Decision Making

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From the Editor: Decision Making in the Digital Age

Business executives today have access to far more data than any previous generation, and that transforms the way business decisions are made. The Winter 2014 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review features a special report investigating how, even with plenty of data, making wise decisions about topics like strategy can be challenging. No matter how much data we collect and analyze, our perspectives are still colored by human foibles.

Image courtesy of Flickr user kenjonbro.

What Really Happened to Toyota?

Consumers were surprised in October 2009 by the first of a series of highly publicized recalls of Toyota vehicles in the United States. Citing a potential problem in which poorly placed or incorrect floor mats under the driver’s seat could lead to uncontrolled acceleration in a range of models, Toyota announced that it was recalling 3.8 million U.S. vehicles. The article discusses two root causes for Toyota’s quality problems.

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Image courtesy of Flickr user Nathan Eal Photography.

Why Companies Have to Trade “Perfect Data” for “Fast Info”

Companies have been trained to think about data all wrong, say Attivio’s Ali Riaz and Sid Probstein. “Analytics don’t have to be based on super-precise data,” they say. “The report doesn’t have to be perfect. It needs to capture the behavior, not the totality of it.”

Courtesy of IBM.

Putting It Together: How to Succeed in Distributed Product Development

The increase in outsourcing and offshoring of complex work has resulted in innovation efforts that require coordination across cultural, geographic and legal boundaries. If that coordination is mishandled, companies can find themselves needing to make multimillion- or even billion-dollar changes. The complexity of the task makes midcourse corrections likely. Managers must anticipate and adapt their processes in order to reduce risk and, ultimately, cost.

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How to Manage Risk (After Risk Management Has Failed)

Over the past decade, a number of the world’s respected companies have collapsed. A factor was these companies’ approach to risk management. Two different views have evolved on how risk should be assessed. The first — the frequentist view — is based on historical data. The second, or Bayesian, considers risk to be in part a judgment of the observer. Many measures are being deployed to prevent future crises — a shift from frequentist to Bayesian risk management should be part of this effort.

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Opportunism Knocks

Complex supply chains with many agents are more prone to problems, and on occasion, to spectacular collapse. Examples from the last few years include the subprime mortgage crisis; the failure of the Peanut Corporation of America; and dioxin-contaminated Irish pork. Without a doubt, today’s complex supply chains are vulnerable to opportunistic behavior leading to sometimes catastrophic failure. But there are five steps managers can take to protect their companies.

Image courtesy of Flickr user raspberreh.

Are You Ready to Reengineer Your Decision Making?

There has been enormous progress in embedding the use of analytics at lower levels of companies. But according to Thomas H. Davenport, professor at Babson College and one of the best-known thinkers about analytics and business intelligence, the upper levels of companies haven’t kept up.

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Image courtesy of Amazon.com
Free Article

Your Next Supply Chain

How have strategies for supply chain design changed in recent years? What are the forces most profoundly shaping them now? What kinds of models have emerged for companies to consider, choose among or learn from?

In this pair of twinned interviews, MIT professor and entrepreneur David Simchi-Levi and MIT professor Charles Fine — two of the world’s leading thinkers on supply chain and value chain design — offer answers to those questions and others.

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