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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)

Recursion Pharmaceuticals: Machine Learning in Drug Discovery
Posted on November 10, 2018 at 2:47 pm
Recursion Pharmaceuticals is deploying machine learning to deeply understand the interactions between genes, proteins, and chemicals to inform not only future drug discovery and drug repurposing, but biological life as we know it.
Future X and Open Innovation at Nokia
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 9:45 pm
Anticipating the technical revolution around the corner, Nokia took a longer view and made a strategic shift to become a wireless-equipment company. Recognizing limitations in its research, manufacturing, and human capabilities, Nokia invested in open innovation to improve product development. [...]
Spotify: Music Discovery in a World of Discover Weekly
TOM Petty
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 1:02 pm
Machine learning has underpinned Spotify's foray into personalized recommendations, distinguishing from earlier players in the arena. How good are its formulae and what are the broader implications of programming taste?
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