Summer 2019 Issue
Volume 60, Issue # 4

Access the full Table of Contents below.
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Special Report: Making Good on the Promise of AI

Strategy For and With AI

AI can help you choose, measure, and prioritize the KPIs informing your strategy.

From the Editor

Let Your Mind Wander

June 11, 2019 | Lisa Burrell

Leisure time does two important jobs for us. Recharging is the obvious one. But it can also heighten our powers of creativity, given the cognitive benefits associated with letting our minds wander — and that gives us an edge over AI in the battle for jobs. Kellogg professor Adam Waytz makes this research-based argument in “Leisure Is Our Killer App,” the lead article in MIT SMR’s package on talent in a digital age. Check it out, along with the other pieces, in the fall issue of the magazine.

Features

A New Era for Culture, Change, and Leadership

A new leadership model advocates organizations built on close relationships, openness, and trust.

Building Digital-Ready Culture in Traditional Organizations

Here’s a pragmatic framework for blending the best of the past with your ambitions for the future.

Beat the Odds in M&A Turnarounds

You can create significant value by buying troubled businesses and fixing them up. Here’s how.

Older and Wiser? How Management Style Varies With Age

As managers get older, they are more likely to work through others and focus on the big picture.

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Frontiers

Exploring the Digital Future of Management

Agile Is Not Enough

Three impediments in particular work against agile adoption in most organizations.

Executive Briefings

An Executive Guide to the Summer 2019 Issue

June 11, 2019 | MIT Sloan Management Review

The Executive Briefings for the Summer 2019 issue of MIT SMR give a snapshot of the issue’s close look at the challenges, culture shifts, and opportunities that adopting AI will bring to businesses. Plus: How to make M&A successful; does management style change with age?

Leisure Is Our Killer App

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 6 min 

How can we avoid being automated out of our jobs? When recommending areas for development, experts tend to focus on two broad classes of skills that distinguish people from machines: sociability and variability. But homing in on those areas can lead to burnout, leaving us even more vulnerable to obsolescence. Leisure can mitigate these effects. Beyond reducing burnout, leisure is a uniquely human activity that robots cannot perform, and it might actually make us better thinkers and workers.

The Plight of the Graying Tech Worker

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 6 min 

High-skilled immigration is dramatically transforming the tech sector in the United States. U.S. tech workers over age 40 have good reasons to be concerned. In addition to competing with greater numbers of skilled foreign workers, older tech workers are now also more likely than younger workers to lose their jobs when technical work moves overseas.

Revisiting the Jobs Artificial Intelligence Will Create

  • Read Time: 24 min 

It can be easy to get caught up in all the uncertainty and speculation around the future of automation, but when we focus on the future, we may fail to see what’s happening right in front of us. In this audio interview, MIT SMR editor in chief Paul Michelman revisits the work of Accenture researchers Paul Daugherty and H. James Wilson to discuss what’s changed in the AI landscape and what leaders should be thinking about next.

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People and Machines: Partners in Innovation

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 18 min 

Thoughtful adoption of intelligent technologies will be essential to survival for many companies. But simply implementing the latest technologies and automation tools won’t be enough. Success will depend on whether organizations use them to innovate in their operations and in their products and services—and whether they acquire and develop the human capital to do so.

Strategy For and With AI

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 16 min 

Executives intent on exploiting AI to enhance processes or products tend to focus on having a strategy for AI. But creating strategy with AI can matter as much or even more. In a machine-learning era, enterprise strategy is defined by the KPIs that leaders choose to optimize —the measures organizations use to create value, accountability, and competitive advantage. AI can help determine what KPIs are measured, how they are measured, and how best to prioritize them.

Using AI to Enhance Business Operations

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 21 min 

Companies can turn AI hype into operational hay by developing their capacity for enterprise cognitive computing. This capacity entails five capabilities: data science competence, business domain proficiency, enterprise architecture expertise, an operational IT backbone, and digital inquisitiveness. The capabilities shape and are shaped by four practices: identifying use cases, managing application learning, cocreating applications, and thinking “cognitive.”

AI Can Help Us Live More Deliberately

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 18 min 

AI spares us from many mundane, time-consuming, nerve-wracking annoyances. The problem is, such annoyances play a key adaptive function by helping us learn to adjust our conduct in relation to the world around us. But AI designers can tackle that problem through system enhancements. By incorporating cognitive speed bumps, they can prompt users to engage in reflective thought rather than “outsourcing” cognitive, emotional, and ethical labor to software.

A New Era for Culture, Change, and Leadership

  • Interview
  • Read Time: 19 min 

Renowned social psychologist Edgar Schein and his colleagues defined how we thought about organizations and leadership in the 1950s. But in the digital era, Schein — working with his son, Silicon Valley executive Peter Schein — has developed a new perspective, one that advocates combining culture, change, and leadership into an integrated process, rather than viewing them as three separate topics of importance.

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Building Digital-Ready Culture in Traditional Organizations

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 24 min 

For legacy companies, culture change is often the biggest challenge of digital transformation. How can they become more agile and innovative without alienating their best employees or wrecking their best existing practices? This article provides a framework for leaders in any industry. The process begins with understanding four key values of digital culture: impact, speed, openness, and autonomy. It then involves adopting or refining a set of digital-ready practices, grounded in these values.

Beat the Odds in M&A Turnarounds

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 13 min 

While M&A deals and turnarounds are individually hard to pull off, combining the two can be even more challenging. Yet an analysis of roughly 1,400 M&A-based turnarounds between 2005 and 2018 shows that six management actions can help acquiring companies improve their odds of success. The rewards can be considerable. Successful buyers generate gains in both revenue growth and profit margins, and — most important — better returns.

Older and Wiser? How Management Style Varies With Age

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 18 min 

The starting point for managing age diversity is to develop a basic understanding of cross-age differences in working style. The authors found that management style varied more with age than with any other characteristic in their survey. Younger managers prefer narrower approaches to management, while older ones tend to work through others and focus on the big picture. Being attuned to style differences can make it easier for individuals to navigate their working relationships effectively.

A Shared Passion for Place Can Make a Business More Resilient

  • Read Time: 5 min 

Leaders are increasingly strangers in the places where their organizations reside. With greater mobility and a disconnect from a physical office space, many leaders have identities that are not tied to one location. Yet leaders who lack a clear “passion for place” and well-established stakeholder connections might be putting their companies at a disadvantage during times of hardship.

Let Your Mind Wander

  • Read Time: 2 min 

Leisure time does two important jobs for us. Recharging is the obvious one. But it can also heighten our powers of creativity, given the cognitive benefits associated with letting our minds wander — and that gives us an edge over AI in the battle for jobs. Kellogg professor Adam Waytz makes this research-based argument in “Leisure Is Our Killer App,” the lead article in MIT SMR’s package on talent in a digital age. Check it out, along with the other pieces, in the fall issue of the magazine.

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The Digital Future of Strawberries

  • Read Time: 3 min 

Technology may hold the answer to two of the knottiest problems faced by the U.S. economy — the shortage of farm labor and the excess of vehicle traffic. But there’s a flip side: It also enables surveillance so widespread and intrusive, companies can track even our heartbeats — and the data collected by these sensors is far from secure.