Risk Management

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Lady pushing a shopping cart in the supermarket.

A Fresh Take on Supply Chain Innovation

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 5 min 

For PepsiCo, entering the natural beverage markets of coconut water and smoothies meant developing new risk-management practices. In the coconut water business, “lead times are longer and supply is more variable than in PepsiCo’s traditional beverage supply chain,” write Tim Rowell of PepsiCo and James B. Rice Jr. of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics. “The company has had to build enough inventory to minimize stock outs — without causing excessive losses through obsolescence.”


Achieving Trust Through Data Ethics

Eight out of 10 executives surveyed say that as the business value of data grows, the risks their companies face from improper handling of data increase exponentially. While digital advancements enable new opportunities for businesses to compete and thrive, they also create increased exposure to systemic risks. Success in the digital age will require a new kind of ethical review around how companies gather and use data.


Delta’s Digital Black Swan

What’s happening this week at the intersection of management and technology: how to avoid digital black swans; partnering with early-stage startups; the trouble with wearables.



Want to Improve Your Portfolio? Call a Scientist

In a conversation with MIT SMR’s David Kiron and Sam Ransbotham, associate professor of information systems at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College and guest editor for the Data and Analytics Big Idea Initiative for the MIT Sloan Management Review, Jeffrey Bohn, chief science officer at State Street Global Exchange discusses how he is developing better trading and risk strategies for clients using State Street’s proprietary data and analytics.


Finding a Lower-Risk Path to High-Impact Innovations

Pursuing a high-impact innovation strategy can have terrific payoffs — but it’s also extremely risky, and most companies won’t do it. Yet a comparatively less risky, proactive approach that strings together “lily pads” of capability-building investments, technical and conceptual advances, and market explorations into “enabling innovations” can bring companies closer to their goal and provide a long-lasting competitive edge.


How Transparency Changes Business

The Winter 2016 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review explores how increased transparency — and, in particular, the ready flow of information in a digital world — is changing the environment in which corporations operate. Transparency also is changing the distribution of power between large organizations and those who challenge them. Executives need to anticipate the possibility that any issues related to their company could someday be public knowledge.


Flourishing in the Face of Supply Chain Disruption

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 1 min 

In a webinar, Joseph Fiksel and Keely Croxton of The Ohio State University explain how proactive managers create innovative, dynamic organizations that can prosper under any circumstances. “We define resilience as the capacity to survive, adapt, and flourish in the face of turbulent change and uncertainty,” Fiskel said. Their research-based methodology identifies important supply chain vulnerabilities and sets priorities for strengthening capabilities.


The Insurance Industry Wants a World That Is Sustainable and Insurable

Insurance companies are uniquely positioned to address challenges such as climate change and human rights issues in their roles as risk managers, risk carriers, and investors. The Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) initiative launched by the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative in 2012 serves as a global framework for this effort. The PSI are now backed by more than 80 organizations worldwide, representing 20% of world premiums and $14 trillion (USD) in assets.



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.


Preparing for Disruptions Through Early Detection

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.


The Power of Resilience in a Time of Uncertainty

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 1 min 

In an August 2015 webinar, MIT professor Yossi Sheffi, a renowned expert on supply chains, risk management, and resilience, shared insights and examples from his latest research and forthcoming new book, The Power of Resilience: How the Best Companies Manage the Unexpected. He offered insights on understanding and analyzing the types of risks companies face, as well as preparing for and coping with disruptions effectively.


Sustainability Reporting As a Tool for Better Risk Management

GRI is an international organization based in Amsterdam with offices around the world. It produces a set of standards used by organizations in over 90 countries and has become the global standard-setter for sustainability reporting. But as the organization’s Chief Executive, Michael Meehan, explains, sustainability reporting is not about writing a report; it’s the process by which organizations identify their risks related to important issues, like human rights, the environment, labor and other social issues.


Closing the Trade Finance Sustainability Gap

Environmental sustainability has moved into the limelight when it comes to supply chains. Companies look closely at how their goods are produced and sourced. But a gap exists when it comes to the finance and insurance industries. ECOFACT’s Olivier Jaeggi and Gina Santos take a closer look at how the enablers of global trade — the banks and insurers who finance it — are starting to become accountable for their part in sustainable economic growth.



What Successful Project Managers Do

Successful project managers often combine elements of traditional and agile approaches to project management. They cope with uncertainty, for instance, by developing detailed short-term plans along with firm commitments and tentative longer term plans. The authors draw from experiential data from more than 150 successful project managers affiliated with over 20 organizations, and provide a detailed look at the success factors behind NASA’s Mars Pathfinder project.

Image courtesy of British Airways

Reducing Unwelcome Surprises in Project Management

How can managers reduce the number of “unknown unknowns” a project faces? Even projects that employ sophisticated techniques for risk management can encounter surprising derailments. But new research shows that modeling a project’s subsystems helps expose risk areas. So, too, can scenario analysis, the use of checklists and data mining. “Directed recognition, which can entail both project design and behavioral approaches, can convert knowable unk-unks [unknown unknowns] to known unknowns,” write the authors.


Joining Forces: Collaboration and Leadership for Sustainability

In the 2014 Sustainability Report, new research by MIT Sloan Management Review, The Boston Consulting Group and the UN Global Compact, shows that a growing number of companies are turning to collaborations — with suppliers, NGOs, industry alliances, governments, even competitors — to become more sustainable. Our research found that as sustainability issues become increasingly complex, global in nature and pivotal to success, companies are realizing that they can’t make the necessary impact acting alone.


From Risk to Resilience: Learning to Deal With Disruption

In a volatile, global economy, supply chains have become increasingly vulnerable. Supply chain practices designed to keep costs low in a stable business environment can increase risk levels during disruptions. But companies can cultivate resilience to unexpected disruptions by understanding their vulnerabilities and developing specific capabilities to compensate for them. The authors identify and detail 16 capabilities companies can use to respond to particular vulnerability patterns.


For BASF, Sustainability Is a Catalyst

Risk mitigation drove chemical giant BASF to adopt a sustainability focus, initiating a chain reaction that transformed not only the company’s product lines, but its corporate culture. The company’s vice president of sustainability strategy, Dirk Voeste, explains the step-by-step process that BASF undertook to produce a company-wide shift in this massive organization’s mindset.

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