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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)

Maison Me-chine
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 3:09 pm
Maison Me is a made-to-order apparel brand powered by machine learning.
Iberdrola, machine learning and the future of offshore wind
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 6:05 pm
Offshore wind turbines offer tremendous potential for renewable energy, but are still not as competitive as other low-carbon technologies. Iberdrola, global leader in power generation and one of the largest wind power producers, looks at machine learning solutions to decrease [...]
Open your open innovation to suppliers
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 7:59 pm
The role of suppliers in open innovation should be reconsidered as high tech companies have difficulty identify product/process innovation solely from users and customers. Dell pioneered to have its suppliers proactively engage in product and process innovation along open innovation [...]
“What do you mean, Doctor?!”
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 2:08 pm
Machine Learning (ML) is changing the way healthcare systems operate, both in terms of internal processes and patient-facing interventions. How effective will it prove in the long run and will it be a tool to aid or a tool to [...]
Block by Block: Harnessing Open Innovation at The LEGO Group
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 7:29 pm
Between 1999-2003 The LEGO Group was on a burning platform [1]. Children were abandoning traditional toys at earlier ages, turning to more sophisticated alternatives such as video games. Retailers were becoming more complex, as the phenomenon of big-box stores made [...]
Square’s New Circle: Banking on Data
Cathy Han
Posted on November 12, 2018 at 11:45 pm
Square brought small business payment terminals into the modern day. The simple, clean Square dongle has become widely recognized as the icon of new-age payment. Now, the company is eyeing its valuable set of transaction data to make loans. Square’s [...]
GM and Machine Learning Augmented Design
Posted on November 12, 2018 at 1:42 pm
AI-driven product development may help GM find an edge in an industry that has increasingly trended towards conformity in the face of uncertainty. Can GM use machine learning to transform from a company hedging its risk by dabbling in everything [...]
Under Armour and Additive Manufacturing
Bob Appel
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 3:00 pm
In the ever-changing athletic footwear landscape, harnessing the power of cutting-edge technology has become critical to brand success and survival. The American sports footwear and apparel company, Under Armour (UA), founded in 1996 by Chairman and CEO, Kevin Plank, has [...]