We asked the MIT Sloan Executive Education faculty to weigh in on trends in their fields and offer business advice for 2018. Here are their forecasts:
Bill Aulet: Inclusive Entrepreneurship, Now More Than Ever
In 2018, I see “inclusive entrepreneurship” becoming even more important. With large numbers of people entering a market that has fewer large-corporation jobs and a society increasingly split across income levels, inclusive entrepreneurship will be a growing imperative. 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.
Emilio J. Castilla: Better People Decisions with Analytics
In 2018, consider designing and implementing a winning people strategy with the goal of attracting, developing, and retaining the best talent. A more data-driven strategic approach to human resource decisions—--"people analytics"—can result in better hires, improved evaluation and rewarding processes, more productive teams, significantly increased profits, and even the correction of systemic workplace biases. Castilla teaches in Leading People at Work: Strategies for Talent Analytics.
Hal Gregersen: The Year of Big Questions
Future breakthroughs in medicine and public health, political affairs, manufacturing and transportation, energy production, research methods, artistic expression, and more hinge on rebuilding our capacity to ask well-framed, catalytic questions—ones that challenge and transform the status quo into something far better. Let’s make 2018 the year of the “big questions” by encouraging more productive, probing inquiry in everyday work and life. Gregersen teaches in Leadership and the Lens: Learning at the Intersection of Innovation and Image-Making and The Innovator's DNA: Mastering Five Skills For Disruptive Innovation.
Jason Jay: Good Jobs and Good Business
We see three exciting trends. First, learning curves in the manufacturing of solar, wind, and battery technologies are charging on, with prices recently crossing several important thresholds of cost competitiveness with coal and natural gas. A low carbon energy future is just good business. Second, more businesses are coming to understand the "good jobs strategy" articulated here at MIT Sloan—ways to organize operations and people to create better working conditions and higher productivity and profitability, at the same time. Third, the investment community is rapidly moving to incorporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into their investment decision making and governance, solidifying the imperative for companies to find strategies for sustainable business. Jay teaches in Strategies for Sustainable Business.
Jeanne Ross: Distinguishing Digitized from Digital
Recognizing that what made them successful in the past won’t help them succeed in a digital economy, most established companies are engaged in digital transformations. The biggest obstacle to their digital transformation is the need to be digitized—to have an operational backbone that ensures end-to-end transaction processing, efficient back office processes, and easy access to accurate master and transactional data. Companies that are not digitized have little hope of becoming digital. It’s time to focus very strategically on narrow goals for digitization so companies can turn their attention to the excitement of a real digital transformation—one that fosters rapid innovation and helps them define new digitally-inspired value propositions. Ross teaches in Revitalizing Your Digital Business Model.
Ben Shields: Championship Organizations Integrate Analytics
In 2017, the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl, Golden State Warriors won the NBA Championship, and Houston Astros won the World Series. What do they all have in common? Analytics is at the core of their decision-making processes. I expect this trend to continue in 2018—and not just in the sports industry. Championship organizations across industries and sectors will integrate analytics more effectively than ever before. They will use analytics to inform and shape their overall strategy; make wise investments in technology to capture, model, analyze, and visualize data; train existing employees to adapt to data-driven thinking and recruit and retain new analytics talent; and facilitate organizational cultures that support and encourage data-driven decision making. The best teams in sports often claim they could give their playbook to their opponents and still beat them. In many ways, the analytics playbook is available for organizations. Now it’s time to execute. Shields teaches in Analytics Management: Business Lessons from the Sports Data Revolution.
David Simchi-Levi: The Digital Supply Chain and Business Transformation
Companies have an opportunity to improve revenue, margins and market share by taking advantage of recent technology trends including digitization, analytics that combine machine learning and optimization, and using the data and analytics to automate processes through rapid deployment. An example is pricing, where combining internal and external data, machine learning, and optimization to automate processes not only was able to effectively price the top 20% of the SKUs but also the middle 50% and the remaining long tail. Taking advantage of these trends will affect everything in your business and can enable a truly digital supply chain and business transformation. Simchi-Levi teaches in Supply Chain Strategy and Management.
Tara Swart: Neuroscience-Based Leadership
Getting the most out of your brain and enhancing your mental resilience is a topic which has gained a lot of traction over 2017. The things we want from life, whether that be in work or in life, are governed by our ability to think, feel, and act: in other words, by our brain. Make a conscious, concerted effort this year to shape your own neural pathways by visualizing your goals, and crafting the mindset you need to help you get to where you want to be. Swart leads the Executive Education programs, Neuroscience for Leadership and Applied Neuroscience: Unleashing Brain Power for You and Your People.