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This week’s must-reads for managers: Slack is making us miserable, why underdog expectations predict high performance, the future of automated vehicles, and a CEO letter confronts climate change.
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In the 2010s, MIT Sloan Management Review readers gravitated toward articles that will help them prepare for the future of work — and succeed in an ever-evolving present. Topics of particular interest include digital transformation and competition, global talent management, emerging jobs in the AI era, and strategy execution.
In 2019, MIT Sloan Management Review readers gravitated toward articles that will help them prepare for the new world of work. The most popular articles of the year focused on making strategic decisions, finding growth in nondisruptive creation, and embracing the value of obvious insights.
The belief that automation is an all-or-nothing proposition is preventing some companies from incorporating technology into their workflows. But holding on to that (mistaken) belief means companies are missing out on opportunities to streamline their processes and free employees for more important and less repetitive tasks. Three key steps can help these companies overcome legacy approaches and apply technology solutions where they can do the most good.
WeWork’s free fall has fed a spirited discussion over how we define the business of technology; Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has changed capitalism — and possibly democracy; the sharing economy expands.
Investing in job redesign without first planning for and investing in redefining work narrows future outcomes and limits opportunities for both growth and long-term value creation. Understanding the relationship between these two approaches to work is essential to any strategic effort to compete over the long term.
The 2019 MIT SMR and BCG Global Research Report Winning With AI looks at why there is a big gap between companies getting value from AI and those that aren’t as well as the cultural and leadership factors that characterize AI pioneers. This webinar summarizes the findings and lessons of the research.
Between 2011 and 2018, at least 72 blockchain breaches were reported, costing users over $2 billion. Many of these were possible because blockchain is vulnerable in some of the same ways conventional record-keeping systems are. The rest are even more troubling, because bad actors were able to exploit the very features that make blockchain revolutionary. Managers should look closely at both types of vulnerabilities so they can weigh the risks before exploring business applications.
Three common trouble points impede companies moving toward using AI: Leaders are unclear what it means to adopt AI; systems are drawing from too much junky data; and there isn’t a careful balance between customer loss of privacy and the value returned. These problems can be resolved only when leaders pay close attention to the strategic challenges of bringing AI on and approach AI as an integrated element of their processes.
Digital tools make remote teams possible, but it’s not easy to wrangle an increasingly distributed workforce. Leaders must grapple with problems in several key areas: communication, project management, talent development and management, and reliable access to technology. Still, those who take steps to harness the strengths of remote work while minimizing the drawbacks will find themselves with a highly motivated, invested team.
The theory is simple: With a clipboard and a stopwatch, you can measure and improve the performance of your workforce. But management by metrics doesn’t facilitate breakthroughs. For that, you need leadership: the art of doing things you’re not sure of, and doing them with enrollment instead of authority.
Few organizations have the resources necessary to transform operations, business models, and customer experience all at the same time. They need to prioritize. Focusing on the transformation of the customer experience should be first. This is not because it’s necessarily the easiest, but because doing so is far more likely to keep a company viable than changing other aspects of business.
Technology adoption based on the technology alone is bound to miss the mark. Fintech will not disrupt the financial industry overnight, but when it does, it will reflect a larger and more complex social debate than its inherent technological or economic merits. Managers need to get involved in this debate now, so they can navigate the uncertainty, and decide to adopt it — or not.
There’s very little regulatory oversight for the tech industry, and this has become a problem. The status quo lacks transparency and shuts down competition — while holding no one accountable for breaches of trust. Some want big tech companies broken up. Others want stronger government oversight. They all are trying to answer the same question: What’s the best way to regulate the tech industry so that privacy and ethics concerns are addressed without stifling innovation?
Too many companies mistakenly view digital disruption as a technology threat, so they undertake digital transformation by focusing primarily on the need to upgrade their systems. That is a costly error — one that could even be fatal if taken to the extreme. Above all else, digital transformation is about people: the right people inspired by the right culture prepared to adapt to a very new landscape. Driving that culture is a leader’s most important responsibility today.
When we consider articles for publication, we look for three things: ideas that will help managers navigate an increasingly digital world, evidence-based thinking, and accessible frameworks and recommendations that readers can apply. We’re eager to hear from our readers about what they value in MIT SMR, what topics they would like to see us explore more often or more deeply, and what we could do better.
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