10 of Our Favorite MIT SMR Reader Comments This Year

10 comments from the past year that we found especially insightful.

A great part of working at MIT SMR is hearing from our readers. After all, you are the ones seeing important changes happening in business and in management and putting the lessons and research from our authors into practice. Here are 10 comments from the past year that we found especially insightful.

On what “digital transformation” really means:
“Firms need to develop a leadership capability for virtually constant business transformation — not a ‘digital’ strategy, [but] a capability with competencies in collaboration, ecosystem alignment, operational excellence, organizational change, talent development, and technology as well as leadership.”
— Bob Akerley from “Your Company Doesn’t Need a Digital Strategy”

On the future of work:
“… a proclivity to community is going to be increasingly important (to the future of work), too: Not just online community, but those person-to-person connections (in all three dimensions) are going to be increasingly key.”
— Greg Tutnjian from “Planning for the Future of Work”

On leading by example:
“It is vital for managers to model the new behaviors and values they are expecting from their staff. Too often managers merely do the telling — but their example is more powerful. As well, research reported by Gallup and in the Harvard Business Review ... has shown most managers don’t have the skills for coaching their employees, so a program of coaching the coaches is needed in such change activities.”
— Kim Harrison from “Using Digital Communication to Drive Digital Change”

On strategy:
“Too often ‘strategy’ becomes hostage to the faddism and ideologies that come and go. In my time in the corporate sector, strategy has proved elusive, like finding cadence in jazz. I know it’s there; however, if rationale, diagnosis, process, and logic play their important parts — genius is the usual casualty. Great strategies seem to have a provocative discord and sense of a different tune being pushed.”
— Adrian Jobson from “What Sets Breakthrough Strategies Apart”

On the need for innovation in a digital landscape:
“In a digital world, the outcome-based approach rests on two fundamental assumptions: You can measure business outcomes, and you can manage speed of delivery. Traditional operating models are not equipped for these challenges, hence there is a tremendous need for management innovation during digital transformation.”
— Hakan Altintepe from “Selling Solutions Isn’t Enough”

On the future of leadership:
“… the pendulum is slowly swinging toward more enlightened and ethical leadership. Building a strong ethical foundation is critical … The balance is shifting toward transparency with the disintermediation of information sources. Secretiveness and power through control of information will not work in the future.”
— John Decker from “Leading Into the Future”

On why SMART goals don’t live up to their name:
“I think the problem with SMART goals in a changing environment is less about the corporate-level strategy and more about individual performance. Setting individual SMART goals in October with the expectation that you know what needs to happen in July is silly …. This will continue to be a struggle so long as managers believe they have unique and insightful expertise about the future rather than about the past.”
— Benjamin White from “When SMART Goals Are Not So Smart”

On finding digital maturity:
“Many organizations have not matured in their digital quest. They are still in the process of “doing digital” versus “being digital.” Many of these firms think implementing yet another widget is a panacea. We believe to be successful, companies must build the digital transformation on a sound framework. A digital business capability map may help.”
— Ravi M. from “Coming of Age Digitally”

On the ethics of algorithms:
“The proliferation of algorithms knows no bounds. While it is, in theory, possible to create ethical guidelines for the development and application of algorithms, the idea of regulation and/or enforcement is most likely tantamount to science fiction. The negative effect of algorithms is much like cockroaches on restaurant row at this point. A good day is when there’s no evidence of them in day-to-day operations. Unfortunately, visible evidence is the only way to tell when they’re not staying in their place.”
— Robert Jones from “Coming to Grips With Dangerous Algorithms”

On the future of AI:
“Unlike humans, AI in its present form needs big data for meaningful results and is not able to use the experience for another similar application. The work in progress on more effective deep learning is likely to overcome these limitations to some extent in the near future. In such a scenario dependence on big data may be reduced, and AI driving business innovation will be smoother.”
— Subodh Saxena from “How Big Data and AI Are Driving Business Innovation in 2018”