The Best of This Week
The week’s must-reads for managing in the digital age, curated by the MIT SMR editors.
Has COVID-19 Permanently Changed Business Strategy?
The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply disrupted global supply chains and left whole industries scrambling to develop alternative ways of conducting business. The question is, are these COVID-19 changes permanent? And if so, what does that mean for business strategy? Our new, revised MIT SMR Strategy Forum put this question to 36 experts from around the world.
Digital Superpowers to Thrive Through Continuous Disruption
New research shows that companies need to develop four capabilities that enable them to continuously innovate their way through environments of acute or chronic disruption: nimbleness, the ability to quickly pivot and move; scalability, the ability to rapidly shift capacity and service levels; stability, the ability to maintain operational excellence under pressure; and optionality, the ability to acquire new capabilities through external collaboration.
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Deep Learning’s Diminishing Returns
The rise of deep learning, a machine learning technique, has been meteoric. The technology is now being used to translate languages, predict how proteins fold, analyze medical scans, and play complex games. Deep learning provides enormous flexibility — but this flexibility comes at an enormous computational cost, both economic and environmental.
Embrace Explicit Uncertainty to Address Algorithms’ Potential Harm
Algorithms’ primary objective — driving user engagement — can end up amplifying misinformation and extreme views on social media and other digital platforms, so companies and leaders must consider the ethical implications of technology-driven business models. Companies must embrace explicit uncertainty to develop algorithms with no intrinsic objectives that instead focus on identifying and meeting user needs.
What Else We’re Reading This Week
- Americans are missing the point on “supply chain issues” (Source: The Atlantic)
- A woman of color cannot save your workplace culture (Source: Charter)
- How IBM missed the moment for cloud computing (Source: Protocol)
- Some workers have headed back to the office — only to do the same things they do when working from home (Source: The Washington Post)
Quote of the Week:
“There’s this idea that the only ethical thing to do is the thing that’s right for the shareholder. But that doesn’t work. In fact, in many cases, it does the wrong thing for customers, employees, and other stakeholders in the name of getting the stock price up.”
— Robert Chesnut, Airbnb’s former chief ethics officer, in “Why Building an Ethical Culture Must Start at the Top,” part of MIT SMR’s newest Executive Guide, “Developing an Ethical Technology Mindset”