The Top MIT SMR Articles of 2020

The most popular articles of 2020 highlight the range of decisions that managers faced in a year defined by disruption, uncertainty, and remarkable innovation.

Reading Time: 3 min 


The same week that MIT Sloan Management Review launched its spring issue in March 2020, our staff joined others at MIT in transitioning to remote work as outbreaks of COVID-19 began to spread across the U.S.

A few weeks later, when it was clear that working from home would be on the order of weeks and months rather than just days, I returned to our Cambridge, Massachusetts, office to retrieve some items from my desk. On it was a copy of the new print magazine, a special issue on the future of innovation, with a cover title that truly fit the moment: Disruption 2020. The typographic treatment had an intentionally dizzying effect that now had new meaning — this would be a year in which companies and managers would need to reorient themselves in a world turned upside down by a global pandemic.

In 2020, readers unsurprisingly gravitated toward content focused on navigating disruption, uncertainty, and change. The most popular articles of the year tackled themes such as working remotely, confronting bias, and building individual, team, and organizational resilience.

The following are 12 of the most widely read articles we published this past year. We hope they continue to inspire you as you lead your team in 2021.

Is It Time to Rethink Globalized Supply Chains?

Willy Shih

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated why disaster preparedness is vital for supply chain resilience. This article looks at how the U.S. and other countries ended up with such complex interdependencies in their supply chains — and how managers can improve their resilience against future shocks.

Disruption 2020: An Interview With Clayton M. Christensen

Clayton M. Christensen, interviewed by Karen Dillon

In this interview from our spring magazine issue, Clay Christensen, the late business scholar and pioneer of the Theory of Disruptive Innovation, discussed the impact of disruption in today’s tech-centric world and why the theory remains a powerful tool for decision-making.

The New Disrupters

Rita Gunther McGrath

By entering the market with products and services that are every bit as good as those offered by legacy companies, a new breed of disrupters is making it harder than ever for traditional businesses to compete.

Is the COVID-19 Outbreak a Black Swan or the New Normal?

Andrew Winston

COVID-19 may be the so-called black swan event that society and business have feared, but it’s also the kind of challenge that we may now face all the time.

Being the Agile Boss

Linda A. Hill

Leading through difficult times requires agility to leverage, not merely react to, the turbulence around you. This article explores what that means for managing your team, your network, and yourself.

Three Proactive Response Strategies to COVID-19 Business Challenges

Michael Wade and Heidi Bjerkan

This article, written in the early months of the global outbreak of COVID-19, offers enduring wisdom for companies and leaders tackling a strategic response to unprecedented circumstances.

How to Make Better Decisions About Coronavirus

Thomas H. Davenport

High-stress situations have been a reality of the pandemic and this year. “Emotion-driven beliefs and intuition are powerful at guiding people toward less-than-optimal decisions,” writes author Tom Davenport — but understanding our biases gives us a better chance of allaying them and moving toward better choices.

Managing Stress and Emotions When Working Remotely

Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy

Based on years of research on the science of emotions and their intersection with daily work life, the authors have fine-tuned their top tips for tackling remote work and managing stress.

The 11 Sources of Disruption Every Company Must Monitor

Amy Webb

When faced with deep uncertainty, even the most successful businesses can develop a habit of controlling for internal, known variables and fail to track external factors as potential disrupters. By broadening their approach, companies and decision makers can avoid being disrupted out of the market.

The New Elements of Digital Transformation

Didier Bonnet and George Westerman

The competitive advantages offered by digital technology have evolved. In this article, Didier Bonnet of IMD and George Westerman of MIT’s Sloan School of Management revisit their landmark research on the elements of digital capability and identify where the new opportunities are for companies.

Four Principles to Ensure Hybrid Work Is Productive Work

Lynda Gratton

Organizations have become more flexible about where and when employees work. Now they need to be more intentional about their choices and trade-offs.

The Sources of Resilience

Marcus Buckingham

What causes resilience, the ability to bounce back and keep moving? What ingredients in our lives give us this strength, and how do we access them? The findings in this article, based on a global study of resilience and engagement, offer some important answers for leaders.


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