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Sloan School of Management

Implementing Improvement Strategies: Dynamic Work Design

Useful Doesn't Always Mean Used - Webinar with Nelson Repenning
Jul 9—10
2 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 3900
USD 1950 per day
Nov 12—13
2 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 3900
USD 1950 per day

How it works


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This program helps executives understand how continuous improvement strategies, sustained over a long period of time, affect core business metrics and business development strategy and contribute to the success of the organization. This course equips managers with a fundamental understanding of how work design—as well as their own approach to management—can be improved for optimal business benefits.

This program provides practical tools and methods for sustainable improvement efforts of any scale, in any industry, and in any function. It is built on a foundation of principles and methods called Dynamic Work Design and can be adapted to any type of work in any type of organization.

Proceeding from principles, not practices, is a key to sustainable change, allowing integration with current culture, processes, and practices, while delivering fast results with little overhead of training or major initiatives. The method has proven to work in businesses as diverse as oil/gas, DNA sequencing and engineering/innovation and works at the scale of discrete problems or organizational-wide strategic efforts. Improvement begins to happen in rapid and natural ways; results begin showing up almost immediately.

This process improvement training program is inspired by the collaboration between instructors Don Kieffer and Nelson Repenning who integrated industry practice and academic investigation over a 20-year period to develop Dynamic Work Design. Students will learn to identify the value-added elements of their own work and of their organization and more importantly, identify opportunities for improving and how to get started based on a framework of principles and methods.


The main purpose of this program is two-fold: one is to help participants understand how continuous improvement strategies, sustained over a long period of time, affect core business metrics and contribute to the success of the organization, from bottom-up and top-down perspectives; and the other is how to change the way managers see work and their own roles as leaders in the culture of improvement. This program will enable participants to:

  • Understand the principles and approaches that drive improvement; and apply them in all areas in the context of a particular company, thus creating a tangible culture of continuous improvement
  • Implement improvement naturally in their everyday work, not from a prescribed list, but from a deep personal understanding of the principles
  • Recognize successful improvement initiatives already in place and build on them
  • Identify the true value-added aspects of work performed by individual workers and the entire organization
  • Ensure that business targets and improvement activities are tightly linked at every level
  • Develop inquiry and evidence-based problem solving skills for individuals and for organizations
  • Transform managers from controllers to enablers by leveraging the relationship between designing the work well and the engagement of employees that follows
  • Generate “pull” from within the organization for new methods of work
  • Make results (and problems) visible so that they can be addressed constructively
  • Not just remove defects, but learn how to design work correctly from the beginning

Sample Schedule—Subject to Change


  • 8:00AM - 8:30AM Registration and Continental Breakfast
  • 8:30AM - 9:00AM Introduction and Program Objectives
  • 9:00AM - 11:00AM Key Concepts
  • 11:00AM - 12:00PM Practical Applications
  • 12:00PM - 1:00PM Networking Lunch
  • 1:00PM - 6:00PM Principles and Science of Dynamic Work Design
  • 6:00PM - 7:00PM Reception


  • 8:00AM - 8:30AM Continental Breakfast
  • 08:30AM - 9:30AM Recap and Discussion
  • 9:30AM - 10:00AM Introduction to Problem Formulation
  • 10:00AM - 10:15AM Break
  • 10:15AM - 11:45AM Problem Formulation Exercise
  • 11:45AM - 12:45PM Networking Lunch
  • 12:45PM - 2:15PM Introduction to Visual Management
  • 2:15PM - 3:30PM Visual Management Exercise
  • 3:30PM - 4:00PM Getting Started: How You Show Up
  • 4:00PM - 4:10PM Adjournment

Who should attend

The program is intended for executives, senior managers, and leaders from every sector. Managers at any level of responsibility will benefit from this program, but it's the senior leadership that should be able to embrace and champion the principles of improvement for the benefit of the entire organization. Here are some indicators that this program will be of value:

An organization's need for improvement is greater than its ability to deliver it

Company executives are drowning in data, emails, and meetings, and suffering under the weight of a large number of activities and initiatives, many of which are not focused on the important issues

Management behavior doesn’t change much or is actively resistant to improvement Improvement methods are not integrated into all of the company's work beyond that of the improvement department

There is lack of clear understanding how improvement methodologies and value-add apply to executives, knowledge workers, and technical and administrative staff in non-factory settings


Nelson P. Repenning is the Associate Dean of Leadership and Special Projects at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Professor Repenning also serves as the faculty director for the MIT Leadership Center. Nelson’s early work focused on understanding the inability of organizations to leverage well...
Donald Kieffer is a Senior Lecturer in Operations Management at MIT Sloan. Kieffer started working in factories at the age of 17 as piece-worker on a metal lathe. He later spent 15 years at Harley-Davidson where he led the Twin Cam 88 engine project and became vice president of manufacturing exc...
Sheila Dodge is the Senior Director of Operations and Development for the Genomics Platform at the Broad Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. She directs a team of more than150 scientists, engineers and laboratory technicians who develop and run DNA sequencing production processes. She oversees da...

Next dates

Jul 9—10
2 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 3900
USD 1950 per day
Nov 12—13
2 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 3900
USD 1950 per day

How it works

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