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RC TOM Challenge 2018

November 13, 2018

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The TOM Challenge provides an opportunity for you to continue exploring organizational learning and innovation through the lens of process improvement and/or product development, the focus of RC TOM’s second module. In this challenge, you will investigate how an organization is grappling with machine learning, additive manufacturing, or open innovation. These megatrends are likely to significantly affect how organizations manage process improvement and product development in the coming years of your career. The TOM Challenge requires you to (1) conduct research and write an essay that examines how one organization is facing a particular aspect of one of these megatrends, and (2) write six comments that share your reflections on some of your section mates’ essays.

Your essay should address four questions in the context of the organization you choose:

  1. Why do you think the megatrend you selected is important to your organization’s management of process improvement and/or product development?
  2. What is the organization’s management doing to address this issue in the short term (the next two years) and the medium term (two to ten years out)?
  3. What other steps do you recommend the organization’s management take to address this issue in the short and medium terms?
  4. In the context of this organization, what are one or two important open questions related to this issue that you are unsure about that merit comments from your classmates?

Your essay should convey facts, analysis, and your recommendations. It should focus on a single organization (e.g., a single company, non-profit organization, or government agency) and a concern related to one megatrend. It is fine if the concern you choose relates to other megatrends that the organization is facing, but that’s not required. Roughly a third of your essay should be dedicated to each of the first three questions, with just a few sentences dedicated to the fourth question. Your essay should be at least 700 words but no more than 800 words, and must conclude with a word count in parentheses (such as 778 words).

When posting your essay to Open Knowledge, be sure to enter “Machine Learning”, “Additive Manufacturing”, or “Isolationism” in the Topics field.

More details on research, sourcing, deadlines, and other matters are provided in the RC TOM Challenge: 2018 noteFor assistance with the Open Knowledge platform during business hours (9:00 am – 5:00 pm M-F), email A short video with instructions on how to post an essay to this platform is available at

Submitted (926)

Boston Red Sox, Beacon, and Buy-In
Colin E Ryan
Last modified on November 15, 2018 at 4:15 pm
The Boston Red Sox upgraded their machine learning capabilities to provide user-friendly data to management and players. Management and players bought-in to the system, and many wins ensued.
Machine Learning at Wayfair
Posted on November 12, 2018 at 6:33 pm
As e-commerce continues to grow rapidly, data on online customer shopping habits and behaviors also continues to expand. Customers are typing in millions of searches an hour, and each results page is a data point that can be fed back [...]
A Bridg to Nowhere?
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 7:13 pm
In a world where Amazon seems unstoppable, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are pinning their hopes on Bridg, a company with thirty employees and one powerful algorithm.
Closed Innovation at Facebook
Sgt. Piggy
Last modified on November 14, 2018 at 12:31 am
In 2010, Facebook introduced the “Open Graph”. In Mark Zuckerberg’s own words: “Today the web exists mostly as a series of unstructured links between pages. This has been a powerful model, but it’s really just the start. The Open Graph [...]
Great Scott! What’s next for open innovation at LEGO?
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 7:11 pm
LEGO has been using open innovation for the past 10 years to bring new playsets to market. As they strive to stay relevant while the line between toys and consumer electronics starts to blur, how will they revamp their strategy [...]
Beyond Bureaucracy: Open Innovation in the U.S. Government
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 5:58 pm
Could open innovation initiatives allow U.S. governmental agencies to tackle intractable problems more quickly and cost effectively? Could the U.S. government effectively transition to open platforms to address its most contentious and politicized challenges?