Category: Management

Leader-led learning: The great differentiator

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 4 days ago

Contributed by MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Steve Spear. Spear teaches in Creating High Velocity Organizations and is author of The High Velocity Edge: How Market Leaders Leverage Operational Excellence to Beat the Competition.

Certain organizations "punch above their weight," generating far more value (that accrues to everybody, not just customers or just shareholders, etc.), faster, and more easily. This despite them having access to the same technical, financial, and human resources as all their counterparts--and thereby enjoying the same advantages and suffering the same constraints.1

This becomes a wickedly important differentiator: Either because of having to get more yield out of exactly the same resources available to everyone, or because of having to be on the cutting edge of bringing high value-add products and services to market ahead of rivals.

The difference? They know much better what to do and how to do it, so operate on a frontier of speed, timeliness, efficiency, effectiveness, safety, security, and so forth others barely perceive. As with all knowledge, the source of their profound knowledge is accelerated learning, and that accelerated learning is the consequence of garnering feedback out of experiences across the spectrum of operational, design, and developmental and using that to feed forward into the next cycle of experiences.

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Beware the negative review

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 15 days ago

Business owners and foodies alike are relatively well versed in the dynamics around Yelp and other crowd-sourced review sites. Recently, trust is a primary area of concern. Just this week, Jonah Bromwich stately plainly in his New York Times article, "Two Apps to Guide you to Good Food," that "I don’t trust Yelp reviewers." And it appears he may have good reason.

negative review

recent study by MIT Sloan Professor Duncan Simester and Eric T. Anderson of Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University, found that approximately 5% of product reviews on a large retailer's website were submitted by customers who had no record of purchasing the product. These insincere reviews were also significantly more negative than others. As a result of findings such as these, many businesses are now including language in their contracts to ban customers from (or even fine them for) writing negative reviews--a reaction that has created it's own ripple of controversy. Anti-disparagement clauses, however, are probably unenforceable and are now illegal in California and may soon become illegal in every state.

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So many bad bosses, so few good leaders?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 22 days ago

Search for the term "bad bosses" online and you might be shocked at the results. One survey reveals two in ten people say a manager has hurt their career; another states one in five workers have a bad boss; a third, as covered by Forbes studied the impact of bad bosses and found that a shocking "77% of employees experienced physical symptoms of stress from bad bosses."

Why do so many companies lack the team of leaders they envision, despite the time and resources they invest in leadership development programs? MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Douglas Ready and Jay A. Conger, Professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School, have studied leadership efforts at more than a dozen international companies over the last two decades, trying to answer that very question 

In the MIT Sloan Management Review article, "Why Leadership Development Efforts Fail," Ready and Conger reveal that most of these efforts are to no avail because of clear patterns of behavior that cause repeated failures and breakdowns over time. They also share and how IBM—one of the companies they worked with—cured these behaviors to create a leadership program that achieves results.

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Small moves equal big payoffs for office productivity

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 3 months and 26 days ago

Sometimes, effective organizational change requires major shifts in management and corporate culture. Other times it's as easy as moving chairs.

Recent research by MIT Sloan Professor Christian Catalini makes the case that simple changes in office environments can have a big impact on department dynamics, leading to more efficient work habits, collaboration, and overall increased productivity in the office. As recently reported in the Wall Street Journal, companies that shift employees from desk to desk every few months and rethink which departments to place side by side say they have seen an increase in productivity and collaboration.

For his research, Catalini studied the impact of proximity at an academic campus in Paris, France. When a group of scientists were forced to move to a different building because of an asbestos problem, innovative ideas abounded as well as a more accepting attitude of experimentation. In addition, colleagues spent more time collaborating on projects and even solidifying friendships.

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Here's to the power of 40 winks: HubSpot CEO on napping

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 4 months and 26 days ago

When asked what's so powerful about the mid-day nap, Brian Halligan, Founder and CEO of HubSpot--the highly successful inbound marketing company headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts--says he discovered its benefits from personal experience. The savvy entrepreneur says he found that in any given month he might have one or two great ideas and a slew of mediocre ones. As it turns out those few great ideas almost always happened when he was just falling asleep or just waking up.

"There’s something about that in-between state of sleep that is dramatically under-utilized. Just at the time your brain is not thinking about a given problem, the solution will pop into your head."

Once he recognized the pattern, Halligan decided to create fertile ground for more great ideas. For starters, Halligan stopped setting his alarm clock on weekends and--you guessed it--started napping more. "One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to work less and think more." Ironically, napping is a big part of that. Halligan says a nap can pack a one-two punch: on the way in and out of the nap, the mind is "open to great ideas, and after a nap, the brain is kind of re-set."

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Are mobile payments today's VHS / Betamax battle?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 5 months and 7 days ago

People of a certain age likely remember the battle between VHS and Betamax. These were the first two affordable in-home video tape systems, and they were completely different formats, incompatible with each other. Sony’s Betamax hit the market in 1975, but the company had previewed the product to other manufacturers the previous year. The company hoped that the other manufacturers would back their Betamax format, thus enabling competitors to develop and market compatible products to the marketplace. 

Instead, JVC developed a competing format, VHS (Video Home System)—and the home video recorder format war began. The competing platforms battled on the retail cost of the systems and on recording time. JVC licensed the technology to other manufacturers, while Sony was the sole manufacturer of Betamax until the late 1980s. Sony went from owning 100% of the market share in 1975 to just 25% of the U.S. consumer home market.

What does that history have to do with the quickly evolving world of mobile payments? In “Mobile Pay Not Yet Ready for Prime Time,” Boston Globe’s Scott Kirsner writes, “We’ve got smartphone apps and accompanying devices [for mobile payments] that work at one retail chain or a bunch—but nothing yet that’s universal.” Given that, the market is poised for another potential platform battle.

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Managing the seasonality of products

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 6 months and 8 days ago

The seasonality of products is an issue that manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and consumers are well aware of. We all know back-to-school advertising, products, and sales hit stores in July. Soon after, we see Halloween items. And before Halloween even arrives, we start to see Christmas advertisements and promotions. Getting ahead of the season has become standard operating procedure.

But when is it too early to issue a seasonal product? Many craft beer aficionados are beginning to argue that the practice of "seasonal creep" has gone too far. Simply put, seasonal creep is when a beer specific to a season appears on store shelves way before the season actually hits. The best example is the category of pumpkin beers.

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Crisis management consultant says MIT Sloan programs strike the right balance

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 6 months and 22 days ago

Being known as an “international man of disaster” is a good thing in the case of Hsing Lim, a crisis management consultant who works with business, government, and non-profit organizations to offer assistance when natural disasters strike.

Lim, who earned his Management and Leadership certificate from MIT Sloan in 2008, was on hand on March 11, 2011, when the command ship of the U.S. 7th fleet received word that the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami had struck. Due to his close ties with the government, military, and corporations in Japan and the United States, Lim was able to offer his crisis management expertise to help with relief efforts in the devastated areas.

“For the tsunami recovery, I worked with governments, militaries, aid agencies, business corporations, and civil societies in Japan, the U.S., Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, Singapore, and several EU countries to source essential items and organize fundraising projects.”

Lim began focusing on disaster management shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. The independent consultant has received numerous awards and commendations for his efforts. Lim also has been lauded by David Boden, past president of the American Association of Singapore (AAS), as a key contributing member of the American community in Singapore and for his volunteer role as Chair of the AAS Community Philanthropy Committee. 

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