The Best of This Week
The week’s must-reads for managing in the digital age, curated by the MIT SMR editors.
During the COVID-19 crisis, we at MIT SMR want to support our readers by offering free resources to help during the pandemic.
How to Balance the Shareholder-Stakeholder Conflict
Recognizing five common traps can help business leaders manage the trade-offs between conflicting stakeholder interests and integrate shareholders’ interests with those of other stakeholders. Resist pressure from shareholders and others who seek short-term gains; instead, build compacts with employees, communities, investors, and other stakeholders that will create long-term shareholder value, benefiting all parties and supporting an emerging model of stakeholder capitalism.
Welcome, Robots, to the Health Care Front Lines
The unprecedented speed and lethality of the 1918 flu ushered governments worldwide toward centralized health care. While placing a tremendous strain on today’s health care systems, COVID-19 has also spurred tremendous innovation in care delivery at a previously unheard-of pace. Since the pandemic hit, robots in hospitals have been cleaning facilities, delivering food and medicine to patients, transporting test samples, and even acting as receptionists — and many doctors want them to stay, even after the pandemic passes.
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Rebooting Data Science After a Pandemic Pivot
Machine learning models make predictions based on past data, but there is no recent past like today’s pandemic-era present. Regardless of whether COVID-19-driven disruption caused demand for their company’s products and services to plummet or spike dramatically, most analytics managers made a quick shift away from a focus on prediction and optimization to descriptive analytics such as reports and data visualization. Now, they’re starting to reboot their predictive analytics and machine learning.
Before You Share That Facebook Post…
In a historical moment when disinformation can literally cost lives, Gillian “Gus” Andrews, author of Keep Calm and Log On, offers practical guidance on identifying misinformation and keeping it from spreading. While social media companies and elected officials certainly play a role in combating the spread of false information, each of us can take a few simple steps to prevent the spreading of harmful information in our communities.
Concrete Steps to Combat Racial Discrimination in the Workplace
Amid a widespread reckoning with systemic racism in the U.S., let’s not limit the power of this movement to criminal justice. Racial discrimination in the workplace has had devastating consequences for generations of Black Americans and is an uncomfortable reality that leaders must face as they examine their organizations’ hiring and management practices. The strategies outlined here can help leaders identify discriminatory practices, hold employees accountable, and make substantive changes for ongoing progress.
What Else We’re Reading This Week:
- For each person to keep six feet away from everyone else, determining how to safely reopen buildings and public spaces is an exercise in geometry
- As the initial shock of the pandemic begins to wane, managers face a choice: use technology to recreate employees’ former office work lives or craft a new strategy
- Putting private security firms in charge of hotel quarantine in Melbourne, Australia, went poorly enough to result in a judicial inquiry — a phenomenon disappointing but unsurprising to observers with an understanding of labor standards or supply chain governance issues
Quote of the Week:
“The pandemic has highlighted the high price low-wage workers in the U.S. have paid for employers’ obsessive focus on labor-replacing automation. Without an overhaul of the existing policy framework, the skill bias of automation will continue to broaden, placing an even larger cohort of workers at risk.”
— Daron Acemoglu, Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at MIT, in “What We Owe Essential Workers”