Leadership

Your Time Is Limited, So Choose Your Projects Wisely

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 3 min 

Making the right decision about which projects and partnerships to enter into seems like it should be easy. But it often isn’t. Being smart about where you devote your resources — your personal time, energy, and finances, as well as those of your organization — means being smart about not just time management, but about choice management. That means being proactive and disciplined about asking why you think a project is a good fit. It also means paying attention to your inner skeptic.

The Fatal Flaw of AI Implementation

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  • Read Time: 5 min 

Many managers are excited about smart machines but are struggling to apply machines’ limited intelligence. Indeed, computers can process data just fine, but to generate competitive advantage from machine learning applications, organizations must upgrade their employees’ skills. Companies will also need to redesign employee accountabilities to empower and motivate them to deploy smart machines when doing so will enhance outcomes.

Entrepreneurship Is a Craft and Here’s Why That’s Important

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  • Read Time: 6 min 

Like pottery, entrepreneurship is a craft that blends both science and art. Both pottery and entrepreneurship are accessible to anyone, learnable, built on fundamental concepts — and best learned through on-the-job training. To inspire today’s generation of company builders, entrepreneurship education needs a common language to ground students in fundamental concepts, and it needs to offer apprenticeship opportunities.

The 10 Most Popular New MIT SMR Articles

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  • Read Time: 2 min 

In the first half of 2017, MIT SMR website visitors showed high interest in articles about how artificial intelligence will affect the job market and organizations. In fact, three of the 10 most-read pieces of new MIT SMR editorial content during that period address some aspect of that question. But the other seven most popular new articles cover a wide range of topics — from dealing with negative emotions in the workplace to exploring the organizational implications of blockchain technology.

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Video: Preparing for the Changes AI Will Bring to Tomorrow’s Jobs

At the MIT Sloan School of Management’s 14th annual CIO Symposium, “The CIO Adventure: Now, Next and… Beyond,” senior IT executives came together to discuss key technologies, including how AI will transform the workplace. The goal: to help prepare these tech leaders for challenges they face, including shepherding ongoing digital transformations, building a digital organization, and managing IT talent.

Why the Business Case for Sustainability Will Win Out

U.S. corporations still have considerable incentive to move forward on their own climate plans, despite the softening of federal government support. Organizations as diverse as Anheuser-Busch, Duke Energy, and Timberland have robust programs in motion around renewable electricity, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and tracking the climate impact of manufacturing. These plans were built on tangible business cases, not just goodwill.

Leading to Become Obsolete

Zhang Ruimin, the CEO and chairman of the Qingdao, China, white goods giant Haier Group Corp., has done what most chief executives dare not even dream about. He blew up nearly the entire administrative structure of a global manufacturing enterprise, eliminating the 10,000 management jobs that once held it together, and reshaped the organization into a network of entrepreneurial ventures run by employees.

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Inspiring Employee Creativity

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  • 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.

How to Catalyze Innovation in Your Organization

The authors’ research suggests that, rather than leaving the development of innovation to serendipity, executives should create collaborative contexts where innovation is likely to emerge from unpredictable pockets of creativity within an organization. By understanding and tapping the power of employee networks, executives can stimulate the creation of these kinds of collaborative environments.

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

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  • 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.

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Developing Innovative Solutions Through Internal Crowdsourcing

Internal crowdsourcing, which seeks to channel the ideas and expertise of the company’s own employees, allows employees to interact dynamically with coworkers in other locations, propose new ideas, and suggest new directions to management. Because many large companies have pockets of expertise and knowledge scattered across different locations, harnessing the cognitive diversity within organizations can open up rich new sources of innovation.

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

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  • 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.

A Data-Driven Approach to Identifying Future Leaders

Many executives believe they are good at identifying leadership talent. However, when asked how they make their decisions, they often cite intuition or “gut” instincts. Social science research, on the other hand, suggests that individuals are often prone to cognitive biases in such decisions. Rather than just relying on the subjective opinions of executives, some companies are using assessment tools to identify high-potential talent.

The Missing Piece in Employee Development

In recent years, organizations have begun to prioritize processes for improving future performance over evaluating employees’ past efforts. Yearly development objectives and annual reviews are being replaced by real-time feedback delivered directly by line managers. Although this shift holds much promise, it risks bumping up against some hard realities — namely, the ability of line managers to help employees develop. In reality, many managers aren’t confident they can change employee behavior.

The Question Every Executive Should Ask

Gone are the days of centralized control of information and decision-making within organizations. With information now widely distributed among employees, Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard J. Tyson says today’s executives face a critical question: “How do I charge up the organization so that we’re maximizing the intellects of all of our people?”

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