See the future: Business insights for 2017 from MIT Sloan Executive Education faculty

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 7 days ago

MIT Sloan faculty insights

As we do at the start of each new year, we asked some of our faculty at MIT Sloan Executive Education to weigh in on trends in their fields and offer insights on doing business in 2017. Here are eight thought leaders on the topics and trends they see developing in the months to come.

Bill Aulet: Inclusive entrepreneurship
In 2017, I see increasing focus on what I call "Inclusive Entrepreneurship." Bringing the benefits of innovation-driven entrepreneurship to a broader base will require entrepreneurship education on a broader scale but also at a higher quality--and in a way that allows for more integration of local context. Entrepreneurship must become a universal possibility available to all, or it will miss the opportunity to help reverse the growing trend of increased stratification and alienation in communities around the world. Aulet teaches in the Entrepreneurship Development Program and the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program.

John Carrier: Making the most of new manufacturing technologies and systems
Innovations in technology, from advanced robotics to the Industrial Internet of Things, are poised to transform the energy and manufacturing sectors. While these changes enable a powerful new way of organizing global operations, implementing large scale technological change rarely goes smoothly and often results in disappointed customers, overburdened employees, and impacts to short-term cash flow. To get the greatest value (and create the least harm) from these newest technologies, executives and frontline managers must not overemphasize visioning at the expense of fully understanding existing systems, the context in which those systems are operating, and the people who must use the technology. These leaders must develop a coherent roadmap that they can share with their entire company. Carrier leads the new course, Implementing Industry 4.0: Leading Change in Manufacturing and Operations.

Emilio J. Castilla: Better people decisions with data
If you have yet to make a resolution for your organization for 2017, consider designing and implementing a winning people analytics strategy, with the goal of attracting, developing, and retaining the best talent. Many leading companies today are using cutting-edge techniques to collect and analyze data about their applicants and employees--"people analytics"--in order to make their organizations and their individual employees more successful. A more data-driven strategic approach to human resource decisions can result in better hires, improved evaluation and rewarding processes, more productive teams, significantly increased profits, and even the correction of systemic workplace biases. The best organizations will seize upon useful data and thoughtful people strategies that can provide unique human-capital insights and enable managers to make better decisions about talent (and even become better managers). Castilla is teaching a new Executive Education program this spring, Leading People at Work: Strategies for Talent Analytics.

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Will 2017 be the year Bitcoin goes mainstream?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 12 days ago

Christian Catalini's Simple Economics of the Blockchain

Newsweek, Bloomberg, and Marketplace, among other media outlets, have recently touted the meteoric rise of the Bitcoin’s value (almost 90 percent last year). In fact, Bloomberg declared Bitcoin the world's best performing currency in 2016, a title that the cryptocurrency has held every year since 2010 (with exception of 2014, when governments cracked down on its use and a major exchange lost account-holders' funds). The recent surge in adoption has a lot to do with the implosion of global currency markets, as people are looking for more efficient ways to move money and store value in the face of considerable geopolitcal risk. The New Year will likely be more of the same, including increasing acceptance and recognition among institutional investors as well.

(If you're still not sure exactly what Bitcoin is or how it works, this Newsweek article includes an animated video that breaks it down in layman’s terms. We also explain Bitcoin and blockchain in an earlier post on this blog.)

Bitcoin's bright future

According to MIT Sloan Assistant Professor Christian Catalini and his colleague Joshua Gans of the University of Toronto, the overall promise of crypotechnologies is very intriguing. In their new MIT working paper, Catalini and Gans discuss how blockchain technology (the underlying technology of Bitcoin) and cryptocurrencies will influence the rate and direction of innovation. They focus on two key costs that are affected by the introduction of blockchain technology:

  1. The cost of verification. Markets facilitate the voluntary exchange of goods and services between buyers and sellers. Key attributes of these transactions need to be verified by the parties involved at multiple points in time. By allowing market participants to perform costless verification, blockchain technology lowers the costs of auditing transaction information and allows new marketplaces to emerge.
  2. The cost of networking. When a distributed ledger is combined with a native cryptographic token (as in Bitcoin), marketplaces can be bootstrapped without the need of traditional trusted intermediaries, lowering the cost of networking.

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Gaining competitive advantage with people analytics

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 21 days ago

Gaining Competitive Advantage with People Analytics

In the past decade, analytics have taken significant guesswork out of decision making and scenario planning in fields like sports and finance, replacing gut feeling with big data. In the years since Tom Davenport's bestselling Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning, organizations have used data and analytics to identify their most profitable customers, accelerate product innovation, optimize supply chains and pricing, and leverage the true drivers of financial performance.

Analytics is now coming of age in the World of Work, bringing a healthy dose of science to the art of human resource management. While most hiring, management, promotion, and rewards decisions are based on intuition and corporate belief systems, "people analytics" offers a more data-driven approach to making those decisions. Recent studies are showing how the application of science to the selection, management, and alignment of people can result in better hires, significantly increased profits, and even a correction of systemic workplace bias.

Better HR decisions with data

It makes perfect sense: just as finance, operations, and business units have volumes of data, so does the HR function—companies are loaded with employee and performance data. Leading-edge organizations are building analytics teams and adopting more sophisticated analytics tools in an effort to enhance their competitive advantage and attract and retain top talent in increasingly talent-constrained industries. They are using their data to analyze flight risk, identify characteristics of high-performing sales and service teams, predict compliance risks, assess engagement and culture, and identify leadership candidates.

Here are some of the ways analytics are being used to improve the management of human capital across various industries:

  • The sports industry has been a pioneer in the analytics revolution, using data to win games and run profitable businesses, and the implication of these techniques continues to evolve. As reported by Davenport and co-authors Jeanne Harris and Jeremy Shapiro in an article for Harvard Business Review, the soccer team AC Milan created its own biomedical research unit to help the team gauge players’ health and fitness (drawing on 60,000+ data points for each player) and to help make contract decisions.
  • Analytics can be used to help correct workplace bias. According to groundbreaking studies by MIT Sloan Professor Emilio Castilla, merit-based reward practices can unintentionally lead to pay disparities based on gender, race, and national origin—the very biases that those systems seek to prevent. People analytics can play a key role in defining clear processes and criteria for hiring and evaluating employees. (In 2017, Castilla will lead a new MIT Sloan Executive Education program, Leading People at Work: Strategies for Talent Analytics, which focuses on the strategies that can be used to successfully design and implement people analytics in an organization.)

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Calling all Boston-area professionals: The Greater Boston Executive Program

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 30 days ago

If you're a Boston-area professional seeking to make a big impact on your organization and your career, here is your chance. This spring, MIT Sloan Executive Education offers an eight-week intensive program designed for high-potential professionals interested in enhancing their management skills, leadership capabilities, and ability to manifest change.

The popular Greater Boston Executive Program (GBEP) was developed nearly six decades ago in response to the unique management development needs of Boston-area companies. These firms recognized that continuing education in management principles was essential for developing managers who could assume additional responsibilities in their organizations. They wanted to expose their people to current thinking in management philosophy--without taking them away from work for long periods.

With the help of MIT's then president Howard W. Johnson, the sponsoring Greater Boston companies set up the first session of the Greater Boston Executive Program in Business Management in the spring of 1958. From the beginning, participating companies have contributed to the success of the program by their selection of managers, vice presidents, assistant treasurers, controllers, and senior research personnel to attend.

After a one-year hiatus in 2015, the Greater Boston Executive Program was updated and relaunched as part of the MIT Sloan Executive Education portfolio.

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Binge on business insights--MIT Sloan Executive Education 2016 webinars

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 2 days ago

If you missed any of our webinars in 2016, we have good news--you can access all the complimentary recordings in our webinar library. Jump right in and explore the latest research and innovations from MIT Sloan faculty.

Leading in a World of Uncertainty, with Deborah Ancona
Learn MIT's unique approach to executive leadership that will help you make your organization knowledge-driven and truly innovative.

The Dynamics of Climate Change—From the Political to the Personal, with John Sterman
Take a tour of C-ROADS—cutting-edge simulation software developed at MIT and used by political leaders and businesses around the world to explore the dynamics and projected impact of climate change.

The New Frontier in Price Optimization, with David Simchi-Levi
Hear the latest breakthroughs in the development of pricing models that combine machine learning and optimization to significantly improve revenue and reduce inventory risk.

Digital Disruption: Transforming Your Company for the Digital Economy, with Jeanne Ross
Find out how you can create a digital strategy for your organization that is responsive to ever-changing customer demands, new technology, and organizational learning.

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Business leaders agree: It's time to start talking about race in the workplace

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 5 days ago

Business leaders agree it's time to start discussing race in the workplace

Discussing race, religion, and politics at holiday gatherings and in the workplace has been taboo for decades. Even in safer spaces and among friends, conversations about race are particularly difficult and anxiety provoking. But in the wake of heartbreaking events around the country, conversations about racial inequality and cultural divide have forced their way into the national consciousness. Social media is abuzz with chatter about the degree to which prejudice is at work. And yet the one place where we spend most of our time--at work--is noticeably bereft of dialogue. Should we make race and racial bias an open platform for discussion at work?

Many business leaders say yes. While such dialogues can be difficult to navigate, they are essential to helping us face the tragedies that surround us. When we avoid constructive conversation about our differences, communication deteriorates and productivity suffers. Perhaps most critically, open dialogue about race at work helps address the fact that the same racial bias that underscores these events also exists inside corporate walls.

Edith Cooper, Head of Human Capital at Goldman Sachs, recently authored an article for Business Insider, “Why Goldman Sachs is encouraging employees to talk about race at work – and why as a black woman I think this is so important," where she writes, "Ultimately, our experience at work is a collection of interactions with the people around us. When those interactions are stimulating and challenging and take place in an environment of inclusivity and collaboration, you have a better experience and, in turn, you perform better ... because as a result of those varied inputs and insights, you are better."

Cooper shares that Goldman Sachs is working to provide forums for their people to engage in and advance the diversity dialogue. “The pervasiveness of current events affects everyone at our firm from summer interns to senior leaders. With impassioned questions pertaining to race, fair treatment and equal opportunity being asked both in public and in private, we knew this was not a topic we could ignore.”

After Ferguson, Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, drew a lot of heat for his “Race Together” campaign, which tried to get employees to engage customers in conversations about race. While some disparaged the effort as poorly planned, others praised him for trying to be part of a solution. At a candid panel discussion among executives held in Chicago earlier this year, Dorri McWhorter, CEO of the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago, said Schultz's initiative was a move in the right direction.

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Sleeping your way to the top

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 19 days ago

Contributed by Tara Swart, MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer, neuroscientist, and executive leadership coach.

What makes a good leader?

Senior executives, managers, and business leaders are paid to use their brains. So it is surprising how little emphasis many put on this vital organ.

In a fast-paced world that is constantly changing, the brain's executive functions, such as creative and flexible thinking, task-switching, bias suppression, and emotional regulation, are becoming increasingly important. But our ability to perform well at these outputs will be enhanced only if fed the right inputs. These include nourishing, hydrating, and oxygenating the brain appropriately, simplifying tasks to give the brain mindful time, and resting it.

That final element—rest—is one of the most crucial. We often hear stories about famous leaders such as Margaret Thatcher surviving and even thriving on very little sleep (Thatcher did suffer from dementia in her later life). It is true that an extremely limited number of people (1-2% of the population) have a genetic mutation that reduces the amount of sleep they truly require for optimal functioning to 4-5 hours a night. But for the rest of us, getting seven to nine hours of good, quality sleep every night is vital for staying on top of our game.

Why is sleep important?

Sleep deprivation will negatively impact your cognitive performance. Getting less sleep than the recommended amount can cause an apparent IQ loss of five to eight points the next day, and population norm studies have shown that losing an entire night’s sleep can lead to up to one standard deviation loss on your IQ. In other words, you're effectively operating with the equivalent of a learning disability.

Shorting your sleep can have longer-term effects as well. Our glymphatic system requires 7-8 hours to clean our brains, a process which flushes out protein plaques and beta amyloid tangles that can lead to dementing diseases if allowed to accumulate. Not getting enough sleep, or getting poor quality sleep (which includes sleeping after drinking alcohol) inhibits this process and can therefore increase the risk of developing these types of disease.

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Tips for networking with your peers while at MIT Sloan Executive Education

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 26 days ago

Networking at MIT

There are many reasons to engage in continuing education, including developing core competencies, learning new business skills, or preparing for a new role. However, the benefits of attending executive education programs often extend well beyond the specific skills and frameworks acquired. At MIT Sloan Executive Education, our participants consistently remark on the value of networking with like-minded peers from around the world. And while both our in-person and online programs enable participants to connect and collaborate, our in-person programs—ranging from two days to one month in duration—provide remarkable opportunities for personal connections.

What to expect at MIT

MIT Sloan Executive Education programs are typically held in rooms with tables that seat six to eight participants. Often the tables are round, allowing for a great deal of interaction. Faculty lead exercises that require or encourage table mates to work together. This is an excellent way to meet others in a small, friendly setting. Participants are also often asked to rotate tables, enabling even more interaction.

On the first day of class, breakfast is served in the room where the course is held. Talking to another person as you grab coffee or sit to eat your morning bagel will feel natural. The course breaks for lunch, which is held in the same building where the classes take place, so this is another terrific opportunity to take a seat next to someone you have yet to meet.

In the evening, after the first day of the program, there is a cocktail hour that is held near the classroom. If you missed your chance to talk to someone during the day, this is a very relaxed time to connect with others.

Tips for networking with your peers

If you are planning to enroll in one of our courses, here are a few tips to help you break the ice with the other program participants:

  1. If you're anxious about approaching strangers, just remind yourself that others feel the exact same way! It's often a welcomed relief when one person makes the first overture. Everyone wants to connect with someone else, and it's always nice when someone else takes the initiative to start a conversation.
  2. During breaks, talk to someone who was at your table during class, and bring up a comment that they said during the lecture, or ask them how they like the class so far. Or, sit with someone at lunch and strike up a conversation.

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