Leading Change

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We Must Keep Globalization in Its Place: The Marketplace

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It’s remarkable how many people line up either for or against globalization and then dismiss the other side. Who’s right? Neither. We should all be lining up for and against globalization, to retain what is constructive about it while challenging what has become destructive. We need to keep globalization in its place — the marketplace, where it creates value — while keeping it out of the public space, where it has become increasingly destructive.

The 2018 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize

The editors of MIT Sloan Management Review are pleased to announce 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. The 2018 award goes to “The Corporate Implications of Longer Lives,” by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, both professors at London Business School.

There’s Always a Time Lag (With a Price Tag)

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Technology changes faster than society can keep up, a pattern now playing out with artificial intelligence. Many CEOs are taking a wait-and-see approach to AI, while others are anxious to barrel forward. In both cases, there’s little conversation about AI’s human costs. Incremental adaption makes it more likely that AI algorithms shared across organizations and geography are spreading their shortcomings. Leaders must act to mitigate these challenges if AI is to benefit society.

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What Digital Transformation Means in 2018 and Beyond

  • Video | Runtime: 01:03:59

  • Read Time: 1 min 

New research shows that large organizations are still struggling to implement their digital transformations. Relentless, fast-paced technological progress and massive competency shifts present cultural/organizational challenges that make digital transformation a complex yet necessary exercise. In this webinar, Dr. Didier Bonnet discusses these findings and shares his thoughts on the barriers to digital transformation and what leaders can do to overcome them.

MIT SMR Summer Must-Reads

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 1 min 

The most popular articles from the MIT SMR archive reflect the depth and range of management challenges our readers face in areas such as innovation, leadership, strategy, and technology. Authors of these “must reads” include MIT Sloan faculty Nelson Repenning and Donald Sull, plus Clayton Christensen, Albert Segars, Michael Schrage, Sam Ransbotham, David Kiron, Philipp Gerbert, and Martin Reeves.

AI-Driven Leadership

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Not many companies are there yet, but there’s a developing framework for what it takes to lead an AI-driven company. Leaders at the forefront of AI have seven key attributes: They learn the technologies; establish clear business objectives; set an appropriate level of ambition; look beyond pilots and proofs of concept; prepare people for the journey; get the necessary data; and orchestrate collaborative organizations.

Don’t Let Politics Block Your Digital Initiatives

  • Video | Runtime: 0:52:29

Political struggles for control and decision-making often result in blocking or slowing down progress on digital initiatives. In this webinar, digital strategist Jane McConnell discusses her research findings on digital maturity and shares her guidelines for preventing politics from upending digital initiatives.

The High Cost of the Actions We Don’t Take

We can choose not to engage in improving the world. We can seize on every advantage available to us and our companies without thought to the consequences. We can act as if the planet and the global economy are not among our most critical stakeholders. We can join the crush of others who are just hoping to play out the string: keep our heads down, meet our numbers, collect our bonuses, and abdicate long-term responsibility to the next generation. But when we make those choices, we do violence against the future.

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When Communication Should Be Formal

Formal communication channels, such as protocol-guided meetings, are often eschewed by today’s managers and employees, who prefer the ease of email and apps. But informal avenues can lead to oversights and inefficiencies that hurt performance. That’s the central finding of research from IE Business School on manufacturers of high-tech machinery. Fortunately, formal communication protocols can be designed to both maximize performance and overcome people’s resistance to adopting them.

Why Tech Companies Don’t See Their Biggest Problems Coming

Technology companies, such as Facebook, often fail to make crisis management a central feature of their operations, thanks to five blind spots to which they are especially susceptible. Recognizing these shortcomings is the first imperative; the next is developing a well-designed crisis-management program that includes several key features. All tech companies should take heed, because failing to reflect — and then act — can worsen the consequences of crises that come down the pike.

Bringing Lessons From #MeToo to the Boardroom

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  • Read Time: 7 min 

In the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp social movements — not to mention the continuing wave of resignations amid misconduct allegations — sexual harassment policies must be on your board’s agenda. This is true regardless of whether the organization is public, private, or nonprofit. For the sake of all its stakeholders, employees, and customers, directors need to do the right thing — and do it now.

Blockchain and the Clean, Smart Grid

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Some techies think that blockchain and “tamperproof databases” will revolutionize more than money: A blockchain platform for the energy sector could accelerate the transition to renewables. Blockchain can help by making tracking energy more granular, automated, and trusted, which can allow companies to better verify claims of carbon neutrality. It could also streamline financing and insuring new energy projects and even help create a new kind of energy market.

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The Need for ‘Techno-Supporting Skeptics’

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Digital technologies will increase the high levels of ambiguity that executives must navigate. Aspiring leaders may respond by ignoring the challenge, which isn’t sustainable. A better response is to harbor healthy skepticism of the digital technologies they champion, develop values that will lead to better decisions, and work to institutionalize those values at the organizational level.

Digital Is About Speed — But It Takes a Long Time

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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.

The New Digital Mandate: Cultivate Dissatisfaction

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Employee satisfaction can be a double-edged sword. Satisfied employees produce higher quality-outputs and have less turnover. But satisfaction can inhibit innovation: People who are OK with the current way of doing business are not likely to transform it. They need to be aggravated enough with their current situation that they are willing to take the risks to change it. By sowing the right kinds of dissatisfaction, leaders can drive their organizations to higher levels of innovation and value.

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