MIT Sloan Visiting Associate Professor Aurélie Thiele
It is a truism in career development that you should only do one thing and do it well. You don’t want to pursue multiple business endeavors—that would scatter your energy. Offer a consistent image to the world. Focus.
When I moved back to Cambridge for my sabbatical at MIT, where I earned a doctorate in engineering a decade ago, I thought I knew what to expect. The revitalization of Kendall Square, the Innovation District in South Boston, the new MBTA stop in Somerville, pharmaceutical companies building their new headquarters within walking distance of the Charles River, Google opening an office nearby: I was aware of all these. They were aligned with Greater Boston’s brand as an innovation hub in science and engineering. Left-brain innovation, I call it. For me, that was Greater Boston’s One Thing.
But I was most struck, after I came back, by the amount of right-brain innovation going on—new arts-related offerings that customers pay for. (It is not innovation if it doesn’t have marketplace value.) Everybody knows Boston’s reputation in science, technology, and engineering. But an innovative mindset is sustained by right-brain activities: spend an hour at the museum or two in a theater and view the world differently, especially if the cultural offerings are on the cutting edge. Of course, Boston has all the events that residents count on in a metropolis: open artists’ studios on First Fridays, a book festival every October, a film festival, a jazz festival, community programs at local museums, authors’ events at indie bookstores, and so on. Every large city with any hope to attract the educated, however, does the same. I like to think that Boston is more successful at it—I’ll argue that the Boston events involve writers and artists of a caliber rarely seen elsewhere—but those events alone don’t make Boston special. What does is the role of new works in the city’s cultural scene, and what they mean about Boston’s identity.
To reduce the persistently high unemployment rate in the United States, Congress should move to relax some of our current constraints on immigration.
This is a controversial idea because many people are under the impression that allowing in more immigrants would push up unemployment. But that would only be the case if the number of jobs in the US were an unchanging constant. Read More »
More than a week after becoming football legend, the Super Bowl’s last-minute interception continues to prompt second guessing: did Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll make a bad call when he ordered Russell Wilson throw the ball? Did the quarterback pass poorly?
Or are we focusing on the wrong things altogether?
First, let’s look at the now (in)famous play.
Running the ball, like many Monday-morning quarterbacks have advocated, would have resulted in a massive pileup at the line, and the receiver Wilson spotted in the end zone didn’t appear well covered.
That is until Patriots defender Malcolm Butler emerged as if out of nowhere for the game-saving and Super Bowl-winning interception.
People love to use moral hazard as an excuse to inflict pain on others. So do governments, as we are seeing as the European Union once again threatens Greece with severe measures for that nation’s failure to fully implement the EU’s harsh austerity measures. The argument is extraordinarily simple: if a country cannot discipline itself, then we will teach it discipline through financial lashes. After all, didn’t Greece bring this pain on itself?
A similar mindset drove debt restructuring in Argentina in 2001. The U.S. treasury wanted to make Argentina an example for the whole Latin American region: If Argentina did not reduce its fiscal deficit to zero as promised, the argument went, the nation would deserve to suffer and the government would need to go. Indeed, Argentina did not reduce its deficit to zero, but it got it down to 0.6 percent in the third quarter of 2001. This effort by the Argentinean government was, unfortunately, unaccompanied by similar efforts in its provinces, but still, it was a massive success. But not to the enforcers, who basically said the efforts were not good enough.
I’ve just returned from a weeklong deep dive into the frontline of societal renewal in Indonesia. In an earlier blog I shared some of my experiences with a group of Indonesian leaders from government, business, and civil society who came for a weeklong module at MIT in September. They were participants in the MIT IDEAS program that I chair, which takes leaders from society’s three sectors (business, government, civil society) on a 12-month journey of personal, professional, and institutional innovation and renewal.
This time we came together again for a weeklong retreat on Wakatobi, a group of remote islands in the Banda Sea, which is in the Coral Triangle region that is part of the earth’s second most important biodiversity region (second only to the Amazon). In 2009 (May 15 2009) six countries (Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands) signed the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) for co-managing and protecting a marine ecosystem that is home to the highest coral diversity in the world with 600 corals or 76% of the world’s known coral species. Today CTI has thousands of stakeholders from across all sectors. Sadly, since the treaty’s signing, little has been done to implement its goals at the ground level, among fishermen and local communities. This is where the story is directly linked to our tri-sector group of IDEAS fellows, which includes several key players in the CTI system.