Operations

A Shared Passion for Place Can Make a Business More Resilient

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  • Read Time: 5 min 

Leaders are increasingly strangers in the places where their organizations reside. With greater mobility and a disconnect from a physical office space, many leaders have identities that are not tied to one location. Yet leaders who lack a clear “passion for place” and well-established stakeholder connections might be putting their companies at a disadvantage during times of hardship.

The Only Way Manufacturers Can Survive

Although most manufacturers are beginning to flirt with digital technologies, not one has successfully pulled off a digital transformation. CEOs still have to figure out its art — and science — forcing them to draw up their game plans on the fly, which inevitably leads to tension and trauma. But they are learning. Here’s how GE has navigated its own digital transformation process.

Amazon Raised Its Minimum Wage — Will Its Rivals Do the Same?

Each month, the MIT SMR Strategy Forum poses a single question to our panel of experts in the fields of business, economics, and management. This month’s question asks our panel whether Amazon, by raising the minimum wage for its U.S. workers to $15 per hour, will influence other companies to do the same.

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Planning for the Human-Digital Workforce

  • Video | Runtime: 1:03:22

Automation is a scary word for the average worker, but implemented correctly, it can have enormous benefits for companies, customers, and even the workforce. In this webinar, automation expert Mary Lacity explains how thoughtful adoption of bots and automated services can make the difference in the outcome for all stakeholders.

How Should Companies Talk to Customers Online?

Digital customer service is becoming more widely adopted, but one place it falls short is in the language and phrases it uses. Many digital service platforms use words that alienate customers rather than engage them; selecting customer-centric language for chatbots and service platforms can make a significant difference in customer satisfaction.

How Innovative Partnerships Are Changing Health Care Delivery

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  • Read Time: 13 min 

Innovation is transforming the health care industry, with unlikely collaborators teaming up to provide higher-quality, lower-cost services. In this interview with MIT SMR, Harvard Business School professor Regina Herzlinger, an expert in health care delivery and innovation, discusses recent collaborations between retailers and insurers, such as CVS’s partnership with Aetna and Walmart’s with Humana, and explains why hospitals and other providers must be more innovative, too.

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Get Things Done With Smaller Teams

There are many reasons why large programs fail, but one potential cause is that they simply break down under their own weight. Smaller teams move faster, iterate at a higher frequency, and innovate more for the company. There are ten specific ways that managers can nurture small teams in big organizations, from increasing visibility and accountability to being less formal when sharing information.

Breaking Logjams in Knowledge Work

Despite the well-documented costs of overload, many leaders still think organizations thrive under pressure. They have a lot to learn from manufacturing, where managers have adopted a “pull” system to manage task flow, improving productivity and performance. This concept can be used to prevent overload in knowledge work, too. And “visual management” techniques make it easier to apply pull thinking to a portfolio of projects by rendering nonphysical tasks tangible. Two recent changes at the Broad Institute, an MIT-affiliated biomedical and genomic research center, illustrate how.

How Innovative Mergers Are Shaping Health Care Delivery

  • Video | Runtime: 00:39:44

Innovation and disruption are transforming the health care industry, with unlikely partners like Walmart and Humana teaming up to deliver high-quality, low-cost care to customers. Regina Herzlinger, the Nancy R. McPherson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and an expert in health care delivery and innovation, discusses the lessons such collaborations between health care retailers and insurers offer for managers.

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?

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.

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Building the Right Ecosystem for Innovation

As digital disruption expands, many legacy businesses seek partnerships with tech companies to maintain competitiveness in the digital sphere. But instead of a centralized “hub” partnership, some companies find greater success through an adaptive ecosystem model, where partners develop significant projects or innovations together. This type of strategy requires imagination and flexibility.

Want the Best Results From AI? Ask a Human

Companies are adopting artificial intelligence at an accelerated pace — and learning that developing and deploying AI is not like implementing a standard software program. Before diving into AI systems, companies should consider three principles that can greatly improve the chances for a successful outcome. First, they need to recognize that humans and machines are in this together. Second, they need to teach the AI systems with a lot of data. And third, they need to continually test what the systems have learned.

Beyond the Speed-Price Trade-Off

In response to increasing consumer demands for faster deliveries without added cost, more companies are implementing IT solutions that enable access to real-time sales data and inventory data across the whole enterprise. Real-time sales and inventory information, coupled with advanced analytics enables networks to accommodate fluctuations and changes in the business environment quickly, a quality the authors call distribution agility.

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