Leading Change

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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.

How Effective Leaders Drive Digital Change

Success in managing digital transformation starts with clarification of priorities, effective feedback, open development communications, and a willingness to take risks. These four behaviors, which allow employees to share ideas more freely and embrace taking risks, can lead to higher-performing teams during digital transformation.

Seizing Opportunity in Data Quality

Bad data is the norm. Every day, businesses send packages to customers, managers decide which candidate to hire, and executives make long-term plans based on data provided by others. When that data is incomplete, poorly defined, or wrong, there are immediate consequences: angry customers, wasted time, and added difficulties in the execution of strategy. Getting in front on data quality is crucial, and presents a terrific opportunity to improve business performance.

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Leading in a Time of Increased Expectations

Traditionally, big energy companies focused primarily on power generation, not customer-centricity. But that’s changing — and today’s digitally empowered customers have opinions about everything from where their energy should come from to when their bills should arrive. Lynn Good, CEO of Duke Energy Corp., reflects on guiding her company through this transformation.

Don’t Confuse Digital With Digitization

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“Becoming digital” is a totally different exercise from digitizing. Digitization involves standardizing business processes and is an important enabler of digital, but digitization on its own won’t make a business a digital company. Instead, a digital transformation involves rethinking a company’s value proposition. To become digital and pursue a digital vision, companies must embrace information-enriched customer solutions delivered as a seamless, personalized customer experience.

Turning Strategy Into Results

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Businesses develop strategies to address complex, multi-layered business environments and challenges — but to execute a strategy in a meaningful way, it must produce a set of specific priorities focused on achieving clear goals. Rather than trying to boil the strategy down to a pithy statement, executives will get better results if they develop a small set of actions that everyone gets behind.

The Case Against Agility

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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.

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The 2017 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize

The editors of MIT Sloan Management Review are pleased to announce that the winner of this year’s Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize, awarded annually to the most outstanding MIT SMR article on planned change and organizational development, is Emilio J. Castilla’s article “Achieving Meritocracy in the Workplace.”

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Leading to Become Obsolete

Zhang Ruimin, the CEO and chairman of the Qingdao, China, white goods giant Haier Group Corp., has done what most chief executives dare not even dream about. He blew up nearly the entire administrative structure of a global manufacturing enterprise, eliminating the 10,000 management jobs that once held it together, and reshaped the organization into a network of entrepreneurial ventures run by employees.

Inspiring Employee Creativity

Digital technologies are making work increasingly thought-driven, not muscle-powered. In this environment, planning and execution are merely table stakes for leadership. Real leaders must inspire and reward employee ingenuity, and must be bold enough to move creativity from the organization’s periphery to its center. To do that, leaders need to adopt five personal behavior changes, including resisting the temptation to tell people what to do and embracing distributed leadership.

How to Catalyze Innovation in Your Organization

The authors’ research suggests that, rather than leaving the development of innovation to serendipity, executives should create collaborative contexts where innovation is likely to emerge from unpredictable pockets of creativity within an organization. By understanding and tapping the power of employee networks, executives can stimulate the creation of these kinds of collaborative environments.

The Question Every Executive Should Ask

Gone are the days of centralized control of information and decision-making within organizations. With information now widely distributed among employees, Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard J. Tyson says today’s executives face a critical question: “How do I charge up the organization so that we’re maximizing the intellects of all of our people?”

In the Hotel Industry, Digital Has Made Itself Right at Home

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Doing business digitally isn’t an “add technology and stir” proposition. Success in digital business means fundamental changes in how you do business. Marriott International’s George Corbin knows this all too well. “For any company that is being disrupted by digital, it’s important that they not just be able to recognize if there’s a potential threat to its existing business,” he says. “The bigger challenge is, how and what do you change to make the transition from where it is to where it needs to be?”

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