John Parsons, MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer and CoDirector of MIT’s CANES Low Carbon Energy Center
Several states in the northeast of America have committed to decarbonizing their electricity grids in the next 20 to 30 years, which will likely be a large — and costly — endeavor.
But a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows parts of New England and New York could transition away from carbon technologies with minimal cost by turning to our neighbor in the north: Quebec, Canada.
To help us understand this, we spoke with John Parsons, one of the co-authors of the study. He is a senior lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and co-director of its CANES Low Carbon Energy Center. Below is an edited transcript of the conversation.
Jónas Oddur Jónasson, Assistant Professor of Operations Management, MIT Sloan School of Management
From Psychology Today
In many operational settings, like in-flight service, police patrols, and ambulance services, teams are fluid. They are assembled for short collaborations and then disbanded. In these settings, is it better for team members to have familiarity with each other or to be exposed to multiple partners?
We know from prior studies that there are plenty of benefits of familiarity when it comes to teams. They have improved coordination and shared knowledge about the task at hand. However, we don’t know how these benefits compare with those of being exposed to multiple partners over time. We suspect that exposure to multiple partners would enhance creativity and problem-solving, which would translate to improved operational performance, but it has yet to be measured.
In a recent study, my colleagues and I sought to evaluate the performance of both types of teams. We used data from 2011 on ambulance transports from the London Ambulance Services involving new paramedic recruits. Ambulance transports are typically staffed by stable teams of two paramedics. However, new recruits are scheduled on a relief roster and therefore assigned to partners based on administrative convenience. This results in exogenous variation in partner assignments, by which some new recruits have stable long-term partnerships and others get exposed to multiple partners.
Donald Sull, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management
Andrew Chamberlain, Chief Economist, Glassdoor
From the HR People + Strategy Blog.
Company culture matters more now than ever. The average employee spends 40 percent of their waking hours at work. A toxic corporate culture can not only be soul destroying, but it can sink a company. On the other hand, a vibrant culture can help people thrive professionally, enjoy their job, and find meaning in their work. A growing body of research has shown that a good corporate culture can lead to better financial performance, more innovation, and greater customer satisfaction.
A recent survey of CEOs and CFOs found that 9 out of 10 believe that improving corporate culture would increase their company’s value, and nearly 80 percent ranked culture among the five most important factors driving their company’s valuation. Companies listed among the best places to work based on their corporate culture delivered nearly 20 percent higher returns to shareholders than comparable companies over a five-year period. And, according to Glassdoor data, company culture is among the top factors that job seekers consider as part of their job search.
But what exactly is “culture”? Culture has often been an arbitrary term measured on a binary good or bad scale, with no clear guidelines on what makes a culture “good” and “healthy” or “bad” and “toxic.”
Tara Swart, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management
Making an action board, based on science, changed my life and it can transform yours too.
Action boards are the new vision boards because making a collage then sitting on your porch waiting for the checks to roll in is a fantasy. Instead, I believe it’s about using the science of how the brain works to make your dreams come true. If you create an action board, look at it daily and visualize it coming true, this tracks images to your sub-conscious and primes your brain to grasp opportunities that may otherwise have passed you by. Add in doing something each day, no matter how small, to move you towards your goal you’ll be transforming abundance thinking into reality.
It took me seven years to get to an action board that seemed to be just perfect for my life and keep me motivated (with a few updates), so patience is key. I had small wins along the way, but there was one action board that I made in 2015 for the new year of 2016 that really defined a turning point in my life. Ten years ago, I was in the very early days of setting up a small consultancy so it made sense to include an actual target figure of money that I wanted to earn on my action board. Meg, a fellow life coach who I often worked with in the north of England, staying in small motels and taking public transportation back and forth, encouraged me to choose a number higher than just what I needed or felt was achievable. She suggested close to double my original figure. I thought she was a little too optimistic and I probably wouldn’t be able to match the number that we agreed upon, but it would be great. Sure enough, the following year, her number was exactly how much I earned.
Stuart Madnick, Professor of Information Technology, MIT Sloan School of Management
From Harvard Business Review
Last fall, in Northern California, the United States experienced its first-ever long-lasting and deliberate, large-scale blackout. Fueled by increased fears of devastating fires due to its century-old equipment, the region’s utility companies shut off power to more than 1.5 million people forcing many evacuations. The impact was devastating; Michael Wara, a climate and energy expert at Stanford University, estimated the cost to California as up to $2.5 billion. For cybersecurity experts like myself, the blackout was a signal of just how precarious our reliance on electricity is, and how much we have to fear in cyberattacks.
Think about what would happen if a cyberattack brought down the power grid in New York or even just a larger part of the country. As we saw in California, people could manage for a few hours — maybe a few days — but what would happen if the outage lasted for a week or more? If a utility in a high-density population area was targeted with a cyberattack, is an evacuation of millions of people feasible or desirable?