Three MIT Sloan Executive Education faculty among prestigious Thinkers50 honorees

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 7 days ago

We are proud to announce that three faculty members of MIT Sloan Executive Education were recently named to the Thinkers50 list, the world's most prestigious ranking of management thinkers: Erik Bryjnolfsson, Professor of Information Technology and the Director of The MIT Center for Digital Business; Douglas Ready, Senior Lecturer; and Hal Gregersen, Senior Lecturer and the Executive Director of The MIT Leadership Center

Brynjolfsson, along with his colleague Andrew McAfee, shared the Digital Thinking Award, which "celebrates the thinker who has done the most to transform the digital revolution into useful management insights." Brynjolfsson and McAfee authored The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.

Ready, a faculty member whose research on aligning purpose, performance, and principles has led to the popular concept of implementing a company's Collective Ambition. He currently teaches in the two-day course, Building Game-Changing Organizations: Aligning Purpose, Performance, and People.

Gregersen explores how leaders in business, government, and society discover provocative new ideas, develop the human and organizational capacity to realize those ideas, and ultimately deliver powerful results. He is the co-author of The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators, and teaches in The Innovator's DNA: Mastering Five Skills for Disruptive Innovation and the Advanced Management Program

Congratulations to our faculty members--the honorees, nominees, and those who continually exemplify the leading-edge management thinking of which we are so proud here at MIT Sloan.

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Business cards still a viable way to connect in the digital age

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 4 days ago

business card

While it may not be used in courting as calling cards were in the 1800s, the business card still has its uses, even in this age of dwindling hand written letters where tweets, texts, and emails rule. So says MIT Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management JoAnne Yates, who explains that today's business cards developed from trade cards and visiting cards of earlier centuries.  Trade cards were popular and practical in the 17th century with tradesmen who traveled throughout Europe in an effort to connect with potential customers, leaving cards to allow future contact with them.

By the time the 19th century rolled around the calling card--which was originally used by royalty in Europe to alert hosts of their arrival--had spread to society, with callers of higher social classes leaving cards to indicate their visits even when the person they visited was not present.  Eventually, the trade card and the calling card merged into the business card. It wasn't until the beginning of the 20th century that the business card as we know it was born--largely due to the American work structure, which was expanding and becoming multilayered, adds Yates. "During the early 20th century, many firms grew into large, hierarchical and multidivisional firms, making it desirable for managers to have business cards that indicated their positions within them."

So, in today's fast paced, iphone-oriented society, is there still a place for the once ubiquitous business card? Yates, says, "yes" for several reasons. For one, business cards serve as a tangible way to connect at networking events. It's a lot easier to hand out a business card than it is to enter a potential client's number into your phone, while simultaneously shaking his or her hand, all the while trying to maintain eye contact.

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A Q&A with Andrea Napolitano, participant of Neuroscience for Leadership

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 11 days ago

The following Q&A was conducted with Andrea Napolitano, Director of Marketing and Trade Marketing at Elebat Lactalis in Brazil. She was a recent participant in the two day course, Neuroscience for Leadership.

Where do you work, and what is your role there?
I work at Lactalis Brazil as Marketing Director. I have more than 25 years working in big organizations. During my career I’ve had many different roles, responsible for local, regional and global business of different categories and brands.

What prompted you to take Neuroscience for Leadership?
Organizations are, in its essence, made by people. A group of human beings working together to achieve common objectives. Sustainable great performance goes beyond just a great strategy or perfect execution. It reflects the level of engagement, energy, motivation, creativity, capacity to take risks and to accept failures. In this context, great leaders have a strong role to inspire people in the way they behave and do things.

After many years in leadership positions and having had the opportunity to experience different leadership development programs, I was looking for an approach on the subject that could bring my understanding and practice in to new heights. Then I found the description Neuroscience for Leadership on the MIT Sloan Executive Education website and I immediately decided to attend it.   

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Data dilemma: To raise or not to raise...

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 12 days ago

By Roberto Rigobon, Society of Sloan Fellows Professor of Management and Professor of Applied Economics at MIT Sloan; a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research; and a visiting professor at IESA.

Roberto Rigobon

Nearly seven years ago the Federal Reserve put its benchmark interest rate close to zero as a way to bolster the economy and has not raised that rate since. For the past several months, the Fed has struggled to decide when it will dictate an increase, and it appears the announcement is imminent this week. While this increase is actually more of a "normalization," a December tightening of rates will have lasting consequences. 

First, let's address why leaving interest rates too low for too long is a bad idea: primarily because low interest rates can lead to bad behavior. Banks might take too much risk--after all, almost every investment looks good when the financing cost is close to zero. Individuals are also more likely to borrow too much and save too little--hence increasing leverage ratios. What harm is a loan when the interest rate is negligible?

By moving interest rate targets up or down, the Fed attempts to achieve maximum employment, stable prices and stable economic growth. The Fed will tighten interest rates (or increase rates) to stave off inflation. Conversely, the Fed will ease (or decrease rates) to spur economic growth. Raising the rates is good for the economy, but only after the economy has consolidated and is in good health. Which, right now, it is.

So if the economy is strong, why is it taking so long for the Fed to decide? To put it bluntly, they have bad data.

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Is a world without ads nirvana?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 22 days ago

In October, Apple announced approval of a new application, Been Choice, into the iTunes App Store. The app blocked advertisements in mobile applications as well as in native apps. Shortly thereafter, Apple pulled the app due the potential risk of security breaches. However, the promise of an app that blocks ads in both Safari and in native mobile apps had consumers cheering. After all, who really likes ads interrupting their online browsing, shopping, or reading experiences?

Sinan Aral, Associate Professor of Information Technology and Marketing at MIT Sloan, was recently a featured guest on NPR's OnPoint with Tom Ashbrook, where Ashbrook, Aral and Rebecca Lieb, a research analyst and author, discussed ad blockers and the future of digital advertising.

"I get annoyed by ads, just like other people," commented Aral. "Most people would consider a world without ads to be nirvana. But the bigger question is how to go forward."

As Aral explains, ads pay for the content we all consume on the Internet. When new technologies enable us to block ads, it means that advertisers and content producers need to think about how to pay for the content available today. As many publishers have learned, most consumers are unwilling to pay for content placed behind paywalls. As much as we’d like to think of the Internet as free, the fact is, someone has to pay for the quality content available online

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Harvard doctors benefit from MIT Sloan custom program

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 26 days ago


Current U.S. health care reform has renewed focus for doctors on improving both quality and efficiency in care delivery, providing an impetus to think like managers in highly complex organizations and to use skills not typically taught in medical schools. Doctors working in academic medical centers face an even bigger challenge, as these organizations are equal parts hospitals, medical training institutions, and research facilities.

In response to these reforms, the anesthesiology department heads at several Boston-area academic medical centers turned to MIT Sloan Executive Education to empower some of their medical professionals with leadership skills that would help to improve patient care.

Working closely with the leadership of Anesthesiology departments, MIT Sloan faculty and Executive Education staff created a cross-institutional, custom program to enable anesthesiologists to solve some of their most persistent problems and to become leaders of change in their organization. All aspects of the program--from teaching curriculum to action-learning projects--were designed to address specific challenges and provide tools that could be applied in actual hospital settings and achieve tangible results. 

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Retailing during the holidays

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 28 days ago


Earlier this week, gear and sports retailer REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) announced that its 143 stores will be closed on the day after Thanksgiving, otherwise known as "Black Friday," a day that many retailers view as the most important shopping day of the year. The Seattle-based retailer has launched a campaign "encouraging people to forgo shopping and spend time outside instead."

The issue of retailers opening on Thanksgiving Day has become a contentious one of late. While convenience stores, grocery stores, and liquor stores may be providing essential goods on the holiday, few people really need to go out and buy electronics and other gadgets on a day intended to be about family. As we highlighted on the this blog last year, most people who rely on retail jobs for their income are forced to work on holidays if the store decides to stay open. But the decision to close on the following day is nearly unheard of in the U.S.—especially considering that REI is paying its employees for the day off.

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What flat organizations can learn from the Head of the Charles

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 6 days ago

Head of the Charles Regatta

This past weekend thousands of athletes, spectators and volunteers lined the banks of the Charles River in Boston for the 51st Head of the Charles Regatta. It is the largest two-day regatta in the world and draws competitors from colleges, high schools, and clubs from nearly every state in the U.S. and from 28 countries throughout the world. "Regattas such as the Head of the Charles in Boston and the Head of the Schuylkill in Philadelphia are to the rowing world what the New York Marathon and the Boston Marathon are to running," said Susan Saint Sing in The Eight: A Season in the Tradition of Harvard Crew.

To the average spectator at the Head of the Charles, rowing is a graceful, elegant sport, and a fun fall Boston event. But just like any sport where the elite in the field are competing, rowing in the Head of the Charles takes thousands of hours of hard work, dedication, and commitment. And the interpersonal dynamics within a successful, competitive rowing team present some intriguing lessons for those managing companies with today’s preferred "flat" organizational structure—one with few hierarchical levels and looser boundaries. 

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