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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)

Will Zalando stay ahead of Amazon in European online fashion?
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 7:59 pm
Europe’s largest online fashion retailer, Zalando, started in 2008 as a European copycat of Amazon and It's market leader position is under pressure - Can machine learning enable the company to stay ahead?
Open Innovation Initiatives in UNHCR Refugee Communities
Last modified on November 12, 2018 at 11:09 pm
Open innovation, in which companies and organization source information from external sources, helps businesses approach strategic decisions in a creative manner. UNHCR, whose goals are to implement changes external to its organization, would highly benefit from sourcing information and potential [...]
Adidas in the 3D Printed Race – When Size Does Not Matter
Viet Nguyen
Last modified on November 15, 2018 at 12:49 am
Adidas, one of the world’s largest sportswear manufacturers, is betting on 3D printing to create the next generation of bespoken sneakers for individual customers. Will we see a future when size charts become redundant, and “custom-fitted haute couture” no longer [...]
The benefits of A.I. in Sub-Saharan Africa
Latta Latte
Last modified on November 14, 2018 at 12:58 pm
The benefits of A.I. in Sub-Saharan Africa   Artificial Intelligence is not immediately associated with Africa, a continent where c.60% of the population doesn’t have access to the electric grid1. A.I. has the potential to impact positively communities in SSA. [...]
Open Innovation in L’Oreal
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 6:05 pm
L'Oreal is a the world's NO.1 beauty brand that emphasized both internal and external open innovation. However, innovation from both parties may sometimes cause misalignment of interest.
Lemonade reinvents the insurance industry with machine learning
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 7:28 pm
Lemonade, a company offering home insurance policies, is a pioneer in the InsurTech world where its use of machine learning (ML) goes beyond satisfying customers and driving efficiencies to underwriting risks and managing claims Despite its exponential growth, Lemonade’s scalability [...]
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