The transformation challenge and the change leader’s job — Doug Ready

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Doug Ready

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Doug Ready


Why has implementing Enterprise-Wide Transformation proven to be troubling? When challenges persist it is often because there are embedded tensions or paradoxes that surface that seem unresolvable.

There are at least five embedded tensions that make the successful implementation of enterprise transformations persistently difficult. They are:


Revitalization ↔ Normalization

Globalization ↔ Simplification

Innovation ↔ Regulation

Optimization ↔ Rationalization

Digitization ↔ Humanization

At the core of many transformation efforts is the desire to breathe new life into the organization―to revitalize ways of thinking, behaving and working. A leader’s typical and, in fact, reasonable response is to introduce a change initiative into the organization. One of the problems that employees face is that a change initiative often morphs into multiple change initiatives, and seldom are these initiatives coordinated or provided the context required to make sense out of them. With so many “change programs” coming at people from so many directions, employees can easily become “change weary,” and yearn for some level of normalcy. Thus, we find ourselves in the conflicted situation of needing revitalization but desiring normalization.Let’s examine each of these tensions…

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US Airways leaves in triumph on key measure — Arnold Barnett

MIT Sloan Professor Arnold Barnett

MIT Sloan Professor Arnold Barnett

From The Charlotte Observer

In mid-October, US Airways ceased to exist as an independent entity. Many passengers will doubtless say “good riddance,” for they voted the carrier a two-star rating from J. D. Power and ranked it below average on almost every dimension. But US Airways deserves a much fonder farewell than that.

I study aviation safety, and paid particular attention to the airline in the early 1990s, when it experienced a series of accidents culminating in a 1994 Boeing 737 crash near Pittsburgh that killed 132 people. Had US Airways suffered a temporary spasm of bad luck, or was the problem more systematic? We now know that bad luck was the main culprit. The 737 crash (which killed more passengers than the others in the series combined) was caused by a subtle defect in the rudder controls, which could have struck any airline that operated the plane. Moreover, US Airways experts were instrumental in uncovering the defect before it could cause further tragedies.

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How to turn an internship into a job offer — Sue Kline

Senior Director, Career Development Office, MIT Sloan

Senior Director, Career Development Office, MIT Sloan

From Financial Times

First and foremost, they want to see if you are able to accomplish the tasks put in front of you. Beyond that, they want to determine if you fit with the company. Do you interact well with colleagues and managers, and understand the company’s culture?

For example, in a culture where there is a lot of collaboration and you are not a team player, you are giving a signal that you do not understand how things work. If everyone goes to lunch once a week as a group and you decline because you are focusing on a task, then that is another signal.

Ask yourself: are you paying attention to the norms of the company?

Is networking important for an intern?

Networking is a critical part of what is, in essence, an eight or 10-week interview. It is through building relationships over time that you have the opportunity to get to know people and learn from them, as well as let them get to know you. This is a chance for them to see the value you bring to the organisation. This is important because hiring decisions are rarely made by one person alone. It is common for companies to ask for feedback from several people to determine if you will receive an offer.

Read the full post at the Financial Times.

Sue Kline is the senior director of the Career Development Office at MIT Sloan. 

The most intelligent groups aren’t just a bunch of smart people — Thomas Malone

From Quartz

It’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to think about themselves not just in terms of their productivity and efficiency, but also their intelligence. But how do you measure an organization’s intelligence? And with so many groups working remotely, can you measure an online group’s intelligence? It turns out that you can measure and predict group intelligence, and that the same factors affect both face-to-face and online groups.

In a prior study, my colleagues and I took the same statistics techniques used to measure individual intelligence and applied them to measure the intelligence of groups. As far as we know, nobody had ever before asked if groups had an “intelligence factor,” just as individuals do.

We found that there is indeed a single statistical factor for group intelligence that predicts how well the group will perform on a wide variety of tasks. We called this factor “collective intelligence,” and it is only moderately correlated with the average individual intelligence of people in the group. In other words, having a bunch of smart people in the group doesn’t necessarily lead to a smart group. Instead, we found three other factors that predict collective intelligence.

The first was average social perceptiveness or social intelligence of group members. We measured this with a test called “Reading the Mind in the Eyes.” In this test, you look at pictures of other people’s faces and try to guess their emotions. When people in the group are good at that, the group on average is more collectively intelligent.

The second factor was the degree to which people participated equally in a group conversation. When one or two people dominated the conversation, the group was on average less intelligent than when the participation was more evenly spread among the group members.

Read the full post at Quartz. 

Thomas W. Malone is the Patrick J. McGovern (1959) Professor of Management, a Professor of Information Technology, and the Founding Director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence at the MIT Sloan School of Management. 


GM can recover if it changes the culture — Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

From Detroit Free Press

It’s been a rough year for General Motors. The company has recalled more than 28 million vehicles worldwide and is liable for billions of dollars in automotive repairs and victim compensation. It suffered an 85% drop in its second-quarter earnings and faces multiple state investigations, not to mention class-action lawsuits related to safety issues. Can GM recover from this massive crisis?

It can make a comeback, but the recovery hinges on changing the organization’s culture. For years, GM focused on cost-effectiveness and the bottom line, creating what the new CEO Mary Barra calls “a pattern of incompetence and neglect.” To address the current crisis, she of course needs to fix the safety problems, but she also needs to create a new company culture. Safety must become the priority over cost savings in order to regain consumer and market trust, and GM’s focus needs to be on the customer.

So far, Barra, who inherited the crisis when she was promoted to CEO this past January, is moving in the right direction. By firing 15 employees who were involved in the lack of communication about safety issues, she sent a powerful message both within and outside of the company about the company’s changing priorities.

Read the full post at the Detroit Free Press.

Neal Hartman is a Senior Lecturer in Managerial Communication at the MIT Sloan School of Management.