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 Introduction to Operations Management  posted by  duggu   on 1/2/2008  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
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15.760B Introduction to Operations Management, Spring 2004. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 10 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Several large machines in a manufacturing plant.

Manufacturing operations, such as this plant in Tennessee, can be the basis for careful analysis and continued improvement. (Photograph courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy.)

Course Highlights

Class participation plays a major role in this course, with students working on exercises in addition to the interactive case discussions. Students use the concepts they learned in class to manage a virtual factory in a one-week online simulation.

»  Participate in the online discussion group for this course.

Course Description

This half-term course introduces students to problems and analysis related to the design, planning, control, and improvement of manufacturing and service operations. Class sessions involve explaining concepts, working examples, and discussing cases. A wide range of topics are covered, including: process analysis, quality management, supply chain design, procurement, and product development. Toward the end of the course, students work in teams to manage a virtual factory in a web-based simulation exercise.


Course Objective

Our objective in this course is to introduce concepts and techniques related to the design, planning, control, and improvement of both manufacturing and service operations.

In particular, some of the topics covered include: process description, flow diagrams, capacity analysis, capacity ROI, cycle time analysis, inventory management, delayed postponement, production control, work coordination, risk pooling, quality management, process design and reengineering, product development, project management, procurement, make vs. buy and supply chain design.

The course relies on a combination of case discussions, lectures, readings, and assignments. To pursue the course objective most effectively, students will have to:

  1. Prepare the assigned cases, readings, exercises, and discuss them in class;
  2. Prepare a written analysis of one case;
  3. Prepare a one page review of the book The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt; and
  4. Manage a virtual plant in a simulation exercise and prepare a written report on this experience.

Academic Integrity

Our general policy for this class is that when preparing cases and assignments students should not benefit from anyone who has already participated in a faculty-lead discussion of the same material, at Sloan or at another school. In addition, they should work alone when preparing graded individual assignments, and when preparing graded team assignments, discussions should be strictly limited to the members of your team. When preparing any graded assignment, students may not consult or use material not already included in the course packet or posted on the course webpage, unless this has been explicitly authorized by the instructor.

The academic integrity policy of this course will be enforced, and any violators would expose themselves to the most serious consequences (a couple of years ago several students were not awarded a degree in June because of what they had done in 15.760). In addition, students will be held personally responsible for confronting and reporting any violations that would come to your attention. Finally, if at any point during the course the implications of this academic integrity policy on your particular situation are not completely clear, immediately contact the instructor.

Note that this policy implies in particular that students should:

  • Never, ever ask for/obtain/use hints or material relative to an assignment from any student or alumni who has already taken the class;
  • Never, ever perform a search on the internet to find information relative to a graded assignment without the explicit authorization of the instructor.

Grading and Assignments

The grading of 15.760 will be based on the following weighting scheme:

Class Participation (Individual) 30%
Case Write-up (Team) 30%
Book Review (Individual) 10%
Simulation (Team) 30% (20% Report, 10% Simulation Performance)

Class Participation

Class participation will be determined on the basis of a student's comments in each class session, including discussions of the non-graded assignments and readings. We are highly biased towards comment quality as opposed to comment quantity.

In a typical session, one or more students will be asked to begin each discussion by addressing specific questions. If you have thoroughly prepared the case or reading, you should have no difficulty in handling such a lead-off request. After a few minutes of initial analysis and recommendations, the discussion will be opened to the rest of the class. As a group, we will try to build a complete analysis of the situation and address the problems and issues it presents.

Most managers spend very little time reading and even less time writing reports. This is especially true for managers in operations-intensive settings. For this reason, the classroom should be considered a laboratory in which you can test your ability to present your analyses and recommendations clearly, to convince your peers of the correctness of your approach to complex problems, and to illustrate your ability to achieve the desired results through the implementation of that approach. 

Some of the criteria that we will use to judge effective class participation include:

  1. Is the participant a good listener?
  2. Is the participant concise and articulate?
  3. Are the points made relevant to the current discussion? Are they linked to the comments of others?
  4. Do the comments show clear evidence of appropriate and insightful analysis of the case?
  5. Is there a willingness to participate?

Case Write-Up and The Goal Book Review

For more information about these assignments, please see the assignments page.

Simulation Exercise

For more information about this exercise, please see the projects page.


  • We ask that students put out a name card in every class.
  • Please refrain from using laptops in the classroom.
  • There are only 19 class sessions in this course. We consider this the minimum required to cover the essentials of operations management. Other demands may require you to miss a class, but you should not have more than one such absence. It is difficult to receive a passing grade in 15.760 without regular attendance.
  • Please be prepared for every class. Students should let the instructor know before class if an emergency has made it impossible for you to prepare adequately. In these situations we still encourage you to attend. We would rather you attend unprepared than not at all.
  • Calendar

    1 Course Introduction Lecture  
    2 Burger King and McDonald's Case  
    3 Capacity Lecture  
    4 National Cranberry Case  
    5 Webvan Case  
    6 Inventory Lecture Exercises: EOQ, Newsboy
    7 Barilla Case  
    8 Sport Obermeyer Case Case write-up
    9 Production Control Lecture Exercises: Kanban Cards, Pooling
    10 Hewlett-Packard Case  
    11 The Goal Book Book review due
    12 Quality Lecture Exercises: SPC reading, Six Sigma
    13 Toyota Case  
    14 Process Design Lecture Simulation exercise begins at 6:00 p.m.
    15 Global Financial Corp. Case  
    16 Supply Chain Design Lecture  
    17 Product Design Lecture Simulation exercise ends at 6:00 p.m.
    18 Sega Dreamcast Case Simulation write-up due day after lecture 18
    19 Simulation and Course Wrap-up Lecture   Tell A Friend