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 October 3 – October 9, 2021

1. Today’s business leaders must navigate a unique set of challenges in order to satisfy employees, customers, and shareholders. Five recent insights from MIT Sloan Management Review help executives lead through change.

  • Know which elements of culture matter most to employees. Research from MIT Sloan senior lecturer Donald Sull found these factors were most closely tied to a company’s culture rating: employee respect, benefits, supportive leaders, job security, and leaders who lived the company’s core values.
  • Encourage supply chain transparency. MIT Sloan associate professor Yanchong Zheng and co-author Tim Kraft recommend offering carrots, not just sticks; linking visibility to efficiency; embedding transparency in the value proposition; and taking a leadership position to ensure materials are ethically sourced within your industry.
  • Improve data liquidity — that is, the ease with which data can be reused and recombined. Data that is accurate, complete, current, standardized, searchable, and understandable throughout the enterprise can create value in multiple ways, according to researchers from  the MIT Center for Information Systems Research.
  • Derive more value from artificial intelligence projects by establishing trust and building partnerships with business units; focusing on reusable components; and creating a data science pipeline to better manage individual projects as well as the organization’s overall AI roadmap.
  • Rethink diversity measures. Nasdaq now requires companies listed on its exchange to meet gender and racial ethnicity targets for their board membership. MIT Sloan professor Roberto Rigobon urges companies to go beyond this “narrow definition” to assess their efforts to hire, retain, and promote minorities.


2. High tech companies often undertake research on artificial intelligence — but that gives them the power to censor or impede research that casts them in an unfavorable light, said Timnit Gebru, co-founder of the nonprofit organization Black in AI and the former co-leader of Google’s Ethical AI team.

The situation imperils both the rights of AI workers at those companies and the quality of research that is shared with the public, said Gebru, who spoke at the recent EmTech MIT conference hosted by MIT Technology Review.

Gebru was forced out at Google last December (Gebru said she was fired, while Google said she resigned) after co-writing a paper about the risks of large AI language models, such as environmental impacts and the difficulty in finding embedded biases.

At the conference, Gebru called for enhanced whistleblower protection for AI researchers. Otherwise, technology companies can quash findings or research threads that are unfavorable. “When you start censoring research … the papers that come out end up being more like propaganda,” she said.


3. New additions to the MIT Sloan course list are often a barometer of what innovative business leaders will soon be confronting in their organizations. Here are six new courses MIT Sloan faculty are teaching this academic year:

Global Strategy and Markets

Hands-on Deep Learning

How Institutional Investment Officers Approach Multi-Asset Investing

Mobility Ventures — Driving Innovation in Transportation Systems

Overcoming Obstacles to Entrepreneurial Success

Public Versus Private Capital Markets

Read descriptions of each course — and why those topics matter to business leaders.

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