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

+ THREE INSIGHTS FOR THE WEEK August 8 – August 14, 2021

1. With various infrastructure, cyber defense, and innovation bills under consideration in Washington, a pair of MIT professors is urging policymakers to make an old idea new again.

In their 2019 book, “Jump-Starting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream,” Simon Johnson and Jonathan Gruber examine the period in U.S. history after World War II, when government investment in research and development lead to an innovation boom that produced developments such as jet aircraft, drugs and vaccines, microelectronics, satellites, and digital computers.

They propose the federal government today invest $100 billion annually to develop and commercialize innovation technologies. That investment would create 4 million good new jobs in the near term, the authors estimate.

To close income and opportunity gaps, this federal R&D investment would be centered in 102 urban communities statistically identified by Johnson and Gruber as potential next-generation technology hubs — places like Rochester, New York; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Peoria, Illinois.

“People in small towns and smaller cities have been left behind,” Johnson said in a recent interview. “The evidence suggests that public investment in R&D creates a lot of jobs for people who don’t have PhDs — in fact, for people who may not necessarily have finished college.”


2. Sharon Hopkins spent 20-plus years building a career in customer relationship management, a discipline that is still somewhat male-dominant.

“Success in this space requires good technical skills, strong business analytical skills, and critically, the ability to influence senior sales leaders,” said Hopkins, MS ’84, in a recent Q&A.

“The challenge is not that women are rejected when applying for positions in CRM consulting; the challenge is mentoring women so that they feel comfortable in the roles,” said Hopkins, currently vice president of strategic accounts at Ascend Technologies and formerly co-CEO of Doextra CRM Solutions.

Earlier in her career, Hopkins started a group called “Women in CRM” in response to norms at industry conferences that left women feeling uncomfortable or excluded. “Informal activities, often late at night, were macho-oriented — cigar bars, locker room talk, and so on,” Hopkins recalled.

Today, she sees progress. “The good news is that there are increasingly female entrepreneurs running CRM consulting businesses and practices, encouraging other women to confidently engage.”


3. One sick staff member can mean a day’s worth of cancelled appointments for small health care groups like dentists’ offices. Such offices can either continue short-staffed, which could negatively affect patient care, or reschedule appointments, potentially delaying critical procedures and screenings.

Stynt aims to solve that problem by helping health care offices fill last-minute shift openings for positions including dental hygienists, assistants, office managers, and dentists. Stynt’s online platform lets offices post openings that qualified professionals can then bid on.

“We provide health care facilities with credentialed professionals extremely fast, in most cases within 15 minutes or less,” said founder and CEO Alex Adeli, MBA ’17.

The platform onboards professionals by verifying their credentials and work experience, and by conducting reference checks. It then lets professionals set their own schedule and desired hourly rate. Algorithms alert them to relevant work in their area and suggest bids.

Stynt provides workers’ compensation, health benefits, insurance, personal time off, human resource services, and payroll services, which simplifies the hiring process and provides a safety net to workers, Adeli said.

The company is currently working with more than 5,000 offices around the U.S. and 40,000 professionals, MIT News reports.

Content from the: MIT Sloan Office of Communications Building E90, 9th Floor 1 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02142

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By MIT Sloan CDO