Organizational Change

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What Does It Mean to Lead?

  • Read Time: 2 min 

Are management and leadership entwined in a digital world? Or are they distinct activities, one more important than the other? Can you be closely involved in day-to-day operations, as data-driven tools allow and encourage, without watching and directing employees’ every move? How do you cede top-down control without courting chaos? And how do you eliminate entrenched practices that obstruct change? Experts wrestle with these questions and share their perspectives on how leadership is evolving.

Take a Wrecking Ball to Your Company’s Iconic Practices

As they pursue digital transformation, most leaders know they must also orchestrate a cultural shift — from prioritizing flawless execution to valuing more agile learning and experimentation, from doing siloed work to fostering true interdisciplinary collaboration, and from evaluating people’s past performance to enabling their future development. Articulating the ambition is the easy part. Taking a wrecking ball to what’s really getting in the way is a lot harder.

A New Era for Culture, Change, and Leadership

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.

How to Choose the Right Digital Leader for Your Company

  • Frontiers

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 6 min 

Striking the right balance between competence and credibility is essential to digital leaders’ success, but it depends on what a company expects its CDO to do. While external candidates can bring critical digital competence and experience to organizations seeking a better digital footing, they may struggle to build the necessary credibility for organizational change.

The Truth About Behavioral Change

In this article drawn from his new book, How Behavior Spreads, UPenn professor Damon Centola explains how the thinking about social networks is changing. Recent research reveals that depending on long-established concepts such as “weak ties” and “long bridges” to drive the adoption of new innovations and organizational change can be a prescription for failure.

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What to Expect From Agile

What happens when a company whose roots go back over a century — a bank, no less — decides to adopt agile management methods developed in the software industry? Though ING bank in the Netherlands is less than three years into the process — and it’s therefore premature to declare the initiative a success — taking a deep dive into the organization’s early experience with agile is nonetheless instructive.

Digital Maturity, Not Digital Transformation

Digital transformation has two key implications for managers: First, it’s fundamentally about how your business responds to digital trends that are occurring regardless of your input. Second, how an organization implements technology is only a small part of digital transformation; strategy, talent management, organizational structure, and leadership are just as important as technology.

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Free Video Panel: Creating a Data-Driven Enterprise: Real-Life Cases

In a video panel and Q&A, MIT SMR editors discuss key insights from a recently completed series of in-depth case studies on how prominent organizations are using data and analytics to transform their operations. They review Intermountain Healthcare, GE, Nedbank, and the City of Amsterdam’s efforts to become more data driven. This set of diverse organizations offers a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities associated with becoming a data-driven organization.

A Bank On the Edge of a Deep River

South African finance leader Nedbank is using data and analytics as a way to help the bank’s clients better understand their business. And the more data-oriented the bank becomes, the better able it will be to turn its developing prowess on itself. As the bank dives deeper into analytics, the same data it’s using for clients can help Nedbank better understand its own organization, employees, suppliers, and more.

Lessons from Becoming a Data-Driven Organization

Organizations across the business spectrum are awakening to the transformative power of data and analytics. They are also coming to grips with the daunting difficulty of the task that lies before them. It’s tough enough for many organizations to catalog and categorize the data at their disposal and devise the rules and processes for using it. It’s even tougher to translate that data into tangible value. But it’s not impossible, and many organizations, in both the private and public sectors, are learning how.

The Three New Skills Managers Need

As digital technologies evolve, managers and employees will need to learn three important skills: partnering with new digital “colleagues,” creating a mindful relationship with omnipresent digital technologies, and developing empathy for the varying technology preferences of their human coworkers. Organizations, for their part, will need to design processes to support these efforts, and managers will need to be both flexible and thoughtful in how they respond.

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Managing Tensions Between New and Existing Business Models

Exploring new business models may be a good way to stay competitive, but doing so can create tensions internally, in areas such as organizational structure and competition for resources. Companies exploring business model innovation may not recognize the inevitability of these tensions and thus be poorly prepared to manage them. But understanding these issues may lessen some of the organizational challenges associated with business model innovation.

Capitalizing on Data by Building Organizational Capabilities

The idea is simple: develop a methodology that ties patient outcomes to provider fees so that clinicians are rewarded when patients’ health improves. Making it happen is a lot more complicated. When WellPoint undertook this task, it discovered that there was more to it than simply the challenge of applying data analytics technology — the company’s innovation processes had to be reinvented.

Technology Solutions for Health Care Need a Continuous Process

It’s no secret that the fee-for-service model in U.S. health care is a driving factor in spiraling costs. WellPoint’s innovative plan to shift to a value-based payment plan may prove to be a key innovation that keeps a lid on those costs. But as commentator Sam Ransbotham points out, their effort to change the payment system also highlights a need for process changes at WellPoint itself.

The Trouble with Supply Chains

The UN’s Global Compact report identifies auditing the supply chain as the biggest obstacle to putting sustainability principle into practice. Companies simply don’t have enough information about suppliers’ sustainability practices to determine which links on the supply chain will provide the best outcome. But as global data sources become more all-encompassing — and companies’ analytics capabilities grow more sophisticated — that is changing.

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