Organizational Structure

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The New Data Republic: Not Quite a Democracy

There are clear signs that the movement to democratize data is making real progress. Barriers such as infrastructure, culture, tools, and governance that once kept data access limited are quickly eroding. But access to data isn’t enough: Data democratization also requires knowing how to work with data and understand data analysis tools and techniques. Without these capabilities, the data democracy is only an illusion — and most people are still unable to participate fully.


General Mills Builds Up Big Data to Answer Big Questions

General Mills brought a data scientist into its Consumer Insights group because it wanted to use its existing data more effectively. The company thought it was making decisions based too much on outside data at the expense of what it knew. But figuring out what the company actually knew about its consumers was the challenge facing Wayde Fleener as he came on board. In an interview with MIT SMR’s Michael Fitzgerald, Fleener talks about how he got started in building a Big Data practice within his division.

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If You Think Big Data’s Challenges Are Tough Now

Although workers and consumers generate two-thirds of all new data, that’s about to change. Sensors and smart devices — from traffic lights and grocery store scanners to hospital equipment and industrial sensors — are beginning to generate an enormous wave of data that will increase the digital universe ten-fold by 2020. Guest blogger Randy Bean, CEO of NewVantage Partners, explains what this means for executives trying to adapt to a rapidly changing, data-centered business environment.


How to Hire Data-Driven Leaders

For recruiters, the technological developments of the past 3 years have been transformational, says Tuck Rickards of Russell Reynolds. With the transformation of business to a more real-time, connected, data-driven focus, the type of talent companies seek — even the type of organizational structure they’re building — has undergone a quantum shift. But the changes aren’t yet done: “The next five years are huge for companies to reorient themselves from a leadership and team perspective,” warns Rickards.



Is Your Organization Ready for the Impending Flood of Data?

Hal Varian, chief economist at Google and emeritus professor at UC Berkeley, has been with Google for more than a decade and has unique insight into the past and future of data analytics. In a conversation with MIT Sloan Management Review guest editor Sam Ransbotham, Varian says that companies need to beef up their systems to function within an overwhelming data flow — including new voice-command system data and other computer-mediated transactions.

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The Crucial — and Underappreciated — Role of HR in Sustainability

Recent research by the Center for Effective Organizations shows that most companies aren’t relying on HR departments as part of their sustainability focus — yet most think there’s an opportunity for HR to play a major role in the structuring of a company’s sustainability processes, practices and strategies.

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Social Business: Flat or Hierarchical? A Surprising Answer

The most effective social businesses of the future may start to look more like organizations that long predate modern corporations — so-called “loosely coupled” organizations such as military, education and religious institutions. These organizations remain deeply hierarchical, argues Gerald C. Kane, but these hierarchies operate differently than modern corporations, pushing decision-making capabilities down to people who can better deal with conditions on the ground.


The Role of the Chief Strategy Officer

The Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) is a comparatively new but increasingly important role in many organizations. This article proposes a typology of four CSO archetypes – Internal Consultant, Specialist, Coach and Change Agent – who carry out a variety of responsibilities in the CSO role. By understanding how the duties of the CSO can vary significantly from organization to organization, boards and CEOs can make better decisions about which type of CSO is necessary for their leadership teams.


The Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize

The editors of MIT Sloan Management Review are pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize, awarded to the authors of the most outstanding MIT SMR article on planned change and organizational development published from fall 2010 to summer 2011.


Image courtesy of MIT Sloan.
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The Elements of Good Leadership

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There is no magic formula for successful leadership, says Deborah Ancona, director of the MIT Leadership Center at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Instead, each leader needs to figure out his or her own unique leadership signature — one that draws on his or her own strengths.


When Is an Outsider CEO a Good Choice?

On average, CEOs recruited from outside the company perform about the same as those who come up through the ranks, the authors’ research suggests. But there are certain circumstances in which outsider CEOs tend to do better: CEOs recruited from outside the company outperform those who come up through the ranks at companies with a recent history of poor performance. The author studied CEO succession in 90 single-business organizations over 30 years in the U.S. airline and chemical industries.

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The Decline of the HPPO (Highest Paid Person's Opinion)

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The next wave of Enterprise 2.0, says MIT Sloan’s Andrew McAfee, will center around the concept of harvesting expertise, solutions and knowledge — not just from within the organization, but from anywhere that expertise can be identified and gathered.

Louis XIV of France

Inside the World of the Project Baron

In industrial sectors such as consulting, advertising, filmmaking, software, architecture, engineering and construction, most individual businesses, by definition, are “project-based firms.” This article proposes the term “baronies” to describe the organizational units that direct the projects within project-based firms, and highlights the roles that barons play in three basic types of project-based firms: dominions, tight federations and loose federations.


Courtesy of DuPont.

The IT Audit That Boosts Innovation

Innovators tend to think that information technology systems are too orderly and controlling even to cope with the messy process of innovation — much less enable it. But as some leading companies show, smart managers bring the whole IT menu to the challenge.

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