted, only noticing them when they break down. He is interested in questions such as: How do such amazing technologies, infrastructures, and organizations come to be what they are? How are these systems designed? How do distributed networks work, and why does information in social networks diffuse in a very fast and effective way? How are they made to be robust and respond rapidly to errors? To address these questions, he explores the interplay between biological, physical, and large-scale human-made systems by creating data-driven theoretical and computational models using the tools of statistical physics, sociology, operations research, and computer science.

Dr. Braha is currently a visiting professor at the MIT Engineering Systems Division (ESD). He is a co-faculty of the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), where he conducts research and teaches courses in complex systems, and he is also a full professor at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Prior to that, he was a visiting professor at MIT, a research scientist at Boston University, and a tenured professor in Israel. Dr. Braha has published in various prestigious journals, and edited or authored seven books, including Complex Engineered Systems (with Springer). His work was covered by various national and international news media including The Economist, WIRED, Le Monde, The Huffington Post, and New Scientist. He serves as editor of the Complexity Series at Springer, the area editor of Systems for Research in Engineering Design, and as editorial board member of various other leading journals. He has served on executive committees and as chair at a number of international conferences including the International Conference on Complex Systems (ICCS). Dr. Braha is regularly invited to consult with and present his work in international organizations and conferences.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Chris Babcock, SDM ’13: Systems Thinking for Energy Challenges

Chris Babcock February 6, 2013

Chris Babcock believes the solution to specific energy problems requires a deep understanding of the overall energy system.

Babcock, who has several years of experience in the wind energy field, earned his BS in biomedical engineering with a concentration in mechanical engineering from the University of Rochester. He received a scholarship to study for a fifth year after receiving his bachelor’s degree. During that time, he focused on renewable energy technologies and sustainability.

After college, Babcock went to work for Second Wind, a company that uses sound technology sensors to measure wind speed and other wind characteristics up to 200 meters off the ground — about twice as high as previous sensors allowed. This information aids in efficient planning, financing, and operation of wind generation facilities.

The United States is second only to China in installed wind energy capacity. "Wind energy is one of the fastest growing slices of the energy economy," Babcock said, and explained there are many reasons for this growth. For example, a wind generation facility can be built relatively quickly and its project life cycle is typically about 1-2 years. In contrast, it takes 10-15 years to build a nuclear plant. In addition, wind farms can be sited near population centers. For these reasons, wind generation is also expanding in nations such as Brazil, India, and China, where infrastructure is needed for rapidly growing population centers.

Nonetheless, there are obstacles to the growth of wind generation. It is a variable resource—some days are windy and others are not. Storage and distribution of wind energy is expensive. To deal with this, Babcock said, "we have to develop a more intelligent energy system, and that’s what I’m interested in building."

As a product manager at Second Wind, Babcock splits his time between technical and managerial activities. His desire to strengthen his business skills first led Babcock to seek out a master’s program. Initially he enrolled in a program specific to energy systems, but he decided after one semester that that program did not have the academic rigor he was seeking.

After hearing about the System Design and Management (SDM) program, he did some investigation and decided to apply. Babcock feels that SDM’s combination of engineering and management, as well as its focus on leadership, innovation, and systems thinking, will enable him to strengthen his business skills and also help him achieve his long term goals. Babcock said he is passionate about the energy challenges that we all face, and he looks forward to connecting with people in the MIT energy community, as well as gaining insights from SDM fellows in other industries.

Babcock, who enjoys running, biking, and backpacking in his spare time, said he is looking forward to taking what he learns back to Second Wind. He will continue in his job while pursuing his degree. "It will probably be a lot of work," he said, "but I like that kind of challenge."

Chris Babcock
Photo by Dave Schultz

Bryan Pirtle, SDM ’13: Mixing Wine and Engineering

Bryan Pirtle By Tom Kadala
February 5, 2013

A native Californian, Bryan Pirtle earned his electrical engineering degree from California Polytechnic State University and has spent most of his working career moving up the ranks at E&J Gallo Winery. Early on Gallo took him in as a summer intern, which exposed him to many aspects of the business. He discovered that mixing wines with engineering had far greater appeal socially than the hard drive design job he turned down to come to Gallo full-time.

E&J Gallo Wines offered Pirtle an unprecedented opportunity to evolve into one of the company’s most valued young technical gurus. Over time he became the go-to person to apply innovative solutions to complex control system engineering problems. One such project that earned respect from his peers involved coordinating 20 mobile pumps with nearly 500 wine tanks. His challenge was to monitor the flow demand of stored wine from each tank to multiple filters, use the machine data to improve efficiencies throughout the system, enable flexible connection, and display timely data and feedback on human interfaces.

Pirtle explored an innovative Bluetooth solution that sold for less than $100 per unit from a connectivity company, but ultimately implemented a hard-wired solution to ensure reliability. He wrote software that collected and transferred data from pump to filter to control system with split-second precision. His black box solution included clever algorithms that independently managed over 600 built-in controllers. His new system replaced a wireless product (that had not been working well) with a custom-developed, data routing network, one that offered Gallo far greater processing flexibility. His colleagues summed up his ingenuity and foresight with a simple statement, "only Bryan would have thought of using such innovative techniques".

An innovator at heart, Pirtle’s personal drive to remain in-the-know of global technology transcends his work at Gallo. At home he works on numerous projects of interest, pours through electronic journals, and keeps up his personal blog. One project involved rewriting the firmware of an Arduino board that could manage various appliances and devices in his home from a web page. After selling a few similar systems to friends, he considered starting a new business on the side.

Over time, Pirtle’s career path at Gallo led him away from programming to project management. Unlike his previous projects where he could easily apply technology to improve a process among machines, he recognized that designing a ‘circuit board’ of people, budgets, and ROI’s rather than chip-sets and software would require new skills.

MIT’s SDM program not only fit the bill for him but offered an unprecedented opportunity to attend classes with his peers while sitting in a Gallo conference room. "I am not much for watching taped lectures, but when I heard how interactive MIT’s remote classrooms were set up, I was hooked," he explained. Gallo’s HR director and his colleagues have supported his decision wholeheartedly and for good reason. Pirtle will not only learn state-of-the-art systems-thinking theories while working at Gallo but will also have a chance to apply his newly found knowledge on-the-job while maintaining access to MIT professors.

For Pirtle, however, SDM’s on-campus component offered an additional benefit. Instead of reading about new technology breakthroughs in trade magazines at home, he could now knock on the doors of the very same MIT labs cited and speak directly with the people behind the inventions. He summed up his excitement in just four words: "How cool is that?!"

Bryan Pirtle
Photo by Dave Schultz

Marianna Novellino SDM ’13: a systems approach to environmental sustainability

Marianna Novellino By Ted Bowen
February 5, 2013

Whether removing industrial and biological material from water or keeping harmful substances out of the environment, wastewater treatment requires biological, chemical, and physical processes. However, Marianna Novellino, SDM ’13, believes that designing and maintaining treatment facilities and producing new technologies is also about connections — between population trends and infrastructure, new products and legacy systems, and most importantly, among technology, people, and business.

As an environmental engineer, Novellino has designed municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants and worked as a product manager for a multinational supplier of wastewater processing equipment and systems. The Venezuela native received an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at that country’s Universidad National Experimental del Tachira and earned a Master’s in civil engineering from the University of Dayton.

In exploring options to facilitate the next phase of her career, Novellino ruled out pursuing an MBA in favor of a program that integrates engineering and management. "Combining technology and management expertise is a basic requirement for me," she explained. "In my industry, many professionals either have one or the other but not both. This can lead their companies down less successful paths. I want to be one of the new, emerging leaders who understands how technical and management issues affect each other, and consequently the business."

Novellino has a longstanding interest in water resources. As a child, she was an avid fan of Jacques Cousteau and considered a degree in marine biology. Instead, she channeled her concern for the environment into studying technologies and systems for cleaning up water. In addition to sewage treatment and drinking water, she is interested in finding ways to reduce water use and pollution in energy production.

According to Novellino, the wastewater industry needs modernizing, both in terms of receptivity to new technology and to new methods of deployment. From an entrepreneurial standpoint, she sees opportunities for better monitoring and analysis software and telecommunications products. She expressed concern that ideas that could benefit society and the environment fail to reach market. Consequently, while at SDM she intends to focus on innovation, product development, and sustainability, particularly in terms of infrastructure.

Novellino said that infrastructure innovation can mean repurposing or refining existing technologies, noting that she worked on a project that used a 30-year old filter design that was upgraded with technology for controls and instrumentation, to significantly reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff in the Chesapeake Bay area.

As in other areas of infrastructure, funding for wastewater treatment is chronically scarce, which affects delivery of this essential service and can delay implementation of new regulations for years, according to Novellino. "Everybody should have access to clean water, but it’s expensive and it’s running out. We are polluting the environment if we have to process it, so we have to address both the social and financial areas. It’s all related," she noted.

Because the challenges in this sector are complex and interrelated, they are well-suited to SDM’s curriculum. For Novellino, systems thinking is a useful tool for understanding connections and relationships, both between technology and business within an enterprise, and in the broader context of environment, business, and society.

Well-versed in advanced infrastructure in North and South America and Asia, Novellino has also observed conditions in less developed communities. She volunteered in Honduras for the Denver-based non-governmental organization Water for People, surveying rural villages, reporting on their access to water, their sewage systems, and public health, conducting outreach on hygiene, and coordinating and sharing information with local water authorities.

Novellino is open to a range of post-SDM possibilities where she can apply her experience in the environmental engineering industry, as well as the knowledge from the SDM program. She would like to continue helping the environment, people, and industrial development by leading an environmental company. She also considers regulation a good fit for someone with expertise in both technology and business.

Marianna Novellino
Photo by Dave Schultz

Suzanne Livingston, SDM ’13: Standing at the Intersection of Engineering and Business

Suzanne Livingston February 5, 2013

Named one of Mass High Tech’s Women to Watch in 2011 and recognized that same year as a Social Media Star by the Boston Social Media Society, SDM ’13 Suzanne Livingston is senior product manager for IBM Connections, the company’s enterprise social networking platform. Despite her professional honors and the fact that International Data Corporation named IBM Connections the #1 enterprise social networking software platform for the past three years, Livingston is far from complacent.

"To continue to exceed the expectations of the ever-changing software market, I need a deeper and more critical perspective on developing innovative products," said Livingston, who holds an MBA with a focus on Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley University. She learned about SDM from colleagues who worked across the functional boundaries of software engineering and product management.

"When they told me about SDM’s interdisciplinary curriculum and what they gained from being in the program, I decided that SDM was the right fit for me. I’m excited to be learning from others working in technology, from people who have studied best practices, and from those who have implemented product development processes in other industries," she said.

There are several reasons Livingston was attracted to SDM. "I’ve always been at the intersection of business and technology," said Livingston. "In my experience, some of our most innovative solutions emerged from business challenges that can be solved with technology, and in turn technology decisions that are influenced by business. I am intrigued by that cycle, and my work revolves around connecting both."

"With regard to software products," she continued, "a product leader needs to balance a three-legged stool—product management, user experience, and engineering. If the product supports a wide variety of capabilities but performs poorly, we haven’t met our overall goal. On the other hand, if a product focuses only on technical metrics yet doesn’t meet the market demand, we again haven’t met our overall goal. You can’t lead a team unless you understand how the entire system works together."

Livingston started her IBM career with the Collaborative User Experience Research Group where she worked as a researcher evaluating the impact social technology could have in the enterprise. "At the time, social profiles, bookmarking, blogging, among others, were gaining traction on the consumer web. We asked the question of how relevant these technologies were to businesses. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to bring some of my research into the market as a new product," Livingston stated. Her mentors encouraged her transition to product development. In turn, Livingston now mentors several product managers in and outside of IBM.

The biggest challenge facing Livingston is balancing her time. As the mother of 20-month old twins with a fast-paced career, Livingston needs to know exactly what she wants from SDM, and she does. "I want to strengthen and deepen my leadership skills in technology and business," she concluded, "but I also want to take it to another level and understand the entire system, including its technical and managerial components, so that we continue provide value to our customers while being on the cutting edge of technology innovation."

Suzanne Livingston
Photo by Dave Schultz

Yoav Shapira, SDM ’05: From SDM, Around the World, to Happier.com

Yoav Shapira By Tom Kadala
January 30, 2013

SDM alum Yoav Shapira is the type of person everyone would like as a friend, advisor, and colleague—especially when deciphering, debugging, and deploying a complex software development project. He is an engineer by training and a manager of talent at heart.

Shapira’s pursuit for a graduate degree began after working at a biotech firm in Boston. At the time his goal was to complement his management experiences with proven academic theories.

In choosing between a masters program from Harvard or MIT, Shapira rationalized his decision in favor of MIT’s SDM program as the one offering the best of both worlds, engineering and management. The SDM core course requirements were relatively few, which enabled him to customize his program by giving him unprecedented access to MIT’s School of Engineering and Sloan School of Management, as well as to courses at Harvard. He could take the classes he had always dreamed of, with professors he had often read about, and with a cohort of early-to-mid-career professionals that matched his brilliance and his passion for learning.

Shapira’s all-time favorite systems thinking course at SDM was ‘The Human-Side of Technology’ taught by Senior Lecturer Ralph Katz. "I simply loved his class and enjoyed every minute of it. The professor was awesome and my peers were amazing," he said. Initially Yoav thought that after receiving his master’s degree he would return to his former life as a software engineer. To his surprise, however, SDM unleashed his inner curiosity as well as a hidden, burning ‘entrepreneurial bug’.

"I was supposed to return to my company after the SDM program but instead wound up joining a tiny startup called HubSpot with a group of Sloan students I had met in one of my classes," he explained.

Shapira grew HubSpot’s software development team from a staff of four in 2006 to 40 by 2010. The team is now closer to 70. "There was no easy street here. Every month was a flog until 2008, when the firm reached a critical threshold of about 1,000 qualified leads." From then on, signup numbers began to grow exponentially and the number of company employees overall grew from a handful to hundreds.

Shapira’s SDM education and his instinctive management abilities aided him in the unduly task of hiring and managing multiple teams of software engineers. "I hired engineers who were open-minded and could work in an agile environment", said Shapira. His management style earned him high marks among his peers for always mentoring, challenging, and nurturing with contagious enthusiasm and passion. His secret was simple. He would offer suggestions then step away to give his talented engineers the space, time, and confidence they needed to come up with their own solutions.

In 2012, Shapira left HubSpot to fulfill a lifetime dream—a trip around the world. During his one-year tour, he visited Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Thailand, India, Israel, Turkey, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, Iceland, and England, meeting with MIT alumni and other like-minded individuals who shared a passion for making the earth a better place.

Shortly after returning from his world tour, he was offered the CTO position for another startup Happier.com. With the HubSpot experience fresh on his mind, Shapira felt confident and ready to take on this next entrepreneurial challenge. "This venture will be different from HubSpot," he said. "Happier.com is a purpose-driven startup based on a lot of scientific research into human psychology and related behaviors. We all have things that make us happier, and most of us don’t do enough of them. Can this product help? Can we put more smiles on more people’s faces? I’d love to try. It is a life-long dream that truly defines me."

Yoav Shapira

Dan Braha: Applying Complex Systems Theory to Real World Data

Dan Braha By Lynne Weiss
January 29, 2013

Dr. Dan Braha, visiting professor in MIT’s Engineering Systems Division, has spent his career applying complex systems theory to engineering systems, biological systems, financial systems, and product development systems. He will offer his insights in a February 11 SDM Systems Thinking Webinar titled "From Politics and Finance to Power Grids and Products: Addressing Complexity in the Interconnected World."

Braha, a co-faculty of the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) and a full professor at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, began his career in engineering design, operations research, and supply chain management. He has also contributed research to semiconductor manufacturing, data mining, and artificial intelligence. His transition to complex systems research has been continuous and gradual, he said, dating his interest to 1993, when he started exploring statistical physics in the context of large-scale engineering design. The move to complexity theory has shifted the focus of his research from only looking for "the best solution," to trying to "understand how systems behave—whether engineering systems, product development systems, or social networks."

In his webinar, Braha plans to discuss what he said are four basic characteristics of complex systems:

  1. Universality. "You can describe many systems across domains and you will find universal properties. The same underlying principles can describe the evolution of language, the evolution of species, and the evolution of companies."
  2. Coupling and Connectivity. "Systems can be loosely coupled or they can be tightly coupled. In the context of complex engineering systems, you can change the characteristics of highly connected ‘nodes’ which could serve as leverage points for drastically improving the performance of the system. For example, making highly connected components of a piece of software less dependent on each other could dramatically decrease the number of defects in open source software development. In the context of financial networks, regulatory requirements could be set higher for banks that carry the highest risk to the system."
  3. Phased Transition. "The complex systems community looks for signals that a system is about to go into a phase transition. For example, they want to find signals that the economy is on the edge of transition. Think about product development. We can have a state where everything is stable, on time, on budget, but if one element becomes unstable, the whole system goes out of control." Braha said that too much stability is not necessarily ideal. "To increase innovation, you want to be on the border. At the edge of chaos, innovation goes up, but you also expose yourself to vulnerabilities."
  4. Out-of-Equilibrium Dynamics. Braha suggested that a mayor who wants to lower a city’s crime rate has to think about internal influences—among the people committing the crimes—and external influences—for example, the strength of the police force or the health of the educational system. "We have developed mathematical models to describe these dynamics in finance and other systems."

The value of complexity research to industry lies in the potential for prediction, but the accuracy of prediction depends on understanding the underlying principles. People focus on what is going on in their immediate environment, but "If you step back," Braha said, "you see more connections. My goal is to understand the big picture—how all of us are connected and how one person’s behavior can affect someone else down the road."

Dan Braha

Applying a Complex System Architecture Evaluation Method to the 2005 Ford GT 200 MPH Supercar

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesScott Ahlman

Scott Ahlman, MIT SDM Alumnus
President, Ahlman Engineering, Inc.

Download the presentation slides

Date: January 28, 2013

About the Presentation

Through painful experience, many companies have learned that they cannot develop a way out of an architecture issue that is uncovered late in the product development process, such as in the verification (hardware and tooling) stage. If a company gets the architecture right at the front end, it can achieve a huge competitive advantage over the short and long term. If it gets the architecture wrong, the results can be costly. Therefore, a rigorous approach to system architecture at the front end of system design is essential. No longer can a chief engineer rely primarily on experience-based intuition rather than a rigorous process and methods.

This webinar presents a hierarchical synthesis of known qualitative and quantitative architecting tools and methods and explains how it was applied to the powertrain system of the 2005 Ford GT Supercar. It will demonstrate how the powertrain architecture decision was critical to achieving the system goals within previously unmatched timing and resource constraints and discuss their impact on final results. This approach can be applied across industries and products.

About the Speaker

Scott Ahlman has 19 years experience in automotive product development and performance engineering.

Ahlman spent 12 years at Ford Motor Company as an engineer in chassis design, vehicle dynamics and systems. His experience there included light truck passenger car work followed by a short stint with NASCAR Craftsman Trucks, and six years in the open wheel CART ChampCar racing series for Ford Racing with Team Rahal. The highlight of his career included chassis design, vehicle dynamics and system engineering/architecture/optimization on the 2005 Ford GT 200 MPH Supercar from start to finish.

In 2006, Ahlman left Ford to start his own company, Ahlman Engineering, which initially focused on racing and provided chassis/vehicle dynamics engineering support in the Indy Racing League for Rahal Letterman Racing. Over the last 6 years, he has led the Roush-Fenway Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup chassis/vehicle dynamics and systems engineering/optimization through an independent contract with Ford Racing. In this role, Scott has made significant contributions to 29 NASCAR Sprint Cup wins, including two second place finishes in the championship and winner of the 2007 “Jack” Roush MVP Award. Ahlman Engineering now provides beginning-to-end automotive-focused product development services.

As an MIT SDM alumnus, Ahlman holds an MS in Engineering and Management with a system architecture emphasis. He also earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Evaluating Complex Dynamic System Architectures: NASCAR Chassis Setup and Development

Figure 1: parameters and subsystems that chassis engineers work withFigure 2: optimization sheetScott Ahlman By Scott Ahlman, SDM ’01
January 17, 2013

Editor’s note: Scott Ahlman will be delivering a webinar on a related topic on January 28, 2013.
Free and open to all. Details/registration.

For several years, I was an independent contractor for Ford Racing. I helped enhance the performance of the five drivers on Ford’s two leading NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams, Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports. As a chassis systems engineer, I juggled a host of variables that affect a race car’s performance, balance, drivability, and tire life. It’s a complex system that requires in-depth preparation and split-second decisions. It also varies from track to track and driver to driver.

Over the past five years I’ve been part of 20 wins, numerous pole positions, and two second place finishes in championships. My studies at the SDM program as a Ford-sponsored fellow contributed significantly to my success. The program taught me to view complex challenges through technical, business, and socio-political lenses and to integrate these perspectives using systems thinking.

The complex system encompassing a high-performance race car, driver, and track involves literally thousands of parameters and variables — primarily car design and setup parameters, vehicle dynamic behavior variables and weather related variables including temperature, barometric pressure, track temperature, and resultant air density. These must be prioritized, analyzed, understood, and adjusted. The system also involves a team of engineers and mechanics.

While in SDM, I developed a hierarchical approach to combining tools and methods for evaluating complex, dynamic, system architectures. My thesis research was conducted in the context of a very high-performance passenger car.

My most recent work focused on chassis and vehicle dynamics. I led the development and use of predictive tools to determine the best chassis setup for a fast, drivable, and consistent race car. I also contributed to chassis development, including target setting, analysis, design, manufacture, and refinement on and off the track.

Figure 1: This concept map of high-performance passenger car handling shows some of the many parameters and subsystems that chassis engineers work with.

The optimal chassis differs from race to race. Even at the same track, driver tendencies, vehicle components, and weather conditions differ over time. Preparing a car’s chassis for a race involves many adjustments, but given tight constraints the team’s goal is to minimize the number and degree of adjustments.

Race weekend is really, really fast. We’ve done extensive analysis beforehand, and created a short book of recommendations on chassis setup and prioritized adjustments, depending on various handling issues. Planning is essential. When a driver came in from a run and gave us feedback on the car and how it needs to behave differently, we had 15 to 30 seconds to make a judgment call. It was far better to be in predictive or refinement mode than to conduct analyses while the driver was on the track.

Adding to the challenge, there was very limited practice time at a specific track on race weekend — typically 1.5 hours of practice before qualifying and then two one-hour practices on the day before the race. We therefore used system engineering to predict the best race car setup for the different tracks and the infinite number of weather possibilities in a racing season. NASCAR rules preclude testing or practice at any track or facility that sanctions a NASCAR race, so our ability to predict the race car’s behavior and make chassis setup recommendations was critical.

The challenges in understanding the variables and race conditions went beyond just car, driver, track layout and track surface. Here are a few of the other variables:

  • Annual tire changes by Goodyear. We were provided lab test data for new tires that we used for analysis and modeling to understand how the changes would affect the car’s behavior. However, we were only allowed to participate in Goodyear field tests on a limited basis — about five tracks we raced on a year. We had to be purely predictive for the remaining tracks.
  • Constantly changing conditions. Ambient temperature, sun load on the track, tire rubber buildup on the track, tire wear, and changing fuel load add numerous levels of unpredictability.
  • Limited data acquisition during races. Only driver feedback on the car’s behavior is allowed. Therefore, the quality of his feedback and our ability to prompt him for information is crucial.

Parsing all of this and more requires multi-variable and response optimization, which is both a science and an art. It involves applying weighting factors — i.e. determining the relative importance of the elements of a system — via various metrics and models.

Figure 2: This chart shows part of an optimization sheet. It helps engineers focus on the right things in the right order and to complete difficult optimization of many parameters and variables at once, as a system.

As statistician George Edward Pelham Box said, "All models are false, but some models are useful". Knowing which parts of a model are "false" and which are useful is key. To achieve this, the team needed to determine:

  • Which metrics to use and when to use them, since vehicle dynamics models and analyses rarely output holistically accurate values for speed, balance, balance consistency, drivability and consistency.
  • The strengths and weaknesses of various models, when to use which, and which could be relied upon at face value, and which require human judgment.

Balance and balance consistency are central to the challenge of developing and setting up a race car’s chassis. A car’s balance relates to which end loses its grip first. The ideal car uses all four tires fairly equally (neutral balance), providing the most grip and therefore the highest speed. But a car with neutral balance can be difficult to drive because it’s close to the edge of control. In addition, varying track conditions make this ideally neutral balance difficult to achieve and maintain for any length of time, especially over a 500-mile race.

With a "tight" or under-steering race car, the front tires lose grip first, resulting in the car tending to continue straight on a path tangent to the curve when pushed to the limit. A "loose" or over-steering car is one in which the rear tires lose grip first, resulting in the car tending to spin out when pushed to the limit.

In many cases, the three major parts of a corner — entry, middle and exit — can all exhibit very different balance characteristics due to the nature of the part of the corner, the driver’s style, the car’s inherent behavior, track geometry changes (banking, lateral and normal curvature), and bumps in the track. Therefore, balance consistency throughout the corner is one of our most important — and challenging — criteria for chassis design and setup.

Working with NASCAR chassis was a great example of the need to define, then design. The numerous variables and tight deadlines left the process vulnerable to classic errors that arose in the absence of a systems perspective. Lack of clear goals that can be used to generate system, subsystem and component requirements led to a system that failed to meet the customer need. And the lack of clear goals and requirements led to what I call "engineering on walkabout" where one is on a design journey with no clear destination.

And then there were the human factors. Although the stated objective might be winning races and championships, there are sometimes hidden agendas. Often there were also conflicting goals, including focusing on productivity at the expense of standard goals definition and requirements cascades, i.e. how functional requirements "cascade" down a system hierarchy from system through subsystems to components.

Taking a systems perspective helped me recognize these non-technical, and often non-strategic, influences faster and better, assign them more credence, and cope with or even influence and shape them. This has been instrumental in helping "incentivize" my teammates in the desired direction.

A key part of my process in helping the team tackle this complex system was the use of basic systems engineering tools like chunking, aggregation, and hierarchy. In addition, Design of Experiments and many-parameter and variable optimization were also key parts of this process. They helped achieve high-performance results much more efficiently than standard component-focused and typical one-factor at-a-time strategies.

Ultimately, though, understanding what parameters and variables to focus on and when was critical and required significant judgment. In addition, team members needed to know the strengths and weaknesses of the tools and models they used.

This article shows only a few of the ways that SDM knowledge can be applied in a multi-variable environment. For a more in-depth discussion on, for example, testing concepts vs. track-specific setup; the use of systems engineering tools such as chunking, aggregation, and hierarchy; use of solution neutral requirements; the functional requirements cascade; and mind-mapping, please request an electronic copy of my thesis, Complex Dynamic System Architecture Evaluation Through A Hierarchical Synthesis Of Tools And Methods, from Joan S. Rubin, SDM Industry Co-director, jsrubin@mit.edu.

About the Author
Under his firm Ahlman Engineering, Scott Ahlman, SDM ’01, was a chassis/vehicle dynamics engineer for Ford Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since 2006. He holds an MS in Engineering and Management from MIT.

Scott Ahlman

Buying Common: Executing Platform Strategies in Supply Chain and Procurement Organizations

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesBruce Cameron

Bruce Cameron, PhD
Lecturer, MIT Engineering Systems Division

Download the presentation slides

Date: January 14, 2013

About the Presentation

Companies pursuing platform strategies focus heavily on market strategy and product development, often leaving procurement and supply chain decisions to downstream supporting business units. Supply chain organizations are faced with heavy investments in process complexity to manage common parts, but do not necessarily internalize the system-wide benefits of sharing parts. This webinar will explore the contract levers available to firms to incentivize commonality in their supply chains, and will discuss best practices for incorporating feedback into product development decisions.

About the Speaker

Bruce Cameron, PhD, is a lecturer in MIT’s Engineering Systems Division and a consultant on platform strategies. At MIT, he ran the MIT Commonality Study, a 16-firm investigation of platforming returns. His current clients include Fortune 500 firms in high-tech, aerospace, transportation, and consumer goods.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Utterback honored as exemplar of excellence

James Utterback January 11, 2013

James Utterback, David J. McGrath jr (1959) Professor of Management and Innovation, Professor of Engineering Systems, and one of SDM’s most popular professors, was one of seven "exemplars of excellence" honored by KU Leuven in June 2012 at its bi-annual Leuven International Forum. KU Leuven, located in Flanders, Belgium, has been a center of learning since it was founded in 1425. The international forum is primarily a networking event that brings together Belgian, European and international leaders from academia, industry, and government for the advancement of knowledge and service to society.

Utterback — lauded as one of the pioneers of research on innovation at and by spin-offs — spoke to attendees about the confluence of different fields such as biotechnology and nanotechnology. He described this fusion of disciplines as necessary, but cautioned that the benefits of interdisciplinary research must not be left to chance and innovators must purposefully steer the process.

KU Leuven reported that in discussing the problematic issues of innovation, Utterback mentioned the link between automation and unemployment, pointing out that 90 per cent of employees still work in established industries. "It is therefore important to invest in new fields in a well-considered and balanced manner." And what is the secret to ‘spin-off sauce’, as Utterback himself described it? "Young entrepreneurs are attracted to MIT because they know we support their ideas." (Video | Interview | Laudatio)

James Utterback

Alvaro Madero, SDM ’12: Trekking to Silicon Valley

Alvaro Madero By Lynne Weiss
December 14, 2012

While SDM ’12 Alvaro Madero was still working toward his B.S. in electronic systems engineering at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Mexico, he and a friend were hired to reconfigure 250 routers that had come with the wrong firmware. "The client expected us to take about a week to complete, but we did it in 10 hours." Madero went on to explain that he and his friend used a virtual keyboard that allowed them to enter the reconfiguration just once. "Then we ran it 250 times."

The company that hired Madero to do that job was a startup named CARSA (Consultoria y Asesoria de Redes S.A. — Consulting and Assessment on Networks). Needless to say, CARSA was eager to hire Madero when he finished school. At first his role was to provide technical support to the sales team, but over time, he shifted to consulting in pre-sales meetings to develop strategy.

When Madero decided to pursue a graduate degree, he realized that he did not want to stop being an engineer to pursue a conventional MBA. Nor did he want to limit himself to a technical degree. In 2010 he discovered SDM on the MIT website and realized "this is what I want: a combination of engineering and business."

Shortly after matriculating in SDM in January 2012, Madero joined the 2012 SDM Tech Trek, the first in several years. The trek took about 25 SDM fellows to California’s Silicon Valley, where they visited eight different companies, including Tesla, First Solar, Silver Springs, TIBCO, Yammer, Cisco, Google, and Intel.

Madero was so enthusiastic about the trek that he volunteered to co-lead the next one, scheduled for March 25-29, 2013. In creating an itinerary, he and co-lead Michael Seelhoff first sought out contacts within targeted companies across various industries who understand the strategic value of bridging the gap between engineering and management. "Most professionals who have managed projects involving engineers understand how SDM [fellows] can add value," Madero said.

Because one company wanted to interview visiting SDM students in 2012, this year’s trek will allow time for interviews, in addition to group tours. The 2013 trek will include both companies visited last year and new ones as well.

For Madero, who sees his future in IT, the SDM Tech Trek offers an opportunity to get to know the companies and their cultures firsthand. "From the outside, we can only imagine what it might be like to work in a company," Madero explained. "But it’s a whole different experience to see it from the inside."

Companies interested in hosting a visit to their facilities by SDM fellows should contact Joan S. Rubin, Industry Co-director, System Design and Management.

Alvaro Madero
Photo by Kathy Tarantola Photography

SDM Fellow Establishes MIT’s First Mining Club

Conceptual designJuan Esteban Montero By Sarah Foote, News@MITSloan
December 12, 2012

Shortly after Juan Esteban Montero began MIT’s System Design and Management program last January, he looked for students who shared his passion for the natural resources industry. He was able to find only a few students at MIT Sloan with this interest. Seeking out ways to meet other MIT students interested in mining led Montero to create MIT’s Mining, Oil, and Gas Club (MOG).

"The club is doing very well thanks to a great group of leaders. We started with just five students from MIT Sloan and mechanical engineering and now have 120 members from all five schools at MIT," Montero said. "We started with small events and then created a lecture series to bring experts to campus. Many MIT students are now learning about the challenges of the natural resources industries and at the same time, these industries are interested in the projects and research MIT students are working on."

Montero noted that the club has also sparked interest outside of MIT. "The Chilean government has expressed an interest in working with MOG. Universities in Canada and Japan are also interested in the club’s research, and people from everywhere are getting in touch with us. Today, we received an email from the Yazd University of Iran expressing interest in our club."

Montero believes MOG will continue to grow and has a lot of potential for its members. "Two companies have asked if they can come to campus to recruit MIT students. We haven’t even reached out to recruiters yet, so this is a great opportunity for our members," he said. "We’re creating a career director position within the club to represent it in a more formal way. We also plan to connect with MIT’s career fair to make sure mining companies are represented in the future."

From Chile to Cambridge
Growing up in Santiago, Chile, Montero wanted to be an engineer as a child. Mining in Chile is a major component of the country’s economy, and Montero wanted his career to have an impact on society, and he knew that mining was the way to achieve this.

"I really enjoyed working in the mining industry because it is the main industry of the Chilean economy and my work had an impact on the country. I was lucky to work for the most important mining company in the world, BHP Billiton, and see the impact of my work in different aspects − such as creating jobs. As my responsibilities grew, I knew I wanted to expand my managerial and engineering skills," Montero said. "I conducted research online to find a master’s degree program that would combine my interests and that’s when I found SDM. Coming to MIT is the best decision I’ve ever made. The community here is inspiring and I’m really enjoying SDM and MIT."

As part of his SDM degree requirements, Montero will write a thesis on the mining industry. (SDM is jointly offered by MIT Sloan and the MIT Engineering Systems Division). His research will include the application of flexibility in the engineering design of major mining projects. He is working with Professor Richard de Neufville on the project.

"It takes months, millions of dollars, and a lot of disciplines to design mines. I want to look into different alternatives in a way that is less expensive and easier to compute. I want to find ways for mining companies to explore opportunities that are not visible with current methodology," Montero said. "Every class I have taken at MIT has been amazing from the managerial and the technical side — and all of them will be helpful as I work on my thesis."

Montero’s interest in mining and energy doesn’t end with the club or his thesis — he is also a business development researcher for BroadRock Renewables, a clean technology company based in New York.

"I’m working on a market research project for BroadRock. I got this opportunity through SDM and I’m learning a lot from it," Montero said. "MIT is also giving me the opportunity to visit with Keio University’s SDM Department in Tokyo this January. I’ll work with them on a systems thinking approach for the mining industries in South America and Japan to collaborate. Japan is a very important stakeholder of the natural resources industry and shares significant commonalities with Chile as a major seismic country."

Note— Students who are interested in joining the Mining, Oil, and Gas Club should visit the website or send an email to the club officers.

Juan Esteban Montero
Photo by Kathy Tarantola Photography

Lean Thinking in an Academic Medical Center — The Beat Goes On

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesDr. John E. Billi

Dr. John E. Billi, Professor of Internal Medicine and Medical Education,
University of Michigan Medical School and Associate Vice President, Medical Affairs, University of Michigan

Download the presentation slides

About the Presentation

The University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) has been on the lean journey for the past seven years, creating the Michigan Quality System. UMHS has over 20,000 faculty, staff, and trainees. The goal is to create 20,000 problem solvers who are finding and fixing root causes of problems they face daily. This webinar will briefly recap UMHS’ initial approach, results of early experiments, what leaders learned, and how UMHS adjusted. The webinar will cover their current set of experiments, including the transition from scattered projects led by coaches to an integrated approach that incorporates People Development into Process Improvement.

About the Speaker

Dr. Billi’s research and management interests are in the field of health services delivery, including use of lean thinking to improve quality and efficiency, use of evidence-based guidelines, population health, clinical practice transformation tied to performance-based differential reimbursement, and conflict of interest management. He leads the Michigan Quality System, which is the University of Michigan Health System’s business strategy to transform clinical, academic and administrative functions through development and deployment of a uniform quality improvement philosophy.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

SDM’s James Utterback: burgeoning innovation where technology streams collide

James Utterback December 4, 2012

Where diverse streams of knowledge and technology collide one may find exceptional opportunity for innovation. James Utterback is the David J. McGrath jr (1959) Professor of Management and Innovation at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Professor of Engineering Systems within the MIT Engineering Systems Division. His research focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship. In collaboration with Simon Fraser University’s Elicia Maine, Utterback analyzed startups that span nanotechnology and biotechnology and found that the companies that brought together materials, chemistry, physics and biology were more successful. "Creativity is a combinatorial process," said Utterback. "The more elements and chances there are to combine, the more you can expect to have startups and innovations."

Utterback is slated to moderate a symposium titled Confluence of Streams of Knowledge: Biotechnology and Nanotechnology that Maine and he organized for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston in February, 2013. Speakers at the symposium include such luminaries as MIT’s Robert Langer and Caltech’s Nathan Lewis.

The symposium will cover examples like tissue engineering, which brings together developmental biology, engineering and materials. Speakers will draw the distinction between traditional interdisciplinary collaboration, where specialists work on separate parts of projects, and work at the confluence of technology streams, where there is concurrent multidisciplinary collaboration.

The overall hypothesis can be generalized in lots of ways, said Utterback. Companies that have a greater range of users might produce more innovations, or fields where users are active and have tools to help create products might be more innovative, he said. Similarly, firms that organize multidisciplinary laboratories such as historically Bell Labs and Xerox PARC might be expected to create important innovations. "It’s a matter of how many connections are being made and how many sparks can be struck."

Utterback was the Technology Management Section (TMS) Distinguished Speaker at the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) 2012 annual meeting in October. His talk, titled "An Ecology of Innovation," calls for thinking of new products as experiments in the market. Innovation and startups are processes of experimentation that create and exploit rapid changes in the market. Typically established firms invest heavily in development efforts long past the time that rewarding improvements might be expected. Rather than seeking to reduce uncertainty and concentrate effort, companies might consider fostering greater experimentation, Utterback said. He is writing a book on the subject with Boston University’s Fernando Suárez.

Utterback is a founding faculty member of the SDM program as well as the Sloan Fellows in Innovation and Global Leadership, and the Leaders for Global Operations programs. "I like fields where engineering and management come together," he said.

The goal of the SDM program is to build up the skills and effectiveness of people who design reliable and effective complex systems, said Utterback. He gives the students in the program high praise. "It’s a lot of fun to teach them; they always have new questions," he said. "You can never anticipate everything they’re going to bring into the classroom." A key advantage the SDM program offers is its emphasis on primary sources over textbooks, said Utterback. "SDM is bringing a lot of current research into the classroom, which is one of MIT’s traditional strengths."

James Utterback

Cultivating Egypt’s Social Entrepreneurs

Ayman Ismail By Lynne Weiss
November 30, 2012

When Professor Ayman Ismail went to visit his home in Egypt early in 2011, he had no idea he was walking into a revolution. Three weeks after he arrived, however, demonstrations began in Tahrir Square, and Ismail saw he had a positive role to play.

Ismail, who today holds the Abdul Latif Jameel Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship at the American University in Cairo (AUC) School of Business, received both his Ph.D. in international economic development and his master’s in city planning from MIT. Selected by the World Economic Forum as one of Egypt’s two most influential and inspirational leaders of 2012, he discussed the prospects for social entrepreneurs in Egypt at an October 11 event co-sponsored by the MIT System Design and Management (SDM) Speakers Series and the MIT Egyptian Students Association.

He began his talk by describing the situation in Egypt when he arrived there some 20 months ago. On a macro level, Egypt’s economy was strong—levels of foreign investment, economic growth, and foreign currency reserves were increasing. Domestically, however, there were problems. Poverty was at 42%. Poverty in Egypt means living on around $1.70 a day. The unemployment rate was high and labor unrest was increasing.

In the wake of the revolution, investments have slowed and foreign currency reserves have declined from $35 billion to $15 billion. Poverty and labor unrest are still widespread.

Ismail believes, however, that Egypt offers reasons for optimism. First, Egypt now has its first democratically elected civilian president in over 60 years. Second, it has a healthy middle class with significant disposable income and a desire to build a safe, stable society. And third, Egypt’s burgeoning entrepreneurial activity gives Ismail further reason for optimism.

While small businesses such as corner groceries have long been the traditional backbone of Egypt’s entrepreneurial economy, today Egypt has an increasing amount of contemporary innovation and is home to many of the same types of technology-based start-ups that one finds in Cambridge or Silicon Valley. One of the most exciting ventures is a business to develop solar-powered water pumps and desalination stations for Egypt’s desert climate. Another uses patents on nanoparticles for diagnosing hepatitis C.

Ismail is co-founder of Nahdet El Mahrousa, a nongovernmental organization that provides incubation services and seed funding to young social entrepreneurs. He also leads the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program (EIP) at AUC. "That’s my baby," he grinned, as he spoke enthusiastically about the huge network of mentors that EIP has created to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem. "I hope to come back next year to tell you about our success."

Ismail ended his talk by offering a final reason for optimism. Egypt’s network of 18 national and numerous private universities provides a solid foundation of technical education. Ismail said, however, that the country’s most interesting entrepreneurs are not necessarily those with the best academic background, but those who bring something unique at this moment of massive political, economic, and social change: a mix of "business skills, street savvy, spirit, and tenacity." Revolutionary, indeed.

Ayman Ismail

Elizabeth Cilley Southerlan, SDM ’12: Complex Systems for Healthcare, WiSDM, and More

Elizabeth Cilley Southerlan November 27, 2012

From military bases to Vermont farms, Elizabeth Cilley Southerlan, SDM ’12, has followed her interest in complex systems. Now she’s a fellow in MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) Program, where her interest has become a passion for improving complex health care systems and for helping to build strong communities within MIT and SDM.

Southerlan came to SDM from Accenture, where she was a management consultant with the firm’s retail and health care practices. For the latter, she managed projects in health care analytics and clinical transformation.

In looking to build on her training in industrial engineering and experience in health care management consulting, Southerlan opted for SDM. She believed that SDM’s MS in engineering and management, rather than an MBA, would enable her to increase her business acumen as well as her understanding of engineering principles. SDM also offered courses to help Southerlan gain a better appreciation of how organizations function and develop a multi-disciplinary perspective on factors affecting health care over the long-term.

Southerlan is currently conducting research under faculty from the MIT Engineering Systems Division’s Sociotechnical Systems Research Center Specifically, she is applying systems thinking to the process of analyzing and mapping potential changes in the US Military Health System’s (MHS) treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). By examining how PTSD is handled at different levels of the MHS, from a single unit or facility through entire service branches and military itself, she aims to map out a better understanding of how the military is currently addressing the problem, how it might improve care, and what steps it could take to achieve that.

Southerlan’s research draws on a method known as Enterprise Architecting, that was discussed in an SDM course taught by Professors Deborah Nightingale and Donna Rhodes. The approach involves comparing behavioral health care systems at the scale of a particular Marine base, with those of the Navy, and of the MHS as a whole. Southerlan also broadened the comparison to include military health care internationally.

Each scale of system is analyzed through the "elemental lenses" of strategy, infrastructure, processes, products, services, knowledge, information and organization. In theory, grasping the interrelationships and interdependencies of the elements in these systems can produce better outcomes.

In a separate project at the Veteran’s Administration hospital in Boston, Southerlan examined the hospital’s use of data, from patient admissions to clinical outcome, identifying strategies for improving staff-wide access to data and better aligning decision-making with information flows.

Southerlan’s work in health care management benefits from her training in industrial engineering and her lifelong appreciation of the medical profession (she grew up in a family of health care practitioners). She also pursued a concentration in life sciences as an undergraduate at Penn State.

"I have always been passionate about improving health care," she says. Her goal is ensuring that the organizational and administrative side of health care enhances, rather than hinders, delivery of care. For instance, while she sees the potential upside of the current push toward electronic health records, "it can be frustrating and sometimes seems ad hoc. It’s a new language, which can be inefficient now, but has long-term potential," she says.

Southerlan, who holds a B.S. in industrial engineering, spent several weeks this past summer studying food production as part of a certificate program in sustainable food systems from the University of Vermont. While not directly tied to her health care management studies, the experience dovetailed with her interest in diet and exercise as preventive medicine, and added data to her expanding health care systems model.

In addition to her dedication to improving the delivery of health care, Southerlan also believes that a well-balanced life is essential to success. She has lived these words as the social chair and student life representative of her SDM ’12 cohort, as well as the COO of Women in SDM (WiSDM) and director of logistics for the MIT 2012 Career Fair (school wide).

In her social and student life roles, Southerlan has worked to increase the professional and social relationships shared by her classmates and students outside of SDM. She worked with other WiSDM leaders and SDM staff to organize and present the first WiSDM Symposium, which took place during the annual SDM conference. The women worked together to bring in three accomplished female leaders across a wider variety of industries to discuss the application of systems thinking in their organizations.

Southerlan worked with the other career fair directors to organize and facilitate the largest and most well-attended career fair in MIT’s history. While the event was school wide, Southerlan helped form a partnership between the annual career fair organizers and participants and SDM. This provided her classmates with opportunities to work side-by-side with industry representatives of their choice while also increasing SDM’s industry relationships.

Elizabeth Cilley Southerlan
Photo by Kathy Tarantola Photography

SDM’s Richard de Neufville: flexibility is key to designing complex systems

Richard de Neufville By Eric Smalley
November 21, 2012

If Professor Richard de Neufville were to have a motto, it might well be "Expect the unexpected." The Professor of Engineering Systems and Civil and Environmental Engineering has been working to get designers of complex systems to embrace flexibility. Technological systems will be more effective in the long run if the people who build them give up trying to divine the future and instead imagine –– and prepare for –– many possibilities, even those that are unexpected.

"Right from the start you ought to recognize that things might be different than anticipated and build in the capability to react," said de Neufville, who holds a dual appointment within the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the MIT Engineering Systems Division. De Neufville is also the founder of ESD’s Technology and Policy Program.

Traditional systems design involves creating specifications that guide how the system is built. The specifications are derived from a set of requirements that outline what the system is supposed to do. The problem is that the longer the system’s expected lifetime, the further system designers have to peer into the future to identify those needs.

"The problem with that is the forecast of what is needed inevitably is wrong — not because people are doing a bad job, but simply because things happen," said de Neufville. "You get an optimum solution for a clientele, market or situation that turns out not to exist."

Inevitably new technologies arise, new competitors appear on the scene, or the client’s needs change. And it’s generally difficult to reconfigure a design that was optimized for a particular set of requirements rather than made adaptable, said de Neufville. Enabling a system’s managers to react to unanticipated events can significantly increases the system’s performance, he said.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower in Chicago is a good example of designing flexibility into a system, said de Neufville. The tower, which serves as headquarters for Health Care Service Corporation, was built 33 stories tall in 1997. The building’s designers engineered the tower so that additional stories could be added later, and the building was extended 24 stories from 2007 to 2010. The health insurance company was able to wait until the need for more space was definitive rather than building a larger building initially and having unused extra capacity, he said.

Designing for flexibility is an evolution of the engineering process. The initial approach was optimization –– how to make things better, said de Neufville. The next approach focused on decision analysis, which involves making the best choices given an uncertain environment, he said. Designing for flexibility is about "dealing the cards to yourself," he said. De Neufville co-authored a book on the subject, titled "Flexibility in Engineering Design", that was published by the MIT Press in 2011.

De Neufville’s MIT career has focused on system analysis and system design, he said. "It’s essential to take a larger encompassing view, otherwise you can optimize a piece of a system but that piece might not fit with the rest of the system."

De Neufville is a member of the MIT faculty team that is developing the new Singapore University of Technology and Design. That work has made him think about what’s special about MIT. His conclusion: it’s a bottoms up organization and it’s self-organizing. "People see a job to be done and they figure out how they’re going to do it," he said.

Richard de Neufville

Eric von Hippel: user innovation and the revolution in consumer product design

Eric von Hippel By Eric Smalley
November 20, 2012

Many people are product designers, even if they don’t know it. In fact, millions of people have become innovators but are generally not recognized as such. They are the tinkerers who modify products to suit their needs, and they represent a paradigm shift in product design and development. SDM’s Eric von Hippel is measuring this trend and developing strategies for businesses to adapt to the changing landscape.

Von Hippel, the T. Wilson (1953) Professor in Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Professor of Engineering Systems in the MIT Engineering Systems Division, studies the sources of innovation and develops new processes to improve product development.

He recently conducted a study of consumer product innovation in the US, the United Kingdom, and Japan, and found that innovation is as much the province of product users as it is product producers. "Data shows there’s a huge amount of activity and it’s invisible," said von Hippel. "People assume that the producers are the innovators so they don’t measure user innovation at all."

Von Hippel and colleagues determined that consumers in each of the three countries spend billions of dollars on product innovation. They estimated that US consumers spend one third of the amount that businesses spend on consumer product research and development in the US. The researchers described the work in the paper "The Age of the Consumer-Innovator," published in the fall 2011 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review.

The innovation paradigm shift from producer-centered to user-centered is catching many businesses flat-footed, von Hippel said. "Some new companies are built around that concept," he said. But "many traditional companies still don’t get it at all, so we’re in a transition. To convince people that the world is different now is not an easy task."

The key is to help businesses tap into the wellspring of consumer innovation. "Many of the things that companies develop internally are already developed by user communities," he said. "If companies could simply get these lead users to work with them, they could do a much more successful job of innovation," he said.

To support user innovation, businesses need to organize product development systems to accept prototypes developed by users, said von Hippel. Businesses also need to create developers’ toolkits and user forums, give credit to user innovators, and avoid the stifling effects of unfocused intellectual property protection strategies.

Von Hippel is writing a book that describes changes in innovation, including user innovation and crowdsourcing.

Von Hippel joined the MIT faculty in 1973. "My father was a professor here too, and I actually have been hanging around the place since I was 12 years old," he said.

One aspect of MIT that stands out is the faculty’s high level of practical experience, which is particularly useful for teaching in the SDM program where most of the students are midcareer professionals, said von Hippel. Another aspect is the high degree of collaboration. "Professors are very accessible and there’s no real sense of hierarchy," he said. "People are delighted to work with each other across levels."

Eric von Hippel

Multisourcing Conflicts: What Does a Manager Focus On?

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesNirmalya Banerjee

Nirmalya Banerjee, SDM ’11
Development Manager, Open Access Technologies International Inc.

Date: November 19, 2012

About the Presentation

Multisourcing has its own set of challenges. With more people from different organizations on board, conflicts are bound to arise. The complex nature of these conflicts calls for specialized resolution strategies, which means more effort for the client managers.

This webinar attempts to showcase the use of system dynamics as a tool to facilitate conflict mitigation. The study is based on the case of a company from the information technology industry using multisourcing. A brief overview of the shift from outsourcing to multisourcing and the challenges faced is presented to understand the evolution and context. Thereafter interview based exploratory methods and system dynamics based analytical methods are used to prioritize the challenges, gauge the effectiveness of the conflict resolution strategies used by managers and make recommendation based on the system dynamics model. Managers can modify the model as per their respective setup in order to prioritize what conflicts need the most attention and the efficacy of their resolution strategies.

About the Speaker

Nirmalya Banerjee, SDM ’11, works for Open Access Technology International (OATI), an energy software company located in Minneapolis. There, as a development manager, he applies systems thinking to create software solutions for emerging fields like smart grids and energy trading.

Prior to matriculating at SDM, Banerjee worked at Apple Singapore as a project manager where he led a team of 32 consultants who supported the SAP system. Banerjee focused on developing innovative process changes to tackle global challenges. An Indian national scholar in mathematics, Banerjee began his career as an electrical engineer and received further education with an MBA in marketing.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Using systems engineering tools to design a safe Smart Energy Box

Conceptual designAxiomatic DesignSafety Control SystemJon Hickey, SDM '12 By Jon Hickey, SDM ’12

Editor’s Note: Jon Hickey is a Commander in the United States Coast Guard. He holds master’s degrees in civil engineering and project management. Hickey recently moved to New Orleans to oversee the building of a new fleet of USCG patrol boats—a $4 billion project. He recently completed a master’s degree in the SDM program. His thesis applied the Systems Theoretic Accident Model and Processes (STAMP) to the analysis of Coast Guard aircraft mishaps.

The work described was a final project in the Systems Engineering (ESD.33) course taught by Qi Hommes, Ph.D. Hickey’s team included Naveen Ranganath, Jorge Moreno, Alex Thomas and Pankaj Kashyap. Hickey presented the paper at the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) 2012 Symposium in Rome in July.

It is important to apply multiple systems engineering tools, including system safety analysis, into the design process. This allows designers to identify potential hazards early in the process, when they can be more easily addressed.

State-of-the-art design processes for complex socio-technical systems like the electrical power grid involve a combination of systems engineering tools. For example, the process can use stakeholder analysis—interviewing all the players involved with the system to see what their needs are—to inform Axiomatic Design, which synthesizes the customer requirements and translates them into functional requirements and design parameters.

These state-of-the-art techniques, however, can omit critical safety requirements. Including system-level safety analysis in the conceptual design phase is crucial to recognizing key functional requirements early on in the design and development phases.

My team and I illustrate this with a device that enables large-scale integration of distributed Renewable Energy Systems (RES) into the electrical power grid. For lack of a better term, we call this device the "Smart Box." The Smart Box controls the connection between the RES and the grid and functions as a smart meter. The device should increase efficiency in managing overall power demands across the grid.

We added the Systems Theoretic Accident Model and Processes (STAMP)-based Process Analysis (STPA) system-level safety analysis tool to the Smart Box design process. This incorporates safety into the conceptual design of the Smart Box.

Problem

In response to the continued rise in energy demand and the threat greenhouse gas emissions pose to the world climate, we must seek and exploit alternative methods of increasing worldwide energy supply that don’t increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Solution

Of the many options that are possible, one of the most promising is a distributed power generation network that leverages RESs (Schmitt, 2010; Edison Smart Connect, 2011; and Electric Power Research Institute, 2011).

We envision a distributed power generation network in which residences and businesses have installed RESs and have a reduced reliance on the grid for electric power so they are more self-sufficient. When an RES produces power in excess of local demand, it will have the ability to deliver it to the grid. And when it falls short, it can be supplemented from the grid.

This plan becomes very complex, however, as we scale the number of RESs to millions, as would be the case in a mature system with a large population of home-owners. As we began appreciating the complexity of this socio-technical system, we realized that this network would likely require central controls to ensure safe and reliable system operation and to maximize the benefit of a tightly coupled grid, or "smart grid."

The ‘Smart Box’

For effective command and control, the centralized authority—typically a utility—will have to install a device akin to today’s smart electricity meters in each home. But this next-generation smart meter will require many more functionalities and features to ensure safe and reliable operation of the grid.

We decided to focus our research on developing the conceptual design of the Smart Box, including high-level system functional requirements and architecture. We envision the Smart Box to be a metering, connection, communication, and control device that is physically located at the distribution point, just upstream (i.e. grid side) of the distribution point main service panel.

Conceptual Design

Our first step in developing the conceptual design was identifying and understanding the system’s functional requirements. "Developing functional requirements is an iterative activity in which new requirements are identified and constantly refined as the concept develops." (System Engineering Handbook, 2011). With this understanding in mind, we started developing the conceptual design of the Smart Box by interviewing the various stakeholders.

System Functional Requirements for the Smart Box

The first step in designing any system is understanding stakeholder needs. Through a series of interviews with the various system stakeholders — homeowners, distribution companies, power retailers, equipment manufacturers, and government regulators — we identified seven critical stakeholder high-level functional needs and desired system characteristics as shown below. We then used Axiomatic Design Theory to systematically transform customer attributes (CAs) into functional requirements (FRs) and design parameters (DPs) by using design matrices (Suh, 1998).

We felt the combination of these two methods would sufficiently inform a conceptual design of the Smart Box. By following the axiomatic design process — that is, zigzagging between these domains and decomposing into hierarchies while satisfying the independence and information design axioms (Suh, 1998) — we were able to translate the high-level functional requirements to design parameters while minimizing system coupling (see figure below).

Axiomatic Design: getting from customer attributes to design parameters

System Safety — STPA

As we reviewed our functional requirements and design parameters, it became apparent that we had an incomplete understanding of the system safety hazards and safety-related functional requirements. It was unclear how the conceptual design would proceed to incorporate hazard detection circuits and hazard isolation circuits without considerable analysis of hazard scenarios and associated system detection and control features necessary to prevent and/or mitigate these hazards. Therefore, we required additional system scenario-based analysis to adequately develop the conceptual design to meet system safety requirements.

To refine our conceptual design to include required safety features upfront, we applied the STPA method — developed by MIT aeronautics and astronautics professor Nancy Leveson — which views safety as a control problem, managed by a control structure embedded in an adaptive socio-technical system. This allowed us to capture key safety-related requirements early on in the design lifecycle in order to avoid costly add-ons later in the lifecycle.

STPA analyzes system constraints, control loops, process models, and levels of control to identify

  • inadequate control structures that lead to safety hazards, and
  • preventive measure that resolve potential and existing hazards.

When we applied STPA, we found that system isolation hazards could occur during system repair and maintenance scenarios due to inadequate control or feedback (pictured below) within the envisioned ‘smart grid’ system.

To address these inadequacies and improve the safety of our design, we included the following additional functional requirements:

  • The utility company, via its utility management system (UMS), must be able to remotely disconnect the RES from the grid. The homeowner must not be able to override this disconnect, and the utility/UMS must be able to confirm RES connection status through real-time sensing.
  • In a repair scenario, technicians must be able to connect and disconnect the RES and have real-time monitoring of the RES’s grid connection status.

This diagram shows the safety control system for a grid-connected Renewable Energy System.

Lessons Learned

Applying a combination of systems engineering tools is critical to developing the conceptual design of complex socio-technical systems.

Stakeholder analysis in combination with axiomatic design is a good approach to develop initial customer attributes and associated functional requirements, design parameters and process variables. However, limiting conceptual design to these methods may not yield important functional requirements, design parameters and process variables that are critical to the safe and reliable operation of complex socio-technical systems.

Inclusion of system-level safety analysis, such as STPA, in conjunction with the aforementioned systems engineering tools in the conceptual design phase is highly effective in capturing key functional requirements early on in the design and development phases.

Capturing safety-related functional requirements during the conceptual design phase can help avoid operational conditions that are hazardous to life and property. In addition, this approach prevents costly add-ons later in the design and implementation phases of the system life cycle.

Jon Hickey, SDM ’12

Relationships—a language spoken in Senegal

Dave Schultz By Dave Schultz, SDM Staff

About the Author: Dave Schultz brings over 25 years of graphic arts, video, and photography experience to the SDM Program. He is part of the SDM office staff and is involved in media development.

Emerging from the travel clinic, my recently vaccinated arm was still tender, but ready for a West African journey. My hand held a newly issued passport and an airline ticket to Dakar, Senegal as I joined a group of 10 other volunteers traveling under the sponsorship of Shore to Shore Mission Network. We were about to step out of our "comfort zones" on a short-term mission trip into a culture not our own.

Shore to Shore Mission Network (SSMN) is a faith-based organization seeking to connect New England residents and resources in partnership with people and needs in developing areas to help improve physical, economic and spiritual conditions with opportunities for sustainable change and a healthier standard of life.

Sharing a similar vision, the Yoonu Njup Community Center, a small Christian community in St. Louis, Senegal, has developed a partnership with SSMN to be a positive influence in their local community, which struggles with minimal medical care and high unemployment. Focusing on affordable health care and education, Yoonu Njup Community Center has established a medical clinic open to local residents and is in the process of developing a vocational training center focused on sustainable occupational education. The partnership is an on-going effort, and the group I traveled with was divided between health care professionals to assist in the medical clinic and a construction team to work alongside local contractors and volunteers building the vocational training center.

As Americans coming from a culture that excels at identifying problems and engineering solutions, we often view accomplishing tasks as more significant than identifying with the people or the relationships involved in the process. The Senegalese culture, in stark contrast, highly values social relationships and views community relationships as a primary part of problem resolution. As a result, the first fifteen minutes of every gathering, whether in a social setting or with a jobsite construction team, were spent greeting every person in the group. Adopting the customs of our hosts was a high priority, yet coming from America, we were eager to start working while the Senegalese were eager to say, "Hello."

Building relationships was a key element of our trip to St. Louis. Learning basic greetings in Wolof, the language of Senegal, along with embracing customs such as eating communally from a common dish, while seated on the floor (although an effort on our part), produced large rewards in acceptance by the local community.

Observing cross-cultural differences was an interesting aspect of this trip that appeared in many ways. One example involved a Senegalese woman in the community we were partnering with. She expressed an interest in acquiring a sewing machine to begin a small business. In our culture, an easy resolution would be to send her a sewing machine, seemingly an effective solution. In the Senegalese culture, unless everyone in her social circle received a sewing machine, one individual being singled out like this would cause a detrimental social imbalance. Senegalese leaders explained that solving this woman’s problem requires awareness of her social situation, not just her technical needs.

Although, this was my first trip to Senegal with SSMN, it was one of a series of trips that this group has made to St. Louis to work alongside the people in the Yoonu Njup Community Center. Evaluating a trip like this from an American perspective often focuses on "what tasks were accomplished," but perhaps the most significant indication of "what was accomplished" comes in a comment from the community in Senegal. "These are our friends from America, unlike some who come once and never return, these people come back, they remember us, they know our names. You are most welcome."

Dave Schultz

Class competition puts SDM students through product development paces

Seat SnugglerInterior car bike rackMulti-compartment TSA security bin

Editor’s note: Students in the ESD.40 Product Design and Development class form teams to conceive, design, and prototype products. They are responsible for identifying customer needs, generating and selecting concepts, product architecture, industrial design, concept design, and design-for-manufacturing. This year’s theme was ‘travel’ and the winning teams from the spring semester class produced the three products described below.

Seat Snuggler© travel pillow — 1st place

Team: Allan Donnelly SDM ’12, Clint Lampley SDM Certificate ’11, Sergio Sapaj SDM ’12, Mark Taylor SDM Certificate ’11 and Pat Wineman SDM ’12

Our team chose to design a simple travel pillow that allows car passengers, particularly children, to sleep upright comfortably. After observing, determining requirements, prototyping and testing, we developed a cylindrical pillow that latches to the ISOFIX hooks in car seats. The pillow provides strong lateral support while allowing some flexibility, and its simple form makes it easy to manufacture. We extended the product to include a removable cover with designs that appeal to children.

We sized our target market — families with at least one child who use a car for vacation travel — at 17.2 million. We determined a retail price of $15, identified sales channels and selected options for promoting the pillow, which we dubbed Seat Snuggler©.

Interior car bike rack — 2nd place

Team: Jill Mohr SDM Certificate ’11, John Petersen SDM Certificate ’11 and Kyle Ressler SDM ’13

Seeing someone pull a bicycle from inside a car spurred our team to discover that many people transport bikes inside vehicles, even when they have roof racks. We found that people have good reasons for this behavior: security, protection and cleanliness. We pursued the unmet need for a bike rack that makes it easier to carry a bicycle inside a vehicle.

We used a Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) process and Pugh Concept Selection to develop a bike rack concept that fits inside almost all vehicles and can be configured to haul one bike lying down or as many as three bikes in an upright position. A lecture by Matthew Kressy of Designturn Inc. highlighted the benefits of quick-and-dirty prototyping, i.e. iterate as fast as possible to learn as much as we could. It gave us the capability of creating a design that met the target market’s needs.

Multi-compartment TSA security bin — 3rd place

Team: Jon Hickey SDM ’12, Ben Levitt SDM ’12, Steve Ajemian SDM ’12, Todd Myers SDM ’12 and Mike Meyer SDM ’12

Almost every one of us has had the experience of taking off shoes, pulling out laptops, emptying pockets, managing liquids and in the end, figuring out what is allowed to go together in our security bins at the airport. For our project design, we took a new approach to the TSA airport security bin. We spent copious hours researching the screening process and found the main causes for inefficiencies including: passenger confusion about which items to put in the security bins, proper orientation of items in the bins, and bottlenecks from people rearranging items.

We tested numerous concepts and prototypes and came up with a solution: a multi-compartment bin with conspicuous and instructive labeling. Our prototype decreases inspection time thus increasing passenger throughput at security stations. We tested the prototype for the director of Logan Airport’s TSA division, who connected us with the TSA’s Director of Security Capabilities in Washington.

Seat Snuggler© travel pillow
Team: Allan Donnelly SDM ’12, Clint Lampley SDM Certificate ’11, Sergio Sapaj SDM ’12, Mark Taylor SDM Certificate ’11 and Pat Wineman SDM ’12

Interior car bike rack
Team: Jill Mohr SDM Certificate ’11, John Petersen SDM Certificate ’11 and Kyle Ressler SDM ’13

Multi-compartment TSA security bin
Team: Jon Hickey SDM ’12, Ben Levitt SDM ’12, Steve Ajemian SDM ’12, Todd Myers SDM ’12 and Mike Meyer SDM ’12

Keeping up with the shift from products to services: the Lean Effectiveness Model for servicing existing systems

ISO and DOD lifecyclesThis diagram shows three aerospace examples where the system lifecycle stages before sustainment cumulatively represented less than 10% of the system's lifetime.The red dotted line in this diagram shows that depot groups are fragmented and scattered across the organization.Tina P. Srivastava By Tina P. Srivastava SDM Fellow ’11

Editor’s Note: Tina Srivastava is Deputy Technical Director of Electronic Warfare at Raytheon. As an undergraduate studying aeronautics and astronautics engineering at MIT, Srivastava served as program manager of a forty-person team that designed, built and flight-tested a low-Earth-orbit satellite. She received the Lockheed Martin Prize for Excellence in Systems Engineering for that project. Srivastava recently completed a master’s degree in the SDM Program. In her thesis, Srivastava outlined a services extension of the MIT Lean Advancement Initiative’s (LAI) Enterprise Self-Assessment Tool. Srivastava was selected to present the work at the 2012 International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) conference in Rome, Italy.

The shift from products to services is being seen across industries and nations. Enterprises are adding services to their product suites, and new business models have emerged to sell software as a service (SaaS). In addition, new services are offered on existing product systems.

Web applications like Gmail as well as smartphone operating systems and apps are constantly evolving as updates role out. Companies like Walmart and Amazon rely on information technology (IT) systems to interact with their customers and supply chains. Updating these systems is critical to maintaining a competitive advantage. Key parts of the airline business also depend on servicing existing systems: aircraft maintenance and the airline reservation system.

The trend is not exclusive to software. Due to the 2007 downturn and the economic climate since then, more resources have been put toward life extension of expensive physical systems. During this time, the US Defense budget reduced the number of new procurement contracts granted and increased the number of sustainment and upgrade contracts. Servicing existing systems accounts for 70% of the US Department of Defense weapon systems total life-cycle cost. In 2011, aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney derived over 50% of its revenue from servicing existing engine systems.

Existing Systems

Servicing existing systems is an important component of my thesis research because it directly affects the competitiveness of US companies. Organizations need tools to provide holistic solutions to customers. Providing services helps companies better understand their customers and avoid commoditization. Corporate leadership needs to discern the costs of servicing existing systems in order to be proactive rather than reactive, and to turn servicing existing systems into a competitive advantage.

One of my colleagues in the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE)– a non-profit global organization that advances best systems engineering practices—polled systems engineers at a conference and found that over 50% work on existing rather than new systems. However, many systems engineering tools focus on new product development rather than system services development.

Repairing, upgrading, and servicing existing systems poses unique challenges compared to developing new systems. These challenges include:

  • lack of system configuration documentation
  • parts obsolescence
  • compatibility with legacy technology
  • lack of knowledge transfer between the workforce who designed the system and the workforce repairing it.

One of the core products of my MIT research group, the Lean Advancement Initiative (LAI), is the LAI Enterprise Self Assessment Tool (LESAT). This tool is used by many enterprises to assess strengths, areas of improvement, and readiness to change. LESAT has been designed for enterprises that offer products. However, many of the LESAT principles and methodologies apply to servicing existing systems.

My thesis extends LESAT and outlines a Lean Effectiveness Model for enterprises, which encompasses operations, maintenance, upgrades, repairs, and overhauls. The LESAT SES extension is intended to help organizations get the most out of in-service systems.

As a first step, organizations need to understand how much of their current business involves servicing existing systems. The proportion of the system life cycle allocated to sustainment in commonly used systems engineering tools, such as INCOSE’s Systems Engineering Handbook, can be misleading in terms of the actual duration and engineering effort of sustainment as compared to the other stages.

This diagram from the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook includes ISO and DOD lifecycles.

As part of my research, I conducted workshops with the INCOSE In-Service Systems Working Group (ISSWG), Raytheon, Pratt & Whitney, and Boeing to quantify the percentage of system lifetime when a system is "in-service". During these workshops, systems engineers outlined the lifecycles of their systems with durations to understand the magnitude of the sustainment portion. As system lifetimes grow, more and more engineers work in the sustainment stage of the system lifecycle.

This diagram shows three aerospace examples where the system lifecycle stages before sustainment cumulatively represented less than 10% of the system’s lifetime.

Applying enterprise architecting principles to my research, I studied the "as-is" behavior of Raytheon, Pratt & Whitney, and Boeing with respect to servicing existing systems. The obstacles to success in the services area overlapped among the three. Through this research, I began to understand the complexity of repair groups within an enterprise and the relationships between repair groups and product development, finance, contracts and business development.

For example, analyzing the interaction among products, strategy, and organization revealed that the breadth in products at Raytheon served to fragment sustainment, or depot groups.

The red dotted line in this diagram shows that depot groups are fragmented and scattered across the organization.

One of the indicators of an emerging field is the lack of agreement on terminology. During interviews with stakeholders and meetings with research collaborators, a number of terms were used to mean "servicing existing systems". These include:

  • Depot
  • MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul)
  • PBL (Performance-Based Logistics)
  • Not new product development
  • Sustainment
  • Whole Life Engineering
  • Services
  • After-market
  • Mission Support
  • Upgrades
  • Customer support
  • In-Service Systems Group
  • Operations

The lack of agreement on terminology results in confusion and misalignment within enterprises.

Swivel Chair

I came across unique terms used in the industry, such as "swivel chair," which refers to manually entering the same data into multiple systems, and the "80/20 Rule," which refers to employees spending 80% of their time gathering and managing data and only 20% of their time acting on it.

Culture also plays a large role. Employees have a perception that the career path in new product development is better than in existing systems, so emerging leaders chose to work on "exciting new programs."

All three enterprises felt the need to overcome a "misconception that service activities are unproductive and ought to be minimized." Enterprise transformation advocates within the enterprises recommended developing a framework for calculating the value of services, incorporating service innovation into depot processes, and making sure leadership recognizes "service activities" as a primary company focus and potential revenue driver.

For example, after conducting an exercise with stakeholders to establish quality attributes, I helped build this series of questions to evaluate potential shortcomings of a future service architecture at one enterprise:

1) Efficiency

  • Does it minimize redundancy and managerial overhead?
  • Does it eliminate multiple entries?
  • Is more time spent analyzing then gathering?

2) Manageability

  • Does the candidate architecture allow for clear accountability in terms of compliance with guidance and timeliness?
  • Does it facilitate the implementation, use and control of performance metrics?
  • Are data sources integrated?

3) Agility

  • Does it reduce product development cycle time?
  • Does it reduce communication constraints among departments?
  • Is it scaleable for the large variety of mission support programs?

The answers helped guide the enterprise to select a target or "future-state" architecture and build a transformation plan.

The Lean Effectiveness Model for servicing existing systems captures best practices in the form of diagnostic questions, indicators, and the description of mature and capable enterprises. This enables products and services enterprises to assess strengths, areas of improvement, and readiness to change.

It is clear that organizations need to pay greater attention to servicing existing systems upfront in the product development phase. Operations and support can’t be an afterthought. The ecosystem doesn’t allow short-term cost reductions to be prioritized without significant thought about long-term impact on sustainability.

There are significant costs involved with servicing existing systems. If best practices are followed throughout the system lifecycle, it’s possible for servicing existing systems to be a differentiator in profitability and customer retention.

My research was carried out in collaboration with the INCOSE In-Service Systems Working Group (ISSWG), Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, and Raytheon. The best practices captured are being incorporated into a future version of the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook. The lean effectiveness model for servicing existing systems will be made publicly available on the MIT LAI website.

Many of the complex technical problems I saw as an engineer in the field couldn’t be solved with engineering alone—they required an understanding of stakeholders, economic factors and management. MBA programs, however, don’t address the level of technical detail necessary for solving these problems. I came to SDM because it offers both the technical and management perspectives that are needed to solve real-world complex technical problems.

Tina P. Srivastava

Help for small ISR companies struggling with credit crunches and slow payments

Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2012 AwardBrian Ippolito By Brian Ippolito SDM ’98

About the Author: Brian Ippolito has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Orbis Technologies since 2006. Under his leadership, Orbis has established itself as a leader in delivering semantic applications and cloud analytics to the Department of Defense (DoD) and select Fortune 50 companies. A 1998 graduate of the SDM program, he is the recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 Award in Maryland among other honors. The award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.

Cloud Computing Innovations for ISR

The ability of US industry to continue delivering the highest-quality intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) equipment, communications systems, and cybersecurity technologies to government customers depends in large part on innovations designed by small businesses. A case in point is the intelligence community’s shift toward cloud computing. Most of the core technologies for the cloud were developed by small innovators. The government needs to continue cultivating and harvesting innovations from these small companies.

The Problems

  • To keep the innovations flowing, small companies need to get paid in a timely manner and they need access to credit.
  • Without both they cannot hire, invest, and produce technologies critical to the ISR and information technology communities.
  • US banks are making the credit situation worse for small businesses by requiring small business owners to back their companies’ assets with personal assets, a burden that dampens innovation.

The problems are likely to worsen if this year’s budget season produces a repeat of the arduous 2011 process that saw a string of innovation-hampering continuing resolutions.

One Solution: Accelerated Payments Initiative

There is something the government can do to help alleviate the strains on small businesses, short of fixing our broken political system. The US government should broaden its accelerated payments initiative so that it includes subcontractors.

  • The accelerated payment initiative was ordered by the White House Office of Management and Budget in September 2011, and implemented in the defense industry by the Office of Small Business Programs.
  • In many cases, payments by the government to its small prime contractors were shortened to as little as two weeks, down from the 30 days required under the formerly weakly-enforced US Prompt Payment Act.

The accelerated payment initiative would have much more impact if Congress and the White House broadened it to require small businesses that benefit from accelerated payments to share those benefits with subcontractors. This could be done through an amendment to Far Subpart 19.7 that governs small business. The government can create an instant stimulus with no cost to the taxpayer by simply inserting language clearly stating that companies with small business status as defined by the far must be paid in 30 days or less. Last September’s decision to accelerate payments to small prime contractors proved to be encouraging momentum in an otherwise excruciating business environment. The next move should be to ensure that the contractors on the receiving end of those accelerated payments are acting responsibly.

2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award Recipient

Brian Ippolito SDM ’98, recently received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2012 Award in the Technology category in Maryland. The award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.

Brian Ippolito

SDMs host first Annual Intercollegiate Mixer For Entrepreneurs (AIM4E)

Melissa Rosen SDM '11 and Fady Saad SDM '11 organizers of the AIM4E event.AIM4E event by Lynne Weiss

Two students in MIT’s System Design and Management Program (SDM) brought together some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs from ten Boston-area colleges and universities on September 20 for an evening of friendly competition, lively networking, and delicious food.

Fady Saad SDM ’11, co-founder of ePowerhouse, an online entrepreneurship ecosystem, and Melissa Rosen SDM ’11, president of Women in SDM (WiSDM), invited faculty and e-clubs at institutions such as Babson, Boston University, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, Worcester Polytechnic, and Wentworth Institute of Technology to nominate their best semi-finalists in their schools’ entrepreneurship competitions. The resulting field of about 25 semi-finalists was narrowed to nine finalists through a crowd-voting process on the ePowerhouse platform.

About 250 people attended the event. After product demos by the finalists, student entrepreneurs asked questions of a panel moderated by Andre Porter, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship. The panel included Christina Chase of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship as well as faculty from Northeastern, Worcester Polytechnic, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and Boston University.

Saad became interested in supporting startups when he learned that 40% of SDM alums create or go to work for startups. "SDM students, with ten-plus years of work experience, are seeking growth and independence in their careers," he said. Both ePowerhouse and the AIM4E event were natural outgrowths of what Saad learned in the SDM program: most systems are embedded in another system. "That got me to look at the system within which startups are embedded," he said.

Saad said that when he met David Zhou, founder of ePowerhouse, at a networking event, he "realized that ePowerhouse could bring key players together—entrepreneurs, service providers, marketing professionals, investors, and talent—so that startups could create the ecosystems they need to succeed."

Just as ePowerhouse brings key players together online, the AIM4E event brought them together at the Microsoft NERD Center in Kendall Square, Cambridge. The networking portion of the evening was Biz meets Techy. "We gave Techys yellow stickers and Biz people green stickers," Saad said.

Rosen has been organizing events for WiSDM for the past two years. "Through my network at MIT and the surrounding community, I was able to promote this event to people who would add value to the evening," Rosen explained. Appropriately, Phoodeez, an online catering platform started by Sloan Fellows Christine Marcus and Sal Lupoli, sponsored the food and drinks for the event.

After guests enjoyed their dinner, the judges announced the 1st AIM4E winner: Babson-affiliated TaxiRightNow, a smartphone taxi-hailing app that will collaborate with existing taxi companies in Cambridge and Boston. The runner-up was Expressionality, another Babson affiliate, for an app that builds playlists based on a user’s personality type. But these were not the only winners at the AIM4E event. Everyone who attended learned about creating ecosystems for successful startups, and that, according to Saad, is a win for SDM and the whole Boston area.

Further information about ePowerhouse is available at www.e-phouse.com and www.facebook/com/ePowerhouse.

Melissa Rosen SDM ’11 and Fady Saad SDM ’11 organizers of the AIM4E event.

Prize-winning SDM project promises affordable solar power for rural India

Early conceptual drawing of the Beejli Solar System with a single lantern and phone chargerThis graphic shows the Beejli transaction and use model. By Ali Kamil SDM ’12

Editor’s Note: Ali Kamil is a student in the SDM Program. Before coming to SDM, he was a manager in Deloitte Consulting’s Technology Advisory practice where he helped a major carrier develop an online streaming media service. Kamil has a computer science degree from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Despite decades of international development work, 1.5 billion people—nearly a quarter of the world’s population—is without access to electricity. Most of these people are concentrated in Africa and southern Asia. India alone has 400 million people without access to electricity. These people suffer in the dark, or use dirty, expensive kerosene lanterns for light.

Kerosene’s hazards, including upper respiratory and skin ailments, are well documented by the World Health Organization. Kerosene is the most widely used lighting fuel in India. The average family in rural India uses 6 liters of kerosene per month.

On the flip side, the world has seen exponential growth in mobile phone use in the past decade. In India, mobile phone use has quadrupled in the past 5 years to 900 million subscribers and is projected to achieve 72% penetration by 2016.

The Idea

What if there was a way of leveraging this mobile phone penetration and growth to enable electrification of rural areas in India? This question led to an idea: Beejli.

Beejli, which means electricity in the Hindi/Urdu language, aims to disrupt the kerosene lamp market in South Asia by making solar energy affordable and accessible to households. The Beejli Solar System uses the existing mobile phone network in India to enable remote monitoring and control of solar panels. Through this capability, Beejli provides its solar systems at low upfront cost and meters the electricity output from the panel.

This past April, Beejli won the MIT Clean Energy Prize in the Renewable Energy track. The Beejli team was invited to the White House to participate in the National Clean Energy prize competition in June.

The System

The Beejli Solar System embeds remote monitoring and billing capabilities into a 50-Watt solar panel using the existing GSM/GPRS cellular networks in India. Under the system, the panels are placed with shopkeepers or other local entrepreneurs. Our innovative business model makes it possible for these local entrepreneur owners to pay a low upfront cost, incurring the remaining cost as a fee-for-service based on the amount of electricity they use. The owners will purchase electricity with pre-paid scratch cards, which will enable the system to deliver a fixed amount of power.

In this way, Beejli system will provide a solar source to an entrepreneur who can, in turn, rent out Beejli’s battery powered lanterns to villagers at less than the cost of kerosene lanterns. This model simultaneously makes the Beejli system affordable to the owner and makes bright, clean lanterns available to villagers at no upfront cost.

Early conceptual drawing of the Beejli Solar System with a single lantern and phone charger

The Beejli business model is unique because the product is intended to create a direct source of revenue for the owner of the system. Because it’s a source of revenue, shop owners are discouraged from tampering with the system to defeat the remote kill-switch. However, security is also built in to notify the Beejli server and to disable the device if the device is tampered with or the electronics are disrupted.

Scratch Cards

The transaction model is as follows:

  • A shop owner purchases electricity from Beejli Technologies in the form of pre-paid scratch cards.
  • The scratch card number is texted to a designated number where the Beejli server activates the panel for a designated amount of power.
  • When the shop owner has used up the power through phone charges and rented lanterns, additional power allowance can be purchased.
  • Once the initial Beejli Solar System has been fully paid for through electricity sales, the shop owner can upgrade the panel system to a larger capacity—providing a clear path for growth.

This graphic shows the Beejli transaction and use model.

Taking it a Step Further

After talking to researchers and entrepreneurs experienced with the target market, we have come to believe that other services can be added to the charge-and-rent business to deliver value to the villagers. Field research will determine if there’s a market for devices such as battery powered radios, fans, DVD players with Bollywood movies, and medical devices for conducting self-tests. Furthermore, once the adoption and use patterns are established, we will explore the household market. The goal is to give villagers access to electricity and lighting with a low barrier to entry while providing a means to pay back the remaining costs.

Winning the MIT Clean Energy Prize Renewable Energy Track and the chance to participate in the National Clean Energy prize competition was a highly rewarding experience. The team came together around a single idea of using technology to enable access to clean energy. In a span of eight weeks we built a viable business plan, worked with fantastic mentors, and pitched to a prestigious panel of judges that included Sun Microsystems founder Bill Joy and MIT Prof. Charlie Cooney. Within that short time, the team learned and grew immensely, and we all believe we have soaked in the MIT entrepreneurial spirit.

The Team

The Beejli team is comprised of four SDM Fellows from the class of 2012. Andrew Campanella, who formulated the idea for Beejli, united with by Abhijith Neerkaje, Lesley Yu, and me. The interdisciplinary nature of the SDM program is evident in the team’s composition; the team members brought unique and diverse backgrounds, from management consulting and sales, to systems integration and electronics engineering.

Sorin Grama and Khanjan Mehta—two highly experienced individuals with deep knowledge of the Indian market—advised the Beejli team. Sorin, SDM ’06, is the CEO and co-founder of Promethean Power, a startup focused on cold storage solutions for the rural dairy industry in India. Mehta is the director of Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Center at Pennsylvania State University. He has led many development ventures in East Africa and India.

The WiSDM Symposium 2012

Description: Joan Rubin

Creating Value in Your Organization Using Systems Engineering

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
11:45am-5:00pm
Luncheon at the MIT Faculty Club
Presentations and Networking at the MIT Tang Center

Register

The WiSDM Symposium, sponsored by the MIT Women in System Design and Management (WiSDM), will be held on Tuesday October 23, 2012, as the afternoon session of the 2012 MIT SDM Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges.

WiSDM has invited accomplished female leaders across the industries of food and health, consumer products, and defense to discuss the application of systems thinking and systems engineering in their respective organizations.

You are invited to join us for this opportunity to learn about the benefits of systems engineering and to network with other women who are interested in engineering and management. Please use the SDM Conference link above if you would like to register for the full two-day conference, October 22-23.

11:45–1:15 pm Luncheon Program, Reinstating Food in Healthcare Systems Design

MIT Faculty ClubZoe Finch Totten, Founder and CEO of The Full Yield, Inc.; Consultant to the Healthcare and Food Industries; Ashoka FellowAfternoon session will be held in Wong Auditorium MIT Tang Center1:45–2:30 pmBusiness Transformation and Optimization through System Dynamics and Systems ThinkingHeidi Grenek, Western Hemisphere Post Sale Supply Chain New Product Launch Manager, Xerox Corporation2:30–3:15 pmThe Art and Science of Systems Thinking and Systems EngineeringEllen Ferraro, Director of the Systems Architecture, Design and Integration Directorate (SADID), Raytheon Company3:15-3:30pmKey Themes—Creating Value through Systems EngineeringTina P. Srivastava, Deputy Technical Director, Electronic Warfare, Raytheon; SDM Fellow 20113:30-3:45pmConference Wrap-upJoan Rubin, SDM Industry Co-director3:45-5:00pmNetworking Reception, Tang Lobby

 

Speaker Bios

Zoe Finch Totten

Founder and CEO of The Full Yield, Inc.; Consultant to the Healthcare and Food Industries; Ashoka Fellow

Raised by a cultural anthropologist, Ms. Finch Totten grew up in rural Central and Latin American and Australia as well as in the United States. Her exposure to older cultures and her family’s engagement in small-scale farming instigated her life-long interest in using the power of food to restore individual, economic, and cultural health.

Ms. Finch Totten’s highly differentiated and visionary approach to the healthcare crisis, The Full Yield, Inc., has received national attention from The New York Times, Fast Company, The Boston Globe, and Employee Benefit News and was the subject of the lead case in the 2011 Harvard Business School Agribusiness Executive Seminar.

In July of 2011, The Full Yield™ concluded a rigorous 18-month pilot test of both its integrated, 12-month health improvement and weight-loss programming for individuals and its collaborative business model. Partners in this successful pilot were Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, the #1 ranked commercial health plan in the United States for the past eight years, and Roche Bros. Supermarkets, a leading grocery chain in Massachusetts. With them The Full Yield™ worked with seven employers, spanning multiple industries and demographics (among them John Hancock, the City of Boston, and Draper Laboratory), three food service companies, and three food manufacturers. The Full Yield™ enrollees improved their blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and BMI; increased their physical activity; and reported more energy, better sleep, and reductions in medications and stress. Notably, participants reported that their non-enrolled family members also improved their lifestyle habits and health.

Ms. Finch Totten is a Yale-trained nurse-midwife; an Ashoka Fellow (Ashoka is the largest association of leading social entrepreneurs in the world); and a member of the Harvard Business School agribusiness policy group PAPSAC (Private and Public, Scientific, Academic, and Consumer Food Policy Committee).

Abstract — Reinstating Food in Healthcare Systems Design

The United States spends more on healthcare and less on food (as a percentage of income) than any other country in the world. Yet more than 50% of Americans have at least one preventable lifestyle-driven chronic disease, and health-related productivity costs account for 75% of our annual 2 trillion dollar healthcare bill. These facts are potent evidence that our species and our culture are failing to thrive.

In this presentation, Ms. Finch Totten will discuss the ways in which food and food quality are critical to a systems design approach within the healthcare industry, and the ways in which multi-industry systems design more effectively engages, educates, and empowers people and reduces healthcare costs.

Heidi Grenek

Western Hemisphere Post Sale Supply Chain New Product Launch Manager, Xerox Corporation

Ms. Grenek ensures that Xerox’s spares and consumables networks are stocked in advance of new product offerings so that the corporation can meet the post-sale needs of its global customers. Ms. Grenek’s organization works closely with its value-chain partners to maintain a high level of service to customers while minimizing inventory and cost. In support of this optimization, and to facilitate assessment of the impact of proposed actions, she has championed development of a complex system dynamics model of the supply chain from order to fulfillment.

As manager of Xerox’s Design for Lean Six Sigma Program, Ms. Grenek was responsible for the development of a comprehensive program to enhance the skills of roughly 4,000 engineers, scientists, and marketing professionals. She represented Xerox on the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) Corporate Advisory Board. She is past chair of the Xerox Innovation Group’s Women’s Council and she co-chaired the 2007 International Women’s Conference for the Xerox Women’s Alliance. In 2007 Ms. Grenek opened Moonlight Creamery, an environmentally and socially responsible business that gives students entrepreneurial and leadership skills through job experience and mentoring.

Ms. Grenek has received awards from Xerox, United Technologies, and Cornell and in 2005 received a “Forty Under 40” award from the Rochester Business Journal. She holds a U.S. patent for her work on color printer architecture options, and she is a founding member of the MIT Sloan eBusiness Awards organizing committee.

Ms. Grenek earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and manufacturing at Cornell University, where she also earned her undergraduate degree. In addition, she holds a master’s degree in business administration from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Ellen Ferraro

Director of the Systems Architecture, Design and Integration Directorate (SADID), Raytheon Company

Dr. Ellen Ferraro leads an organization of over 950 people responsible for supporting all aspects of systems engineering including requirements definition, modeling and simulation efforts, system effectiveness, and operational analysis and algorithm development at Raytheon Company, a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security, and other government markets with 2011 sales of $25 billion.

Since joining Raytheon in 1994, Dr. Ferraro has been involved in the analysis of scattering and propagation over the ocean. She has also investigated spread-clutter mitigation techniques for enhanced small-target detection as well as the use of expert system technology to aid in the counter-drug mission. Dr. Ferraro has authored and presented more than a dozen technical papers at conferences, universities, and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) meetings around the world.

Dr. Ferraro received her doctoral degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where she worked in the Microwave Remote Sensing Laboratory (MIRSL) under a NASA Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Her graduate research included development of an airborne radar altimeter for the investigation of surface and volume scattering from the Greenland ice sheet.

Dr. Ferraro is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. She was part of the IEEE 2007 Radar Conference Committee and was vice-chair of the IEEE 2010 Phased Array Conference. She is an active member of the Boston Section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and is the recipient of the SWE 1999 Distinguished New Engineer Award, the Mass High Tech “Women to Watch in 2006” Award, and the SWE 2007 Emerging Leaders Award.

Abstract — The Art and Science of Systems Thinking and Systems Engineering

Systems Engineering and Systems Thinking are both needed to design complex systems in dynamic environments. Reports from the Department of Defense have shown that our current systems which are developed using traditional systems engineering processes only are often too expensive and take too long to be fielded. The government needs affordable systems that can be delivered quickly, but these complex systems need to meet continually changing threats and volatile security challenges. This talk will provide examples of how the art of systems thinking and systems engineering can result in effective solutions that can be adapted to meet current and future complex needs.

Tina P. Srivastava

SDM Fellow 2011
Deputy Technical Director, Electronic Warfare, Raytheon

Tina Srivastava is an experienced aerospace engineer, manager, and technical leader. Part of her academic work at MIT was geared toward applying systems thinking to the lean management model.

In her System Design and Management thesis, Srivastava outlined a services extension of the MIT Lean Advancement Initiative’s (LAI) Enterprise Self-Assessment Tool, which encompasses operations, maintenance, upgrades, repairs, and overhauls. The extension is intended to help companies get the most out of in-service systems. Srivastava presented the work, “Lean Effectiveness Model for Products and Services: Servicing Existing Systems in Aerospace and Technology,” at the 2012 International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) conference in Rome.

Also at MIT, she collaborated on a review of the system of systems approach to analysis, design and development, using the U.S. Army’s abandoned Future Combat Systems (FCS) modernization program as an example. She and her colleagues identified key pitfalls in the methodology, noting that the scheme’s complexity made it hard to scope large projects, account for conflicts of interest among stakeholders, and contain cost and schedule.

While an undergraduate, Srivastava led a team of forty MIT students in the design, construction, testing and launch of a satellite.

Srivastava is a member of the Women in System and Design (WiSDM), INCOSE, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). She is a volunteer for the Boosting Engineering Science &l Technology (BEST) and Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) student robotics competitions. She is frequently an invited speaker, including recently at Zonta International’s Amelia Earhart women-in-science events.

She holds a master’s in engineering and management from MIT and a bachelor’s in aeronautics and astronautics engineering from MIT with a minor from the Sloan School of Management. She has been published on topics including system of systems, design structure matrices, hybrid vehicle design, and advanced thermal management.

Joan Rubin

SDM Industry Co-director

Ms. Joan S. Rubin joined MIT in 2011 to lead the industry relations efforts for the System Design and Management Program and is currently the industry co-director for SDM.

Ms. Rubin brought to SDM 17 years of business development, marketing, market development, and strategic planning experience in the medical device field. She came to MIT from Covidien, a leading manufacturer of medical devices and supplies, diagnostic imaging agents, and pharmaceuticals, where she served as Vice President of Business Development. Prior to this role, Ms. Rubin was with Aspect Medical Systems, having joined the company in its startup phase several years prior to its November 2009 acquisition by Covidien. At Aspect, her roles included Vice President of Business Development, Senior Director of Global Partnerships, Director of Global Upstream Marketing, and Manager/Director of Market Development. Previously she worked as Manager of Surgical Marketing at Haemonetics Corp.

Ms. Rubin is a graduate of MIT’s Leaders for Global Operations Program, where she earned an SM in management from MIT Sloan and an SM in mechanical engineering. She holds an ScB in mechanical engineering from Brown University.

WiSDM Symposium committee:
Melissa Rosen, SDM ’11
Elizabeth Cilley Southerlan, SDM ’12
Tina P. Srivastava, SDM ’11

To learn more about WiSDM or MIT’s SDM Program, please contact wisdm@mit.edu.

Strategies for Evolution and Sustenance of Network Ecosystem

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesSaujanya Shrivastava

Saujanya Shrivastava, SDM ’11
Senior Product Manager, Amazon

Download the presentation slides

Date: October 15, 2012

About the Presentation

Managing a network platform business can be a complex proposition for the platform owner due to various intricacies that are associated with it. These platforms have distinct users, each having exclusive needs and requirements. Also, success of one side is closely interlinked to the success of the other.

This webinar attempts to implode various aspects of network platforms, helps to develop the understanding of the core concepts and develops key strategies for success of such platforms. It also shows that strategies involved in managing successful network platforms are different from those involved in managing legacy products, and only those companies that are able to understand these key differences are able to successfully create a vibrant ecosystem around the platform.

About the Speaker

Saujanya Shrivastava, technology enthusiast and SDM’11 alumnus, currently works as a senior product manager at Amazon, based out of Seattle. At Amazon, he is involved in bridging the gap between business needs and technology innovation, helping Amazon to provide the highest level of customer experience at an optimal cost.

While Saujanya completed his master’s degree in Engineering and Management in the SDM Program, he worked as a strategy consultant in the MIT Center of Digital Business, where he consulted SAP on its next generation platform strategy based on on-demand cloud services. Prior to MIT, he worked in telecom industry for nine years in Europe and Asia and earned an MS in Software Engineering from University of Oxford, UK.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Managing for Profit: Five Building Blocks of Success

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesJonathan Byrnes

Jonathan Byrnes
Senior Lecturer, MIT

Download the presentation slides

Date: October 1, 2012

About the Presentation

In this webinar, MIT Senior Lecturer Jonathan Byrnes explains the five building blocks of success in profitability management: (1) organizing for success; (2) leading paradigmatic change; (3) developing a great middle management team; (4) creating major change in a customer or supplier; and (5) becoming a great leader. The webinar contains a number of case examples.

About the Speaker

Jonathan Byrnes is Senior Lecturer at MIT, where he has taught at the graduate level and in executive programs for nearly twenty years. He has authored over two hundred books, articles, cases, notes, and expert submissions, including Islands of Profit in a Sea of Red Ink, which Inc.com named to its 2010 list of Best Books for Business Owners.

He is President of Jonathan Byrnes & Co., a focused consulting company which has advised over fifty major companies, hospitals, and industry associations since 1976. Dr. Byrnes has led a number of projects that have produced high value and lasting innovations, including direct development of vendor managed inventory, pipeline inventory systems, and profit mapping.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

The Incumbent’s Dilemma: To fight, follow or flee the attacking innovation?

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesDr. Chintan Vaishnav

Dr. Chintan Vaishnav, Postdoctoral Researcher at MITSergey Naumov
and Sergey Naumov, SDM ’11

Date: September 17, 2012

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About the Presentation

Why do some new technologies become dominant while others fail or coexist with the old? We explore this question by first developing model-driven theory using a comprehensive system dynamics model of technology and industry disruption. Our research uncovers firm-, product-, and environment-level drivers responsible for the success or failure of a new technology and a firm. We then use appropriate case studies to show why in some situations incumbents retain market share, while in others new entrants drive them out.

About the Speakers

Dr. Chintan Vaishnav
Chintan Vaishnav is a postdoctoral researcher across MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), and Department of Political Science. His research and action broadly focuses on two existing challenges: understanding the implications of rapidly changing technology for public policy and managerial decisions; and utilizing technology to effectively solve the problems stemming from gross socio-economic inequities. Chintan holds a PhD in Technology, Management and Policy from MIT’s Engineering Systems Division, and has several years of engineering research experience at the Bell Labs.

Sergey Naumov
Sergey Naumov is a System Design and Management Fellow. His current research focuses on understanding dynamics of the diffusion of innovations in rapidly changing environment of customer preferences. Sergey received an MS in Mechanical Engineering, cum laude, and was previously Head of Information Technology at a Moscow-based battery manufacturer and R&D Director at a start-up energy storage company in Germany, working on corporate IT strategy and network and security issues.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Tina Srivastava ’11: Making Services a Higher Priority

Tina Srivastava By Ted Bowen
September 6, 2012

Maintaining systems is less glamorous than designing and implementing them. You might say it’s not rocket science. Tina Srivastava, SDM ’11, whose c.v. includes a good deal of rocket science, is looking to add luster to operations and maintenance, essential and under-appreciated practices that are especially critical at a time when many organizations face tight budgets. Srivastava, who studied aeronautics and astronautics as an undergraduate at MIT, has been working to make services central to the discussion of an organization’s efficiency and adaptability.

The vehicle for this change in emphasis is the Lean Enterprise Self Assessment Tool (LESAT), which is a product of the MIT Lean Advancement Initiative (LAI), a consortium of industry, government and academic organizations. The tool helps organizations gauge their readiness to adapt to new conditions, change course, and modify strategy when necessary. LAI consultants, including MIT students, work with organizations to implement LESAT, often conducting regular reviews. The highly technical LESAT is sometimes combined with the management services of a Deloitte or McKinsey as part of a wider review.

LESAT was designed for organizations involved in product development, rather than services like operations and maintenance. As her SDM thesis, Srivastava has outlined an extension of LESAT for servicing existing systems, which encompasses operations, maintenance, upgrades, repairs, and overhauls. The scope is broad. The extension is intended to help organizations get the most out of core systems, such as airline reservation systems; to help governments and utilities maintain critical infrastructure; to improve supply chain management; and to extend the useful life of a host of other "in-service systems".

Srivastava presented the work, "Lean Effectiveness Model for Products and Services: Servicing Existing Systems in Aerospace and Technology," in July at the annual conference of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) in Rome. In drafting the LESAT extension, Srivastava collaborated with the INCOSE In-Service Systems Working Group and aerospace and technology giants Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, and Raytheon and reviewed relevant literature to derive best practices.

The idea is to get more out of systems and to improve product design by learning from the experience of operating and maintaining existing systems. Srivastava notes that 70 percent of the total life cycle cost of US Department of Defense weapon systems goes to servicing existing systems. In general, spending on services accounts for an increasing portion of organizations’ budgets as they buy fewer new systems.

The proposed LESAT extension emphasizes the use of service contracts, formal inclusion of operations and maintenance staff in cross-department decision-making and better coordination between the users and maintainers of products and the developers of those products. It also encourages organizations to realistically factor the cost of maintenance in their budgets.

The process can help managers work past preconceived notions, according to Srivastava. "Oftentimes enterprise leadership is surprised to find the underlying root cause in an unexpected place," she said. "For example, they might think manufacturing is too slow and hurting profits, but it could be a trust relationship with a supplier."

The proposed methodology feeds back into product development, benefitting from experience in the field to improve product refinements and redesigns. The LESAT approach to services also helps organizations assess whether they are better off repairing equipment in-house or externally.

At the same time, Srivastava identifies barriers to this approach, including a general bias among top employees against services jobs versus new product development, corporate strategies tilted toward selling new systems, and equipment depots too fragmented and committed to too many individual internal groups to participate effectively in planning and development processes.

In a related presentation at the INCOSE conference, Srivastava and MIT colleagues Victor Piper and Jose Aria discussed their review of the U.S. Army’s abandoned Future Combat Systems (FCS) modernization program, a complex ‘system of systems’. Their analysis, which grew out of a systems engineering class project at MIT, identified shortcomings in traditional systems engineering approaches. In particular, FCS managers failed to anticipate delays in beginning production, the project’s ballooning number of lines of code, and significant cost overruns. They stuck with the same planning approach despite the ongoing problems. The project’s complexity also made it hard to account for conflicts of interest among stakeholders, according to Srivastava.

From early on, Srivastava has combined advanced technical design with management, notably heading a team of 40 MIT students in the design, construction, testing and launch of a satellite. http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/zero-g-0625.html "I was always interested in strategic technical decision making as a way of improving efficiency and effectiveness," she said.

Srivastava is active in Women in System Design and Management (WiSDM). Prior to her term as an SDM fellow, Srivastava was a senior systems engineer at Raytheon and will return to the company as deputy technical director of electronic warfare.

Tina Srivastava
Photo by Kathy Tarantola Photography

Identifying Architectural Modularity in the Smart Grid

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesBrad Rogers

Brad Rogers
Navigant

Date: August 20, 2012

Download the presentation slides
Full paper available here.

About the Presentation

One significant challenge facing a broader deployment of modern grid technologies is integrating with legacy systems while driving toward elegant, interoperable solutions in future grid integration efforts. This challenge is compounded by the de facto approach of customizing point-to-point integration solutions, resulting in an “accidental architecture” of the existing grid.

The Design Structure Matrix methodology is applied to two publically available architecture models to demonstrate how this approach can help define smart grid architectures and to help identify architectural groupings that can lead tobetter modularization of smart grid systems and standardization efforts. The analysis concludes that initial smart grid architectural efforts can be improved upon by identifying areas of modularity and organizing around them.

About the Speaker

Brad Rogers is a Managing Consultant in the Energy Practice in Navigant’s Boulder, Colorado office. Brad’s work at Navigant has encompassed grid modernization efforts including developing smart grid business cases for specific advanced meter investment decisions and regional deployment strategies, designing metric tracking systems for smart grid demonstration projects, recommending tailored approaches for developing grid interoperability standards, popularizing an approach that produces more modularized intelligent grid architectures, andstatistically evaluating the accuracy of deployed smart meters with sophisticated econometric methods.

Before working at Navigant, Brad worked for Summit Blue Consulting, Spirit AeroSystems, Nuvera Fuel Cells, and the United States Peace Corps. Brad earned an M.B.A. and an M.S. in Engineering Systems with a concentration in Energy and Sustainability at MIT in the Leaders for Global Operations program. He received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, summa cum laude, with a minor in BusinessEngineering Technology from Auburn University.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Tina Srivastava, SDM ’11 presents at INCOSE

WiSDMWiSDMWiSDM August 9, 2012

SDM 2011 Fellow, Tina P. Srivastava, recently presented at the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) Conference in Rome, Italy July 2012. The INCOSE In-Service Systems Working Group selected Tina to present her research, “Lean Effectiveness Model for Products and Services: Servicing Existing Systems in Aerospace and Technology.” In addition, her paper, “Future Combat Systems Case Study for Analysis of System of Systems Approach,” was selected as a key reserve paper and was featured at the poster session.

SDM ’11 Tina Srivastava presents her research poster at INCOSE

Tina Srivastava pictured with INCOSE In-Service Systems Working Group members

MIT SDM Director Pat Hale and Tina Srivastava at INCOSE Event in Rome, Italy

Using Systems Engineering Tools to Design a Smart Energy Box

 

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesJonathan Hickey

Jonathan Hickey

Date: July 23, 2012

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About the Presentation

A network that distributes power generated by Renewable Energy Supplies (RESs) will require a “smart box” in each home in the network to meter power and to connect to and communicate with other elements of the network. These smart boxes will also have to function as control devices to ensure safe and reliable operation of the grid. Use of systems engineering tools such as stakeholder analysis and axiomatic design and STAMP (Systems Theoretic Accident Model and Processes) was effective for development of initial customer attributes and associated functional requirements, design parameters, and process variables, respectively. Inclusion of system-level safety analysis such as STPA in conjunction with the aforementioned systems engineering tools in the conceptual design phase is highly effective in capturing key functional requirements early in the design and development of complex socio-technical systems.

About the Speaker

Jonathan Hickey is a Commander in the United States Coast Guard (USCG). He holds a bachelors degree in civil engineering from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, a masters in civil engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, a masters in project management from George Washington University, and recently completed his masters in engineering and management from MIT’s System Design and Management Program.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Patrick Wineman, SDM ’12: Systems Engineering and Management — On the Job and in the Classroom

Patrick Wineman By Kayla Ngan
July 10, 2012

Patrick Wineman, a first year student in MIT’s System Design and Management Program (SDM), will be the first to tell you about the importance of on-the-job training. In fact, were it not for the ten years he has spent working for the Navy as Lead Systems Engineer for the Countermeasure, Anti-Torpedo — a new Navy weapons defense system — and as Technical Project Manager for the Surface Ship Torpedo Defense, he might have not gained the systems engineering and management perspective he has today. From coordinating multiple organizations on technical issues to create a comprehensive product to offering guidance on multimillion dollar budgets, Wineman certainly has experience. Yet, despite the on-the-job exposure to system design and management he has gained, Wineman decided to return to school to learn more about these subject areas and further refine his skills in the classroom.

After graduating from Stanford University in 2002 with a BS in mechanical engineering, Wineman thought about going for his master’s degree. He considered Stanford’s co-terminal fifth year master’s program for mechanical engineering, and even stumbled upon MIT’s SDM Program, but eventually decided he first wanted to work with mechanical design immediately. Ultimately, he wanted to first gain work experience — which he says, in retrospect, gave him long-term direction.

In 2003, Wineman joined the Navy as an ocean/mechanical engineer where he designed, analyzed, and oversaw the fabrication of the Anti-Torpedo Torpedo Impulse Launch Test Fixture and the Submarine Centered torpedo tracking array. Soon after, he was promoted to the position of testing and evaluation engineer in the Surface Systems Branch of the Undersea Defensive Warfare Systems office. Then, in 2007, when Wineman became the Lead Systems Engineer for the Countermeasure, Anti-Torpedo and the Technical Project Manager for Surface Ship Torpedo Defense, he became more heavily involved with both systems and management. Wineman explains, "I really grew into my role as the Lead Systems Engineer by taking on more project management and systems responsibilities. By working for the Department of Defense, I gained exposure to higher levels of systems engineering earlier in my career than I would have otherwise."

However, as he took on more and more responsibilities, he decided he wanted to return to school to solidify the systems engineering and management concepts that he had not learned as an undergraduate. Wineman explains that he looked at many graduate and MBA programs, but very few had curriculums that involved both technology and management in a structured way. In the end, after applying for and receiving the Department of Defense SMART Scholarship to fund his technical degree, Wineman enrolled in the SDM Program.

"Before coming to campus, I was really excited by the experience and diversity of my cohort. Now that I’m here, I enjoy that others are able to bring their own experiences and challenges in and outside of the classroom to the discussions," says Wineman.

After Wineman graduates from SDM, he plans to return to the Navy and hopes to apply the principles he’s learned in the program to his work.

Patrick Wineman
Photo by Kathy Tarantola Photography

Making the case for integrating radiology into electronic health records

radiology ordering cycleThis chart shows the impact of including radiology in the HITECH meaningful use requirements. By Palani Perumal, SDM ’11
July 10, 2012

Editor’s note: Palani Perumal is a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft. Most recently he has been involved in the development Microsoft’s Bing search engine for which he led the integration of Yahoo! Search into the Bing platform. Perumal recently earned an MS in Engineering and Management from MIT’s System Design and Management Program (SDM). His thesis research, which he conducted at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, assesses the impact of integrating radiology into electronic health records (EHRs).

Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, healthcare providers receive Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments for the "meaningful use" of certified electronic health record technologies. Meaningful use means that EHRs have to be more than simply digitized copies of paper records and should be used effectively to improve quality of care, efficiency, and safety. The systems have to allow ready exchange of information, support computerized order entry, and work with decision support systems. The Stage 1 meaningful use regulations do not explicitly include radiologists or medical imaging information. This has left radiologists in the dark about what the meaningful use regulations offer and require.

My thesis describes radiology as a system and applies the meaningful use requirements, along with qualitative research, to answer the question of whether radiologists should be considered part of the care team. I used system dynamics modeling to analyze the technology, business, and policy forces that shape the radiology field, including the increasing use and cost of medical imaging. I then updated the model to depict how including radiology in the meaningful use requirements would impact the field and healthcare on the whole.

Figure 1. This chart shows the radiology ordering cycle. The green arrow is the missing feedback loop. The radiology system is less efficient without communication between physician and radiologist.

Today communication between radiologists and physicians is at its lowest level and continues to diminish. This shortcoming hinders the ability of healthcare providers to improve care quality, avoid errors, and minimize redundant use of imaging. A key missing capability is seamlessly sharing images among healthcare providers and across different information systems. Fortunately, the problems plaguing the system can be addressed with the proper incentives.

The Radiology System

The radiology system is composed of radiologists, image capturing devices, Radiology Information Systems (RIS), Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS), Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standards, and billing systems. The radiology system interfaces several other systems, notably ordering physicians, Hospital Information Systems (HIS), and payers.

Spending in the US for diagnostic imaging has been steadily increasing and is growing at twice the rate of total healthcare costs. Imaging-related expenditures are the fastest growing of all types of services in Medicare claims according to MedPAC’s June 2011 report. Advances in imaging technologies such as PET and MRI have greatly increased capital investments which has in turn increased the average cost per imaging study.

Though radiology is central to medical diagnostics and imaging is a major component of healthcare costs, there’s widespread confusion about whether to and how to apply the meaningful use requirements to radiologists. In interviews with radiologists and a review of the literature, I’ve found that radiologists are generally unclear about whether they’re included or excluded in the requirements and whether they’ll be subject to payment cuts.

These issues come at a time when there are number of issues facing radiology:

  • Lack of communication between physicians and radiologists
  • Lack of awareness of American College of Radiology (ACR) guidelines among ordering physicians
  • Absence of Clinical Decision Support systems
  • IT issues (data standards, interoperability)
  • Higher costs from the fee-for-service reimbursement model

There is a distinct lack of communication between physicians and radiologists. Technological advances and limited interaction with patients has allowed radiologists to work remotely, which contributes to this disconnect. From a systems perspective, radiology departments tend to be function oriented rather than systems oriented. The radiology system doesn’t interact seamlessly with other systems and workflow is less efficient, particularly between standalone imaging centers and providers. Without a fixed feedback loop between ordering physicians and radiologists (since such communications are completely voluntary today), there’s no formal way for radiologists to learn how the results of reports they’ve provided contributed to patient treatment. Without feedback, it’s difficult for radiologists to learn from experience. As for physicians, the lack of communication. severely limits their awareness of clinical guidelines such as the American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria, which can help them order the right study at the right time.

Compounding the issue of ordering the appropriate study at the appropriate time is the absence of Clinical Decision Support systems. Together, these issues sometimes result in poor-quality order requests — requests that contain little or no information about patient condition or the context of the request. This requires radiologists in some cases to request information from referring physicians, which affects productivity.

Lastly, there are longstanding standards and interoperability issues. DICOM is a complex and broad set of standards, and systems that conform to the standard are not necessarily compatible. There are also an excessive number of interface issues for connecting PACS, RIS, and EHR systems.

As a result of these issues, radiology is at risk of becoming commoditized, and the lack of incentives for stakeholders to work together has exacerbated the situation.

Integration of Radiology into Core Care and Meaningful Use Requirements

Radiologists already contribute to core care delivery by enabling physicians’ diagnoses and contributing to patients’ lifetime electronic health records. My findings show that acknowledging and fostering radiology’s role in core care has important benefits:

  • Increased care coordination between radiologists and physicians provides an opportunity for physicians to leverage the value of radiologists in ordering the right study at the right time, thereby contributing to cost effective imaging and quality care. Radiologists can continually learn from the impact their diagnostic findings have on physicians’ treatment decisions and whether they’ve helped the patient receive the right care.
  • Radiologists can review and discuss patient medical history beforehand or on demand, improving diagnoses and recommendation quality.
  • Physicians can increase their awareness of clinical guidelines and best practices for using imaging services.

Figure 2. This chart shows the impact of including radiology in the HITECH meaningful use requirements. The pink text describes the changes the meaningful use requirements would have introduced in the radiology system. The green text describes the resulting changes in the image ordering process.

An analysis of the likely impacts of including radiologists in the meaningful use requirements indicates the following benefits:

  • More meaningful use of imaging data by referring physicians.
  • Better diagnosis quality as meaningful use of patient medical history and older radiology studies improve.
  • Seamless image sharing, cumulative dose information tracking, and contribution to patient health records and population data.
  • Better physician ordering behavior as awareness of clinical guidelines and on-demand access to data improve.

Including radiology in the meaningful use requirements would give healthcare providers and Information Technology (IT) vendors an incentive to address standards and interoperability issues. Simpler interface requirements between systems and more consistent records and procedures should reduce the cost of integrating systems. Improved standards and interoperability should eventually increase access to older imaging studies and medical histories, which is likely to decrease physicians’ willingness to order imaging studies.

I argue that radiology should be included in the meaningful use requirements in order to achieve the legislation’s overall objective of improving healthcare quality and safety while reducing cost. Radiologists should be included in the meaningful use requirements as part of the care team to allow for the addition of standardized imaging data to EHRs and use of Clinical Decision Support systems in the radiology ordering workflow.

Overall, failing to bridge the gap between radiologists and physicians could further alienate radiologists from core care teams, ultimately resulting in losses for all involved, from payers to patients. Provider organizations should bridge the gap by establishing internal processes that encourage and incentivize coordinated care.

Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are one possible mechanism for integrating radiology into core care teams. ACOs are teams of healthcare providers that coordinate care for a patient across different facilities. The government gives ACOs a share of the savings that result from the coordinated care.

As ACOs take hold in the health care system, it’s imperative that radiologists be seen as value-contributing members of the care team and not commodity as service providers outside the team. Radiologists should carefully analyze the impact of ACOs on their business model, weigh risks and benefits, and take advantage the opportunity to overcome issues of commoditization and care coordination.

In general, healthcare consists of disparate systems that are not well coordinated. System dynamics can be used, however, to analyze system behavior in the healthcare industry to identify and eliminate inefficiencies.

Helping Predict Recessions: Finding business cycle indicators in public manufacturing data

correlation between the MCI and US manufacturing GDPcorrelation between the MCI and US manufacturing GDP By Felipe Bustos, SDM ’11
Advisor: David Simchi-Levi, PhD, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Co-director, Leaders for Global Operations

July 10, 2012

Editor’s note: Felipe Bustos is a Captain in the Chilean Air Force who serves as an advisor to the CEO of Empresa Nacional de Aeronáutica (ENAER), a Chilean national aircraft maintenance, repair, and parts manufacturing company. He recently graduated from MIT’s System Design and Management Program (SDM) where he earned an MS in Engineering and Management. His thesis research, conducted with SDM Fellow Fernando Barrazza, SDM ’10, involved using systems thinking and publicly available data to track business cycles in the manufacturing sector.

Although manufacturing represents 12% of the US economy and the Obama administration is emphasizing manufacturing as a way to stimulate the creation of high-quality jobs, most data related to manufacturing are expensive and suffer from inherent biases. With my co-author, Fernando Barraza, I saw the opportunity for a metric that would characterize the sector as a whole, using a simple yet meaningful mathematical representation derived from public data.

A New Metric

Our metric is the Manufacturing Composite Index of Leading Indicators (MCI) and our methodology is based on the proven work of the US National Bureau of Economic Research. We used data from the US Census Bureau and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics which included time series for new orders, shipments, total inventory, capacity utilization, and average weekly hours of manufacturing.

We adjusted for seasonality and inflation so that we could focus on the business cycle. We used seasonally adjusted indices and the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U). We then weighed the contribution of each index by using the inverse of the standard deviation to minimize the inherent randomness of each index.

After several months of intensive data mining, we compiled our first set of graphs, plotting the MCI against the US Manufacturing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for several subsectors. We arbitrarily started with Computers and Electronic Products and Primary Metals. The former didn’t show the correlation we were expecting, but the latter proved to be a great example, and the results were a milestone in our research.

When we benchmarked the MCI against the GDP, we found that the MCI anticipates fluctuations in the GDP by 5 to 9 months. We had come up with a metric that could help predict recessions. We showed that the MCI effectively describes the manufacturing sector and is a tool that can help managers and decision-makers plan for contractions and expansions in the sector.

Figure 1. This chart shows the correlation between the MCI and US manufacturing GDP. The MCI anticipates the GDP by 5 to 9 months.

The novelty of our work lies in its reliance on publicly available data. The US Census Bureau and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics provide highly detailed, reliable secondary data. The most relevant reports for our purposes were the Advanced Report on Durable Goods Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories, and Orders, the Quarterly Survey of Plant Capacity Utilization, and information from the Bureaus’ websites.

Our MCI method avoids the potential biases and excessive costs associated with economic indicators that use senior managers or private sources of data. There are practically no limits in terms of accessibility, utilization, or information gathering methodology with our public sources of data.

We validated the MCI method by using it to identify fluctuations in the Canadian manufacturing sector. We found that, as with the US manufacturing MCI, the Canadian MCI anticipates Canadian manufacturing activity and correlates with Canadian GDP.

The MCI correlates with GDP on 18 of 20 manufacturing subsectors defined by the North American Industrial Classification System. In looking at industry subsectors, we found that some lead their respective GDPs more than others. Food products, petroleum and coal products, and primary metals and fabricated metals are prime movers in manufacturing. They react early to changes in expectations for future demand and therefore provide advance indications of contractions and expansions.

We identified these prime movers by taking a systems perspective. We examined the different stakeholders within each subsector and how they interact and transfer value and information. This process helped us understand the dynamics within the industry. In particular, we were able to see how decisions in a specific subsector revealed unexpected behavior in other subsectors.

However, players in these prime mover subsectors do not necessarily have better information or better forecasting techniques. It’s possible that this leading activity is a consequence of how the industry operates. For example, these players could simply be responding to orders from downstream manufacturers.

MCI Utilization

Although the MCI cannot directly forecast GDP, it provides meaningful information about the most critical economic events: turning points from growth to decline that anticipate recessions. In practical terms, the MCI method is useful for companies in the US. Because we can calculate the MCI monthly with a one-month lag, we’re able to predict turning points before the release of official quarterly information.

Businesses can use our method as a management tool in several ways: delaying expansion or acquisition plans to wait for better prices, renegotiating contracts for raw materials, adjusting hiring plans, decreasing capacity utilization to reduce inventory, and shifting sales strategies. Investors can use the MCI method to adjust their valuations of companies.

Businesses can monitor suppliers more efficiently, for instance, by paying attention to prime mover subsectors. An automaker planning to buy raw materials for the next quarter could track the MCI for primary metals. If the primary metals MCI is declining, the automaker could delay the purchase until the primary metals subsector weakened further in hopes of getting a better price and reducing the automaker’s cost of materials.

Businesses can also create Inventory Coverage indices for each subsector by combining the subsector’s Total Inventory and Shipments time series and calculating the average, maximum, and minimum historical values for each Inventory Coverage index. Businesses can then derive safe and warning zones with respect to market behavior. If a manufacturer’s inventory coverage falls in the warning zone, for example, the company has a good indication that it should revise its strategy.

Figure 2. This chart shows the Inventory Coverage index for the Machinery Manufacturing subsector. The green band is the safe zone for inventory levels and the pink band is the warning zone. The blue line is the industry average. The red and purple lines are Caterpillar’s and John Deere’s inventory levels respectively.

For example, looking at the Inventory Coverage Index for machinery manufacturing shows the distinct difference in how Caterpillar and John Deere responded to the recession that began at the end of 2007. Caterpillar’s inventory days rose well above the industry average while John Deere’s dropped below the average.

It’s ambitious to predict an economic contraction using only the MCI. Doing so disregards other important information such as income, employment, and wholesale-retail sales. Nevertheless, the MCI contains enough information to anticipate a decline. Add diffusion indices which measure how widespread a trend is and it’s possible to anticipate the depth of an impending downturn.

An Indicator of Recession

The MCI would have indicated the recessions of 2001 and 2008 well before the official government declarations. The 2001 recession began in March and ended in November of that year, and the official declaration of the recession was issued on November 26. The MCI would have given its first indication of the recession in March. Likewise, the MCI would have identified the 2008 recession, which began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, in October 2008. The official declaration came on December 11, 2008.

It’s possible to create many different manufacturing-related metrics depending on the datasets gathered for the MCI. One possibility is the Inventory Coverage Indicator, which provides a view of the relationship between inventory and sales in a subsector. Companies can then compare their performance with its subsector as a whole.

The MCI can be a better indicator for the larger economy if time series data outside of manufacturing is added. Leading indexes from other sectors such as stock prices, new construction permits, and money supply can incorporate prime movers that normally precede manufacturing.

The data for our project span 1999 through 2011. Expanding the timeframe will provide a better calibration of the MCI. We expect that continued monitoring of the MCI will be important for economics, business, and policy making. It should be particularly important for smaller companies that can’t afford to hire consultants.

To that end, our thesis advisor, Prof. David Simchi-Levi, is considering creating a quarterly or monthly report on US manufacturing based on the MCI. We will be especially pleased if the MCI is made freely available through an MIT website.

Chunguang Charlotte Wang SDM ’10 and SMART Coops Team Win Community Choice Award in MIT IDEAS Competition

Chunguang Charlotte Wang By Lynne Weiss
June 26, 2012

Charlotte Wang of MIT’s System Design and Management Program (SDM) and her teammates received a Community Choice award of $1,500 in MIT’s annual IDEAS Competition and Global Challenge. SMART (Sustainable Management of Agricultural Resources and Trade) Coops entry is a mobile banking and payment platform to connect farmers in the Philippines to their agricultural cooperatives and in turn to banks, input suppliers, government agencies, and crop buyers via SMS text messaging.

The Philippines, with a young and educated workforce, has a growing economic presence. Agricultural production increased by 4.3% in 2011, but poor infrastructure limits agricultural efficiency and farmers typically earn about $4 a day, much less than their counterparts in China or Brazil. There are about twelve million farmers in the Philippines, with about 85% of them considered small. Agricultural cooperatives allow farmers to act as a single entity when applying for loans, buying inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides, selling their products, and investing in infrastructure such as refrigerated warehouses, rice mills, or fish-canning facilities. Even so, the network of small-scale farmers is fragmented and farmers often pay as much as 20% interest on loans. The goal of SMART Coops is to provide farmers and their cooperatives with tools that will give them more power in the supply chain.

MIT’s IDEAS (Innovation, Development, Enterprise, Action, and Service) Competition is an invention and entrepreneurship contest that rewards projects for underserved communities. Now in its 11th year, it is known as “the Oscars of social impact at MIT,” according to Alison Hynd, one of the 2012 presenters. The Community Choice awards were given to the three teams to receive the most on-line votes.

Wang heard about SMART Coops when Danny Castonguay, Sloan ’13, sent an e-mail to the Sloan community asking for help from people experienced with start-ups. Wang said she was immediately attracted to the opportunity to use her background with strategy, policy and processes on a project to aid people in the developing world. Prior to entering the SDM program, Wang worked for Washington State to implement a new HR system and bring lean processes to state-controlled liquor stores. At MIT, she was part of the PolyChroma team that won the Berkeley-Stanford Green Entrepreneurship Competition in 2011, and she and her husband Zhiyong Wang, SDM ’11, entered the 2011 IDEAS Competition and Global Challenge with their Inner Mongolia Sustainability Project (InnerLong) which seeks to minimize soil erosion in Mongolia through sustainable energy development. Wang said she responded to Castonguay’s e-mail right away and met with him and Leah Capitan, another member of the SMART Coops team.

“These efforts are never a one-person thing,” Wang said. She explained that her background in processes, energy sustainability, agriculture, and social policy was useful to the SMART Coops team, but that Leah Capitan brought the necessary knowledge of and connections to the Philippines. Castonguay and Capitan will spend the summer of 2012 in the Philippines to develop a collaboration between SMART Coops and the University of the Philippines in Manila through MIT AITI (Accelerating Information Technology Innovation).

Wang, who received her degree from SDM in June, said she never expected to work on projects such as SMART Coops, PolyChroma, and the InnerLong project when she entered SDM. But she recalled that during the first week of SDM, Pat Hale, Director of the System Design and Management Fellows Program, urged Wang and her peers not to limit their thoughts to what they had done in the past or imagined they would do, and Wang said that the SDM courses gave her a strong foundation for branching out into new areas of research. “They push you,” Wang said. “Courses like System Architecture are really hard! My brain was aching when I took it—but it gave me the tools for in-depth thinking about the details of a project and at the same time the ability to keep pulling back to look at the big picture.”

Wang will continue work on the Inner Mongolia Sustainability Project she and her husband began while she was in SDM. This summer she will be a Senior Fellow in the first Harvard China SEED (Social responsibility, Empathy, Empowerment, and Dedication) Camp this summer. The Harvard China SEED Camp connects Chinese students studying abroad to networks of social innovators and entrepreneurs within China. Meanwhile, Wang starts a new start-up on energy management, EnerLong, an innovative technology design and consulting firm, providing comprehensive advice on the sustainable development of the city, conducting intelligent energy management system design, operation services and smart urban design, based on the city’s energy, transportation and community platform. This will help China energy efficiency demand and development with rapid economic and urban growth. Wang hopes her future will give her a chance to teach as well as entrepreneurial opportunities. “I envision myself as a bridge between the United States and China,” she said. “I hope to see EnerLong succeed and would love to share my experience with others.”

Chunguang Charlotte Wang

Looking for reproducible results

James Truchard By Ted Smalley Bowen
June 26, 2012

James Truchard and his partners at National Instruments (NI) saw a business opportunity in one of the most routine tasks in science and engineering — the design of test and measurement systems. With a little tweaking, a common set of building blocks could meet a wide range of requirements, sparing labs the effort and expense of inventing their own systems. Four decades after the company’s founding, NI’s products help control everything from kindergartners’ Lego robots to the CERN Large Hadron particle accelerator.

Truchard, NI’s co-founder, president and CEO, met with fellows of MIT’s System Design and Management Program on June 12, 2012 to discuss his experience guiding the University of Texas spinoff from startup in 1976 to the 6,300-person publicly traded company whose 2011 revenue topped one billion dollars. In the second SDM Speaker Series event of the year, the engineer-turned-executive described some of the factors that helped him and his partners successfully harness their technical ideas. [Note: Truchard was contacted after the event for this article.]

Truchard’s formula involves a strong dose of prudence. A PhD in electrical engineering, he co-founded NI while working fulltime as a managing director at Applied Research Laboratories at the University of Texas at Austin. The company was self-financed and he moonlighted for three years, putting in some 100-plus hour weeks and sacrificing time with family, but it helped keep the company autonomous.

Bootstrapping can be difficult, but "people get venture capital and end up owning four percent of the company. And you need an exit plan, which is a challenge if you’re trying to plan long-term," he said.

He emphasized the need for startups to generate revenue quickly. "He first established contacts with institutions and academia and understood their needs before starting to develop products," said SDM Fellow Marwan Walid Hussein. "This meant that his first products were relevant and on trend."

Truchard focused on the balancing act required to maintain a technological edge while managing a large organization. NI offers employees, many of whom are hired right out of school, technology and management tracks, allowing them some flexibility in shaping their careers.

"He sees it as a challenge finding a balance between being a technically driven company and one that’s top-heavy with management. There’s really no single good answer for this," said SDM Fellow Rajesh Nair, whose resume includes several startups. "I was also interested in his discussion on how you get creative types, who are by definition non-conformists, to focus and work together."

The company allows employees to pursue their own projects within regular work hours, and has hired and bolstering R&D during economic slowdowns. "In 2001 and 2009 we used the opportunity to pick up some talent and scale up R&D, where we had been under-investing. We told Wall Street what we wanted to do and warned them profit would be down," he said.

This reflects Truchard’s preference for long term planning. In his summary, yearly plans address budgets, projects, and personnel assignments; five-year plans identify market opportunities and promising technologies (which for NI include electric cars and mobile devices); the 10-year horizon deals with the company’s evolving vision; and a 100-year span is useful for airing the company’s philosophy, which stresses innovation, integrity, and respect. "If you do that, each 90 days should add up and you just publish the results," he says. "There’s some scrambling, but long-term should trump short-term."

James Truchard

SDM Tech Trek Report

CiscoGoogleIntelTeslaTibco By Joan Rubin, SDM Industry Co-director
June 22, 2012

What do you get when 23 SDM fellows travel 5,400 miles to visit eight companies in four days? The SDM Tech Trek — a soon-to-be annual trip to Silicon Valley to learn how top technical companies operate. This trip highlighted best practices from industry and built upon the students’ classroom learning with real world examples.

Goals:

  • Expand students’ knowledge of complex challenges in different industries
  • Strengthen relationships between the SDM program and companies

Organized by a group of fellows and led by Co-Chairs Leena Ratnam, SDM ’12, and Neil Gadhok, SDM ’11, the Tech Trek provided SDM students an opportunity to engage with leading companies to discuss strategic, operational, and tactical challenges from both business and technical perspectives. Silicon Valley, a hub for software and computer technology giants, as well as clean-tech startups, was selected to expose the fellows (who have an average of 8-10 years of experience in a single industry), to a variety of industries in a short amount of time. At the various companies, discussions with senior management, product demonstrations, and tours highlighted the individual approaches adopted by these businesses to manage the complex issues they face.

Companies visited:

  • Cisco (Network and Communication Devices)
  • Silver Springs Networks (Smart Grid Utility Networks)
  • TIBCO (Infrastructure Software for Businesses)
  • Yammer (Social Media)
  • Tesla (Automotive)
  • Google (Internet Information Providers)
  • First Solar (Solar Energy)
  • Intel (Semiconductor)

Sampling of trip insights:

  • The visit to Cisco, hosted by Carol Ann McDevitt, SDM ’02, and Rafael Marañón, SDM ’10, included discussions with executives in the Network Operating System Technology Group. One of the key insights was that Cisco has a "no technology" religion. They do not tie themselves to or define themselves by any single technology. They look to constantly evolve.
  • TIBCO senior management engaged the fellows in a spirited give and take that demonstrated the need for companies to better utilize data analytics for competitive advantage. The SDM group was joined by Murat Sonmez, EVP, Global Field Operations, Tom Laffey, EVP Products and Technology, and Vivek Ranadive, chairman and CTO (MIT BS and MS).
  • At the Tesla plant in Palo Alto, CA, Milo Werner, manager of New Product Introduction, (MIT MS and MBA ’07) and Jim Dunley, VP of Powertrain Engineering and Production (MIT BS, EECS and Economics, ’79), gave presentations in which they emphasized that development of great products includes making mistakes, learning, and improving the product while always focusing on customer needs and product experience.
  • Intel employee Heidi Pan (Sloan) and current student and Intel intern Rutu Manchiganti, SDM ’10, brought together a panel from Intel to highlight how innovation can be encouraged and fostered in larger companies.

Key take-aways:

  • Face-to-face meetings with key stakeholders strengthen relationships between SDM and industry, opening up opportunities for further collaboration.
  • Meeting and engaging with SDM Fellows creates opportunities for companies to identify and recruit graduates.
  • Fellows have a better understanding of the corporate environment in both startup and established companies and can tailor their remaining time at SDM to focus on skills needed by industry today.

Tech Trek 2013

The SDM ’12s are already planning for next year’s Tech Trek. If your company would like to participate, please contact Joan Rubin, SDM industry co-director at jsrubin@mit.edu or 617-253-2081.

Nirmalya Bannerjee, SDM ’11: Connecting the Dots with SDM

Nirmalya Bannerjee By Cody Ned Romano
June 18, 2012

A former project manager for Apple, Nirmalya Banerjee sums up his experience in SDM by drawing upon the wisdom of his company’s founder. "Embrace different opportunities," Steve Jobs said, "because you never know how and when you’ll be able to look back and connect the dots."

Banerjee’s resume is a testament to Jobs’ advice. An Indian national scholar in mathematics, Banerjee began his career as an electrical engineer, followed it with an MBA in marketing and went on to work as an SAP consultant. After five years as a consultant, he wanted to grow and explore new horizons.

Interdisciplinary courses such as System Dynamics drew Banerjee to SDM. He also appreciated that SDM integrated engineering and management via systems thinking. Diving into the curriculum, Banerjee earned close to 178 academic credits in just 13 months. This included studying Negotiation at Harvard Business School and learning basic Chinese. "SDM", says Banerjee, "was an immensely enriching experience. It provided unparalleled opportunities to learn and compete with the best and brightest minds and to network with industry leaders of the future."

"SDM is the place where I’m trying to connect the dots," Banerjee said. "It is where I’m trying to integrate all that I’ve learned through my education and experience to develop a holistic perspective for the future."

In addition to his formal studies, Banerjee worked on an MIT project aimed at improving public health in India. Nearly half of Indians who develop cataracts go blind because of untimely detection. The equipment for detection is too expensive and is not readily available in the rural medical centers. To facilitate this, Banerjee, along with his team, helped develop a plan for delivering affordable technology for residents of Indian cities and villages — a smartphone app and a clip on device that scans the eye for cataracts. Their project won the MIT Global Challenge Choice Award, which provided $10,000 in funding.

Prior to matriculating at SDM, Banerjee worked at Apple Singapore as a project manager where he led a team of 32 consultants who supported the SAP system, Banerjee focused on developing innovative process changes to tackle global challenges. A significant change he initiated by involved redesigning the Asia Pacific month-end closure process of business activities. This resulted in greatly reduced closure time and created more opportunities for the business teams to carry out critical order fulfillment operations. These new processes introduced by Banerjee have since been standardized as the team’s regular business processes.

Banerjee’s SDM thesis, which reflects his continuous commitment to redesigning and simplifying complex business processes examines conflict mediation in the multi-vendor scenario from a systems perspective. It provides a quantitative angle to a qualitative concept, such as conflict and mediation in a multi-sourcing environment, using system dynamics modeling and sensitivity analysis. "Other project managers should be able to use my research to identify which conflict factors should be the key focus areas for information technology project managers in a multi-sourcing environment and which mitigation strategy(ies) work(s) best to increase the productivity and output of their teams," he said.

After he graduates from MIT in June 2012, Banerjee will work for Open Access Technology International (OATI), an energy software company located in Minneapolis. There, as a development manager, he will apply systems thinking to create software solutions for emerging fields like smart grids and energy trading. By moving into the energy sector, the professional who began his studies in electrical engineering is coming full circle. Yet he will enter the industry with a fresh perspective, having integrated all that he has learned, embracing the new opportunities and continuing to practice what he learned at SDM — connecting the dots.

"This is an ongoing process for me and I will continue to interface with both MIT and SDM," he said. I want to contribute to the program and the Institute in any way possible, and use my education to make a larger impact someday. This is when I will know that I have finally connected all of the dots."

Nirmalya Bannerjee
Photo by Kathy Tarantola Photography

Applying Visualization to Classroom Seating Habits

Figure 1The default view of the classroom seating habits visualizationtime-series data for all studentsThe seating habits for two students are compared.The time-series data for the same two students are comparedstatic view of his or her seating habitsGitHub-inspired buttons decorate the top of the controls pane.A script took care of processing the data by collapsing and normalizing them so that they could be fed into the d3 toolkit.  Another script processed the time-series data.student matrixThe actual classroom: 1-390Ali Almossawi By Ali Almossawi, SDM ’11
June 18, 2012

The System Design and Management (SDM) Program has been everything I expected it to be and more; my cohort is wonderfully rich and the courses are both practical and relevant. I have even learned some rather unexpected, yet applicable, lessons during my time here.

In my 15.514 Financial Accounting course, I started noticing that the space between my seat and the professor seemed to always be occupied by the same set of heads. That meant that not only were those students always sitting in the same seats, but also that I was doing so as well.

Because I had just taken a course in data visualization, had worked on a data analysis and visualization project with former MIT professor Alan MacCormack, and wanted to try out a new visualization toolkit, it seemed an interesting exercise to investigate whether or not students did indeed like to sit in the same seats. Looking at it through the SDM lens, the society of the classroom seemed to be a system complex enough to warrant analysis. Therefore, fueled solely by my curiosity and funded by about a week’s worth of effort, I decided to use the visualization toolkit to examine the seating habits of my 15.514 colleagues throughout the semester.

Data extraction
A matrix created in a spreadsheet representing the classroom 1-390 served as the initial canvas on which students’ coordinates were marked. Each dot in the matrix was labeled with a student’s name; its position indicated a row and column, and hence the particular seat that he or she was in. These were noted down through observation during class via a sophisticated set of methods, namely, the legendary cough-and-turn-to-the-side method and the more subtle turn-to-the-back-and-pretend-to-look-at-the-clock method.

Given that the semester was already underway, data for past lectures was acquired by the laborious, albeit trivial, process of watching taped lectures on Stellar.

Data transformation and loading
The data were then transformed into two representations and persisted in two data files. The first data file was used to show the frequency with which students sat in particular seats, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1.
Herein, x and y are the rows and columns, respectively, and the "count" field indicates the number of times the student sat in that particular seat throughout the semester.

The second data file was used to show a time-series for an arbitrary set of students, that is to say, a timeline of where they sat in each lecture throughout the semester. The rationale behind it is that instead of just seeing a static view of who sat where and with what frequency, a user may to see how students move about, lecture by lecture, in order to perhaps see if there are sets of students who move around together, or conversely if there are ones who always avoid each other.

Here, the data file had an additional field called "missing" that indicated whether or not a student attended a particular lecture. In the case of him or her being absent, the coordinates from the previous lecture were used. The "count" field was eliminated since elements were no longer consolidated. Instead, each student’s set had 20 elements representing the course’s 20 lectures.

The sets in both data files were then trivially converted into JavaScript arrays and fed into the visualization toolkit described below. Though the toolkit can work with a variety of data files, such as comma-separated-value (CSV) files and JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) files, plain-old arrays were used for this project since the dataset was small.

Visualization
D3 is a powerful visualization toolkit that came out of Stanford’s Visualization Group. For anyone who has done Web development, it is easy to use since it borrows concepts and metaphors from the style sheet language CSS and feels a lot like the popular abstraction language jQuery; after all, it is JavaScript.

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is a set of specifications for rendering two-dimensional vector graphics within the Web browser. D3 works with SVG elements allowing one to easily bind arbitrary data with some set of SVG elements, which can then be manipulated or animated. The advantage of SVG is that it is supported natively in all major browsers (except IE) and works in iOS, which is one area where Flash-based applications break.

For the visualization, an abstract view of the classroom was rendered on screen with rows being indicated by hairline horizontal lines. The top of the screen constituted the front of the classroom and the left was where the two doors were located. The seats were shown as being the same distance from each other and along parallel rows. The default view of the visualization used the first data file (the static one) and for each student, bound each element to a different circle with its radius correlated to the "count" field of that particular element. Hence, a student who sat in a total of four seats during the semester would have four circles rendered on screen, each at the coordinate corresponding seat location. If he or she sat in a seat more often, the circle around that seat increases in size. Circles were semi-opaque so that overlaps were more apparent.

After refreshing the browser window and seeing the circles pop up via "fade-in" animations, it was observed that there were three groups of students: 1) those who preferred to sit in the same zone, that is the same set of seats, be they either in tight clusters in some part of the classroom or across some particular row; 2) those who jumped around a lot, and 3) those who preferred to sit in the same seat. The frequency was in that order, from most to least. So for the SDM ’11 cohort, and going by the data for this one class, it appears that most students didn’t in fact sit in the same seats, but rather in the same zones.

Three colors were used to shade the circles belonging to each of the groups. Hovering over a circle adds strokes around all the circles belonging to that student and highlights the student’s name to the right of the screen.

An option on the webpage called "Play time-series" allows the users to pick an arbitrary number of students and see how they sit relative to each other throughout the semester. In that mode, circles are all the same size and. as mentioned earlier, missing data (i.e. days on which students were absent) are faded out and assume the coordinates of the previous lecture.

Even with a dataset as small as this one, the visualization revealed that it may be possible to categorize students’ seating habits.

Some areas of future exploration include: determining how the relationships between students influence where they sit and investigating correlations between where people sit and their gender, what time they arrive to class, their personality type, whether or not they have a class immediately before, and their final grade. A researcher from Europe has since done the same experiment with her class and we’re in the process of comparing findings.

Screenshots

The default view of the classroom seating habits visualization

The time-series data for all students are shown at once. The animation remains smooth throughout. Overlaps may be noticed when one student has missing data.

The seating habits for two students are compared.

The time-series data for the same two students are compared

After starting the time-series player for a student, a static view of his or her seating habits may be displayed too; it is overlaid on top of the other elements.

GitHub-inspired buttons decorate the top of the controls pane. The rest of the pane is made up of students’ names, categorized based on their seating habit. Each category is colored differently, as shown in the vertical bar that stretches the height of each group. Custom checkboxes ensure that they are rendered the same in all browsers.

A script took care of processing the data by collapsing and normalizing them so that they could be fed into the d3 toolkit. Another script processed the time-series data.

The initial capturing of the data was done by adding student names to matrices that represent the spatial layout of the classroom.