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


1. Assumptions are a fundamental part of the way people work and communicate. But as the world changes, they should be acknowledged and challenged.

“Assumptions are not bad or good. They’re important,” said MIT Sloan senior lecturer George Westerman during a recent webinar. “We need to know when to use them, when to question them, and when to think differently about them.”

Westerman outlined 15 assumptions to rethink regarding customer experience, the way people work, and digital innovation. Among them:

  • For consumers, in-person is better than digital. In some cases, the digital experience can be the same, or even better, than in-person.
  • Digital transformation is a technological challenge. “Technology isn’t the hard part, the hard part’s changing your company to make it work,” Westerman said.
  • “The regulators will never let us do that.” This assumption shuts down innovation, and the pandemic proved it wrong as doctors treated patients online and vaccines were approved with unprecedented speed.
  • The old way is the right way. Pay attention to new employees and the questions they raise — why are things done a certain way? Is there a better option? “You should be asking why, all the time,” Westerman said.


2. The winner of this year’s MIT $100K startup competition is a portable saltwater cleaner that runs on less power than a cellphone charger and is the size of a case of bottled water.

NoNa Desalination uses an electrical current powered by its solar panel to extract salt and bacteria. The technology makes it smaller and lighter than competitors that rely on high-pressure pumps to push water through a filter.

The MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition started in 1989 and has served as the springboard for a variety of successful startups, including HubSpot and Akamai. Among the other 2022 finalists announced last week are:

  • Iridence — Sustainable biomaterials that can be used in things like paint and cosmetics.
  • RT Microfluidics — Technology for at-home strep throat tests.
  • Sparkle — Dye technology to help surgeons identify cancerous tumors.


3. As sustainability becomes an essential part of business strategy, all eyes are on the finance world: How can investment strategy help drive long-term change?

Jason Jay, director of the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative, discussed the issue with Audrey Choi, chief sustainability officer for Morgan Stanley, at the recent 2022 MIT Energy Conference.

As one of the first sustainability officers on Wall Street, Choi has seen the tide shift toward climate-centered business and investing. “Sustainability is now increasingly a driver of whether you can attract talent, retain talent, retain customers, and retain investors,” Choi said.

However, lasting cross-sector change buoyed by the finance world will require commitment from every industry.

“We’re not going to solve climate change or any of these sustainability issues unless it’s a complete economy, cross-sector engagement,” said Choi. “Thinking about energy and a sustainable climate and sustainable planet really has to be something that all sectors are involved in.”

Content from the: MIT Sloan Office of Communications

Questions and Comments:

Want to receive this as a newsletter? Sign up here.

By MIT Sloan CDO