Developing Strategy

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Why Companies Need a New Playbook to Succeed in the Digital Age

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 4 min 

In the digital world, companies need to become a destination for customers. The key is using digital as differentiation and offering customers something compelling. This requires a new playbook for how to do business as well as new ways of engaging customers. The trend is for individual and business customers to prefer just one or two powerful ecosystems in each industry, raising the stakes for leaders to better understand their options and clarify their own game plans.

Goodbye Structure; Hello Accountability

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  • Read Time: 7 min 

Companies will be able to operate as true digital organizations only when they learn how to respond quickly to unanticipated opportunities and threats. But instead of restructuring to increase agility, some organizations are assigning accountabilities for specific business outcomes to small teams or individual problem owners. Tackling new objectives is then built around individual flexibility, market-based resource allocation, experimental mindsets, and coaching rather than managing.

Setting Goals to Execute Your Strategy

Traditional SMART goal setting works well on an individual level, but isn’t quite as useful for companies as a whole — because such goals lack transparency, so it’s hard to align them across employees and business silos. A new framework for goal setting for improved alignment uses the acronym FAST: set goals frequently, make them ambitious, measure them with specific metrics, and make them transparent.

With Goals, FAST Beats SMART

The conventional wisdom of goal setting is so deeply ingrained that managers rarely stop to ask if it works. The traditional approach to goals — the annual cycle, privately set and reviewed goals, and a strong linkage to incentives — can actually undermine the alignment, coordination, and agility that’s needed for a company to execute its strategy.

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How to Compete Against the New Breed of National Champions

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 8 min 

While the threat of national champions is nothing new, their essential character has substantially changed, and the competitive advantage of national champions in the global marketplace has become more pronounced. Today’s national champions are much more sophisticated, competing in more industries, and harder to spot than ever before. As a result, Western companies need a new strategic guide for competing against them.

Developing a Strategy for Execution

  • Video | Runtime: 1:00:34

In this webinar by MIT Sloan’s Donald Sull, participants learn the fundamentals of strategy development. A good strategy is one that offers concrete guidance for identifying and reaching strategic priorities while retaining flexibility so the company can respond to unexpected opportunities and challenges.

Digital Is About Speed — But It Takes a Long Time

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  • Read Time: 6 min 

The ability of digital technologies to accelerate business is giving rise to new value propositions — new ways to eliminate hassles and create solutions. But research from MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research suggests that while business leaders need to start redesigning their existing systems and roles to better solve customers’ problems, they will not be able to do so quickly. Case in point: The slow and steady digital transformation of Dutch technology company Royal Philips.

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The Risk of Machine-Learning Bias (and How to Prevent It)

Machine-learning algorithms enable companies to realize new efficiencies for tasks from evaluating credit for loan applications to scanning legal contracts for errors. But they are as susceptible as any system to the “garbage in, garbage out” syndrome when it comes to biased data. Left unchecked, feeding biased data to self-learning systems can lead to unintended and sometimes dangerous outcomes.

When SMART Goals Are Not So Smart

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 6 min 

The traditional “SMART” approach to goal setting may no longer offer companies the best path forward. In a continually changing competitive environment, companies should develop their goals in the context of current conditions.

Tangled Webs and Executive Naïveté

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  • Read Time: 6 min 

Leaders in a digital world have to navigate more complexity than ever before, where a problem that arises in one node of such network work can spread easily, with widespread adverse impact. But complexity-induced problems often have similar fundamental causes — and similar solutions. Leaders can ameliorate the effects of complexity by developing broader, not just deeper, perspectives; learning to think in terms of scenarios; and being clear about strategic intent.

Using AI to Help the World Thrive

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  • Read Time: 5 min 

It’s possible that humankind has created complex, systemic problems that exceed our human capacity to solve them. Some companies, particularly the tech giants, are recognizing this possibility and looking to AI as a tool for solving environmental and social problems. One of these companies is Microsoft. In December 2017, it committed $50 million to its new “AI for Earth” program to fund innovators who are making progress in four critical areas — climate change, water, agriculture, and biodiversity.

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Six Steps to Communicating Strategic Priorities Effectively

It’s common practice to develop a handful of strategic priorities to focus strategy — but formulated correctly, they’re also useful communication tools for both internal and external stakeholders. Clear, credible priorities linked to explicit metrics offer a framework for assessing progress toward the company’s goals, in a way that abstractions like vision or mission cannot.

We Must Rescue ‘Win-Win’ From Its Buzzword Status

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  • Read Time: 6 min 

Companies tend to compete not as individual entities, but as members of networks — which makes collaboration a strategic necessity, not merely a tactical choice. But while many executives say they want win-win solutions, in reality, they usually seek victories that don’t excessively annoy their counterparts. In other words, “win/no-lose” is a more accurate description.

Showing 1-20 of 151