Uncertainty

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Five Rules for Leading in a Digital World

To thrive in times of digital transformation and rapid change, organizations accustomed to siloed bureaucracy must become nimble and customer-centric; command-and-control models must give way to distributed leadership. Many leaders fear letting go, but they must evolve quickly or risk extinction. Research at the MIT Leadership Center suggests that executives and managers who do five things in particular are best equipped to navigate what lies ahead.

How to Manage Your Career in the Age of Uncertainty

The days of the well-planned career path are over. It is rare for a professional to stay in the same industry, let alone the same company, for the majority of their working life today. And the threat of career disruption grows only greater as the pace of digital change increases. Author and expert Whitney Johnson offers her prescription of specific steps you can take to help ensure you stay in control of your own career amid all this unpredictability.

Can We End the Crisis of Agency?

  • Read Time: 3 min 

In the past half-decade, we’ve undergone a sea change in our thinking about the future. Whether it’s our feelings about our rapidly deteriorating planetary environment or the equally disconcerting rapidity of technological advances, the general sentiment is one of heightened anxiety — and powerlessness. Is there anything we can do? The short answer: Yes.

Beat the Odds in M&A Turnarounds

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.

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What to Do When Industry Disruption Threatens Your Career

Volatility in an industry should concern not only the companies within it but also the people who work for them. To stay ahead of developments that may disrupt your professional life, you must make two evidence-based diagnoses: How volatile is your industry? And what explains the volatility? The answers will equip you to disrupt your own career preemptively.

The Trouble With Cybersecurity Management

To better prepare for growing cyber threats, organizations and managers must build awareness about the complexity of cybersecurity and adopt training programs that mimic real-world scenarios. One option is “management flight simulators” that let experienced and novice managers run simulations to learn how to respond to cyberattacks.

How to Launch Products in Uncertain Markets

How should companies launch products in times of uncertainty? Should they “wait and see” until uncertainty resolves — or commit to a full-scale launch and ride it out? Conventional wisdom says being early to market is the right choice, but that is not always the case. Many companies can benefit from a mixed, “act and see” approach.

Why Supply Chains Must Pivot

Even today’s most digitally advanced supply chains still try to predict what will happen, then optimize performance against plan. The problem is, the world is not predictable. For operations teams, the challenge and competitive advantage becomes: how well do you respond and execute against ongoing uncertainty?

Don’t Get Caught in the Middle

There was once a time when middlemen were indispensable. Intermediaries facilitated transactions between makers and buyers; they closed the gaps between disconnected entities that required one another for survival; and, within organizations, they interpreted high-level corporate strategy and connected it to front-line execution. But one by one, such intermediaries are being made obsolete by technology.

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The Case Against Agility

  • Read Time: 5 min 

Leaders today must wean their companies away from three pieces of conventional wisdom about digital strategy: agility, first-mover advantage, and minimum viable product. These ideas have anchored technological decision-making for over a decade but are highly unsuitable for the emerging world. In conditions of environmental uncertainty and interconnected technology, we need more thoughtfulness rather than more speed.

Five Rules for Managing Large, Complex Projects

Large-scale, long-term projects are notoriously difficult to manage. But recent research on megaprojects — defined as projects costing more than $1 billion — reveals five lessons that can help executives manage any big, complex project more effectively.

The Five Steps All Leaders Must Take in the Age of Uncertainty

Leaders need a new mental model to better understand the complex interplay between companies, economies, and societies. To do so, they must shift their focus to the broader business and social ecosystems in which their companies are embedded.

From the Archives: Managing in a Time of Uncertainty

  • Read Time: 2 min 

How do businesses prepare for changes to the environment they operate in brought about by a highly charged political upheaval? When it comes to strategic planning in uncertain times and political change, what’s right for a company depends on its circumstances, its available resources, and how management combines those resources together.

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Please Go Away (and Spend More Time Somewhere Else)

Rapid changes at all levels of society and technology are upon us. Seemingly stable business and social environments aren’t immune. Whether it’s technology, policy, or broader socioeconomic forces, the transformation of your organization and your role in it are all but inevitable. One suggestion for responding: Get outside your standard routine and engage with the changes.

Gaining a New Understanding of Risk

  • Read Time: 3 min 

In these days of uncertain markets – and an uncertain economy – risk can seem almost omnipresent. But how do you manage risk prudently – yet still grow your company? Harvard Business School professor Robert S. Kaplan began exploring risk management in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, after he saw venerable firms such as Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns collapse – despite having risk management functions. Here are a few of his insights on the topic of risk management.

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