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Romantic and Rational Approaches to Artificial Intelligence

Organizations have made rapid gains in their ability to generate big data sets, but the ability of managers and executives to develop insights from that data has lagged behind. Data processing by artificial intelligence offers the prospect of speeding things up — but it also risks expanding the gap, as managers lack understanding of how AI reaches its data-based conclusions.

Augmentation Versus Automation: AI’s Utility in the Workplace

On May 23, 2017, the MIT Sloan School of Management hosted the 14th annual CIO Symposium: “The CIO Adventure: Now, Next and… Beyond.” The one-day event brought senior IT executives together to discuss key technologies, including IoT, AI, blockchain, big data, DevOps, cloud computing, and cybersecurity. The main idea was to help prepare these tech leaders for challenges they face, including shepherding ongoing digital transformations, building a digital organization, and managing IT talent.

Inspiring Employee Creativity

  • Read Time: 6 min 

Digital technologies are making work increasingly thought-driven, not muscle-powered. In this environment, planning and execution are merely table stakes for leadership. Real leaders must inspire and reward employee ingenuity, and must be bold enough to move creativity from the organization’s periphery to its center. To do that, leaders need to adopt five personal behavior changes, including resisting the temptation to tell people what to do and embracing distributed leadership.

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The Silicon Valley Caravan: What Sets the Tech Upstarts Apart?

  • Read Time: 5 min 

For tech giants and startups alike, Silicon Valley success is grounded in core business values and processes rather than technological know-how — with a unique twist. Tech businesses have made a commitment to flexibility that allows them to reshape their business models to the needs of an ever-changing digital environment, which gives them an advantage over less-adaptable traditional companies.

I Come to Praise the Annual Performance Conversation, Not Further Bury It

  • Read Time: 3 min 

As many experts have noted, the annual performance review is rife with faults. It emphasizes what has already happened rather than shaping what is yet to come. It can feel punitive or at least judgmental. It is reductive and, in some cases, forces ridiculous formulaic comparisons between employees. It fails to emphasize the kind of timely feedback that can make a real difference in performance. And yet I have just scheduled year-end performance conversations with each of my direct reports.

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Why China Is the World’s Innovation Role Model

  • Read Time: 3 min 

There’s a lot of talk of trade tensions between the U.S. and China, but there’s another way to think about China: as an innovation role model. “Anybody involved in international business needs to treat China not just as a place to sell, but also as a place to learn,” wrote Edward S. Steinfeld and Troels Beltoft in MIT Sloan Management Review in 2014. China, they argued, is “becoming the best place to go if you want to learn how to make ideas commercially viable.” Three years later, this is truer than ever.

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The Board’s Role in Share Repurchases

  • Read Time: 4 min 

Many companies’ decisions about share repurchases are handled mainly by management rather than boards — with repercussions for capital allocation. Boards should carefully balance the capital needed for repurchases against its use in value creation via internal development or external acquisitions — and be skeptical of repurchase programs financed by debt rather than profits.

The Need for Culture Neutrality

Companies today work with an incredibly diverse array of people. To thrive, these organizations need culturally neutral, globally coherent leadership standards. These standards should promote needed outcomes without prescribing behaviors, since some behaviors are outside of the cultural norms in some countries. Inevitably, significant advantage will accrue to companies that ready their people for truly global leadership.

Participant Questions From the Recent Data and Analytics Webinar: Round 2

On March 15, 2017, MIT SMR held a webinar to share insights from our report, “Analytics as a Source of Business Innovation.” Many participants asked questions during the webinar that we didn’t have time for, so we decided to answer them in blog format instead. This post is the second set of responses.

Retaining Today’s Young Managers

  • Read Time: 3 min 

It was 20 years ago that the movie “Jerry Maguire” created a mantra for our time: “Show me the money!” Today’s young professionals most definitely absorbed that message, but money’s not the only way to stop them from packing. A 2015 article from MIT Sloan Management Review explores strategies for retaining talented young managers who always have an eye on the job market and one foot creeping toward the door.

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