The rise of data-driven decision making is real but uneven — Kristina McElheran and Erik Brynjolfsson

Kristina McElheran, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy Visiting Scholar

Kristina McElheran, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy Visiting Scholar


 Professor of Information Technology, Director, The MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy

Professor of Information Technology,
Director, The MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy

From Harvard Business Review

Growing opportunities to collect and leverage digital information have led many managers to change how they make decisions – relying less on intuition and more on data. As Jim Barksdale, the former CEO of Netscape quipped, “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.” Following pathbreakers such as Caesar’s CEO Gary Loveman – who attributes his firm’s success to the use of databases and cutting-edge analytical tools – managers at many levels are now consuming data and analytical output in unprecedented ways.

This should come as no surprise. At their most fundamental level, all organizations can be thought of as “information processors” that rely on the technologies of hierarchy, specialization, and human perception to collect, disseminate, and act on insights. Therefore, it’s only natural that technologies delivering faster, cheaper, more accurate information create opportunities to re-invent the managerial machinery.

At the same time, large corporations are not always nimble creatures. How quickly are managers actually making the investments and process changes required to embrace decision-making practices rooted in objective data? And should all firms jump on this latest managerial bandwagon?

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Friction matters – how diversity makes us work harder — Evan Apfelbaum

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Evan Apfelbaum

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Evan Apfelbaum

MIT Sloan Assistant Professor of Organizational Studies Evan Apfelbaum discusses how diversity changes the way we behave.

Apfelbaum says the key to social friction is understanding how to use it.

He and his fellow researchers examined how questions of race impacted adults and children, using a game similar to Guess Who? to gauge why people are more hesitant to talk about race as they get older.

Watch the video here.

Evan Apfelbaum is the W. Maurice Young (1961) Career Development Professorand an Assistant Professor of Organizational Studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

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.