Leadership

Companies Brace for Decade of Disruption From AI

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With investments in Big Data bearing fruit, what do executives expect from the future? A new survey finds that artificial intelligence and machine learning are rapidly emerging avenues for innovation — and disruption. Nearly half of senior executives surveyed, from companies like American Express, Disney, Ford Motors, and General Electric, see disruptive change coming fast.

From the Archives: Establish a Personal Advisory Board

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Here’s a new year’s resolution to consider: Build a personal advisory board that meets your current needs. “A person’s developmental network can’t be static but needs to evolve over time,” noted the authors of a 2015 article in MIT Sloan Management Review. Yan Shen, Richard D. Cotton, and Kathy E. Kram make the case that a professional mentor is just one element of a fully formed personal board of advisers, which might also include a personal guide and a career adviser, among others.

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End Your Business Journey, Please

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In a rapidly changing world, full of mixed messages and various uncertainties, it’s reasonable for leaders and managers to look for some language — a narrative — that helps people grapple with it all. “Journey” fits this particular bill in many respects. It’s a familiar and perhaps comforting framework for describing the pursuit of some end — but using it could affect your ability to envision a wider range of possibilities.

Unexpected Benefits of Digital Transformation

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Digital technology creates new opportunities to work differently, which in turn offers opportunities to infuse technology into the work process. When managers shift from thinking about digital tools themselves to a focus on how the tools help companies work differently, they can begin to identify ways to transform the company’s processes to get real value from integrating new tools.

A Leader’s List for 2017

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In the spirit of the resolution season, here is an incomplete list of my commitments to my organization, the people who compose it, and to you, our audience, without whom we do not exist.

The 20 Most Popular MIT Sloan Management Review Articles of 2016

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In 2016, MIT Sloan Management Review website visitors gravitated toward new articles about the management implications of technology-driven trends such as the internet of things, analytics, and artificial intelligence. They also showed significant interest in articles related to setting strategy in times of rapid change. But the most popular new article by far was about a timeless topic: meaning in their work.

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Sustainability Lessons From the Front Lines

While most executives recognize the need to develop more sustainable business models, putting this goal into practice has been a challenge. Too many initiatives are stymied by a set of common obstacles. By recognizing how executing sustainability initiatives differs from typical change management, corporate leaders can promote more lasting gains in sustainable business development.

How Blockchain Will Change Organizations

Blockchain technology has the potential to transform how businesses are organized and managed. It allows companies to eliminate transaction costs and use outside resources as easily as internal resources. The implications for areas such as accounting, contract negotiation and enforcement, sales and marketing, and capital investment are myriad. Companies should start exploring how this technology could impact their industry and processes.

Your Digital Talent Needs May Not Be What You Think They Are

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In the quest for digital talent, many employers are falling prey to common misconceptions. One assumption is that advanced technical skills are the most valuable asset, but “soft” skills such as communication and collaboration are just as (if not more) important. And many of the skills, technical or otherwise, that companies seek may be better obtained in current staff by fostering collaborative learning — which may also improve employee retention.

Organizing for New Technologies

When faced with an emerging technology, many companies have trouble responding — not because they don’t recognize how it impacts their business, but because they have difficulty managing the uncertainty around the new technology’s competitive viability. And when the technology significantly disrupts the company’s existing business, it can create structural impediments to pursuing opportunities.

Warding Off the Threat of Disruption

In a fast-changing digital landscape, companies shouldn’t wait too long to reconfigure their offerings — but they also should be wary of moving to an untested technology too soon. Monitoring trends in related industries and identifying high-potential startups for acquisition helps to ensure appropriate timing for business model changes.

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Winning the Digital War for Talent

Competition for digitally savvy talent has never been higher, but companies’ methods for acquiring and keeping the skilled employees they need are outmoded. Whether they want to develop capabilities in employees or tap on-demand talent markets — or some mix of both — human resources directors need to experiment with new talent management models.

The Downside to Full Board Independence

High-profile accounting and corporate governance scandals have resulted in significant changes in the structure of corporate boards of directors, in particular the development of independent boards in which the CEO is the only employee director. The downside: Independent board members may not understand the business well enough to make optimal strategic decisions.

When Employees Don’t ‘Like’ Their Employers on Social Media

When employees are not fans or supporters of the company’s products on social media, it sends an ambiguous message and could deprive the company of potential supporters. Employers can counter this by encouraging their “digital native” employees to become brand ambassadors for the company.

Please Go Away (and Spend More Time Somewhere Else)

Rapid changes at all levels of society and technology are upon us. Seemingly stable business and social environments aren’t immune. Whether it’s technology, policy, or broader socioeconomic forces, the transformation of your organization and your role in it are all but inevitable. One suggestion for responding: Get outside your standard routine and engage with the changes.

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