as well as my attempts to make sense of the business world
well that was a quick two years….
The ride on my blog journey may have stopped seven months ago, but my LGO journey certainly did not. Nudged by an email from one of our coordinators asking “Final blog…please?” I decided I could head back to the web and drop some knowledge on you. I’m going to start with some b-school basics, outlining my post in an ordered list:
Although it never seems like you really have any free time for anything, I’ve spent a lot of time over the past two years reflecting. This includes not only thinking about what I want to do, but what I don’t want to do, what is important to me and what kind of leader I want to be.
There are almost too many good moments to list, however, there is one constant between all of them: great people. I found that when I have a chance to get to know anyone through a personal conversation, that most in the Sloan + LGO communities are down to earth, passionate, open-minded, fun people.
At the beginning of the program I didn’t really think that anyone wanted to listen to my advice. I figured most people hate getting told what to do. However, I realized that most young people have no idea what they want to do and love to gain wisdom from other people. I gained many a tid bit from speakers that came in and shared not only their business lessons, but life lessons. Here are some of my recommendations for the next two years:
During school, I explored many different areas outside my comfort zone and areas that I thought I may well be interested in. In the first summer, I became very interested in healthcare operations. I still am very interested in it, but realized I was not passionate enough to pursue such a specific operations discipline this early in my career. That may change, we shall see. Regardless, I am glad I took many healthcare classes and was able to work on a project for MIT Medical. I gained a stronger understanding of one of the the most complex challenges facing the US and the broader world today. It was great to get past all of the politics and look at the actual facts, stakeholders, the changes that are happening and have been tried over the past hundred years. I came to MIT to be exposed to some of the worlds toughest challenges and I am happy to say I have come out with a much stronger understanding of at least one of those challenges.
Through my internship I put myself in a unionized environment on the manufacturing floor. For me, this was an opportunity to put a lot of tools and approaches I had developed during the LGO program and as a consultant into a front-line environment. As expected, this was an incredibly tough environment. I also realized I was spending most of my time dealing with internal company politics. I didn’t like that balance and decided I wanted to avoid large companies after school. This made me change my goal from the beginning of the program to joining a large manufacturing company (likely a partner company). I needed something smaller where I spend most of my time on improving things, not on battling political and heirarchy challenges.
My next step will be joining a small consulting firm, a-connect, in Boston. They have a slightly different model than typical consulting firms with only 50 people internal to the firm, but a large pool of external ex-consultants and experts that are staffed on specific projects. My role will be 50% staffed on those projects and the other 50% helping with client development, staffing, recruiting and knowledge management. I am incredibly excited about the role. I will be doing the type of strategic work I loved before school while also taking more of an entrepreneurial role in helping this small firm grow - something that I know will be enjoyable given the quality of people I have met at the firm.
That’s all for now. On to the next step. Please email me if you ever have any LGO questions!
5 June 2012 · Comments
Business schools say reputable dual-degree programs also serve to strengthen ties with industry, which is what MIT says has happened with its Leaders for Global Operations program. In that dual-degree track, candidates receive an MBA and a master’s in engineering in one of seven engineering disciplines. Candidates must meet the rigorous application requirements of both MIT’s Sloan School of Management and its engineering school. The program has inspired partnerships with 24 companies, ranging from Amazon.com (AMZN), to Verizon Wireless (VZ), to Kimberly-Clark (KMB). As a partner, the companies get premier recruiting access to students who have been groomed to run large manufacturing facilities. MIT strategically recruits for the program and aims to attract 10 percent to 15 percent of its MBA class into that dual-degree track.
3 December 2011 · Comments
It’s that time again, recruiting for next year’s LGO class. Ambassador day will be November 7th this year and is run by the first year students. Last year I was in charge of running the day, but this year an able group of 13’s are in charge. I’m looking forward to being able to meet more people this year rather than helping coordinate activities.
Here is an overview of the schedule:
Ambassador Day Schedule: November 7, 2011, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
By sitting in on a class, having lunch with current LGO students and admissions staff, or participating in a student-run panel discussion, you will engage in a LGO experience that is both informative and interactive.
10-10:30 a.m. Check in at the LGO office
10:30 a.m.-Noon Tour the MIT campus with current LGO students
Noon-1 p.m. Engage in a LGO student panel discussion
1-2:15 p.m. Enjoy lunch and mingling with LGO students and staff members
2:30-4 p.m. Attend a class (Engineering or Business)
4-5:30 p.m. Attend a partner company pro-seminar
Information Evening Schedule: November 7, 2011: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
RSVP to email@example.com
Also, a picture from last year (we will be getting the balloons again!):
21 October 2011 · Comments
I’m winding down my internship at Raytheon and thought I would share a few thoughts.
First, I think people in the program get a lot of anxiety around the whole internship process. People worry where they are going to be located, what project or focus they will work on and who they will be working for. I understand its a great way to get easy access to a company or location, but people probably stress a little much over the whole process. No matter where you end up, its what you signed up to do and its going to be an incredible learning experience.
Even if we hate the internship, hate the location, the project fails or your boss hates you (I’ll be honest, these things happen) everyone gets to come back to school. Back to a program that they love.
Back in school, you can hit the reset button and step back to focus on what you really want to do. Thats where I am now. I’m reflecting on my experience, understanding what went well, what went poorly and how I would change it the next chance I get. In addition, I tried to analyze what was important to me. I pretty much knew coming in what I was looking for in a job (working with great people on challenging projects), but the experience at Raytheon helped to reinforce that for me.
Thesis wise, I did get a jump start on structuring the document in the final weeks of my internship. I have a good idea of what I am going to write about (with help from my advisors) and how I am going to accomplish it. I’m aiming for completion sometime around the fall. My classmates are probably not going to be very happy if I am one of the first ones to hand it in :-)
That’s it for now. Submit some questions here about the internship/thesis/off-cycle anything… and I’d be happy to answer them!
4 August 2011 · Comments
When I went to get money from Financial Aid this last week (living on loan money, yay!) I found out that they added a new feature. Instead of getting a paper check and leaving with the “money” in hand, they had now enabled direct deposit and preferred for me to use that method. As a lover of the internet and technology, I was pleased. The person told me all I had to do was enable the feature and then shoot my financial aid rep an email asking them to transfer the money.
I went home, enabled the feature and then emailed my financial aid rep to transfer the money. I waited two days and heard nothing. I called financial aid again and they said I had to email my account rep, not the financial aid rep. Another email, nothing. Waited over a weekend and then finally called on Monday morning. They informed me that the system is not yet working and that they would transfer me to my account rep to get it in motion. I talked to my account guy and he said he would take care of it. By take care of it, I mean that he told me it would arrive by direct deposit in an unknown number of days, “maybe 2-3” or they would mail me a check.
The lesson here is that although the new process may save them time, it is a worse experience for the customer. They lose transparency and control in the process and have to build in a buffer between when they need money and when they should start requesting it. In my situation, the account person still had to deal with me, saving no time. Instead of walking right out with a check I am still waiting an unknown amount of time for a payment through an unknown format (mail or virtual). Before, I had one physical visit and talked to the account rep for 5 minutes. After the change, I had one physical visit, 3 separate phone calls, two unanswered emails and an addition of 5-? days for a possible delivery of payment through an unknown format.
Granted, I save the time I would have to wait after depositing a check, but I’ve lost control and transparency into the process. These are important things to think about when trying to make an improvement in the ops world. What is the effect on the customer??
11 July 2011 · Comments
Failing is an essential part of the learning process. In many of the places I’ve worked and studied, I’ve noticed many people with an enormous fear of failure. As an engineering undergrad, I learned to fail very quickly. Going down for the count with my fellow classmates, we learned quickly how little we knew and that we needed a new, different approach.
This mindset has been an asset during the LGO program. Not being afraid of failing, I’ve tried to immerse myself in classes and activities that are outside my comfort zone. Additionally, I’ve been able to focus (or not focus) on the material that I know I am interested in and will help me down the road. Although a bit selfish , this mentality helps me avoid the natural academic fear of not getting that 100 in every class. Granted, given the collaborative nature of the LGO experience, I still owe it to my classmates to put in the effort in every one of my classes.
Taking this topic to my internship, I have been overwhelmed with the fear of failure that exists among many of the people I’ve worked with. Everything is focused on planning, business plans and return on investment. These are essential parts of business, but having such rigorous planning and vetting of every idea without trying anything seems to limit the frontline innovation of the companies I have worked for. This is not distinct to Raytheon. I’ve experienced this at McKinsey, GE and Pratt & Whitney. People use these processes of planning and budgeting as an excuse to avoid simple experiments that will quickly tell you if something will work or fail.
Why don’t people want to experiment? Because you fail a lot. I’m experiencing that in my current project. In the initial stages of trying to develop a kitting cart, people were hesitant to get involved in the idea generation and design stage of the process. No one wanted to take the fall if it failed. When people fail at Raytheon, and I imagine many other manufacturing environments, someone has to take the blame. I know its not right, but its a reality. Luckily, I’m only there 6 months and went into it knowing I would fail at some level.
We finally got this kitting cart in on Friday and its not perfect. People quickly pointed out its shortcomings, but I was also quickly able to get them involved in the brainstorming process. It took that initial failure and the leap to try something new to get everyone to a point where they are willing to now take part in the process. The initial solution was not perfect, but it enabled everyone to see the next step in the process and not worry as much about failure. Secretly, I’ve just got them to take part in continuous improvement. Pick any one of the “cycles”, Plan-Do-Check-Act, etc… they are all the same. And they work. I’m just happy I made a small improvement and could bridge the gap from what science knows and business does.
People aren’t perfect. Let them fail, and fail often. As long as they have the capability to learn from it. Here’s a great TED video on being wrong.
15 June 2011 · Comments
Which brings us to the third skill that you must have but haven’t been taught—the ability to implement at scale, the ability to get colleagues along the entire chain of care functioning like pit crews for patients. There is resistance, sometimes vehement resistance, to the efforts that make it possible. Partly, it is because the work is rooted in different values than the ones we’ve had. They include humility, an understanding that no matter who you are, how experienced or smart, you will fail.
~ Great graduation speech from Atul Gawande given at Harvard Medical School this week. He’s talking about healthcare, an issue I’ve been reading and following pretty regularly, but I think this applies to any industry. This could easily sum up the culture I experience at Raytheon every day. The question is, how do you shift people away from this mindset?
Great graduation speech from Atul Gawande given at Harvard Medical School this week. He’s talking about healthcare, an issue I’ve been reading and following pretty regularly, but I think this applies to any industry. This could easily sum up the culture I experience at Raytheon every day.
The question is, how do you shift people away from this mindset?
1 June 2011 · Comments
…if management stopped demotivating their employees then they wouldn’t have to worry so much about motivating them.
~ Dr. W. Edwards Deming The first time I heard about the program formerly known as LFM was through a blogger, Mark Graban. He is the author of one of the best Lean resources on the web, leanblog.org. I read it in college and knew that I wanted to consider this program down the line. It’s pretty cool that I am now a student blogger and can touch on some of the professional things I am passionate about. Right now, I cannot hold a candle to Graban, so I would suggest checking out this piece on Deming and motivation at employers. I’ve been in situations where employers are GREAT at demotivating their employees, so I find this kind of thinking fascinating. People are obsessed with getting lean.black belt certifies, but never bother to understand what the goal is or how to actually treat others. Deming was one of the first thinkers in this area and more recently Daniel Pink (just read his exceptional book, Drive). My biggest fear that Mark and ultimately, Deming, brought up is that extrinsic motivation gradually replaces intrinsic motivation throughout ones career. I’ve seen the challenging consequences of this at Raytheon, where most people have been in this extrinsically driven environment at only this company for their entire career. If the right leader took over at the front lines, could they turn people, or is it too late? I’m glad people like Mark keep pushing the agenda on this kind of thinking. Companies, especially the large ones, do not “get it” yet. I hope to change that during my career.
Dr. W. Edwards Deming
The first time I heard about the program formerly known as LFM was through a blogger, Mark Graban. He is the author of one of the best Lean resources on the web, leanblog.org. I read it in college and knew that I wanted to consider this program down the line. It’s pretty cool that I am now a student blogger and can touch on some of the professional things I am passionate about.
Right now, I cannot hold a candle to Graban, so I would suggest checking out this piece on Deming and motivation at employers. I’ve been in situations where employers are GREAT at demotivating their employees, so I find this kind of thinking fascinating. People are obsessed with getting lean.black belt certifies, but never bother to understand what the goal is or how to actually treat others. Deming was one of the first thinkers in this area and more recently Daniel Pink (just read his exceptional book, Drive).
My biggest fear that Mark and ultimately, Deming, brought up is that extrinsic motivation gradually replaces intrinsic motivation throughout ones career. I’ve seen the challenging consequences of this at Raytheon, where most people have been in this extrinsically driven environment at only this company for their entire career. If the right leader took over at the front lines, could they turn people, or is it too late?
I’m glad people like Mark keep pushing the agenda on this kind of thinking. Companies, especially the large ones, do not “get it” yet. I hope to change that during my career.
23 May 2011 · Comments
To be honest, I did not do a lot of the assigned reading from the fall. Although I love reading, I was balancing trying to be a good boyfriend with spending a ton of hours with school work. I have always prioritized people that are close to me even if it will hurt my grades a little. This doesn’t really bother me because I know I love learning.
Getting to the point, I am getting around to doing some of the reading from the fall. One of the best decisions was reading Influence by Robert Cialdini. This was one of the best books I have ever read. Hands down. It discusses a lot of our irrational flaws as humans. Paired with predictably irrational, these two books should be required reading for anyone with ambition after college. Here are a couple of counterintuitive notions (maybe not, depending on how you think) from Cialdini:
The great thing about this book is it make you become more aware of your personal vulnerability. Contrary to most people, I look forward to failing because I realize I am human hence, irrational and mistake-prone. Its how we learn from our errors and realize why we are thinking the way we do that gives allows us to continually learn and grow throughout our lives.
The lesson here is some of the reading recommended through school is pretty cool, no matter when you actually end up reading it.
22 May 2011 · Comments
lean is not laying off people. anyone who thinks that is the case has really never picked up a lean book
6 May 2011 · Comments
Anonymous said: Hi Paul,
i graduated with a BS in EE from Purdue last May, and I'm a few months away from finishing my first year at work, which is pretty great so far! i'm working as a network engineer, and I’m happy I learned about the LGO quite early, so now I have plenty of time to prepare a solid application. I wanted to ask you which projects and assignments i should focus on working on? What sort of skills and experiences would set me apart from other applicants? And finally would professional certifications make my application stronger? Thanx a lot for your advice it’s much appreciated! ☺
Honestly, this is going to sound real vague, but I think some of these points are missed by most people in their 20’s:
Ultimately, I understand you do need some sort of “story” to tell a business school, but I think if you follow what you are interested and look to take advantage of all opportunities you have, the story kind of takes care of itself. Even if its not what you’ll do after the MBA, you’ll have that story of what happened pre-MBA.
18 April 2011 · Comments
I took the GRE. I sat down with the GMAT book for 10 minutes because I was going to apply to both LGO and Tauber at Michigan. However, my only real motives to go to Michigan were to hang out with my old roommate from college while he was in his final year of law school. I really like him, but I guess my motivation wasn’t that strong. I really just wanted to stay in Boston. I had taken the GRE right after college, so I just used that. I didn’t really worry about my test score. I focused on the parts of the application that really told my story: essays, recs and cover letter.
Thus, for me it did not matter. I guess if you want to take both, mine as well just submit the one that’s better, right?
12 April 2011 · Comments