Your Road Map for Success in the Digital Economy

Jul 6, 2017
5 Min Read
Your Road Map for Success in the Digital Economy

Your Road Map for Success in the Digital Economy


In today’s disrupted world, artificial intelligence, platforms, and the crowd are set up for dominance. How can leaders prove their value?

The MIT Sloan Expert Series recently presented a webcast with Andrew McAfee ​and ​Erik Brynjolfsson, co-authors of the new book Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing our Digital FutureBeth Comstock, vice chair of GE, and Sandy Pentland, MIT professor and expert of group dynamics in a digital world.

A crucial theme of the new book is that unsettling, disruptive change is becoming the status quo. Suddenly, companies we think are going to be around forever are being instantaneously upset by start-ups. Machines gain more complex cognitive abilities every day and are rapidly taking over jobs in a way we never dreamed was possible. And the corporate research labs? They’ve got nothing on the collective brainpower of the Internet.

Given these scenarios, effective human leadership is more critical than ever. In Machine, Platform, Crowd, McAfee and Brynjolfsson encourage professionals to leverage technology to make our organizations and industries better and to transform our global world into a more educated, entrepreneurial, and inclusive place. The most powerful force at play today is not solo automation, but the combined strength of humanity and technology. Here are a few key takeaways from the webcast:


Let Go of the Concept of Management

Our traditional notion of leadership came about because the industrial age mandated hierarchies. Today, we don’t have to be so static and rigid about how we organize our companies and need to be adaptable and willing to move things around.


Focus on Connector Jobs

The highest paying, most competitive jobs today and in the near future will employ people who understand how to connect people to people and people to machines for the purpose of exploiting new business opportunities. Consider where in your organization connectors can add the most value.


Hone Interpersonal Skills

Ensure that your team members have adequate training and strong skills in negotiation, persuasion, and coordination. Jobs that require these will not be replaced by bots anytime soon.


Facilitate In House Creativity

Research repeatedly shows that human teams are consistently more creative than individuals. You don’t walk around cutting edge organizations today and see employees doing problem sets on their own. Support your intrapreneurs and researchers and publicize their ideas and results to gain more widespread buy-in.


Harness the Wisdom of the Crowd

The online engineering community recently helped GE best assess how to create an innovative new ice machine for the home. Crowdsourcing is the most meritocratic of processes because you don’t know (or care) who the ideas come from. But, leaders need connectivity and for their companies to take a chance. They need to understand what’s in their sweet spot and where they are better off leveraging the global crowd.


Don’t Be Afraid to Fail, But Do It Fast

The only way we will determine the best path forward in the digital age is to experiment. Reward your people for trying new strategies all the time, and build a culture in which it’s acceptable to try, fail, and immediately move on. Blunders – even big ones – may happen. But most companies recover as soon as the next big idea is in sight.


How are you proving your value in your company?

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