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Leadership

8 business insights for leaders from MIT Sloan Management Review

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Is there more harm than hype to blockchain? Is there such a thing as too many metrics? Where will we see artificial intelligence next? Here are some answers — and insights — from MIT Sloan Management Review.

Leadership Mindsets for the New Economy

For the past year, MIT Sloan senior lecturer Douglas Ready has surveyed more than 4,000 managers and executives around the world, and studied their thoughts on how the changing workplace is also impacting leadership.

“One of the most striking findings from this ongoing research initiative,” Ready writes, “is that both the survey respondents and those interviewed believe that their leaders lack the mindset needed to bring about the strategic and cultural changes required to lead in the new economy.” Ready writes that there are four mindsets a leader can adopt to be successful in the digital economy. They are:  

  • producer
  • investor
  • connector
  • explorer

Five Rules for Leading in a Digital World

Changing their mindset in a new economy is one thing, but leaders must also have a strategy for navigating that landscape. Deborah Ancona, MIT Sloan professor of management, writes that there are five things executives and managers can do to be successful in handling what lies ahead:

  • Communicate your leadership signature
  • Be a sensemaker
  • Build X-teams
  • Replace toxic tendencies with challenge-driven leadership
  • Build the systems to make all this possible

Don’t Let Metrics Critics Undermine Your Business

The metrics pendulum that swung in favor of numbers, data, and indicators has changed direction. Michael Schrage, a research fellow at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, writes that companies now are pledging to not be so focused on metrics.

But Schrage writes that isn’t the right approach and it could do more harm than good.

“Organizations hurt themselves and their customers precisely because they don’t value metrics enough,” Schrage writes. “Instead of treating measurements seriously or strategically, management defers or defaults to KPIs that inspire neither insight nor foresight. Leadership fails to understand the power and potential of metrics as an asset.”

Blockchain Isn’t as Unbreakable as You Think

Blockchain is billed as a suite of technologies that offers security and transparency, but MIT Sloan professor Stuart Madnick warns that with every benefit, there’s a need for more understanding and scrutiny of that assumed advantage.

Madnick conducted research on 72 blockchain breaches between 2011 and 2018 that totaled more than $2 billion in costs to users. He considered the four features that distinguish blockchain:   

  • transparency
  • distributed control
  • anonymity
  • immutability

“The truth is that blockchain is not as secure as it is believed to be” Madnick writes, “and its features can rebound in unfortunate ways.”

Is Deep Learning a Game Changer for Marketing Analytics?

We’ve seen what deep learning can do when it comes to artificial intelligence applications. Consider Apple’s virtual assistant Siri and its ability to translate questions or help users navigate roadways. Artificial intelligence is also used in labs, and for crunching large datasets. 

But how will it be used in the future of marketing? Glen Urban, a professor emeritus at MIT Sloan, and John Hauser, a marketing professor at MIT Sloan, write that it’s not hard to see this technology being used to gain a market advantage.

“Different types of organizations will try to harness the powers of deep learning in their own ways,” the co-authors write. “An automaker might use them to target new customers, revamp the buying process, or fine-tune product features a specific set of buyers will want.”

And don’t miss:

A webinar for managers that teaches how to give immediate — and constructive — feedback to employees. MIT Center for Digital Business research fellow Michael Schrage joins author Kim Scott in a moderated discussion on the concept of Radical Candor.

A recent episode of the Three Big Points podcast highlighting “How Digital Changes the Role of Leaders.” Jeanne Ross, principle research scientist at MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research, talks digital transformation strategies and what leaders must do for them to be successful.

Tom Davenport, a fellow at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, writes that digital transformation should start with customers. Davenport and his co-author Andrew Spanyi write that it’s better for an organization to tackle an expansive and expensive makeover by focusing on “customer experience, relationships, and processes.”

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