When I first started working as a consultant in Asia, I was often frustrated with very innocent questions from coworkers and clients. I cannot count the number of times I had to explain that, “No, I am not the secretary, I am indeed the presenter and team leader,” when I would show up for important board meetings. After a long workday, coworkers would joke, “Why don’t you just get married, then you can just chill at home.” Although I felt my work was appreciated, I spent a lot of effort explaining myself rather than just doing the work due to these unconscious biases.
Naturally, I became highly supportive for the need for diversity-related initiatives in the company. We had monthly women’s initiative dinners to discuss trends and set up new recruiting strategies to ensure that we had female talent. We also started ‘champion’ programs that included men in the conversation. Although it was helpful to have a support network, I still had lingering doubts about the effectiveness of these programs. I enjoyed talking about the issues a lot and raising awareness, but still, it was only talking—devising concrete action plans and making impactful changes continue to be a challenge.
Now that I am at MIT Sloan, I have learned some of the different challenges other classmates have faced and how that has impacted their career choices. One classmate with an engineering background shared, “I was an engineering TA in one of the top programs in undergrad, but even now I am not pursuing a career in engineering…I decided to transition to a management role where an engineering background was appreciated instead of trying to stay in the culture where I constantly needed to be the minority.”
An undergrad studying computer science was also disappointed by her experience when she was doing her internship search. “Overall, I think no one doubts that I am capable of being an engineer, but it is still a very male dominated sector…When I got an offer for a very competitive engineering internship, even my grandmother joked that maybe it’s because they need to fill the women quotas.”
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…
During the financial crisis and its aftermath, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) sold nearly 500 failed banks in the United States.
These hurried sales of institutions seized by the agency reverberated throughout local and regional economies and had serious consequences nationally. The FDIC lost US$90 billion in the deals, and at the height of the crisis in 2009, the agency’s deposit insurance fund was $21 billion underwater.
I have been exploring this extraordinary episode in US banking history with two other researchers, Gregor Matvos and Amit Seru, both of the University of Chicago. We wanted to find out what happened to banks when they were sold, who bought them and why, and what the implications might be for public policy. To do this, we compiled information on all FDIC bank sales from 2007 to 2013 and analyzed the data using probability models and other methods.
More broadly, our study focused on understanding the nature and efficiency of allocation outcomes when failed assets are sold. These findings have direct implications for the design of the bank resolution process – how to deal with the death of a financial firm – an issue that is confronting policymakers and researchers both in the US and the EU.
In this study, we tried to understand the costs associated with failed bank sales in the US. We hope that these facts will help policymakers to weigh the costs of selling banks against the costs of supporting them outright during future financial crises. Understanding these trade-offs should help policymakers reduce the taxpayer costs associated with reorganizing a banking system in distress.
Imagine high-level executives, store managers, clerks, and warehouse workers standing outside their stores side by side for a month demanding their CEO be reinstated and the business model that made the company thrive be maintained. And imagine their customer base cheering them while they had to shop elsewhere at considerable inconvenience and expense.
That is exactly what happened this summer at Market Basket, a highly successful New England family-owned grocery chain with 71 stores and 25,000 employees. On Wednesday night, Arthur T. Demoulas struck a triumphant deal to buy his warring cousins’ share of the family grocery empire, ending a six-week standoff between thousands of employees and management.
Though not everyone may have heard of this story, it is indeed the biggest labor story of the year. And if it emboldens others to speak out for similar workplace causes, it may turn out to be the most important workplace event to come along so far in this century.
Thomas Kochan is the George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management, a Professor of Work and Employment Research and Engineering Systems, and the Co-Director of the MIT Sloan Institute for Work and Employment Research at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Watch Andrew Lo, the economist, hedge fund manager, and finance professor at MIT Sloan, discuss his idea to bring Wall Street-style financial engineering to solving one of the most pressing medical problems of our time: curing cancer and rare diseases.
Andrew W. Lo is the Charles E. and Susan T. Harris Professor, a Professor of Finance, and the Director of the Laboratory for Financial Engineering at the MIT Sloan School of Management.