15.992 | Spring 2008 | Graduate

S-Lab: Laboratory for Sustainable Business


Background Information

Ancona, Deborah, Henrik Bresman, and Katrin Kaeufer. “The Comparative Advantage of X-Teams.” MIT Sloan Management Review 43, no. 3 (2002): 33-39.

Sample Gantt Chart (PDF)

A Guide for preparing Your Workplan (PDF)

List of 2008 Projects (PDF)

Project Logistics

We will post the list of potential host organizations and projects on the course Web site before the beginning of the semester. There will be a project mixer after class Ses #4 to form teams for the projects, and Projects Bids are due two days before Ses #5. We expect that if you submit a project bid you are committing to stay in the course. If you don’t submit a project bid, we will assume that you are dropping the course.

Each team will have a faculty member serve as the advisor for all aspects of the project. It is your team’s responsibility, however, to negotiate and manage all aspects of the work plan and the project. A detailed work plan is due Ses #9. We will provide you with samples of previous work plans and a template to help guide you.

The goal of each project is for your team to professionally and effectively deliver analysis, advice and recommendations that are immediately useful to your host organization. You will present an Intermediate Report during Ses #13 to your host organization (with a copy to your faculty advisor). You will make a formal presentation to your host near the end of your project and provide them with supporting written analysis and data as appropriate. You will deliver a draft of your Final Report to your host organization and faculty advisor by Ses #22. Your team will also create a poster that describes your project for the Ses #23 S-Lab Day, for presentation to the MIT community and host organizations. The Final Report is due on Ses #24.

The final written report should describe the objectives of the project, all background information and analyses, and results (including methodologies and tools developed by the team). If confidential information is included in the deliverable to the host organization, a version of the Final Report without this information should be delivered to your faculty advisor as well, for public release. The final report should be no more than 20 double-spaced pages of text, plus any tables and appendices that help the reader. The final report can be in a form that can be used effectively as a teaching case in MBA classes. We encourage this approach but do not require it.

Final Report Content

We are targeting a long-term impact for your S-Lab project reports. As we have discussed with many teams, we are most interested in establishing a set of “S-Lab White Papers” by each team that can be available through the Sloan Sustainability Web site that can advance the field as a whole. These white papers will contain the overview of the topic area for your project (based on your background research of the context, best practices, available tools, etc.) and general approaches, recommendations, new tools, etc. These white papers will not, however, include any confidential, strategic, or proprietary information for your host organization.

All deliverables for the S-Lab host organizations should contain:

  1. References to relevant research, best practices, industry standards, etc., with a full analysis of the current status of sustainability (defined as social equity, economic development, and environmental restoration) for the topic area.
  2. Specific modifications that reflect the objectives, strategy, concerns of the host organizations.
  3. Possible: direct application to a host organization’s specific data (as demonstration of feasibility, back-up for specific recommendations, etc.)

These deliverables can be seen as providing a “user’s manual” for the host organizations going forward (yes, even after you graduate). As such, they need to be professionally written and clearly represent where the information came from, and how it will need to be modified going forward to reflect dynamic conditions. You have the opportunity to make a substantial contribution to the host organizations — and the field in general — through your projects. We have confidence that you will make that contribution.

Course Info

Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Activity Assignments