Most Recent Assignment

RC TOM Challenge 2018

November 13, 2018

Read The Full Prompt

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)

Adidas’s Race to be #1 in 3D Printing
Free D
Last modified on November 14, 2018 at 11:52 pm
Adidas is investing heavily in additive manufacturing, partnering with Silicon Valley's Carbon Inc to one day produce 50 million pairs of 3D printed shoes per year.
Using Open Innovation to Solve the Ocean Plastics Problem
Alex Eidson
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 6:02 pm
The Plastic Bank is using open innovation to expand plastic waste collection in countries with limited traditional waste management. This has the potential to improve livelihoods among the poorest citizens of the world's poorest countries and reduce the flow of [...]
Adding Value In Nike’s Production Line
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 7:12 pm
With Nike pushing Flyprint, Adidas working with Carbon 3D, and New Balance tapping into Formlabs for partnership, why is this seemingly commoditized footwear market looking to 3D printing?
The Benefits of Additive Manufacturing at BIA
Jane Doe
Posted on November 12, 2018 at 9:25 pm
This paper discusses the benefits of additive manufacturing for a German automobile manufacturing plant, which include reducing manufacturing lead times and increasing percentage of bids won from OEMs.
Pinterest Needs to Improve Revenue Per User Ahead of IPO
Karen RR
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 11:51 pm
Pinterest's userbase is growing faster than its publicly-traded peers, but the company lags in revenue per user. I exam their existing machine learning infrastructure and recommend how to use it improve revenue growth ahead of their 2019 IPO.