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MIT Sloan Management Review

MIT Sloan Management Review Summer 2018

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.
a platform greater than facebook

At MIT SMR, we have published — and will continue to publish — volumes of content extolling the importance of digital transformation, with much of it focusing on the good that new technologies stand to deliver to both business and broader society. I, myself, am a techno-optimist. But there are also times when we need to step back, take stock, and seize just a bit more control over how our world is evolving. Lately, many of us have been suffering a period of particular disquiet. Even by recent standards, the wave of technological and political disorder in 2018 has been unnerving, as disruptions in one arena feed turmoil in others. How we choose to live our own lives is at stake as well. We have become public citizens almost by force at…

3 min.
[ elsewhere ]

Making the Open Office Work As more and more companies adopt open-office designs, reports are mixed on whether the new configurations are all they’re cracked up to be. On the positive side, organizations like to say that eliminating fixed offices can foster teamwork, create opportunities for casual idea sharing, and reduce the need for formal meetings. But employees often complain that there can be too much noise and distraction, making it difficult to get things done. A recent article in Bloomberg, “Everyone Hates the Open-Plan Office. It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way” (May 1, 2018), contains practical suggestions on how organizations can make the new offices feel like pleasant, productive places to work. One opportunity companies sometimes miss, according to writer Atossa Abrahamian, is to showcase the amenities the space has…

7 min.
implement first, ask questions later (or not at all)

THEISPOT.COM Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg nicely summarized a modern philosophy about technology innovation when he spoke about the need to “move fast and break things.” Increasingly, that same mindset appears to drive how companies implement new technologies as well. And this phenomenon stretches beyond Silicon Valley. For decades, companies required their IT teams to identify, model, and validate business requirements before writing a line of code or adopting a new technology platform, product, or service. Today, that approach seems almost quaint. Companies no longer build giant flowcharts, analyze tasks, or model business requirements in advance of deploying new technology. They just pilot and adopt — often before they have a clear idea of the business problem they’re trying to solve. Once, this launch-first mentality would have been considered heresy. Yet it has…

7 min.
can it be too in sync with business strategy?

In the wake of the global economic downturn, price pressures forced the Chongqing Qianwei Science & Technology Group Co. Ltd., a Chinese shipbuilder headquartered in Chongqing, to reevaluate its business strategy. For years, as the company focused on diversifying and creating new product lines, it left IT decisions largely up to the managers of its subsidiaries so they could respond nimbly to customer needs. But after the downturn, Qianwei’s top executives realized they needed to cut costs, and the company’s former distributed approach to IT “proved to be a huge obstacle,” said Zhang Jin, former CEO of Qianwei Group. It was well-aligned with the former strategy but created an obstacle of its own — it seemed to rob Qianwei of its agility. Qianwei’s top executives thus found themselves confronting a frustrating dilemma:…

7 min.
beyond the speed-price trade-off

In the early days of online retailing, e-commerce companies fulfilled consumer demand from a small number of large-scale warehouses that carried similar catalogs of items. Retailers stocked inventory for low-volume products in as few locations as possible while maintaining service levels that met customer expectations. It was a way to keep inventory costs low and take advantage of the economies of scale that large fulfillment centers provide. Since consumers were willing to wait for deliveries, proximity and speed were less important than cost savings. But the online retail market has changed. Today’s shoppers want more than low prices — they also want the products they order delivered quickly. To achieve same-day delivery, retailers are experimenting with new business and operations models, including using third parties (such as local city-specific delivery services),…

1 min.
related research

J. Acimovic and S.C. Graves, “Making Better Fulfillment Decisions on the Fly in an Online Retail Environment,” Manufacturing and Service Operations Management 17, no. 1 (winter 2015): 34-51. https://doi.org/10.1287/msom.2014.0505 . J. Acimovic and S.C. Graves, “Mitigating Spillover in Online Retailing via Replenishment,” Manufacturing and Service Operations Management 19, no. 3 (summer 2017): 419-436. https://doi.org/10.1287/msom.2016.0614 . M.K. Lim, H.-Y. Mak, and Z.-J.M. Shen, “Agility and Proximity Considerations in Supply Chain Design,” Management Science 63, no. 4 (April 2017): 1026-1041. https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2015.2380 .…