Spark team creativity by embracing uncertainty – Aithan Shapira

Aithan Shapira, Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management

From MIT Sloan Management Review

As an artist who also works for a business school, I often talk with managers about how to inspire more creativity from their teams. It’s not that these managers don’t appreciate their left-brained, analytically oriented employees. On the contrary: They value their logic and practicality. Still, they lament, something is missing. Managers today seek inspired ideas, inventive solutions, ingenuity, originality, and new pathways to innovation. But their teams are not delivering.

The problem is not that professionals lack creative impulses but that they are too focused on getting the creative process right. For example, in supporting organizations that are implementing agile methodologies, I work with many teams so consumed by getting their chapters aligned or doing their sprints correctly that they miss the opportunities that spark imagination. They avoid the unknown — the uncertainty that breeds creativity.

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When Boeing’s 737 Max returns to the skies, it will be flying full – Arnold Barnett

Arnold Barnett, George Eastman Professor of Science and Statistics, MIT Sloan School of Management

From RealClear Markets

Someday, more than a year after its second disastrous crash, the grounded Boeing 737 MAX will return to the skies. But will it be awash in empty seats when it does so? If recent surveys are to be believed, the answer is clearly yes. A December 2019 poll conducted by Bank of America estimated that only 20% of Americans would readily board the relaunched MAX. (This figure excludes the 50% of respondents who had not heard of the MAX controversy, but one assumes that these people rarely if ever fly.). Boeing’s own surveys in December 2019 imply that more than 40% of potential air travelers now plan to steer clear of the MAX. Montana Senator Jon Tester probably spoke for many when he declared that “I would walk before I was to get on a 737 MAX.”

To be sure, discrepancies often arise between what people tell pollsters and what they actually do. But is that likely to occur here? In fact, one can make a plausible case both for and against a large passenger boycott of the revived MAX. It is useful to consider the arguments on both sides, and then to hazard a best guess about what might happen.

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Why company culture matters for strategic results – Donald Sull

Donald Sull, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management

From MIT Sloan Management Review

You don’t have to look far in the news headlines to find examples of how a good corporate culture can turbocharge performance, while a bad culture can wreak havoc on a company’s reputation and results.

Relying on culture — rather than detailed rules or micromanagement — to shape behavior provides employees the flexibility to seize unexpected opportunities, adapt to local circumstances, and respond quickly to shifting market conditions. Corporate culture, like an organization’s strategic priorities or objectives and key results, represents a powerful way to align behavior with a company’s strategy and mission while allowing employees to exercise judgment and initiative. Culture, in short, is critical to striking the balance between strategic alignment and organizational agility.

With the Culture 500 tool, managers and employees can explore how culture compares among more than 500 leading companies. For leaders, this interactive framework provides an actionable way to think about culture along nine key dimensions, to provide clarity on where companies are leading and lagging when it comes to aligning culture with strategic results.

Read the full post at MIT Sloan Management Review.

Donald Sull is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and cofounder of CultureX.

In the age of online shopping, don’t count out brick-and-mortar stores – Sharmila Chatterjee

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Sharmila Chatterjee

Sharmila C. Chatterjee, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management

From USA Today

As the unofficial start to holiday shopping approaches, retail prognosticators are calling for a holly jolly season for e-commerce—and a less merry one for brick-and-mortar stores.

This year, for the first time, American consumers plan to do more of their holiday shopping online than in physical stores, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. A Deloitte study predicts that customers will spend on average $879 online and $541 in shops.

Based on these forecasts, e-commerce appears in prime position to soon dominate the holiday retail landscape. We can kiss goodbye traditional stores. Right?

Not so fast. Brick-and-mortar stores are making a comeback. By focusing on customer service, integrated business models, and innovative partnerships, many chains — including Target, Kohl’s, Madewell and Best Buy — are likely to post strong holiday sales. Meanwhile, e-commerce may be in for a reckoning. Signs indicate that the lightning fast delivery speeds customers have come to expect from internet vendors, namely Amazon, are not sustainable.

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The battle over the driving experience is heating up and will be won in software – Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

From TechCrunch 

Sirius XM’s recent all-stock $3.5-billion purchase of the music-streaming service Pandora  raised a lot of eyebrows. A big question was why Sirius paid so much. Is Pandora’s music library and customer base really worth that amount? The answer is that this was a strategic move by Sirius in a battle that is far bigger than radio. The real battle, which will become much more visible in the coming years, is over the driving experience.

People spend a lot of time commuting in their cars. That time is fixed and won’t likely change. However, what is changing is the way we drive. We’re already seeing many new cars with driver-assist features, and automakers (and tech companies) are working hard to bring fully autonomous cars to the market as quickly as possible. New cars today already contain an average of 100 million lines of code that can be updated to increase driver-assist options, and some automakers like Tesla already offer an “autonomous” mode on highways.

According to the Brookings Institute, one-quarter of all cars will be autonomous by 2040, and IHS predicts all cars will be autonomous after 2050. Those are conservative estimates, as we are likely to see major changes in the next 10 years.

These changes will impact the driving experience. As cars become more autonomous, we can do more than simply listen to music or podcasts. We may be able to watch videos, surf the web and more. The value of car real estate is already valuable, but it’s going to skyrocket as we change the way people consume media while driving.

The Pandora acquisition was a strategic move by Sirius to gain the necessary assets so that it won’t fall behind in this space — and to get into the fast-growing music-streaming business, where users consume music at home, work and play. While Pandora’s music library is arguably second-tier, it’s also good enough that it can provide pretty much every artist most people want. This is often how high-priced mergers happen — one party is concerned about falling behind and pays a premium to purchase the other company’s assets. It’s also a bet by Sirius about the driving experience of the future.

Read the full post at TechCrunch.

Lou Shipley is a Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management.