What AI will do to corporate hierarchies – Thomas Malone

Thomas W. Malone is the Patrick J. McGovern (1959) Professor of Management, a Professor of Information Technology

From The Wall Street Journal 

Ask people about artificial intelligence, and the discussion will most often turn to jobs: which ones will be eliminated and which ones will be created.

But regardless of what happens to the number of jobs, there’s another question that is less often discussed but crucial for maximizing both productivity and employee morale: How is AI likely to change the structure of business hierarchies themselves?

The obvious answer may be that the management structure is likely to get more centralized and rigid. After all, AI will help managers track more detailed data about everything their subordinates are doing, which should make it easier—and more inviting—to exercise stricter controls.

This will no doubt be true in some cases. But look more closely, and I believe the opposite is much more likely to happen in many cases. That’s because when AI does the routine tasks, much of the remaining nonroutine work is likely to be done in loose “adhocracies,” ever-shifting groups of people with the combinations of skills needed for whatever problems arise.

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Greta, CEOs join Global GoalsCast to save the planet – John Sterman, Max Boykoff, Bradley Tusk, Laura Gitman, and Gillian Tett

John Sterman, Professor of Management and Director of MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan School of Management

From Global GoalsCast

Is the zeitgeist shifting toward action to curb global warming and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals? Veteran Financial Times journalist Gillian Tett joins Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman to consider that question in the aftermath of the United Nation’s climate summit and General Assembly. While the actions of governments were disappointing, they see a new attitude among many businesses, who were far more engaged in UN activity this year. “The balance of risks in the eyes of many business executives have shifted,” says Tett. Many executives now think it is “riskier to stand on the sidelines and do nothing than to actually be involved in some of these social and climate change movements,” Tett reports. The challenge now is not whether to act but how. Edie completes her visit with Professor John Sterman at MIT, whose En-Roads computer model of the climate lets Edie identify policy actions that will hold contain heating of the atmosphere. “The conclusion here is it is, technically, still possible to limit expected warming to 1.5” degrees Celsius, Sterman concludes..

Listen to the full podcast at Global GoalsCast.

John D. Sterman is the Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a Professor in the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society. He is also the Director of the MIT System Dynamics Group and the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative.

Maxwell T. Boykoff is an Associate Professor in the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Bradley Tusk is a venture capitalist and CEO and founder of Tusk Ventures.

Laura is a global expert on corporate sustainability, with two decades of experience in strategy consulting.

Gillian Tett is chair of the editorial board and editor-at-large, US of the Financial Times.

Are you ‘virtue signaling’? – David Rand, Jillian Jordan

David Rand, Associate Professor of Management Science and Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT Sloan School of Management

From The New York Times 

Expressions of moral outrage are playing a prominent role in contemporary debates about issues like sexual assault, immigration and police brutality. In response, there have been criticisms of expressions of outrage as mere “virtue signaling” — feigned righteousness intended to make the speaker appear superior by condemning others.

Clearly, feigned righteousness exists. We can all think of cases where people simulated or exaggerated feelings of outrage because they had a strategic reason to do so. Politicians on the campaign trail, for example, are frequent offenders.

So it may seem reasonable to ask, whenever someone is expressing indignation, “Is she genuinely outraged or just virtue signaling?” But in many cases this question is misguided, for the answer is often “both.”

You may not realize it, but distinguishing between genuine and strategic expressions of indignation assumes a particular scientific theory: namely, that there are two separable psychological systems that shape expressions of moral outrage. One is a “genuine” system that evaluates a transgression in light of our moral values and determines what level of outrage we actually feel. The other is a “strategic” system that evaluates our social context and determines what level of outrage will look best to others. Authentic expressions of outrage involve only the first system, whereas virtue signaling involves the second system.

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The battle over the driving experience is heating up and will be won in software – Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

From TechCrunch 

Sirius XM’s recent all-stock $3.5-billion purchase of the music-streaming service Pandora  raised a lot of eyebrows. A big question was why Sirius paid so much. Is Pandora’s music library and customer base really worth that amount? The answer is that this was a strategic move by Sirius in a battle that is far bigger than radio. The real battle, which will become much more visible in the coming years, is over the driving experience.

People spend a lot of time commuting in their cars. That time is fixed and won’t likely change. However, what is changing is the way we drive. We’re already seeing many new cars with driver-assist features, and automakers (and tech companies) are working hard to bring fully autonomous cars to the market as quickly as possible. New cars today already contain an average of 100 million lines of code that can be updated to increase driver-assist options, and some automakers like Tesla already offer an “autonomous” mode on highways.

According to the Brookings Institute, one-quarter of all cars will be autonomous by 2040, and IHS predicts all cars will be autonomous after 2050. Those are conservative estimates, as we are likely to see major changes in the next 10 years.

These changes will impact the driving experience. As cars become more autonomous, we can do more than simply listen to music or podcasts. We may be able to watch videos, surf the web and more. The value of car real estate is already valuable, but it’s going to skyrocket as we change the way people consume media while driving.

The Pandora acquisition was a strategic move by Sirius to gain the necessary assets so that it won’t fall behind in this space — and to get into the fast-growing music-streaming business, where users consume music at home, work and play. While Pandora’s music library is arguably second-tier, it’s also good enough that it can provide pretty much every artist most people want. This is often how high-priced mergers happen — one party is concerned about falling behind and pays a premium to purchase the other company’s assets. It’s also a bet by Sirius about the driving experience of the future.

Read the full post at TechCrunch.

Lou Shipley is a Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management. 

Why great leaders focus on mastering relationships – Douglas A. Ready

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Doug Ready

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Douglas A. Ready

From MIT Sloan Management Review

Great leaders are distinguished by their ability to master personal relationships.

“Without mastering collaborative relationships, both inside and outside the company, we won’t produce the outcomes needed to win our customers’ business.”

— Lori Beer, chief information officer, JPMorgan Chase

Mastering personal relationships that build trust and create a collaborative work environment is central to leadership effectiveness in the digital economy. This skill set distinguishes great leaders from merely good ones, based on my interviews with C-suite executives in companies around the world.

In a digital business environment, great leaders are those who appreciate and understand the power of technology and analytics. But that alone is insufficient. They must also have the skills and mindsets to bring together people from diverse businesses and functions to deliver superior customer outcomes. As Lori Beer, CIO at JPMorgan Chase, says:

“We don’t need everybody to know how to write the perfect API, but we do need people with a passion for working together to create an understanding of how those APIs, a blockchain, the cloud, AI, and machine learning can change the way you think about delivering services to our customers.”

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