Leading Change

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An Executive Guide to the Summer 2019 Issue

The Executive Briefings for the Summer 2019 issue of MIT SMR give a snapshot of the issue’s close look at the challenges, culture shifts, and opportunities that adopting AI will bring to businesses. Plus: How to make M&A successful; does management style change with age?

People and Machines: Partners in Innovation

Thoughtful adoption of intelligent technologies will be essential to survival for many companies. But simply implementing the latest technologies and automation tools won’t be enough. Success will depend on whether organizations use them to innovate in their operations and in their products and services—and whether they acquire and develop the human capital to do so.

A New Era for Culture, Change, and Leadership

Renowned social psychologist Edgar Schein and his colleagues defined how we thought about organizations and leadership in the 1950s. But in the digital era, Schein — working with his son, Silicon Valley executive Peter Schein — has developed a new perspective, one that advocates combining culture, change, and leadership into an integrated process, rather than viewing them as three separate topics of importance.

Building Digital-Ready Culture in Traditional Organizations

For legacy companies, culture change is often the biggest challenge of digital transformation. How can they become more agile and innovative without alienating their best employees or wrecking their best existing practices? This article provides a framework for leaders in any industry. The process begins with understanding four key values of digital culture: impact, speed, openness, and autonomy. It then involves adopting or refining a set of digital-ready practices, grounded in these values.

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Make Gender Equality a Value, Not a Priority

  • Read Time: 3 min 

To make gender equality a reality, organizations need to shift their thinking about what it means to them — that is, to make it part of their company’s values and a permanent driver of culture rather than a mere priority that might change in time. Lessons can be learned from the energy sector, which saw a cultural shift take place around another crucial workplace issue: safety.

The World in 2030: Nine Megatrends to Watch

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  • Read Time: 8 min 

Nine fast-moving megatrends are shaping where our world will be in 11 years. From demographics to urbanization to the big one — climate change — and more, the directions we’re heading and choices we make in the next decade will have enormous impacts on our careers, businesses, and lives.

Four Profiles of Successful Digital Executives

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  • Read Time: 10 min 

Hoping a jack-of-all-trades can lead your organization’s digital transition is unrealistic. We found four distinct types of successful digital executives who can best provide vision and purpose for digital. Crucially, each type has unique strengths and performs best in different contexts.

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The First Law of Digital Innovation

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  • Read Time: 8 min 

Most of us know Moore’s law, that the power of semiconductor chips grows exponentially, not linearly, over time. Moore’s law, though, is only part of the technology equation. There’s another critical law that needs more attention. It’s this: While technology changes quickly, organizations change much more slowly. That means digital transformation is as much a leadership challenge as a technical one.

Do Men Know More About Salaries?

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When it comes to salary transparency, one widely held belief is that women have a harder time collecting salary information than men. While some research suggests this may be true in some cases, collective research has not tackled a fundamental question: Are female employees truly less informed about salaries, or is this just a stereotype?

The Plight of the Graying Tech Worker

High-skilled immigration is dramatically transforming the tech sector in the United States. U.S. tech workers over age 40 have good reasons to be concerned. In addition to competing with greater numbers of skilled foreign workers, older tech workers are now also more likely than younger workers to lose their jobs when technical work moves overseas.

How Managers Can Best Support a Gig Workforce

The rise of digital giants in the gig economy has brought new scrutiny to how companies should manage contingent workers. This new landscape offers new flexibility and opportunity, but workers also face unpredictability, with inconsistent incomes and scant benefits. Companies and managers can take three practical measures to help support these workers in the future.

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How Digital Leadership Is(n’t) Different

Many of us assume that the leadership handbook must be completely rewritten for the digital age. Is this true? Or are we overly focused on what’s changing and thus neglecting the fundamentals? There is something to be said for both arguments. While many core leadership skills remain the same, the demands of digital disruption call for certain new ones, as well. This article explores which are which and what we can learn from organizations that are digitally maturing.

Getting Your Employees Ready for Work in the Age of AI

  • Frontiers

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 7 min 

How can companies and employees find common ground when it comes to skill development and investment in AI capabilities? To start, senior executives should seek clarity around capability gaps and determine which skills their people need. From there, leaders should take an approach that advances those skills for human-AI collaboration.

Five Insights From Davos on the Future of Work

  • Read Time: 5 min 

At the 2019 gathering of the World Economic Forum, much of the conversation was about the need for re-skilling and inclusive education, and the ongoing gender gap in the world of technology. Lynda Gratton, a professor of management practice at London Business School, attended the Davos conference as a steward of the World Economic Forum Council on Work, Education and Gender, and shares her insights from the meeting.

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