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Human Resources principles

Principles that will address human resource issues in the ongoing reengineering effort at MIT have been adopted by the Reengineering Steering Committee, William R. Dickson, senior vice president and chair of the committee, has announced.

While the reengineering redesign teams have been working on their various missions, the Steering Committee has been working to develop principles that will guide the implementation process and assure the fair treatment of MIT people. The Steering Committee is composed of the vice presidents, the dean of the School of Engineering and the executive vice president of the Alumni Association.

Following is the Steering Committee's statement together with procedures for carrying out the principles:

"MIT of the future will be a leaner organization focused on delivering the best possible services to faculty and students as efficiently as possible. Part of the success of the redesign of services will be due to enhanced use of technology, but more fundamentally, it will be due to totally rethinking what the most important work to do is and what is the best way to do it.

"The redesigned organization is being created by teams of MIT people working collaboratively across departments to develop new working models. These models will be shared at different stages with the community to solicit their ideas and reactions and to refine further the designs.

"The redesigned organization represents a strong, positive, necessary move by the Institute and it will lead to an organization with fewer people who have broader skills. While the redesigns are not complete, we already know that some new skills such as proficiency in the use of desktop computers, the ability to work collaboratively in teams, and the ability to communicate effectively will be necessary. In addition, new ways of operating will require: high energy, flexibility, tolerance for ambiguity, an orientation toward lifelong management learning, and a heightened emphasis on high performance.

"Changes in the number of people and new skills and behaviors will be governed by the following principles:


1. People are an Institute resource. Therefore, in the future, careers for MIT employees are more likely to include cross-functional training, continual learning and work in a number of areas of the Institute.

2. As the redesigned organization becomes more fully developed, additional information about skills for new work will be communicated to the community.

3. Training necessary for the new work, beyond the basic educational requirements, will be provided by the Institute.

4. The manager of the future will move from supervisor to coach, supporting those on the "front line" who deliver the services. To accomplish this, managers will receive training in coaching, team building and performance management.

5. Continual learning is a joint responsibility of the employee and the Institute. Individuals continue to be responsible for their own ongoing general development in conjunction with their managers.

6. The organization of the future will place an emphasis on high performance and flexibility. This will require an increased focus at all levels on establishing performance goals, measures and evaluation, training when necessary, and rewarding employees according to the achievements of those goals.

7. To the extent that it is possible, work force reduction resulting from the redesign of work will be accomplished through attrition. However, layoffs will also be necessary.

8. Employees who will be laid off will be notified in writing with the reason for layoff and the effective date. They will also be provided benefits according to the current MIT policy, including outplacement services.

9. MIT will continue its commitment to affirmative action and equal opportunity in order to increase the diversity of the workforce.

10. All people who are on layoff notice who meet the requirements for other opportunities will be given preference for interviews. Senior officers will encourage those in their areas of responsibility to consider employees on layoff notice for openings. Outside applicants may need to be considered for some positions.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 1, 1995.

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