Human Psychology

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Imaginary Time Travel as a Leadership Tool

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  • Read Time: 6 min 

Leaders can help employees manage immediate problems by harnessing the human capacity to think beyond the moment and recognize that “this too shall pass.” Psychological tools such as temporal distancing help ease the sting of current troubles. And the tool of “failure premortems” can help people identify dangerous risks and delusions in new projects by imagining they’re in the future looking back at why a project failed.

Let Your Mind Wander

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.

A Structured Approach to Strategic Decisions

Many decisions about strategy require that senior executives make evaluative judgments on the basis of extensive, complex information. Such work is prone to common errors, but a disciplined, sequential approach can mitigate those errors and improve the quality of both one-off and recurrent decisions in an array of business domains. The process described in this article is easy to learn, involves little additional work, and (within limits) leaves room for intuition.

Self-Reports Spur Self-Reflection

The disadvantages of asking people to rate themselves are obvious. For instance: You could fake your way to a higher score, or you might lack self-awareness. But self-report surveys have advantages, too. They make data collection efficient, and nobody but you has 24-7 access to your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. And here’s another benefit many people don’t consider: The act of answering the questions can promote greater self-awareness, which opens the door to self-development.

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Every Leader’s Guide to the Ethics of AI

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  • Read Time: 9 min 

As artificial intelligence-enabled products and services enter our everyday lives, there’s a big gap between how AI can be used and how it should be used. A 2018 Deloitte survey of AI-aware executives found that 32% ranked ethical issues as one of the top three risks of AI, but most companies don’t yet have specific approaches to grapple with the challenges. Here, we list the seven actions that leaders of AI-oriented companies — regardless of their industry — should consider taking.

Think Critically About the Wisdom of Experts

Leaders and managers must inevitably consult the analysis, advice, and research of people whose expertise exceeds their own in a variety of domains. Getting the most from that perspective means understanding precisely how to question the experts’ wisdom, no matter what form it takes. Eight specific lessons can help leaders and managers use others’ expertise to the greatest possible advantage in everyday business decisions.

The Challenge of Scaling Soft Skills

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  • Read Time: 5 min 

We understand a lot about how to develop the “hard skills” of analysis, decision-making, and analytical judgment, but we know a great deal less about the genesis of “soft skills” like empathy, context sensing, collaboration, and creative thinking, which are becoming increasingly valuable in the workplace. Understanding the obstacles to developing these soft skills and then addressing those barriers is crucial for our schools, homes, and workplaces.

Gender Discrimination Still Exists — Now What?

In both practice and research, we are doing a better job at bringing attention to the problem of gender bias. But we haven’t established enough tangible suggestions for how to challenge it. New research has begun to investigate the efficacy of ‘scripts’ — a set of words or phrases, such as, “Can you repeat what you just said?” that would signal to a peer that he has crossed a line, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

Business, Technology, and Ethics: The Need for Better Conversations

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  • Read Time: 6 min 

The fusion of business, technology, and ethics is unfolding at a rate that appears to outstrip our ability as citizens to have meaningful and careful conversations about the effects of our actions on others. At the same time, the civic processes that should encourage innovative solutions to new problems appear to be broken. What we need is a commitment to honestly talk about the challenges technology now poses.

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The Mindsets of a Leader

Researchers have identified six distinct mindsets that contribute to leaders’ portfolio of leadership styles by asking one simple question: Whom do the leaders serve? Identifying these mindsets can help companies recognize how the leader’s styles are helping — or hurting — their performance.

Five Principles for Organizing Collective Intelligence

A featured excerpt from Big Mind: How Collective Intelligence Can Change Our World. Geoff Mulgan’s new book provides a guide to managing and optimizing collective intelligence. The five fundamental principles Mulgan outlines in this excerpt offer a nuanced answer to the question: “What is it, at the micro and macro levels, that allows collective intelligence to flower?”

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Surviving a Day Without Smartphones

For young adults accustomed to continually checking their cellphones, even a single day without access to them can be anxiety-producing. What are the implications for executives about managing this constantly connected generation – and their devices – in the workplace?

Moving Beyond the Silicon Valley State of Mind

In his new book Sensemaking, a polemic defending the need for the liberal arts in business, Christian Madsbjerg, the founder of strategic consultancy nReD Associates, argues that leaders shouldn’t try to know everything. Instead, they should try to make sense of something.

Showing 1-20 of 122