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For years, faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab have enthralled and challenged audiences with their visions of the future, showing how their visions of what the future might look like.

The Boston Globe reports that the folks at the MIT Media Lab appear to be getting a dose of reality, “reinventing itself in a bid for relevance in a new era.” According to the story, “the lab has been shifting its focus from multimedia and technology convergence to more everyday concerns like aging and healthcare. It's also been working more closely with business ‘sponsors’ that fund its research and casting a wider net for new corporate backers.”

That doesn’t mean that researchers at MIT no longer are focusing on blue skies. “While some researchers are now immersed in health-related projects, and grappling with concerns of sponsors, others continue to work on blue-sky research in energy, solar cars, and the future of media,” the Globe writes.

KC's View:
There’s nothing wrong with being relevant; it is something we think about all the time. Though we have to admit that we’re glad to hear that the folks at MIT aren’t giving up the art of dreaming.

This story, we think, offers an interesting object lesson. Apparently one of the reasons MIT is making changes is that the organization brought in an outsider to run the program for the first time – an entrepreneur who sees the world through a different prism than traditional educators and researchers, but who seems to be working with the faculty to make sure that the right balance is maintained.

Good organizations – whether corporate or academic – probably need to make sure that they maintain a balance between the immediately relevant and the dreams that can shape the future. What there is no room for is the past…