The Power of Leaders Who Focus on Solving Problems – Deborah Ancona and Hal Gregersen

From Harvard Business Review

Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center

Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center

MIT Sloan Prof. Deborah Ancona

In front of a packed room of MIT students and alumni, Vivienne Ming is holding forth in a style all her own. “Embrace cyborgs,” she calls out, as she clicks to a slide that raises eyebrows even in this tech-smitten crowd. “Really. Fifteen to 25 years from now, cognitive neuroprosthetics will fundamentally change the definition of what it means to be human.”

She’s referring to the work that interests her most these days, as cofounder of machine learning company Socos and a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for Theoretical Neuroscience. (“So — can I literally jam things in your brain and make you smarter? If you’re curious, the answer is unambiguously yes.”) But the talk has covered a lot more than this, as Ming has touched on many initiatives and startups she’s been involved with, all solving problems at the intersection of advanced technology, learning, and labor economics.

She’s an entrepreneur, a CEO, and a teacher — all leadership roles — but when we ask her about her leadership style, she demurs. “What I’ve learned about myself as a leader, as an executive, is — I’ll be blunt — I’m a pretty mediocre manager. I try to do the right things, but I’m much more focused on problems than I am on people, and that’s not always that healthy.” While she’s utterly confident in herself, she just doesn’t identify as top management. She’s happier to think of herself as a data scientist, a computer geek. She loves talking about hacks she’s pulled off — like the alterations she made to her diabetic son’s medical devices, so she could merge all their data to produce a predictive model. Now, she gets an alert an hour in advance if a spike or drop is coming in his blood glucose level. This is an unprecedented, and highly valuable, thing. “Turns out, it broke several federal laws,” she laughs.

Ming is a tech optimist, believing that all kinds of previously intractable problems will be able to be solved as the tool kit for addressing them is developed. And she’s decided her best way of contributing to that progress is to keep honing her individual-contributor skills. “For a long time, I tried to be the whole package. I put a lot of energy into making certain that I was shepherding everyone along, doing all the right things for my teams. Then I realized: You know what? If I can get some people that are really good at the things that I’m not, then I can focus on my strengths. And my strengths are in creative problem solving — all the way down to writing the code myself.” Read More »

What to do when an employee reports sexual harassment – Daena Giardella

Daena Giardella, MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer

From Quartz

We know from the 2016 EEOC report on harassment in the workplace and other studies that between 25% and 85% of women, and between 11% and16% of men, say that they have experienced sexual harassment.

That means that, if you’re a manager, it’s very likely that you’ll encounter a sexual harassment situation at some point in your career. You may learn about it anecdotally, or it might arrive at your desk as a formal report or notification from HR or elsewhere.

How you react can determine whether you’re able to build open teams that encourage everyone to have a voice. Here are important steps you should take:

Know the process. It is your responsibility to know your organizational policies, protocols, and investigatory processes as well as what you would need to do. If these procedures are unclear, you should take initiative now to make changes to clarify them. Keep in mind that multiple report pathways and strict protocols are crucial. Read More »

Join the #MITSloanExperts “What’s Your Digital Business Model?: Six Questions to Help You Build the Next-Generation Enterprise” Twitter chat, June 13

What’s Your Digital Business Model?: Six Questions to Help You Build the Next-Generation Enterprise by Stephanie Woerner and Peter Weill

MIT Sloan’s Stephanie Woerner and Chirag Kulkarni, CMO of Medly, a digital pharmacy in NYC, and writer for Forbes, Fortune, and Entrepreneur, will discuss Woerner’s new book, What’s Your Digital Business Model?: Six Questions to Help You Build the Next-Generation Enterprise, during a Twitter chat on June 13th at 1 p.m. EDT.

Stephanie Woerner is a Research Scientist at the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research. She studies how companies manage organizational change caused by the digitization of the economy. Her research centers on enterprise digitization and the associated governance and strategy implications. In previous National Science Foundation-funded work, she studied distributed work teams and their use of multiple media, electronic communication technologies, and coordination mechanisms to get work done. She was also project manager for the 5-year grant.

Woerner will discuss her work with host Chirag Kulkarni, the Chief Marketing Officer of Medly, a digital pharmacy in NYC that has embraced digital innovation by integrating the pharmacy experience for patients, doctors, and insurance companies. Previously, he’s helped companies like Expedia, LinkedIn, and Alexa increase their revenue online through digital marketing. Forbes named him one of the top 25 marketers. He frequently speaks at organizations like Infosys, Accenture, and IIT about digital marketing.

Join us on Twitter on June 13 at 1 p.m. ET, follow along using #MITSloanExperts, and potentially win a free copy of What’s Your Digital Business Model?: Six Questions to Help You Build the Next-Generation Enterprise.

Another argument for carbon tax: how car buyers behave – Christopher Knittel

MIT Sloan Professor Christopher Knittel

From The Sacramento Bee

Do you rationalize splurging on your daily latte by bringing your lunch to work? Every day we make decisions like this that impact our diet and pocketbook. These same trade-offs also affect the types of cars we drive, which impacts the effectiveness of fuel-efficiency policies.

In a recent study based on five years of data from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, James Archsmith and David Rapson of University of California, Davis, Ken Gillingham of Yale University and I found that in two-car households, increasing the fuel economy of the first car encourages owners to demand less fuel economy in their second car. In other words, if you buy a Toyota Prius, you may be more likely to replace your second car with an SUV.

When households increase the fuel economy of their first car by 10 percent, they will reduce the fuel efficiency of the second vehicle by 5 percent, our analysis found. The result is that half the fuel economy gained from improving the first car is eaten away by a less fuel-efficient second car.

But that is only part of the story. It turns out that owners also ended up driving more total miles, which cuts fuel savings another 10 percentage points. In the end, 60 percent of the benefits of increasing the fuel economy of the first car disappear when the second car is replaced with a less efficient vehicle. Read More »

What Elon Musk doesn’t understand about journalism – Thomas Malone

Thomas W. Malone Professor of Information Technology

From Salon

Elon Musk’s sometimes antagonistic relationship with the press is no secret. But last week, the billionaire chief executive of SpaceX and Tesla exhibited a new level of hostility.

In a series of tweets, Musk referred to journalists as “holier-than-thou” hypocrites, said that news organizations had lost their credibility and the respect of the public, and blamed the media for the election of President Trump.

Then things got interesting. Musk proposed creating a “media credibility rating site” where the public would be able to “rate the core truth of any article & track the credibility score over time of each journalist, editor & publication.” He suggested calling this site “Pravda”—the Russian word for “truth” and also the name of the longtime Communist newspaper. He likened the rating platform to Yelp for journalism.

Despite the bluster, Musk may be on to something. At a time when public trust in the media is at an all-time low, a reputation system that allows citizens to gauge the reliability and accuracy of news they consume could be a step in the right direction. Read More »