THINKING FORWARD – Ideas for your work from MIT Sloan School of Management


Ideas for your work from
MIT Sloan School of Management | Office of Communications

March 7 – March 13, 2021

1. Female entrepreneurs and women in business continue to trailblaze in their respective industries, all while creating space for those behind them through support and mentorship. MIT Sloan alumnae shared some of the ways they lift up other women in business:

“I push to make sure the hiring pipeline includes women and take steps to increase that proportion when needed — revising job descriptions, personal networking, and tapping professional diversity groups.” — Shaheen Parks, analytics services director, Veeva

“We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and I need to make sure my shoulders are strong and steady for those who come after me.” — Lauren Hoops-Schmieg, executive director, Hill House

“Putting more women who think and act with intersectionality in charge of investments is how we will make sure the best ideas get funded and bring value.” — Yscaira Jimenez, CEO, LaborX

“The more representation of female leaders across all industries, the more we can encourage women earlier in their careers to see examples that fuel their own choices and career paths.” — Heidi Zak, co-founder and co-CEO, ThirdLove

“We need to set the stage for broad inclusion in a collaborative environment, where people of all genders feel comfortable making contributions.” — Anita Carleton, division director, Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute


2. Having cash on hand can boost a worker’s productivity, a new study shows — a finding that could have implications on debates over stimulus payments and unemployment benefits in the U.S.

Frank Schilbach, an associate professor of economics at MIT, works with low-income workers in India and other countries trying to understand how poverty and its attendant worries intrude on their day-to-day lives. “Financial concerns loom really large: How will I pay for school fees? Will I have enough to feed my children? Can I pay health care bills?” he said.

A new study with three colleagues aimed to gauge how those concerns might affect behavior. One group of workers were paid at the end of a 12-day contract; another group received earnings-to-date either eight or nine days into their contract, with the balance paid after 12 days.

The researchers found an average 6.2% jump in productivity when workers were paid partway through the job. “This strongly suggests that attention plays an important role — that people are able to focus on their work instead of thinking about school fees, health care, and so on,” Schilbach said.


3. Companies typically consider themselves to be operating in an industry, such as banking, retail, or automotive. But customers often think of their needs in terms of domains, which cover their end-to-end needs in a single area such as housing, energy, or education.

Firms that shift their mindset to domain thinking can better meet the needs of these customers and identify new business opportunities, according to a new briefing from the MIT Center for Information Systems Research.

Shopify, a platform that allows anyone to create and manage an online store, “exemplifies a company shaped around a domain and not an industry,” the CISR researchers wrote. Shopify partners with developers, marketers, payment companies, and others to help its customers build a brand, create an online presence, set up a store, and sell, market, and manage their business.

The researchers identified three ways companies can start a shift toward domain thinking:

  • Identify your typical customer’s end-to-end journey.
  • Enable customer curation of your company’s products and services and break down silos to make it easier for the customer to create their own solutions.
  • Digitally partner to achieve coverage of the customer’s domain needs.


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By MIT Sloan CDO