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Category Archives: Executive Leadership Strategy

Pitch perfect: Using human signals to convince and persuade

The art of the business plan pitch could fill volumes of b-school literature. But what if the real secret sauce had less to do with content and everything to do with delivery?

honest-signalsAlex ‘Sandy’ Pentland, Director of MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory and the MIT Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program, has conducted research around the power of unconscious forms of communication. The tools have revealed subtle patterns in how people interact, enabling Pentland and his colleagues to predict outcomes of situations ranging from job interviews to first dates to pitches for funding.

Pentland conducted a study of business plan pitches, during which “rising-star” business executives gave their presentations to venture capitalists, while Pentland and Felix Heibeck, Research Assistant at the MIT Media Lab, watched. “The skills the executives required—the ability to clearly formulate ideas, effectively communicate to a group of peers and then persuade others to pursue those ideas—are indispensable in business as well as everyday life,” said Pentland.

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Industry peer networks: The better get-ahead strategy?

Globalization and the information age have made it crucial for organizations to stay in tune with their markets, changing trends, and new innovations in an effort to remain relevant. Entrenched beliefs and tried and true systems, however, are often favored long after they have stopped being effective. Where should executives turn for fresh perspectives and new recipes for success? The answer may be among peers.

Industry peer networks (IPNs) are small groups of noncompeting peers who meet on a regular basis in an environment of intimacy and trust, with the purpose of exchanging information and discussing important company matters under the greater goal of improving capabilities and increasing profit share in the market. Ezra Zuckerman, Professor of Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management at MIT Sloan, has studied the effects of industry peer networks in the last decade, collecting data about the role and pervasiveness of relationships among noncompeting peers and, more specifically, industry peer networks in the U.S. economy.

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Four must-have skills for today’s leaders

Most of today’s leadership literature focuses on the two most popular forms of leadership: the visionary leader—the charismatic transformational leader who inspires, or the relationship leader—the mentor who has the compassion and empathy needed to form strong relationships to support their organization.

But the global business world is changing rapidly, from the top down and the bottom up.  Organizations are flatter. Boundaries are more blurred. Information moves faster across all levels within an organization. This means that leaders who can innovate and move quickly—leaders who have dynamic capabilities—are more likely to succeed.

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Mapping collective intelligence to design winning organizations

It’s likely you’ve heard of collective intelligence, the term used broadly to refer to groups of individuals doing things collectively that seem intelligent. The most well-known examples of collective intelligence in action are Google and Wikipedia—large, loosely organized groups of people working together in a rapid transfer information stream.

What many organizations don’t know—but could benefit from—is the use of mapping collective intelligence to dissect and better understand their people, processes, and sources of inefficiency and, in some cases, to create a structure to improve business innovation.

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Ending the reign of the “C-I-No”

This is the second post in a series on bringing transparency into the IT/Business leader discussion.

One of the biggest challenges in the relationship between IT and business leaders is the perception of the CIO as the “C-I-No.”

As we discussed in an earlier post, George Westerman, Research Scientist at the MIT Sloan’s Center for Digital Business, conducted four separate studies that confirmed transparency is necessary for IT and business to work together and bring greater value to an organization.

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