The Art of Balancing Autonomy and ControlThe Art of Balancing Autonomy and Control

Today, managers recognize that innovation requires a high level of work autonomy for their employees. This encourages curiosity, enables independent thinking, and provides an environment in which employees can experiment and test new problem-solving approaches with minimal fear of failure. At the same time, top-level management and shareholders expect managers to innovate at an increasingly demanding pace, putting top-down pressure on employees to channel this autonomy into productivity. The challenge for managers becomes figuring out how to balance autonomy and control in order to achieve organizational goals without jeopardizing innovation.

The world of hackathons brings the study of balancing high-speed, creative autonomy and administrative control to bear in many interesting ways. Both the hacking and making cultures are centered...Read more

Being Wise About Supply Chain AIBeing Wise About Supply Chain AI

Artificial intelligence is drastically changing the way the manufacturing supply chain works, from how human workers need to be trained to how managers oversee and run warehouses.

We can think of AI as a way of intervening between data processes and humans to offset humans’ lack of access or knowledge. Every part of the supply chain—sourcing and procurement, logistics, operations planning and control, and delivery, fulfillment and customer service...Read more

Nine Smart Factories Lighting the Way to a Winning Industry 4.0 StrategyNine Smart Factories Lighting the Way to a Winning Industry 4.0 Strategy

The future of manufacturing is a dark place, shrouded in the unknown. As wise Master Yoda once said, "Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future."

As in that galaxy far, far away, there are so many variables with which to consider: The skills gap, the aging workforce, trade disputes, complicated and costly new technologies. For executives and other leaders trying to make decisions based on what's right and not due to fear, thinking...Read more

Leadership Forum: Investing in DisruptionLeadership Forum: Investing in Disruption

“YOU CAN SEE THE COMPUTER AGE everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” So stated Nobel Laureate and MIT economics professor Robert Solow in 1987. Eventually, economists found where the productivity gains from the computer age were hiding: in the future. While they eventually showed up, they took longer than expected because they were tied to investments in ‘complements’ — all of the things other than algorithms/models that are necessary to make commercial-grade AI work (data, redesigned workflows, training, regulation, human judgment, infrastructure, etc.).

As in the computer age, the widespread productivity gains associated with machine intelligence will depend on investments in complements. As we shift from technical...Read more

Future of banking: Follow the LineFuture of banking: Follow the Line

Japan’s most popular chat platform provider Line has struck a deal with the country’s Mizuho Financial Group, to start a bank. The joint venture — 51 percent to be held by Line, and 49 percent by Mizuho — will offer the instant messaging platform’s 80 million plus customers various banking services starting 2020, the two companies said, earlier this week.

The deal reflects how the banking sector is being transformed by internet companies, and is a model that could be followed in India as well, where Facebook’s...Read more

The significance of research in innovationThe significance of research in innovation

India is working hard to bring in an expansive culture of innovation through government initiatives, organisations, schools, and universities.

So far, the problem has been that all these different areas have not been talking to each other much in the past. Working in silos have prevented interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge, information, and insights.

Cutting-edge disruptive innovation requires a passion and dedication which means looking beyond selling to make money, and genuinely making attempts to change the lives of people. Research is an area that needs to get a lot more glamorous focus; something it has not received outside...Read more

The 2% Company: Excelling at Efficiency and InnovationThe 2% Company: Excelling at Efficiency and Innovation

VERY FEW COMPANIES excel at innovation and efficiency at the same time. Of the 2,500 public companies we recently analyzed, just two per cent consistently outperform their peers on both growth and profitability during good and bad times. These ‘2% companies’, as we call them, are able to renew themselves in large part by driving exploration and exploitation simultaneously.

Being excellent at both exploration (the quest for new ideas and innovation) and exploitation (operational efficiency) is particularly...Read more

How the Geography of Startups and Innovation Is ChangingHow the Geography of Startups and Innovation Is Changing

We’re used to thinking of high-tech innovation and startups as generated and clustered predominantly in fertile U.S. ecosystems, such as Silicon Valley, Seattle, and New York. But as with so many aspects of American economic ingenuity, high-tech startups have now truly gone global. The past decade or so has seen the dramatic growth of startup ecosystems around the world, from Shanghai and Beijing, to Mumbai and Bangalore, to London, Berlin, Stockholm, Toronto and Tel Aviv. A number of U.S. cities continue to dominate the global landscape, including the San Francisco Bay Area, New York...Read more

The Fundamentals of Leadership Still Haven’t ChangedThe Fundamentals of Leadership Still Haven’t Changed

Recently the Chief HR Officer for a healthcare firm asked us to identify the best new framework for leadership that she could use to train and develop a cadre of high potentials. The challenge, she said, was that these managers were highly proficient in their own disciplines such as finance, marketing, research, clinical care, and insurance reimbursement — and had demonstrated that they could manage people in these areas — but she needed them to be “bigger” leaders. What, she asked us, did the newest thinking about leadership development say they needed to learn to lead multiple functions, or influence whole segments of the organization, particularly in the rapidly changing world of healthcare?...Read more

Leadership and Team Management in a Family BusinessLeadership and Team Management in a Family Business

Drawing from one’s experiences, one realizes that leadership can never be only associated with the designation, rather the impact a person has on employees. And these teachings need to be passed on to the next generation, in hopes to make them better leaders for tomorrow.

Why is it Different?
The fact that a family business model is different from the corporate model, cannot be questioned. Generations of work culture are influenced by the values, ethics and experiences of the founders making the atmosphere friendlier and directors more approachable...Read more

3 ways to nurture collaboration between universities and industry3 ways to nurture collaboration between universities and industry

Collaborations between universities and industry have given life to many blockbuster discoveries over the years. One of the latest in the news – the melanoma treatment ipilimumab, whose molecule was discovered by James Allison and successfully developed into a drug by Medarex – ended up netting Dr Allison the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

There are shining examples of fruitful collaboration between universities, industry partners and start-ups. Many ideas from research in universities are put to use through collaboration between universities and firms. Others reach the market through licensing or start-up companies...Read more

Driving Sustainability-Oriented Innovation

It’s no surprise that many large multinational corporations are paying increased attention to sustainability-oriented innovation (which we’re broadly defining as improvements for social good, not just “green” initiatives). Faced with mounting challenges and pressure from governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), investors, and employees to be more aware of the environmental and social impacts of business activities, companies are searching for ways to do things differently while also seeking opportunities for growth. As a result, many are attempting to tap into the creativity and entrepreneurial potential of their employees, encouraging them to develop new products, services, or business models that create value for both the company and society.

Sustainability-oriented innovation isn’t new — researchers have been studying it for more than a decade. However, as traditional organizations adopt new technologies and business models, some are finding it difficult to get employees to think like entrepreneurs, which is essential to building an...Read more

A Third Way to InnovationA Third Way to Innovation

There are two widely-recognized routes to innovation: incremental improvement and revolutionary disruption. Describe what you call ‘The Third Way’.

These two traditional types of innovation are still really important: We should always be thinking about how to improve our products and services for current customers; and we should also be thinking about the big disruptive forces in.

our industry and society, and how to embrace them. But innovation leaders need a more complete tool box than just a hammer and a screwdriver.
As I looked around, I noticed some companies doing things that didn’t fall neatly under either incremental or radical innovation. This was a different approach, whereby you surround...Read more

Enabling Leaders to Develop their PeopleEnabling Leaders to Develop their People

External providers of executive education have long-struggled with the issue that many of their clients have a strong preference for having their managers and leaders be actively involved in the development of their own staff.

This is not just because it is cheaper to have managers you are already paying do the work, rather than bring in additional expertise to do it – though the cost element should not be ignored either – but because managers can build different relationships with the learners in these initiatives, they bring intimate understanding of the corporate culture and challenges and, above all, because by getting managers to lead the learning is a great way to change their behaviours too...Read more

A Manifesto for Better BusinessA Manifesto for Better Business

Free market enterprise and its ability to stimulate economic growth is the best hope we have in finding solutions to the world’s myriad problems from poverty to climate change. Anyone doubting this should consider the experience of China since Deng Xiaoping’s market reforms of the late 1970s. Over 500 million people have been lifted out of poverty and, for the past 25 years, China has been the fastest growing economy in the world.

However, the free market capitalist system that underpins the way we do business has many flaws. It sometimes fails – hence the 2008 recession. It can lead to extreme inequality in personal wealth and income, and unless...Read more

How to Navigate the Innovation EcosystemHow to Navigate the Innovation Ecosystem

FOR SEVERAL YEARS, Abraham Heifets had worked on applying recent advancements in artificial intelligence to drug discovery. Developing a new medicine takes an average of 15 years, and Heifets had devised a way to shrink the process to a fraction of that time using advanced machine-learning algorithms running on a supercomputer.

He enthusiastically pitched his idea to all the top venture capital firms in his hometown of Toronto, but the reaction was always the same: Potential investors liked the idea, but weren’t willing to commit their capital. They requested more evidence, wanted more-detailed business plans and demonstrated no sense of urgency. As his funds wore thin, Heifets became increasingly anxious, and eventually realized that he had to relocate his business to Silicon Valley, where investors would understand the potential of his idea and be willing to get involved at an early stage...Read more

How Retail Responds to DisruptionHow Retail Responds to Disruption

When you think of digital agility, “retail” might not be the first sector that comes to mind. But, in fact, technology spending in the retail sector has ballooned in recent years, and according to Gartner, it is expected to reach $203.6 billion in 2019.

Companies such as Nordstrom, Best Buy, and Bonobos have strategically prioritized key digital capabilities — from analytics and e-commerce tools to mobile and emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning — in order to avoid displacement in the new digital economy and find new opportunities with customers.
The following three principles, curated from recent research and insights published in MIT SMR, demonstrate how successful retailers are responding to digital disruption and using insights to improve...Read more

How Top Performers Achieve MoreHow Top Performers Achieve More

We studied 5,000 managers and employees—across corporate America, seeking to answer a fundamental question: Why do top performers perform better in their job than others? What we found surprised us: The top performers across organizations actually worked less hours. We identified seven characteristics of their approach to work, and they all relate to being highly selective as to what they engage in.

Top performers very carefully select assignments, tasks, projects and collaborative activities, and as a result, they do a fewer total number of things, but they totally obsess about doing an amazing job on the things they do focus on. They go all in and provide targeted, intense effort to excel in a few chosen areas...Read more



(Re)-Designing Organisations in the Age of Algorithms(Re)-Designing Organisations in the Age of Algorithms

The skills needed to be a top-tier organisation development and design expert have changed almost overnight. Until recently, the typical profile involved an education in one of the social sciences or humanities, a career trajectory anchored in the HR function and first-hand experience in several major organisational transformation projects. These are all still useful, of course. However, what’s new and invaluable appears to be the ability to understand how big data and algorithms can be used to re-design organisations.

Organisation design has always been about creating a pattern of interactions among a group of members that help accomplish the organisation’s goals. What has changed is the availability of fine-grained data about these interactions, and the computational power to analyse them. Consequently, we also need new ways to think about organisation design that link individual actions and interactions to organisational outcomes...Read more

The Five Key Capabilities of Effective LeadershipThe Five Key Capabilities of Effective Leadership

If you look up the phrase “leaders should find people who complement them”, Google may just show you results for “leaders should find people who compliment them”. Funny – or scary?

In our previous article, we explained how difficult it is for leaders to know themselves and described how our development tool, the x360, can assist them in this critical task. While leadership is about knowing who you are, it’s also about your actions and, ultimately, your impact. In this article, we focus on what effective leaders do. Specifically, our decades of research (in collaboration with Thomas Malone, Wanda Orlikowski and Peter Senge at the MIT Sloan School of Management) have uncovered the five key capabilities of effective leaders. Forming the second dimension of the x360, they are as follows...Read more