David Keith, Assistant Professor of System Dynamics at MIT Sloan School of Management
From the Boston Globe
The Baker administration’s overdue and long-awaited congestion study confirmed what those of us stuck in Greater Boston’s worst-in-the-nation traffic already knew: Traffic congestion in the Commonwealth is bad, and it is getting worse. The study is refreshingly honest, explaining when, where, and why bottlenecks have emerged in our state, and makes practical recommendations on ways that we may ease the gridlock, such as increasing MBTA capacity, building more affordable housing near transit, and encouraging telecommuting. The reality, however, is that we just have way too many people commuting by car, and it is unrealistic to expect that we can solve this problem unless we also actively discourage people from driving.
What MassDOT needs is a mandate from state and city leaders to implement the only proven solution for traffic gridlock: pricing access to our major roads at peak hours. Given Governor Baker’s centrist, data-driven governing philosophy, his reluctance to experiment with congestion pricing is perplexing. Congestion pricing is a market-based reform of a poorly performing government asset (our roads). Results from regions around the world show that congestion pricing works, which is one reason why the Governor’s own Commission on the Future of Transportation has already recommended exploring it. Charging a price to drive at peak times makes explicit the social cost that each driver imposes on other drivers in the form of slower travel times, and creates an incentive for commuters to travel at other times, or to choose other transportation modes. In London, the congestion pricing cordon implemented around the inner-city core in 2003 has reduced traffic congestion by 30 percent, increased traffic speeds by 30 percent, and improved travel time reliability, with commensurate improvements in urban air quality. When Seattle started charging peak tolls on its State Route 520 corridor, traffic volumes dropped by 34 percent and transit ridership increased by 38 percent.
Fellow, MIT Center for Digital Business, Tom Davenport
It’s no secret that health care in the United States is too expensive and not cost-effective. Most of the attention to health care reform has gone to those who lack employee health care, but half of Americans get health care through their employers. Their care is also too expensive—employer health care costs rose 191% between 1999 and 2016, compared to 44% non-healthcare inflation. Many employers want to find ways to make it less expensive, and also to improve the quality of care and health of employees.
In pursuit of these objectives, fifty large companies—from American Express to Weyerhauser—joined together in 2016 to create the Health Transformation Alliance (HTA). Together they comprise over seven million covered lives. The core of the alliance is technology, data, and analytics; companies who are members agree to share data and solutions with each other. There are, of course, other such alliances—the one between Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway has received substantial attention —but HTA is much larger and further along, and both JPMorgan Chase and one Berkshire Hathaway business unit are also members of HTA.
By tapping into their inner child, leaders can blend the bold thinking and action of childhood while maintaining responsibility to the bottom line — an important balance in digital leadership.
When I turned five, I got a new bike. I didn’t know how to ride it, but I took it to a nearby hill anyway, a willing warrior, ready to ride. Was I prepared? Would I be brave enough to overcome the anxiety of facing the unknown? The truth is those questions never occurred to me at the time. Reflecting on this experience decades later, I realized I wasn’t just a willing warrior — I was an ecstatically enthusiastic one. Today, I can’t help but wonder why it seemed so much easier to take on significant new challenges as a five-year-old than it is for me now. As a child, did I have gifts that I somehow lost over the years? Was I foolish then and more responsible now? Upon further reflection, I have come to realize that I’ve been fighting a decades-long battle to not lose many of those gifts that made it relatively easy to learn new things when I was young.
Both refuse to negotiate until the other side gives in to their central demand, with no reason to compromise. Animosity between the parties deepens as they hurl personal insults. The stalemate seems intractable as public costs mount.
While this may sound like it’s describing the government shutdown, it’s also what happens during an unsanctioned job action – sometimes called a “wildcat strike” – in which workers walk out or slow down work over a serious disagreement with management. The company won’t negotiate until the “illegal” action ends, while the workers want a solution to their core issues first.
Stuart Krusell, Senior Director of Global Programs at MIT Sloan School of Management
July 1985 Riding the train on a Eurail Pass as a recent college graduate, two friends and I joined in the exciting adventure of exploring Europe. Seated beside us, a middle-aged woman, heading to Berlin to visit her sister.
In 1985, this trip required traveling from West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany, FRG) through East Germany (German Democratic Republic, GDR) to Berlin, a city literally divided by a wall, with West Berlin being an island of freedom inside the authoritarian GDR.
One of my friends studies German and sees an opportunity to practice his language skills so strikes up a conversation with the woman, providing us with a history lesson about her family and the post-WWII divisions that led to their separation. We ask, “Do you ever see a day when Germany will be reunited?” “Yes, some day, but certainly not in my lifetime,” she replies with a sad smile.