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MIT Sloan Management Review

MIT Sloan Management Review Fall 2012

MIT Sloan Management Review leads the discourse among academic researchers, business executives and other influential thought leaders about advances in management practice, particularly those shaped by technology,  that are transforming how people lead and innovate. MIT SMR disseminates new management research and innovative ideas so that thoughtful executives can capitalize on the opportunities generated by rapid organizational, technological and societal change.

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United States
MIT Sloan Management Review
4 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
winning with data

TWO YEARS AGO, in an interview called “The Four Ways IT Is Revolutionizing Innovation,” Erik Brynjolfsson, the Schussel Family Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, told MIT Sloan Management Review how he saw information technology transforming the way companies do business by, among other things, giving companies “radically improved measurement” capabilities through what he called “nano data.” As Brynjolfsson explained: That [nano data] includes clickstream data, Google [Inc.] trends, detailed e-mail data, the billions and trillions of bits of information that are thrown off by enterprise planning systems. Even without any conscious effort on the part of the designers, this information is just generated. But by studying these data very carefully, companies can have much better knowledge of their customers, of their business processes, of their product…

2 min.
on the web sloanreview.mit.edu

Dell’s Innovations in Sustainable Packaging The computer and technology company’s sustainability team, working with suppliers and recyclers, has developed new compostable packaging materials made from bamboo. John Pflueger, principal environmental strategist at Dell, explained that sustainability initiatives allow the company to source its packaging near the point of use. “Right now, 70 percent of notebooks ship in bamboo,” said Pflueger. “You might think that packaging seems like this mundane, boring topic,’’ he added, “but it really addresses a recurring pain point with a lot of our customers.” Read the interview: sloanreview.mit.edu/x/54105 The Storage and Transfer Challenges of Big Data With companies collecting increasingly enormous amounts of information, two questions become important: How do you store it, and how do you transmit it? “The capital cost of buying more capacity isn’t going down,” said…

2 min.
the richard beckhard memorial prize

THIS YEAR’S Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize winner goes to the Fall 2010 MIT SMR article by Rob Cross, Peter Gray, Shirley Cunningham, Mark Showers and Robert Thomas entitled “The Collaborative Organization: How to Make Employee Networks Really Work.” The authors conclude that senior leaders can reduce collaborative costs and network inefficiencies by understanding the broad patterns of employee interactions and what makes for effective internal employee networks. The technique of network analysis can help senior managers detect structural problems within their organization — such things as hidden logjams that slow the organizational network down or gaps that undermine strategy execution. This work rests on considerable empirical data detailing various help-and-advise networks in 12 large organizations sampled across industries. Some of these networks display high levels of collaboration while others do not. The…

2 min.
quick takes

“It seems that many large companies have become so focused on optimizing their business processes and systems that they have become all too willing to forget about cultivating emotional connections with customers . But as global business environments become less predictable, there are serious risks in putting too much emphasis on process and systems.” (From Agarwal and Weill, “The Benefits of Combining Data With Empathy,” page 35.) “The idea is to empower Kyocera employees to act like independent owners and business partners with people in other parts of the company.” (From Adler and Hiromoto, “Amoeba Management: Lessons From Japan’s Kyocera,” page 83.) “We believe that business schools should spend more time helping their students surface, debate and test the assumptions underlying each model , theory or framework they are learning about.” (From…

7 min.
why boards need to change

Sustainability is an increasingly important business issue. There is a growing recognition that the long-term viability of corporations depends on how they impact the environment and society. In response, many companies have initiated sustainability and corporate social responsibility programs. Some of these programs represent good first steps toward improving the impact of their organizations on the environment and society. However, they are not enough. For organizations to perform well financially, socially and environmentally, they need more than just a program. They need a fundamental change in their goals and how they achieve them. Instead of a sustainability program, corporations need a DNA change that must begin at the top. Research on organization change programs shows that the initial gains they produce rarely survive unless they address the standard operating procedures of companies…

7 min.
the gap between the vision for marketing and reality

The growing number of chief marketing executives reflects the increasing importance companies attach to marketing. Yet the average tenure of a chief marketing officer (CMO) is three and a half years, well below that of the typical CEO. Both the prevalence of the CMO position and its precariousness give rise to the question: Has marketing realized the vision to which its adherents have long aspired? A recent global survey of CMOs reveals both how far marketing has come and where there is room to grow. The Vision for Marketing For more than 60 years, marketers have had a clear vision of the ideal role of marketing,which consists of two core ideas.One is the concept of the “marketing mix,” which dates to the late 1940s. Harvard’s Neil Borden, while president of the American…