Fall 2015
Volume 57, Issue # 1

Access the full Table of Contents below.
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Special Report: Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders

Developing the Next Generation of Enterprise Leaders

Organizations need to help executives look beyond individual units toward the broader enterprise.

Aligning Corporate Learning With Strategy

Corporate learning programs should focus on the CEO’s strategic agenda rather than how learning is delivered.

What High-Potential Young Managers Want

Talented young professionals exhibit a new approach to both their careers and organizational loyalty.

Image courtesy of Southwest Airlines Co.

The Leaders’ Choice

New business executives face a choice: What kind of companies do they want to lead?

Also Featured in This Issue

Image courtesy of Flickr user A. Strakey.
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From the Editor: Disruption Everywhere?

The Fall 2015 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review has two big themes: developing tomorrow’s leaders, and disruption. In a special report on leadership, four articles explore how to engage, keep, and train the next generation of managers. “Preparing for Disruptions Through Early Detection” highlights the detection techniques to become more resilient. And “How Useful Is the Theory of Disruptive Innovation?” takes a deep dive into Clayton M. Christensen’s influential theory of disruptive innovation.

Intelligence

How to Avoid Platform Traps

The increasing popularity of platform strategies masks a difficult truth: They are hard to execute well.

Image courtesy of Workspring.

The 2015 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize

This year’s winning article is “Combining Purpose With Profits,” by Julian Birkinshaw, Nicolai J. Foss, and Siegwart Lindenberg. The authors examine a familiar question for managers: How can the tension between purpose and profits be best managed? The article explores the kinds of structures companies need to pursue “pro-social” goals. The Beckhard Prize is awarded annually to the authors of the most outstanding MIT SMR article on planned change and organizational development.

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How to Avoid Platform Traps

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 9 min 

Many of today’s most successful technology businesses— including Apple, Facebook, and Uber — are built on a platform-based business model. But the increasing popularity of platform strategies masks a difficult truth: Such strategies are hard to execute well, and they are prone to several common pitfalls. Those platform traps include growth with no strategic focus, pursuing an intermediate approach between the mass market and a niche, and overlooking the value proposition of partners.

Image courtesy of Workspring.

Should Your Company Embrace Coworking?

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 8 min 

Coworking spaces can open the door to serendipitous encounters that inspire innovation, new products, and different ways of thinking. The coworking movement developed to provide community and a collaborative working environment for independent and remote workers. Now some large, traditional companies are adopting certain aspects of coworking as part of their overall workplace strategies. They see sharing space as a way to tap into new ideas and to provide flexibility and autonomy to employees.

Preparing for Disruptions Through Early Detection

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 32 min 

In an adaption from his new book The Power of Resilience, MIT’s Yossi Sheffi explains how companies are learning to more quickly detect unanticipated problems that can interfere with their global operations. Sheffi looks at how leading companies are using an array of detection and response techniques, from sensors to supply chain control towers. These tools are helping companies become more resilient to disruptions such as hurricanes, the discovery of product contamination, and political events.

How Customers View Self-Service Technologies

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 7 min 

Consumers are not running away from self-service options — just poorly implemented ones. Managers often underestimate customer’s need for employee interaction during a self-service experience, as well as customer desires for convenience and for transaction speed. “These three areas have a tremendous impact on the implementation of a self-service technology,” write the authors, “and might explain why some self-service applications have received a lukewarm reception.”

Developing the Next Generation of Enterprise Leaders

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 24 min 

Aspiring corporate leaders first learn to build and implement visions for their individual business units. But as they advance in their careers, executives also must learn how to lead with an enterprise perspective. The essence of enterprise leadership lies in the need to combine two often incompatible roles: being both an advocacy-oriented builder who can develop a unit’s vision, and an integration minded broker who can integrate the unit’s vision into the wider corporate vision.

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Image courtesy of Southwest Airlines Co.

The Leaders’ Choice

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 13 min 

The next generation of business executives will face a choice: What kind of companies do they want to lead? Organizations that will treat most employees as costs to be minimized — or ones where both employees and the company prosper together? So-called “high-road” companies begin with different values and assumptions about the workplace. But few MBAs are learning about high-road strategies in their courses, and they don’t learn that they will have distinct choices in how to compete.

What High-Potential Young Managers Want

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 23 min 

Today’s talented young professionals have a different approach to their careers — and a very different attitude toward organizational loyalty — than earlier generations. Although they may seem engaged and committed in their jobs, they nevertheless job hunt routinely and are not averse to job hopping. Those whose companies offer development practices such as training and mentoring job hunt less, and those who are given a high-stakes job show a higher commitment to the organization as well.

Aligning Corporate Learning With Strategy

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 19 min 

Too many corporate learning and development programs focus on the wrong things. “The word ‘learning,’ which has largely replaced ‘training’ in the corporate lexicon, suggests ‘knowledge for its own sake,’” write the authors. “However, to justify its existence, corporate learning needs to serve the organization’s stated goals.” Understanding the strategic agenda of the CEO should be a top focus of learning leaders, who can then developing an agenda that is reflective of the CEO’s priorities.

Creating Effective Dialogue About Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 9 min 

Corporate social responsibility initiatives run the risk of being seen as insincere. However, there are ways that companies can thoughtfully — and effectively — engage with the public about social issues. The authors make four suggestions for companies that are hoping to engage in a credible CSR dialogue with stakeholders. They include cultivating a balance between controlling and cocreating the dialogue, and creating platforms that invite stakeholders to influence the implementation of CSR initiatives.

What to Know About Locating in a Cluster

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 11 min 

A study of two industry clusters in Denmark shows that the factors that can make clusters attractive — easy people movement and knowledge spillovers — can also make it harder for individual companies to retain proprietary knowledge. The authors present two case studies that present starkly different experiences. They conclude, in part, that clusters with core platform strengths that span noncompeting sectors are exceptionally attractive and that healthy clusters have core institutions with scale and scope in relevant fields.

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The Art of Managing Complex Collaborations

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 11 min 

The only way to move forward on society’s biggest challenges may be through consortiums. But it’s not easy to assemble such groups or to keep them together. The experiences of The Biomarkers Consortium, a nine-year-old public-private partnership in the health industry, presents five lessons in managing these kinds of complex collaborations. These lessons are useful for anyone trying to build consensus to address broad societal challenges among multiple stakeholders with both common and divergent interests.

Image courtesy of Flickr user A. Strakey.

How Useful Is the Theory of Disruptive Innovation?

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 35 min 

Clayton M. Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation has been very influential. But how well does the theory describe what happens in business? The authors of this article surveyed industry experts for each of 77 case examples of disruptive innovation found in two of Christensen’s seminal books. The results suggest that many of the cases do not correspond closely with four elements of the theory of disruptive innovation — and the theory may not fit as many situations as is often assumed.

From the Editor: Disruption Everywhere?

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 2 min 

The Fall 2015 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review has two big themes: developing tomorrow’s leaders, and disruption. In a special report on leadership, four articles explore how to engage, keep, and train the next generation of managers. “Preparing for Disruptions Through Early Detection” highlights the detection techniques to become more resilient. And “How Useful Is the Theory of Disruptive Innovation?” takes a deep dive into Clayton M. Christensen’s influential theory of disruptive innovation.

Sharing Supply Chain Data in the Digital Era

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 4 min 

Effectively managing and coordinating supply chains will increasingly require new approaches to data transparency and collaboration. Supply chains in coming years will become even more “networked” than they are today — with significant portions of strategic assets and core capabilities externally sourced and coordinated. Already, progressive companies are developing novel solutions to the dilemma of data transparency by using data “cleanrooms” and digital marketplaces.

The 2015 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 2 min 

This year’s winning article is “Combining Purpose With Profits,” by Julian Birkinshaw, Nicolai J. Foss, and Siegwart Lindenberg. The authors examine a familiar question for managers: How can the tension between purpose and profits be best managed? The article explores the kinds of structures companies need to pursue “pro-social” goals. The Beckhard Prize is awarded annually to the authors of the most outstanding MIT SMR article on planned change and organizational development.