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MIT Sloan Management Review

MIT Sloan Management Review

Summer 2020

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.

Country:
United States
Language:
English
Publisher:
MIT Sloan Management Review
Frequency:
Quarterly
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4 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
gaining clarity from adversity

For all that has been said and written about uncertainty since COVID-19 emerged into public view, the global pandemic has had a clarifying effect. It has highlighted weaknesses in our planning, priorities, and systems, and it has revealed individuals’ and institutions’ true values. We now see how many of us have been working without a sufficient net. For business, the pursuit of efficiency may have cost a great deal more than we expected in terms of operational resilience. A narrow view of risk management left too many unprepared and undercapitalized despite decades of well-founded warnings that a pandemic event was inevitable. And many nations have allowed social safety nets to fray, leaving unprotected those at the margins, who are now suffering disproportionately from both disease and financial insecurity. The crisis has held…

3 min.
[ elsewhere]

Office Space — Sized Extra Large Remote work has become the new norm for many organizations during the COVID-19 crisis, but at some point, most companies will want to find ways to bring employees back to the office. Of course, the big question on everyone’s mind is, how do you do it in a manner that’s both workable and safe? While there’s no single solution that can apply in every situation, senior executives, designers, and logistics and medical experts are scrambling to identify the best options. In “Our Offices Will Never Be the Same After COVID-19. Here’s What They Could Look Like” (April 13, 2020), Fast Company lays out some of the possibilities. Among them are ideas for safe workplace configurations developed by Cushman & Wakefield, the global commercial real estate services…

10 min.
lessons in rapid innovation from the covid-19 pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is one of the most difficult collective challenges facing humanity since the last world war. In the midst of the turmoil, national health authorities, pharmaceutical companies, universities, and research institutes are racing to find therapies to save lives and contain the grave social and economic consequences of the pandemic. As organizations and experts scramble to innovate therapies, they are also redefining innovation. The conventional approach to innovation in the pharmaceutical industry is to conduct a lengthy process that starts with the discovery and generation of potential drug compounds and moves through a meticulous refinement and selection phase toward gradual development, clinical testing, and market approval. Although this model will continue to be the most effective in future drug development, it is now being complemented with an ultrafast approach…

7 min.
how autonomy creates resilience in the face of crisis

The outbreak of COVID-19 has exposed the fragility of the global supply chain and, in turn, many companies’ organizational structures. In their pursuit to become ever more efficient, bear fewer costs, and eliminate redundancies, many organizations have come to rely on tightly coupled, interdependent systems. In this type of system, there is little slack and few buffers among its parts and, as we have now seen, little room to maneuver when something goes seriously awry. Dependencies span vast geographic distances, and they can be especially vulnerable to delays in another part of the chain. In the auto industry, for instance, manufacturers — from Toyota in Japan to General Motors in the U.S. — all rely on parts from China, and the industrywide emphasis on just-in-time delivery means they don’t carry much…

11 min.
sustaining employee networks in the virtual workplace

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in virtual work across companies, with many or even all employees working from home for an extended period of time. One of the key unintended consequences of this widespread switch to virtual work is the impact on the relationships and interpersonal networks within organizations. By better understanding how working remotely can damage connections, trust, and cooperation, managers can act to mitigate those effects. One of the biggest drivers of who interacts with whom in organizations is physical proximity — a phenomenon that’s been observed from the U.S. Senate1 to the Google campus.2 Amazingly, even a distance of a meter or two can make a big difference. When everyone goes virtual, though, employees can no longer casually run into someone in the hallway or…

7 min.
is it time to rethink globalized supply chains?

The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on Chinese manufacturers, and because of the central role many Chinese companies play in the supply chains of other companies, the impact was rapidly felt around the world. The disruption has been particularly acute in the electronics and auto industries, but it has also affected pharmaceuticals, metals, and a wide range of consumer and industrial products. How did we end up with such complex interdependency in our supply chains — and what should managers be thinking about as we seek to bolster future resilience? Over the past three decades, supply chains have become increasingly global. This change has been driven by the dramatic increase in the number of goods and services that are tradable. Tradability is determined by the extent to which items can be…