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Ideas Made to Matter

Leadership

18 quotes for business and management from 2019

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“The next 10 years could be the best 10 years we've ever seen or the worst decade, and that depends less on the technology and more on the choices we make.”  

That observation, from Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, feels particularly prescient as we take stock of the 2010s and prepare for a new decade of technological, economic, and social change. Here are 17 other quotes that resonated with us this year: 

“There were leaders who I thought were extremely good and effective who were just broken by the financial crisis in 2008. They were simply unable to bounce back after experiencing such a catastrophic event.” — Chi-Won Yoon, former president, UBS Group Asia Pacific

Credit: Caitlin Cunningham

Toxic leaders talk about all the great things they can do. Only later do you start to see the underbelly that isn’t always visible at first glance.” — Deborah Ancona, founder, MIT Leadership Center

"How did the U.S. start getting more from less? By using the tools of the digital age — hardware, software, and networks — to progressively dematerialize our consumption. We kept finding ways to use fewer atoms by using more bits." —Andrew McAfee, co-director, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy

“Climate change in all its ramifications not only affects people profoundly, it affects markets on a geopolitical level. It affects the business strategy that companies have to adopt going forward.” — Gita Rao, finance faculty, MIT Sloan

“My generation has grown up watching the world's most intractable problems become only more exacerbated — poverty, climate change, social injustice, and more.” — Amrita Sankar, MBA ’20, co-president, MIT Impact Investing Initiative

Credit: Jake Belcher

“I know what it feels like to have to deal with dirty data every single month, every single quarter.” — Veda Bawo, director of data governance, Raymond James 

"At 2,300-plus pages, Dodd-Frank made sweeping changes to the financial landscape. Some of these changes have improved conditions; others have had unintended consequences; and some have made things worse."  Laura Kodres, distinguished senior fellow, MIT Golub Center for Finance and Policy

“With artificial intelligence, you just can't throw it in, plug it in, turn it on, and it works. You've got to adapt the technology for the process; otherwise, all you do is automate something that was lousy.” — John Kelly, chief technology officer, IBM

"America is losing its one-time healthy middle class and desperately wants it back. But how? What almost no one talks about is how we can improve the low-wage jobs — mostly in the service sector — that already exist." — Zeynep Ton, professor, MIT Sloan

Credit: Caitlin Cunningham

"Companies whose boards of directors have digital savvy outperform other companies. To be more specific, we found that it takes three members with digital savvy to have a statistically significant impact." — Peter Weill and Stephanie Woerner, research scientists, MIT Center for Information Systems Research

"While a prime responsibility of business leaders continues to be the viability and prosperity of their own companies and the generation of long-term value for their shareholders, they can no longer ignore the interests of customers, employees, suppliers, and communities." — Irving Wladawsky-Berger, research affiliate, MIT Sloan

"What you get out of capitalism depends on how you shape it. If you rely on wealthy people and already powerful businesses to make the key decisions, you will mostly get what you already have – a highly unequal economy, prone to crises, rushing headlong toward a climate catastrophe.” — Simon Johnson, professor, MIT Sloan

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