Weekly Recap

The Best of This Week

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

What the U.S. Is Getting Wrong About AI

Tim Wu, professor at Columbia Law School, looks at America’s approach to AI for The New York Times. It’s mostly centered within the country’s largest tech hub — Silicon Valley — but if the U.S. is to be the AI champion of the West and compete on a global level with China, bigger investments will need to be made. For Wu, these begin with broader government funding of research — both academic and private — and supporting immigration laws that will help the U.S. attract top AI talent.

Putting Culture Front and Center

Companies that take culture seriously perform better than those that ignore it. Unfortunately, many leaders don’t really understand how to build a culture that people love and want to work in. To bridge the gap, it helps to think of corporate culture as a management system that guides the assumptions, values, and beliefs at the heart of the organization.

Raising the Bar on Corporate Board Votes

As Theo Francis writes for The Wall Street Journal, “For decades, elections for corporate boards carried little suspense.” But that may no longer be the case, as new data and analysis from Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc. and PricewaterhouseCoopers show that the number of public-company directors failing to win a majority of corporate board support votes is up nearly 40% from 2015. Peeling back the data reveals that when directors lose stakeholder support, it often reflects a lack of confidence from institutional investors as opposed to individual stakeholders.

Fintech: Weighing the Risks, Benefits, and Stakeholder Motives

Fintech won’t disrupt the financial industry overnight, but when it does, it will reflect a larger and more complex social debate than its underlying technologies or economic merits. For MIT Sloan Management Review, academic researchers from global universities look at the evolving debate and provide practical insights for managers navigating the uncertainty of fintech’s rise.

What’s With All the Libra Hate?

That is, the cryptocurrency, not the astrological sign. Since Facebook announced the cryptocurrency project in June, the company has faced hurdles and criticisms around Libra, which was designed to be traded inside Facebook properties such as Messenger and WhatsApp. Recent analysis from Wired found that “15 of the 27 founding members of the Libra Association are directly or indirectly tied to Facebook.” Will the scales balance in Libra’s favor, or is this an early sign of a failure to launch?

Why Do Analytics Fail When the Playoffs Start?

That’s the question at the heart of this week’s episode of Counterpoints, where host Ben Shields talks with Mike Trudell, a reporter for ESPN, about the mysterious intangibles of data-based strategies that often come to the foreground during a time when teams need help the most: the playoffs.

Stick To the Facts

In advertising, marketing, and sales, crafting compelling narratives and stories is part of everyday tasks. But according to new research at the Kellogg School of Management, such narratives also have the power to reduce message processing — which can make the strong facts and selling points of your products lose impact with customers.

Quote of the Week

“The road to successful digital transformation requires focus and a mindset that views change as an opportunity to engage customers in new ways. Lack of focus leads to ‘random acts of digital’ that don’t provide performance improvements or benefits to customers.”

—Thomas H. Davenport and Andrew Spanyi, “Digital Transformation Should Start With Customers