The true heroes of COVID-19 and how they’re filling the void at the top – Deborah Ancona and Kate Isaacs

Deborah Ancona, Professor and Founder of the MIT Leadership Center, MIT Sloan School of Management

Kate Isaacs, Research Affiliate, MIT Sloan School of Management

From The Hill

We know a lot about how leaders can launch a nimble response to a fast-moving crisis. They need to do rapid sense-making by convening the best experts to collect and digest emerging data and information. They must be frank and transparent about what they know and don’t know about the situation and communicate clearly and continuously about what they are doing to respond. The best leaders also convey empathy for what their people are experiencing, and extend care and reassurance in uncertain times.

Most of all, leaders need to encourage and steer rapid scale innovation. Crises are fast-moving and laden with uncertainty. Decisions must often be made without full information and strategies have to be adapted to quickly changing circumstances. To mount a nimble crisis response, leaders must create the conditions to empower many people everywhere to help solve the problems at hand and push the best ideas forward to execute at scale.

In nimble organizations, the people who generate new ideas are entrepreneurial leaders, while the people who help them do what needs to be done are the enabling leaders, and the people responsible for high-level vision, strategy and resource allocation, as well as for collecting and disseminating information about the situation, are the architecting leaders.

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Eight emerging lessons: from coronavirus to climate action – Otto Scharmer

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer Otto Scharmer

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Otto Scharmer

From Medium

As 100 million people in Europe are in lockdown, the US seems to be completely unprepared for the tsunami that is about to hit. “We’re about to experience the worst public health disaster since polio,” says Dr Martin Makary, professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Don’t believe the numbers when you see, even on our Johns Hopkins website, that 1,600 Americans have the virus. No, that means 1,600 got the test, tested positive. There are probably 25 to 50 people who have the virus for every one person who is confirmed. I think we have between 50,000 and half a million cases right now walking around in the United States.”

Having returned to the US from Europe on the last plane before the travel ban kicked in two days ago, I feel as if I have traveled backwards in time. Which is exactly what people report when they arrive in Europe from East Asia now. You feel as if you’re moving backward in time, back into an earlier state of awareness, which the country of departure had already moved past. Here are my eight takeaways.

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Coronavirus may finally force businesses to adopt workplaces of the future – Erin Kelly

Erin Kelly, MIT Sloan Distinguished Professor of Work and Organization Studies

From Fortune

The coronavirus is a terrible public health threat, but there is a hidden upside: It gives us a chance to rethink how work is organized and bring our policies into the 21st century.

To protect their workforce, firms are asking people to work at home. Our new research shows that more flexible work policies that give workers more control over when, where, and how they work don’t hurt business performance. Instead, such policies can lead to less stressed, more satisfied employees who are less likely to quit.

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COVID-19 and Antifragility: 4 key guiding principles and 1 current real-world example

Bill Aulet, Managing Director, Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and Professor of the Practice, MIT Sloan School of Management

Like everyone else, our world has come to a crashing halt as the COVID-19 situation affects the world. Classes, workshops, reunions and talks I had scheduled not just at MIT but also in Poland, Germany, and France had to be cancelled or completely rethought. Just getting basic essentials of life to keep going were now complicated. How all of this ends, and when it ends (if that is the right term), is not clear at all. What is one to do?

As we have discussed for years now, the pace of change is only going to keep increasing. These unusual disruptions should not be considered unusual in our planning process if we are realistic. We don’t know exactly what “normal” will be, but we know it will be something new, and it will come with great speed.

We must be antifragile. This is at the core of what we strive to do as entrepreneurship educators: create antifragile humans and teams. We hope that these building blocks translate to making society more antifragile as well, but, realistically, we have our hands full with just the individuals and teams at this point. So what does this all mean in practice in light of our current crisis?

We must not wallow in despair or blame others. We must have a constructive and positive attitude that we control our own destiny and we can help solve this. Even more so, we must see this as an opportunity to rise up and solve a huge problem to make the world a better place going forward. That should energize us. We need to be the leaders in this time of vast uncertainty, adversity, incomplete information, and people out of homeostasis.

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What makes a family business last? – John A. Davis

John Davis, Senior Lecturer in the Family Enterprise Executive Programs, MIT Sloan School of Management.

From Harvard Business Review

The performance edge family businesses have over their non-family business counterparts has been explained by their dogged pursuit of operational excellence. Family firms tend to take a long-term view of investments and relationships, stay in ownership control to do things their way, focus on persistent improvement and innovation, develop loyal stakeholder relationships, build key talent in select individuals, carry lower debt, and build greater financial stability.

This approach to running a business reflects an Operator’s Mindset. It is informed by specialized knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Those with this mindset attend diligently to all aspects of operations, prizing traditions while constantly tinkering to make improvements; they look for growth opportunities primarily within the industries where their operating abilities shine. This mindset is deeply embedded in the cultures of most family companies and business families: If you want to be important in the company and family, you have to be good at operations.

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