Building Obama’s lean startup in America’s biggest bureaucracy — Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

From TechBeacon

What do you do when tasked with making the US government work like a lean startup? “Just start,” advises Hillary Hartley. Or, as we say in startup country: “JFDI.”

Hartley is the cofounder and deputy executive director of 18F, a government organization that causes quite a bit of cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, it’s a team firmly embedded within the 11,495-person General Services Administration (GSA), with a $23.9 billion operating budget. Yet its website explains that it’s “built in the spirit of America’s top tech startups.”

Launching a lean startup in the federal government

18F is one of the “Obama lean startups” created under the leadership of former US Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, who was tasked with the mission of remaking the aging and in many cases woefully outdated digital infrastructure underneath the government. The big idea behind 18F is to leverage world-class designers, developers, and product specialists from the tech industry to do projects with government agencies and show them how to work like lean startups.

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Would a ‘Brexit’ matter to America? A former British diplomat on what’s at stake — Phil Budden

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Phil Budden

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Phil Budden

From WBUR Cognoscenti

Given the decibel level of the current U.S. presidential elections, Americans can be forgiven for missing an equally lively debate underway in Britain over whether the country should remain in the European Union (EU) or not. A debate the press and financial markets have dubbed “Brexit” – short for “British exit.”

As dramatic as any Shakespeare play, the sound and fury from Britain in the run-up to the June 23 vote is sure to be deafening. And while Americans can be forgiven for favoring the latest pictures of the Royal Family or the pageantry of the Queen’s 90th birthday, over, say, the arcane details of the referendum to remain in the EU, make no mistake: Britain’s upcoming sovereign decision matters greatly to those in the U.S. Here’s why.

First, there are American interests in the EU, a club of 28 sovereign nations. Under British leadership, those nations created a single European market by linking their economies almost a quarter-century ago: America benefits from the openness of this rules-based single market, with its half a billionwestern consumers. Much is made of America’s investment in Asia, but the U.S. has invested more than three times as much in Europe, paying dividends in both jobs and economic returns.

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The oil industry’s troubles aren’t bad enough to trigger another global crisis — John Reilly

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer John Reilly

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer John Reilly

From MarketWatch

The crash in the price of oil — from $108 a barrel in June 2014 to below $27 earlier this year — has rattled the stock market, triggered layoffs across the energy sector, and plunged many oil producing countries into crisis.

Oil has since rebounded significantly from its lows, to above $40 a barrel, but the price plunge since 2014 has put much pressure on oil companies. Reports have pointed to an increase in debt among oil producers, raising the specter of default on bankruptcy and default on debt, withfollow-on effects beyond oil producers.

The upheaval also has sparked fears that oil’s troubles will spread across the globe, echoing the crash in U.S. housing markets that pushed the world economy to the brink of collapse in 2008. Yet despite the woes oil is experiencing, it is unlikely that the repercussions will trigger another global financial crisis.

Looking at the numbers, the mortgage-debt crisis dwarfs what is currently happening in oil. According to a report in the Financial Times, the global oil and gas industry’s debts rose to  $3 trillion from $1.1 trillion between 2006 and 2014. Compare that to the $10 trillion of housing debt weighing on Americans in 2008.

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Forget Anbang, Marriott is a better bet for Starwood — Barbara Dyer

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer and Visiting Scientist Barbara Dyer

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer and Visiting Scientist Barbara Dyer

From Fortune

Let’s say you have offers for two different jobs that interest you. The first one pays more, but comes from a company you don’t know that much about. The second offer is a bit lower, but that company has a long history that you know well. How do you decide between the two?

By taking the higher offer, you guarantee yourself a bigger salary, but you also open yourself up to more unknowns down the road. The lower offer means you’d work for a firm you admire and while your initial paycheck would be smaller, you might realize other benefits such as professional development and career advancement down the road.

In a sense, this is the same dilemma facing Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, the Connecticut-based owner of such brands as Sheraton, Westin and St. Regis. Since agreeing to an initial $12.2 billion takeover offer from Marriott International MAR -5.45% , Inc. in November, Starwood HOT -4.61% has become the object of a mad-lover’s pursuit between Marriott and a consortium led by China’s Anbang Insurance Group. Following a round of counteroffers, Maryland-based Marriott’s latest proposal values Starwood at $13.6 billion while Anbang Insurance Group came in with an all-cash bid of $14 billion.

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MIT competition addresses economic dislocation in the digital era — Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

From The Wall Street Journal

Few topics are as critical, and as challenging to anticipate, than the future of jobs in the digital economy. Along with its many benefits, the digital revolution has resulted in enormous dislocations in labor markets and a sharp polarization in job opportunities over the past several decades.

Recently the Initiative on the Digital Economy, an effort at MIT started three years ago to better understand the broad changes brought about by the relentless advances of digital technologies, launched a competition inviting organizations to envision the future of work. The competition aims to identify, celebrate and award prizes to “organizations that are inventing a more sustainable, productive, and inclusive future for all by focusing on improving economic opportunity for middle- and base-level income earners.”

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