Weekly Recap

The Best of This Week

The week’s must-reads for managing in the digital age, curated by the MIT SMR editors.

Balancing the New and Shiny Against What Customers Want

How can companies decide which new digital offerings to pursue? Successful digital offerings are created at the intersection of what technologies can deliver and what customers want and will pay for. That point of intersection, however, has proved to be elusive, and MIT Sloan researcher Jeanne Ross and her coauthors describe ways in which companies are experimenting to find it.

Avoiding the Advice Trap

For Thinkers50, executive coach Marshall Goldsmith and Michael Bungay Stanier talk about the advantages of putting off advice-giving to keep your employees curious. After all, sometimes being a great leader means standing aside and letting others discover the answer.

On the Road to Autonomous Businesses

Just as automobile manufacturers are rethinking the meaning of driving within the context of self-driving technology, business leaders are beginning to ponder the equivalent question: What does it mean to manage an enterprise once some of the work can be done autonomously? Self-driving company capabilities may be closer than we realize.

The Employee Perk Bill Gates Says Is Most Important

Flexible work. In 2019, it’s not too surprising to hear that the Microsoft founder would rate the ability to work from anywhere as one of the best perks companies can offer employees. And his thinking is backed by plenty of research.

Game of Thrones, Digital Pirates, and Supply Chains

It’s become costlier for retailers and manufacturers to combat piracy in the digital age. But in moderation, it’s not all bad.

Enlighten Them. But Make It Quick.

How often have you spoken up in a meeting but felt that your message failed to find influence? It’s important to remember the power of brevity. As Niro Sivanathan of London Business School puts it, “The next time you want to speak up in a meeting, it is important to note that the delivery of your message is every bit as important as the content.”

How to Address Managerial Skill Gaps

Skill development is as important for managers as for their reports, if not more so. Despite companies’ efforts to invest in leadership development, studies show that managerial skill gaps are increasingly common. The downstream effects of these gaps negatively affect not only businesses but extend to the global economy as well.

Quote of the Week:

I think the best thing I ever did to prepare me for the CFO role was to start as a marketer, to spend time as a general manager, to own a P&L, to run a factory, to have to launch a business. Being a great CFO means you have to be able to provide great advice, and there’s no way to do that unless you’ve walked in the shoes of your peers.

— David Lee, CFO of Impossible Foods, interviewed by McKinsey & Company.