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MIT Sloan Management Review

MIT Sloan Management Review Winter 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

3 min.
don’t get caught in the middle

Things move so fast in our digitized world that it can feel as if there is no safe place to position yourself — or your organization. How do you anticipate where to go next — whether considering your company’s strategy or your own career — when the winds of change sweep from every direction? You can’t know the right move for certain. And even when you do make a good call, you’ll soon face a new threat of obsolescence. We all need to accept that there are no safe havens — for us or our companies. We simply must be prepared to stay on the move. But whatever you do next, wherever you go, don’t head for the middle. Not the middle of a relationship, not the middle of an organization.…

3 min.

Learning from da Vinci By now, you would think that the contours of Leonardo da Vinci’s genius would be fairly well established. Revered for artistic masterpieces such as the “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper,” da Vinci, who died in 1519, was a gifted engineer as well as a student of, among other things, anatomy, birds, optics, and geology. For decades, he recorded his ideas, large and small, in thousands of pages of notebooks. In a new biography, Walter Isaacson, who has also written biographies of Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin, calls da Vinci “history’s consummate innovator.” In a Wall Street Journal article titled “The Lessons of Leonardo: How to Be a Creative Genius,” Isaacson offered three lessons for those seeking to learn from da Vinci. The first lesson involves curiosity.…

10 min.
surviving a day without smartphones

In contemporary society, many people, particularly those under the age of 30, rely on their smartphones for a variety of important activities, including waking up in the morning, listening to music, following the news, finding bus schedules, and communicating with friends and family. A 2015 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 15% of Americans between ages 18 and 29 were “heavily dependent” on their smartphones for online access. There is no question that smartphones make our lives easier and more connected. But at what cost? Several studies have warned that excessive phone use can affect cognitive abilities, sleep, the quality of social interactions, and the ability to engage at work. Based on the behavior we observed in our classrooms and the extent to which technology is infiltrating young people’s…

6 min.
the fundamental flaw in ai implementation

There is no question that artificial intelligence (AI) is presenting huge opportunities for companies to automate business processes. However, as you prepare to insert machine learning applications into your business processes, I recommend that you not fantasize about how a computer that can win at Go or poker can surely help you win in the marketplace. A better reference point will be your experience implementing your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system or another enterprise system. Yes, effective ERP implementations enhanced the competitiveness of many companies, but many other companies found the experience more of a nightmare. The promised opportunity never came to fruition. Why am I raining on the AI parade? Because, as with enterprise systems, AI inserted into businesses drives value by improving processes through automation. But eventually, the outputs…

11 min.
the board’s role in managing cybersecurity risks

Today, more than ever, the demands posed by issues of cybersecurity clash with both the need for innovation and the clamor for productivity. Increasingly, cybersecurity risk includes not only the risk of a network data breach but also the risk of the entire enterprise being undermined via business activities that rely on open digital connectivity and accessibility. As a result, learning how to deal with cybersecurity risk is of critical importance to an enterprise, and it must therefore be addressed strategically from the very top. Cybersecurity management can no longer be a concern delegated to the information technology (IT) department. It needs to be everyone’s business — including the board’s. Cybersecurity Enters the Boardroom Network breaches have become so routine that only the most spectacular events, such as the recent breach at…

6 min.
when jobs become commodities

We don’t typically think of the jobs that we perform as commodities. The Merriam-Webster dictionary entry for commodity describes it as “a mass-produced unspecialized product.” But most of us view our jobs as specialized or somehow differentiated. We typically believe that we do them differently, and often better, than anyone else with the same job. In fact, we’d probably argue that no one does exactly the same job we do — that we perform at least a slightly different set of tasks, or perform them in a slightly different way, than any coworker. We may well be right about that, but the world of business and management may feel otherwise. Jobs are increasingly viewed as undifferentiated and interchangeable across humans and machines — the very definition of a commodity. Outsourcing —…