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12 Jan 18:26

Is Anyone In Your Company Paying Attention to Strategic Alignment?

by Jonathan Trevor
Pm images/Getty Images

The best performing companies are often the best aligned. But who in your company is paying attention to how well aligned your strategy is with your organization’s purpose and capabilities? In my research and consultancy with companies, I observe that, oftentimes, no individual or group is functionally responsible for overseeing the arrangement of their company from end to end. Multiple different individuals and groups are responsible for different components of the value chain that makes up their company’s design, and they are often not as joined up as they should be. All too often, individual leaders seek — indeed are incentivized — to protect and optimize their own domains, and find themselves locked in energy-sapping internal turf wars, rather than working with peers to align and improve across the entire enterprise.

So, who should be responsible for ensuring your company is as strategically aligned as it can be? The answer should not be “the CEO” or “the Chairman” or the equivalent. The job of aligning the modern corporation is too complex to be added on to the slate of someone whose job it is to consider hundreds of other things, no matter how talented or powerful they are. Consider for your own company:

Practically, who at the enterprise level in your company is responsible for ensuring it’s as strategically aligned as possible? Is their focus and behavior consistent with this responsibility, or is it merely an addition to their overriding day job? Is it the responsibility of your company’s most senior managers, or should it be a more distributed responsibility? How much and how often is time devoted in your company to revisiting its core organizing principles and discussing how to build capability for tomorrow’s customer, versus focusing on today’s business?

How is your company’s leadership making informed decisions about the arrangement of your company as a complex system of many moving and interconnected parts — including organizational capabilities, resources, and management systems — all aimed at fulfilling one overarching purpose? What frameworks and information do your leaders require to ask good questions, have better conversations, and make robust strategic and organizational choices?

What capabilities do your enterprise-level leaders require to be effective at aligning your company to ensure it is fit for its purpose? Leaders I’ve worked with who take on the challenge of strategic alignment describe themselves as needing to be “multi-everything” in outlook and ability. Multi-everything in this sense means: multi-level: being capable of enterprise level thinking – from 50,000 feet down; multi-disciplinary: being “T-shaped,” or possessing generalist and specialist knowledge ranging across the business; multi-national: having no geographical or cultural bias in scope or decision making; multi-stakeholder: understanding the company from multiple perspectives and interests and, finally; multi-phased: choosing to think in the near, medium and long-term despite pressure for immediate results.

If there are no obvious answers to these questions, then there is a good chance that nobody is paying enough attention to strategic alignment in your company. If that’s the case, you urgently need to address this gap in leadership focus and capability. Achieving sustainable competitive advantage through superior strategic alignment does not happen by accident – it happens by design, or not at all, and it requires a special breed of leadership, which I call enterprise leadership.  

What Do Enterprise Leaders Do?

Unlike mainstream ideas about personal leadership, which at their core are concerned with mobilizing people, enterprise leadership is concerned with mobilizing the resources of an entire company as a system of many moving and interconnected parts, of which people (or “human resources”) are just one element, and not even necessarily the most important for developing strategically important organizational capabilities. Enterprise leaders are not people leaders in the traditional sense; they are the system architects of their company’s long-term success.

The purpose of enterprise leadership is to make strategic interventions to ensure the most important components of the company’s fundamental design align seamlessly. These components include the company’s business strategy (how the company is trying to win at fulfilling its long-term purpose), its organizational capabilities (what it needs to be good at to win), its resources (what makes it good enough to win, including its structures, cultures, people and processes) and its management systems (what delivers the day to day performance it needs to win). These critical components form a value chain through which companies perform their long-term purpose, more or less well. The value chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Principally, enterprise leaders are responsible for:

  1. Envisioning: Crafting a robust vision of what strategic alignment looks like at their company, and communicating that vision in a meaningful way to others, including investors, staff, business partners and customers. The vision outlines the essential principles that will guide the company’s detailed strategic planning, organizational design, operational priorities, and performance goals.
  2. Designing: Following those principles, enterprise leaders should carefully design each component of the company’s value chain to be highly complementary of each other, and supportive of the firm’s long-term purpose. Tweaks to the organization’s design may happen only episodically, but the leader’s concern with strategic alignment should be constant. The design and management of the company as a complex and adaptive system of many moving and interdependent components should be revisited regularly, based upon robust diagnosis, to ensure it remains fit for purpose despite changes in the external environment.

The challenge is there is no one-size-fits-all choice of business strategy or related organizational design that results in superior strategic alignment. Organizational structures and cultures, for example, should be as distinctive as the strategies they support and make possible, which in turn depend upon the organization’s long-term purpose. For instance, to become more innovative, many companies are attempting to redesign themselves as agile, highly connected and open networks of teams and partners in which knowledge is highly dispersed. The cost to this is that network-based organizations are complex to manage and hard to control. For product-centric companies, where cost management is the strategic priority, the relatively simple, stable and closed-system hierarchy characteristic of “bureaucratic” thinking remains in principle the best organizational design.

Who Are the Enterprise Leaders?

The enterprise leadership role often falls to senior executives by default. In some companies embracing network-based working structures, the responsibility is also the domain of dedicated design teams. No one approach to enterprise leadership is better than the other.

Japanese multinational, Ricoh, for example, has invested in building a highly networked internal design function within its 105,000 strong workforce operating across 200 countries, referred to as the Future Business Development Center. Its purpose is to operate at the enterprise-level and lead positive business transformation across all business lines and geographies in line with the long-term group strategy and future customer requirements. Built to harness rigorous design thinking capability, the diverse team consists of technologists, advisors, analysts and researchers—not simply career managers. The thinking is that to achieve superior strategic alignment in the face of increased business complexity requires harnessing the collective intelligence and energies of a purposeful team of enterprise leaders across the organization, and their extended internal and external support networks.

Regardless of for whom it is a responsibility, enterprise leadership is essential to designing and managing ever more complex companies as highly capable systems, fit to meet the demands of customers and resist the disruptive maneuvering of competitors. Without it, the risk is that companies flip-flop between different strategies and unconnected organizational designs in endless rounds of reorganization or, conversely, mistakenly maintain the status quo and fall behind competitors in the rapidly changing marketplace. The best companies are the best aligned, but only when led by design.

12 Jan 18:06

Bezos to Grant $33 Million in College Scholarships for DACA Students Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos is granting $33 million in college scholarships for undocumented immigrant high-school graduates in the U.S., according to TheDream.US, a nonprofit education group.
12 Jan 17:58

O Ilupi busca simplificar o processo de registro de propriedade intelectual

by Dani Rosolen


O que faz:
É uma plataforma online para registro e vigilância de marcas, patentes, domínios, softwares, entre outros.

Que problema resolve:
A startup busca simplificar esses processos para inventores e pequenas empresas que têm dificuldades em registrar e monitorar seus ativos de propriedade intelectual.

O que a torna especial:
Segundo o fundador, todo procedimento é feito online e de forma automatizada, permitindo que o cliente receba notificações sobre o andamento e não perca prazos de pagamento.

Modelo de negócio:
O valor cobrado varia de acordo com o serviço prestado. O de registro de marca, por exemplo, é de 1 190 reais. Já a assinatura SaaS para monitoramento é de 8 reais mensais por marca.

Setembro de 2017.

Daniel Elói — CEO
Julia Couto — Analista de Negócios
Vitor Almeida — Analista de Negócios
Acácio Fernando — Analista de TI

Perfil do fundador:

Daniel Elói — 35 anos, Belo Horizonte (MG) — é formado em Engenharia de Produção pela UFMG, com especializações no Babson College e Stanford University (ambas nos EUA). Trabalhou em empresas como Accenture, McKinsey e Unibanco.

Como surgiu:
A equipe que compõem o Ilupi trabalhava no mercado de propriedade intelectual desde 2008. Com a experiência adquirida, buscaram uma solução própria para oferecer a micro e pequenos empresários.

Estágio atual:
A startup já atendeu mais de 50 clientes.

O Ilupi foi acelerada pelos programas GoMinas e InovAtiva Brasil, em 2017.

Investimento recebido:
Os empreendedores investiram 40 mil reais de recursos próprios no negócio.

Necessidade de investimento:
Os sócios não têm planos de buscar fundos no momento.

Mercado e concorrentes:
“Em 2016, foram registradas mais de 160 mil marcas no INPI, sendo que 62% foram feitas por pequenas e microempresas. Este é um mercado que cresceu mais de 50% nos últimos sete anos”, diz Daniel. Ele aponta como principais concorrentes os escritórios de advocacia tradicionais focados em propriedade intelectual.

Maiores desafios:
“A importância de se proteger e vigiar marcas, patentes, domínios, software e desenhos industriais ainda não é algo difundido para donos de pequenas empresas. O nosso maior desafio é educar os empresários, evidenciando todos as vantagens em proteger seus ativos e os riscos de não o fazer”, diz o CEO.

Em três meses de operação, alcançaram 15 mil reais de faturamento.

Previsão de break-even:
Julho de 2018.

Visão de futuro:
“Nosso objetivo é tornar a propriedade intelectual acessível para pequenos empresários, ajudando-os a proteger os bens valiosos de seus negócios e, com isso, desenvolverem suas empresas de maneira segura”, afirma Daniel.

Onde encontrar:


Você tem uma startup que já é mais do que um sonho mas ainda não é uma empresa totalmente estabelecida? Escreva para a gente. Queremos conhecê-lo. E, quem sabe, publicar um perfil da sua iniciativa aqui na seção Acelerados. Esse espaço é feito para que empreendedores como você encontrem investidores. E para que gente disposta a investir em novos negócios encontrem grandes projetos como o seu.

Mas, se você tem uma ideia e ainda não sabe como estruturá-la em uma estratégia de negócios, escreva para e conheça nosso novo serviço de Mentoria.

12 Jan 17:35

Mais ergonomia e menos esforço na fábrica com a chegada do exoesqueleto

by Daniel Schneider

Estamos vivendo numa época empolgante. A velocidade com que a tecnologia chega até nós continua a surpreender, especialmente para quem trabalha numa fábrica como o Polo Automotivo Fiat, em Betim (MG). É que alguns funcionários já caminham por lá usando seus exoesqueletos. Ainda não se trata da armadura do Homem de Ferro, mas que parece ficção científica, parece. Os funcionários que utilizam os novos trajes conseguem realizar suas tarefas com maior ergonomia e menor esforço, o que não apenas dá a eles maior conforto na jornada de trabalho, mas também mais agilidade e energia.

O exoesqueleto é leve, acompanha os movimentos do funcionário em total sincronia e facilita justamente aqueles movimentos que exigiriam maior esforço, absorvendo o peso do tronco, dos braços ou do corpo todo. “O exoesqueleto traz conforto, suporta peso, reduz o esforço no decorrer da jornada e retira a fadiga muscular do trabalhador”, explica Izonel Fajardo, fisioterapeuta do trabalho na FCA.

“Adquirimos dez conjuntos para pernas, braços e tronco, fazendo com que os operadores executem as atividades com mais conforto e qualidade”, anuncia Cristiano Felix, gerente de Meio Ambiente, Saúde e Segurança do Trabalho da FCA para a América Latina.

Neste projeto pioneiro, os dez conjuntos de exoesqueletos estão sendo testados nas linhas de montagem e logística do Polo Automotivo. São oito da marca norte-americana suitX e dois da suíça Noonee. Estes últimos dão apoio às pernas do operário e funcionam como uma cadeira, sustentando o corpo quando a pessoa agacha. Já os outros são vestidos como coletes e dão sustentação ao tronco e membros superiores.

“Ele vai junto com a gente e carrega o peso. Estou me sentindo muito mais descansado. É como se fosse meu uniforme e já faz parte do meu dia a dia”, conta o operador de produção Max Nunes dos Santos, que trabalha na montagem de motores da FCA e está testando o exoesqueleto para membros superiores há mais de um mês. Confira no vídeo abaixo como essa tecnologia funciona na fábrica:

O exoesqueleto é a mais nova de uma série de iniciativas para a melhoria das condições ergonômicas dos operadores, como os ganchos giratórios, braço mecânico, partnes, talha, dentre várias outras. É também uma parte do conjunto de estratégias para integração das unidades da FCA à Indústria 4.0, juntamente com o desenvolvimento de novas tecnologias conectadas à internet das coisas, manufatura aditiva, simulação virtual e outras. “Buscar soluções para que o operador execute a atividade com mais qualidade é um importante desafio que está inerente às práticas da Indústria 4.0”, explica Felix.

Mais de 80 mil dólares foram investidos na aquisição dos exoesqueletos, incluindo os novos conjuntos que serão implantados na fábrica de motores de Campo Largo (PR) e na planta da Fiat em Córdoba, Argentina.


Esta matéria pode ser encontrada no Mundo FCA, um portal para quem se interessa por tecnologia, mobilidade, sustentabilidade, lifestyle e o universo da indústria automotiva.

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12 Jan 16:55

Podcast: Quiet SuperSonics To Printed Engines at AIAA SciTech

Propulsion for quiet supersonic airliners, industry’s digital transformation and GE’s vision for additive manufacturing are the topics discussed by Aviation Week’s Guy Norris and Graham Warwick in the first of three Check 6 podcasts recorded live from the exhibit floor at AIAA’s SciTech 2018 conference in Kissimmee, Florida.

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12 Jan 16:51

1919: Orville Wright On The Future Of Civil Flying

Orville Wright makes the argument for runways in a 1919 viewpoint for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine.

read more

12 Jan 16:30

Boeing Unveils New Unmanned Cargo Air Vehicle Prototype

The electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing multi-copter UAV is designed to carry up to 500 pounds
10 Jan 19:27

VW, Hyundai Turn to Driverless-Car Startup in Silicon Valley

In the race to develop driverless cars, Volkswagen and Hyundai Motor are placing bets on a Silicon Valley startup founded a year ago by the former leaders of autonomous vehicles at Google and Tesla.
10 Jan 17:05

China's Electric Car Market Has Grown Up

Beijing has offered the electric car market plenty of support, but there now appears to be solid demand from consumers to go green. That should give confidence to investors in the sector.
10 Jan 12:45

Despite the rise of electric, work is ongoing to make internal combustion engines cleaner and more efficient

It might well be the beginning of the end for ICEs, but make no mistake, it will not be a quick death. Expect petrol, and possibly diesel, engines to continue to play a decisive role within the automotive industry for at least the next 10 years.
10 Jan 12:44

Augmented reality is increasingly finding implementation among workforces

When it’s reported Apple is assembling a large team of specialists in virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) to build headsets to rival Oculus Rift and Microsoft’s Hololens, it suggests there is a shift towards real commercial deployment.
10 Jan 12:36

“Sala de Inovação” estimulará instalação de centros de pesquisa e desenvolvimento no Brasil

Com a iniciativa do Governo Federal, investidor estrangeiro poderá obter num só local todas as informações necessárias para criar um centro ou projeto de P&D no país    

 Brasília (20 de dezembro) – A partir de hoje será mais fácil para investidores instalarem centros de pesquisa, desenvolvimento e inovação (PD&I) no Brasil. Foi publicado no Diário Oficial da União o decreto 9.243/17, que cria a Sala de Inovação, iniciativa do governo para coordenar as ações de atração de centros e projetos de PD&I de grandes empresas para o Brasil.

Uma das principais funções da Sala de Inovação será reunir, num só local, a Apex-Brasil, as informações sobre modelos, instrumentos e incentivos necessários para criar um centro de pesquisa e desenvolvimento no país. O Ministério da Indústria, Comércio Exterior e Serviços (MDIC) integra a coordenação da Sala de Inovação.

Como destacou o ministro Marcos Pereira, trata-se de um importante instrumento para fomentar a inovação no Brasil. “Muitas vezes, as empresas precisam realizar reuniões com diversos órgãos governamentais até decidirem pelo investimento, processo que pode levar muitos meses. A Sala de Inovação agilizará esse processo”, disse. 

Os instrumentos e políticas públicas de estímulo aos investimentos em PD&I, como isenção fiscal, financiamentos e subvenções, são operacionalizados por diferentes órgãos governamentais de nível federal, estadual e municipal, o que, muitas vezes, gera duplicidade de informações. A Sala de Inovação prevê maior articulação, tornando mais fácil para o investidor optar pelos mecanismos de incentivo que melhor se encaixam ao seu projeto.


A atração de centros e projetos de PD&I é um importante fator de aumento da competitividade do Brasil, uma vez que amplia competências tecnológicas, permite a formação de talentos locais, gera empregos de alta qualificação, aumenta o valor agregado das exportações e a aplicabilidade da pesquisa acadêmica na produção industrial, ao estreitar laços de cooperação entre universidades e empresas.

A diretora de Inovação da Confederação Nacional das Indústrias (CNI), Gianna Sagazio, avalia que a Sala de Inovação dará agilidade para a tomada de decisão das empresas e lembra que sua plena operação é um dos pleitos da agenda Mobilização Empresarial pela Inovação (MEI). "A Sala de Inovação representa um avanço na estratégia brasileira de atração e retenção de centros de PD&I. Desburocratizar esse processo é muito importante para o ecossistema de inovação do país", afirmou. 

Também participam da Sala de Inovação os ministérios da Ciência, Tecnologia, Inovações e Comunicações (MCTIC) e das Relações Exteriores (MRE), Apex Brasil, BNDES, Finep e CNPq.


Por meio do decreto 9.243/17, foi criado um Comitê Gestor da Sala de Inovação, cuja Secretaria Executiva será alternada entre MDIC e MCTIC a cada dois anos. O colegiado será composto por representantes dos dois ministérios, além de representantes do MRE, Apex Brasil, BNDES, CNPq e Finep.

Também foi instituído um Conselho Consultivo com representantes do setor produtivo, de entidades de classe e entidades privadas sem fim lucrativo. Esse segundo colegiado será responsável por formular recomendações ao Comitê Gestor.

A Sala de Inovação reforça, ainda, o papel da Agência Brasileira de Promoção de Exportações e Investimentos (Apex Brasil) como ponto focal para o atendimento e prestação de assessoria a empresas interessadas em realizar investimento em PD&I no país. Esse trabalho continuará a ser realizado por meio do programa Innovate In Brasil. A agência coordenará, em conjunto com as outras entidades participantes da Sala de Inovação, os anúncios de investimento estrangeiro em PD&I no Brasil.

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10 Jan 12:25

Nem 4% de nossos jovens dominam a matemática

No lançamento do Instituto Serrapilheira, no Impa (Instituto de Matemática Pura e Aplicada), em março de 2017, Branca e João Moreira Salles foram questionados sobre o que os levava a investir parte do patrimônio no financiamento da ciência e da disseminação da cultura científica. Leia mais (01/07/2018 - 02h00)
08 Jan 19:55

Turning real estate data into decision-making tools

by Michael Hoban | School of Architecture and Planning

The unprecedented amount of commercial real estate information being generated today presents new opportunities for analysts to develop models that translate masses of data into predictive tools for investors. Recognizing that potential, the MIT Center for Real Estate (CRE) has launched the Real Estate Price Dynamics Research Platform (REPD Platform) to explore models and analytics that can lay the foundation for providing real-world solutions. The platform builds on CRE’s earlier work in the field of commercial property price index development. 

The lead researcher for the platform is postdoc Alexander van de Minne, with David Geltner, professor of real estate finance, serving as principal investigator. Geltner is the lead author of “Commercial Real Estate Analysis and Investment,” a standard graduate textbook in the field.

“Real estate investment has always been a world with a lack of good empirical data,” says Geltner, a pioneer in the development of transaction price based commercial property price and investment performance indices over a decade ago. “But with the digital revolution, there’s an explosion of data aggregators, information companies, and other sources of empirical data relevant to commercial real estate investment.”

In addition to the increase in data availability, Geltner says, the other crucial component for the REPD Platform has been the advancement of econometric capability to handle the new data. Econometrics, a toolkit of statistical methods used by economists to test hypotheses using real-world data, provides a means to turn enormous quantities of data into actionable information.

The aim of the platform, whose research and analysis will be available to the public, is to advance real estate investment-related analytics in such areas as price and rent indexing (how prices change over time) and automated valuation models. These can ultimately have a real-world impact by improving investment and management decisions. One feature that distinguishes the REPD Platform from most other property investment research is the application of Bayesian techniques, as distinguished from classical statistics. By employing Bayesian econometrics, researchers are able to use prior knowledge and economic theory to help inform the statistical analysis, which Geltner says makes the analysis more efficient.

Van de Minne says that this is important because of a seeming paradox: “Even though we have much more data than we’ve ever had before in commercial real estate, we still find ourselves typically in situations of scarce data.”

This occurs because the analysis of investment properties is subject to a host of variables, including market and submarket location as well as varying data sources, which make the study of real estate pricing very challenging. Geltner adds that because the values of properties are so market specific — with market rents tied to the value of the asset — “you’ve really got to track locally.” 

“What is going on in San Francisco in terms of asset pricing may be totally different from what is going on in Dallas,” he says. “And even what’s going on in the Dallas central business district is different from what’s going on in North Dallas.”

Van de Minne, using the analogy of how an insufficient number of property sales within a given period can produce skewed results, says there are inherent flaws in using a classical statistical model for real estate price indexing.

“If you’re looking at a price index that has only two data points [property sales], for instance, and you try to use that sample to tell us that prices went down 85 percent in one quarter, can you really take that conclusion seriously?” he asks. “So what our models allow us to do is to still use that information, but to weigh that data against our a priori knowledge.”

Although the primary focus of the REPD Platform is on commercial property asset prices, related subjects are being explored, such as rents and space market dynamics, with the platform already being used to study office markets in India. The platform also engages with other research organizations within CRE, including the Real Estate Innovation Lab and the newly created China Future City Lab, which focuses on China’s rapidly growing urban areas. The researchers also collaborate with academics from other disciplines within MIT, such Youssef M. Marzouk, the director of the Aerospace Computational Design Laboratory.

The REPD Platform was seed funded with a gift from long-time CRE industry partner Real Capital Analytics Inc. In classic MIT "mens-et-manus" fashion, the platform serves as a bridge between pioneering academic research and industry practice.

“This is an academic entity in an academic institution, so we’re not particularly driven by ‘Is there a profit?’ in producing this information product,” says Geltner. “We’re more about discovering fundamental things about the real estate investment industry — the markets and how they work.”

The function of the platform is not purely academic either, says van de Minne.

“We are interested in the actual needs of people in the industry,” he says. “We want to have an impact, so we’re not just living in an academic bubble.”

08 Jan 17:13

Ultrafine fibers have exceptional strength

by David L. Chandler | MIT News Office

Researchers at MIT have developed a process that can produce ultrafine fibers — whose diameter is measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter — that are exceptionally strong and tough. These fibers, which should be inexpensive and easy to produce, could be choice materials for many applications, such as protective armor and nanocomposites.

The new process, called gel electrospinning, is described in a paper by MIT professor of chemical engineering Gregory Rutledge and postdoc Jay Park. The paper appears online and will be published in the February edition of the Journal of Materials Science.

In materials science, Rutledge explains, “there are a lot of tradeoffs.” Typically researchers can enhance one characteristic of a material but will see a decline in a different characteristic. “Strength and toughness are a pair like that: Usually when you get high strength, you lose something in the toughness,” he says. “The material becomes more brittle and therefore doesn’t have the mechanism for absorbing energy, and it tends to break.” But in the fibers made by the new process, many of those tradeoffs are eliminated.

“It’s a big deal when you get a material that has very high strength and high toughness,” Rutledge says. That’s the case with this process, which uses a variation of a traditional method called gel spinning but adds electrical forces. The results are ultrafine fibers of polyethylene that match or exceed the properties of some of the strongest fiber materials, such as Kevlar and Dyneema, which are used for applications including bullet-stopping body armor.

“We started off with a mission to make fibers in a different size range, namely below 1 micron [millionth of a meter], because those have a variety of interesting features in their own right,” Rutledge says. “And we’ve looked at such ultrafine fibers, sometimes called nanofibers, for many years. But there was nothing in what would be called the high-performance fiber range.” High-performance fibers, which include aramids such as Kevlar, and gel spun polyethylenes like Dyneema and Spectra, are also used in ropes for extreme uses, and as reinforcing fibers in some high-performance composites.

“There hasn’t been a whole lot new happening in that field in many years, because they have very top-performing fibers in that mechanical space,” Rutledge says. But this new material, he says, exceeds all the others. “What really sets those apart is what we call specific modulus and specific strength, which means that on a per-weight basis they outperform just about everything.” Modulus refers to how stiff a fiber is, or how much it resists being stretched.

Compared to carbon fibers and ceramic fibers, which are widely used in composite materials, the new gel-electrospun polyethylene fibers have similar degrees of strength but are much tougher and have lower density. That means that, pound for pound, they outperform the standard materials by a wide margin, Rutledge says.

In creating this ultrafine material, the team had aimed just to match the properties of existing microfibers, “so demonstrating that would have been a nice accomplishment for us,” Rutledge says. In fact, the material turned out to be better in significant ways. While the test materials had a modulus not quite as good as the best existing fibers, they were quite close — enough to be “competitive,” he says. Crucially, he adds, “the strengths are about a factor of two better than the commercial materials and comparable to the best available academic materials. And their toughness is about an order of magnitude better.”

The researchers are still investigating what accounts for this impressive performance. “It seems to be something that we received as a gift, with the reduction in fiber size, that we were not expecting,” Rutledge says.

He explains that “most plastics are tough, but they’re not as stiff and strong as what we’re getting.” And glass fibers are stiff but not very strong, while steel wire is strong but not very stiff. The new gel-electrospun fibers seem to combine the desirable qualities of strength, stiffness, and toughness in ways that have few equals.

Using the gel electrospinning process “is essentially very similar to the conventional [gel spinning] process in terms of the materials we’re bringing in, but because we’re using electrical forces” and using a single-stage process rather than the multiple stages of the conventional process, “we are getting much more highly drawn fibers,” with diameters of a few hundred nanometers rather than the typical 15 micrometers, he says. The researchers’ process combines the use of a polymer gel as the starting material, as in gel spun fibers, but uses electrical forces rather than mechanical pulling to draw the fibers out; the charged fibers induce a “whipping” instability process that produces their ultrafine dimensions. And those narrow dimensions, it turns out, led to the unique properties of the fibers.

These results might lead to protective materials that are as strong as existing ones but less bulky, making them more practical. And, Rutledge adds, “they may have applications we haven’t thought about yet, because we’ve just now learned that they have this level of toughness.”

The research was supported by the U.S. Army through the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, and the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, and by the National Science Foundation’s Center for Materials Science and Engineering.

08 Jan 16:00

Innovation, meet organization

by Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office

Long before John Van Reenen became a professor at MIT, he was studying MIT topics in an MIT style.

“Technology has always been one of the motivations of my work,” says Van Reenen, a high-profile economist who joined the MIT faculty in 2016. More specifically, he adds, he likes to explore “how people come up with ideas, and how ideas spread, among firms and across countries.” In short, Van Reenen studies how our modern world keeps modernizing. 

Van Reenen became well-known, however, partly by explaining why people in his native Britain have not come up with ideas, at least not as much as they once did. In research during the 1990s, Van Reenen determined that British firms had lagging R&D investment across most of the country’s industrial sectors. This decline was compounded by a significant withdrawal of government support for R&D in the 1980s.

As a result, Britain had an innovation malaise that was real, but curable. Van Reenen’s prescription: more sensible tax plans to spur R&D investment and fuel the growth that comes from innovation.

“The traditional way we thought about innovation and technology was as if it’s dropped on us, like manna from heaven,” Van Reenen says. However, he adds, “Technology can respond to the social and economic environment. There are policies which can be used to spur the creation of new technologies.”

Creating new technologies is one thing; using them well is another. This, over the last decade, has turned out to be a new vein of Van Reenen research. Along with several colleagues, including his former student, Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom, Van Reenen has closely scrutinized how firms use innovations, while driving toward a still-larger question: Does management matter?

After empirical studies of management practices covering more than 10,000 firms in 20 countries, scrutinizing how firms set goals, keep track of data, and create incentives, Van Reenen has concluded: Yes, management matters greatly. Unless firms apply innovations shrewdly and use their employees well, the impact of technology turns out to be limited.

“We think about technology in a narrow sense — in terms of the hard technologies, such as computers or robots,” Van Reenen observes. “Whereas in fact the returns on those things vary tremendously, and the key factor is management. You can throw a lot of money at technology and it can all go down the drain. The organizational practices in the firm are absolutely critical to making best use of technology: how you manage your people, hire the right kind of people, motivate them, who gets the power.”

Indeed, Van Reenen suggests, the nature of technology often creates the need for innovative management.

“If anybody can buy a technology off the shelf, then you’re never going to have much of a competitive advantage just by doing that,” Van Reenen says. “For some of these things to be transformative, you have to transform the nature of your organization.”

Encouraged to join in

Van Reenen’s MIT appointment is jointly between the Department of Economics and the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he is the Gordon Y. Billard Professor of Management and Economics. It’s safe to say that his notion that management matters has been broadly noticed in the management world.

There are still other things Van Reenen studies, however. He has worked on health care policy as a British government policy official, examined the effects of automation on workers, and in recent years become a leading public voice about the overall economic impact of Brexit on Britain’s economy.

Van Reenen’s presence in academia and the public sphere is such that he was awarded the Medal of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2016, for services to economics and public policy. (Other recipients that year included four-minute mile pioneer Roger Bannister and musician Ray Davies of The Kinks.)

Van Reenen’s midcareer jump to MIT is notable, then, considering how embedded he was in his home country. Van Reenen grew up in London, where his father was a sociology professor. As Van Reenen notes, he comes from a “long line of teachers.” His grandfather was the headmaster of a school in South Africa, who became a political refugee and settled in Britain. Growing up, visits to his grandparents’ house helped Van Reenen find interest in global affairs.

“I always remember as a kid, every Sunday we’d go round there for dinner or for lunch, and there would always be lots of animated political discussion about world events, and what was happening, and as kids we were always encouraged from an early age to join in,” Van Reenen recalls. “So that was kind of the formation of my interest in thinking about the world.”

Van Reenen received his undergraduate degree from Queen’s College, University of Cambridge, earned a master’s degree in industrial relations from the London School of Economics, and was granted his PhD in Economics from University College London in 1993. He then taught on the faculty at University College London for about a decade.

Job description: Change the world

It was during this period that Van Reenen took time off from academia and entered government, working on health care policy when Tony Blair was prime minister. The government was then trying to refine the delivery of health care; Van Reenen, by his own account, did not participate in any grand policy shifts but learned a great deal.

“That was a very good experience for me in the sense that I got an appreciation of how difficult it is to persuade people to implement policies,” he says. “You can have the best idea in the world, but in order to convince skeptics you need to spend a lot of time talking to people, presenting the results in the most pithy way. I gained a lot more respect for people who spend their lives as civil servants or in politics trying to do these things. It’s a lot harder than you imagine on the outside.”

Returning to academia, Van Reenen joined the faculty at the London School of Economics, where he became head of the Center for Economic Performance (CEP), an academic think tank where he oversaw a staff of around 100 while continuing his own work. The CEP actively aims to inform public debate about large-scale economic matters; it is akin to a Washington think tank but hosted by a university.

“We tried to be a bridge between academic work and the policy world, in order to contribute toward the debate,” Van Reenen says. “It’s a constant battle for engagement, a battle for hearts and minds. You have to be very active.”

In his role as CEP head, Van Reenen became very involved in a recent contentious event: Brexit, Britain’s 2016 vote by referendum to leave the European Union, in a form still to be determined. Van Reenen became a leading expert warning of the economic pitfalls of Brexit. He makes no secret of his frustration with the pro-Brexit political campaign, which adopted a sharply anti-expert and anti-immigrant focus.

“If you look at the research on the economic impact of European immigration into the U.K., it’s been very positive,” Van Reenen says. “Immigrants pay more in tax than they take out in benefits. But it’s hard to break through when large parts of the media are saying the opposite.”

At the Institute

By the time Brexit narrowly passed in June 2016, however, Van Reenen had already agreed to join MIT, to launch what he sees as a new phase in his career. The Institute is a natural destination for a scholar studying the causes and consequences of innovation.

“MIT is a fantastic fit for my interests,” says Van Reenen. “There are a lot of economists who do this here, but also noneconomists who are creating the future.”

Besides, Van Reenen adds: “The U.S. is the center of the world for economics, and MIT is the center of the U.S. for economics.”

Now that he is settled in, Van Reenen’s current work on the impact of technology is taking still another turn. He is increasingly examining the effects of technology on work and employment, an interest he shares with many MIT Sloan faculty, as well as Department of Economics colleagues such as Daron Acemoglu and David Autor.

In fact, along with Autor and three other co-authors, Van Reenen has contended in recent studies that the rise of “superstar” firms with massive market power helps explain a central economic question: why the growth of wages, for many workers, has slowed down in recent decades. Today’s corporate giants have added revenue without increasing labor costs much, the research finds — in part because of their applications of technology.

“If you want to understand why inequality has increased so much in the last 40 years, one of the fundamental facts is new technologies,” Van Reenen observes. His own mother, he notes, worked in a bank but today would likely not find that work available. “That was a good job, but her job has disappeared. ATMs have basically gotten rid of those types of jobs. Some groups in the middle of the income distribution have lost out with technology.”

Van Reenen plans to continue that kind of work — and to continue airing his findings and ideas, in his role as a very public-minded thinker.

“I’ve always thought that’s part of the job of any intellectual,” Van Reenen says. “Not just to think about the world but to try to participate, to change it for the better.”

05 Jan 12:51

Avanços tecnológicos servirão para nos fazer trabalhar cada vez mais

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Dedico minhas preces de Natal aos mentirosos e a suas pobres vítimas

Dedico minhas preces de Natal aos mentirosos e suas vítimas. A natureza humana tem uma vocação irresistível para a mentira e para a hipocrisia. Principalmente os que se dizem ao lado do "bem" e os que gostam de mentir para que fiquemos mais felizes. E, acima de tudo, cuidado com os que querem fazer um mundo melhor. Leia mais (12/25/2017 - 02h00)
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Mercosul cria grupo para tratar de economia digital

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04 Jan 17:34

Como os humanos podem manter o controle final sobre a inteligência artificial?

"A inteligência artificial sempre procurará evitar a intervenção humana e criar uma situação em que ela não possa ser interrompida."
04 Jan 16:29

What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It)

by Tasha Eurich
Archi Trujillo/Getty Images

Self-awareness seems to have become the latest management buzzword — and for good reason. Research suggests that when we see ourselves clearly, we are more confident and more creative. We make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively. We’re less likely to lie, cheat, and steal. We are better workers who get more promotions. And we’re more-effective leaders with more-satisfied employees and more-profitable companies.

As an organizational psychologist and executive coach, I’ve had a ringside seat to the power of leadership self-awareness for nearly 15 years. I’ve also seen how attainable this skill is. Yet, when I first began to delve into the research on self-awareness, I was surprised by the striking gap between the science and the practice of self-awareness. All things considered, we knew surprisingly little about improving this critical skill.

Four years ago, my team of researchers and I embarked on a large-scale scientific study of self-awareness. In 10 separate investigations with nearly 5,000 participants, we examined what self-awareness really is, why we need it, and how we can increase it. (We are currently writing up our results for submission to an academic journal.)

About Our Research

The major components of our research included:

  • Analyzing the results of nearly 800 existing scientific studies to understand how previous researchers defined self-awareness, unearth themes and trends, and identify the limitations of these investigations.
  • Surveying thousands of people across countries and industries to explore the relationship between self-awareness and several key attitudes and behaviors, like job satisfaction, empathy, happiness, and stress. We also surveyed those who knew these people well to determine the relationship between self and other ratings of self-awareness.
  • Developing and validating a seven factor, multi-rater assessment of self-awareness, because our review of the research didn’t identify any strong, well-validated, comprehensive measures.
  • Conducting in depth interviews with 50 people who’d dramatically improved their self-awareness to learn about the key actions that helped them get there, as well as their beliefs and practices. Our interviewees included entrepreneurs, professionals, executives and even a Fortune 10 CEO. (To be included in our study, participants had to clear four hurdles: 1) they had to see themselves as highly self-aware, which we measured using our validated assessment, 2) using that same assessment, someone who knew them well had to agree, 3) they had to believe they’d experienced an upward trend of self-awareness over the course of their life. Each participant was asked to recall their level of self-awareness at different stages of their life up until the age they were currently (e.g., early adulthood: ages 19-24, adulthood: ages 25-34, mid-life: ages 35-49, mature adulthood: ages 50-80), and 4) the person rating them had to agree with the participants’ recollections.)
  • Surveying hundreds of managers and their employees to learn more about the relationship between leadership self-awareness and employee attitudes like commitment, leadership effectiveness, and job satisfaction.

Coauthors on this work are:
Haley M. Woznyj, Longwood University
Phoenix Van Wagoner, Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado
Eric D. Heggestad, University of North Carolina Charlotte
Apryl Brodersen, Metropolitan State University of Denver

We want to thank Dr. Stefanie Johnson for her contributions to our study as well.

Our research revealed many surprising roadblocks, myths, and truths about what self-awareness is and what it takes to improve it. We’ve found that even though most people believe they are self-aware, self-awareness is a truly rare quality: We estimate that only 10%–15% of the people we studied actually fit the criteria. Three findings in particular stood out, and are helping us develop practical guidance for how leaders can learn to see themselves more clearly.

#1: There Are Two Types of Self-Awareness

For the last 50 years, researchers have used varying definitions of self-awareness. For example, some see it as the ability to monitor our inner world, whereas others label it as a temporary state of self-consciousness. Still others describe it as the difference between how we see ourselves and how others see us.

So before we could focus on how to improve self-awareness, we needed to synthesize these findings and create an overarching definition.

Across the studies we examined, two broad categories of self-awareness kept emerging. The first, which we dubbed internal self-awareness, represents how clearly we see our own values, passions, aspirations, fit with our environment, reactions (including thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses), and impact on others. We’ve found that internal self-awareness is associated with higher job and relationship satisfaction, personal and social control, and happiness; it is negatively related to anxiety, stress, and depression.

The second category, external self-awareness, means understanding how other people view us, in terms of those same factors listed above. Our research shows that people who know how others see them are more skilled at showing empathy and taking others’ perspectives. For leaders who see themselves as their employees do, their employees tend to have a better relationship with them, feel more satisfied with them, and see them as more effective in general.

It’s easy to assume that being high on one type of awareness would mean being high on the other. But our research has found virtually no relationship between them. As a result, we identify four leadership archetypes, each with a different set of opportunities to improve:



When it comes to internal and external self-awareness, it’s tempting to value one over the other. But leaders must actively work on both seeing themselves clearly and getting feedback to understand how others see them. The highly self-aware people we interviewed were actively focused on balancing the scale.

Take Jeremiah, a marketing manager. Early in his career, he focused primarily on internal self-awareness — for example, deciding to leave his career in accounting to pursue his passion for marketing. But when he had the chance to get candid feedback during a company training, he realized that he wasn’t focused enough on how he was showing up. Jeremiah has since placed an equal importance on both types of self-awareness, which he believes has helped him reach a new level of success and fulfillment.

The bottom line is that self-awareness isn’t one truth. It’s a delicate balance of two distinct, even competing, viewpoints. (If you’re interested in learning where you stand in each category, a free shortened version of our multi-rater self-awareness assessment is available here.)

#2: Experience and Power Hinder Self-Awareness

Contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that people do not always learn from experience, that expertise does not help people root out false information, and that seeing ourselves as highly experienced can keep us from doing our homework, seeking disconfirming evidence, and questioning our assumptions.

And just as experience can lead to a false sense of confidence about our performance, it can also make us overconfident about our level of self-knowledge. For example, one study found that more-experienced managers were less accurate in assessing their leadership effectiveness compared with less experienced managers.

Even though most people believe they are self-aware, only 10-15% of the people we studied actually fit the criteria.

Similarly, the more power a leader holds, the more likely they are to overestimate their skills and abilities. One study of more than 3,600 leaders across a variety of roles and industries found that, relative to lower-level leaders, higher-level leaders more significantly overvalued their skills (compared with others’ perceptions). In fact, this pattern existed for 19 out of the 20 competencies the researchers measured, including emotional self-awareness, accurate self-assessment, empathy, trustworthiness, and leadership performance.

Researchers have proposed two primary explanations for this phenomenon. First, by virtue of their level, senior leaders simply have fewer people above them who can provide candid feedback. Second, the more power a leader wields, the less comfortable people will be to give them constructive feedback, for fear it will hurt their careers. Business professor James O’Toole has added that, as one’s power grows, one’s willingness to listen shrinks, either because they think they know more than their employees or because seeking feedback will come at a cost.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. One analysis showed that the most successful leaders, as rated by 360-degree reviews of leadership effectiveness, counteract this tendency by seeking frequent critical feedback (from bosses, peers, employees, their board, and so on). They become more self-aware in the process and come to be seen as more effective by others.

Likewise, in our interviews, we found that people who improved their external self-awareness did so by seeking out feedback from loving critics — that is, people who have their best interests in mind and are willing to tell them the truth. To ensure they don’t overreact or overcorrect based on one person’s opinion, they also gut-check difficult or surprising feedback with others.

#3: Introspection Doesn’t Always Improve Self-Awareness

It is also widely assumed that introspection — examining the causes of our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors — improves self-awareness. After all, what better way to know ourselves than by reflecting on why we are the way we are?

Yet one of the most surprising findings of our research is that people who introspect are less self-aware and report worse job satisfaction and well-being. Other research has shown similar patterns.

The problem with introspection isn’t that it is categorically ineffective — it’s that most people are doing it incorrectly. To understand this, let’s look at arguably the most common introspective question: “Why?” We ask this when trying to understand our emotions (Why do I like employee A so much more than employee B?), or our behavior (Why did I fly off the handle with that employee?), or our attitudes (Why am I so against this deal?).

The problem with introspection isn’t that it is ineffective—it’s that most people are doing it incorrectly.

As it turns out, “why” is a surprisingly ineffective self-awareness question. Research has shown that we simply do not have access to many of the unconscious thoughts, feelings, and motives we’re searching for. And because so much is trapped outside of our conscious awareness, we tend to invent answers that feel true but are often wrong. For example, after an uncharacteristic outburst at an employee, a new manager may jump to the conclusion that it happened because she isn’t cut out for management, when the real reason was a bad case of low blood sugar.

Consequently, the problem with asking why isn’t just how wrong we are, but how confident we are that we are right. The human mind rarely operates in a rational fashion, and our judgments are seldom free from bias. We tend to pounce on whatever “insights” we find without questioning their validity or value, we ignore contradictory evidence, and we force our thoughts to conform to our initial explanations.

Another negative consequence of asking why — especially when trying to explain an undesired outcome — is that it invites unproductive negative thoughts. In our research, we’ve found that people who are very introspective are also more likely to get caught in ruminative patterns. For example, if an employee who receives a bad performance review asks Why did I get such a bad rating?, they’re likely to land on an explanation focused on their fears, shortcomings, or insecurities, rather than a rational assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. (For this reason, frequent self-analyzers are more depressed and anxious and experience poorer well-being.)

So if why isn’t the right introspective question, is there a better one? My research team scoured hundreds of pages of interview transcripts with highly self-aware people to see if they approached introspection differently. Indeed, there was a clear pattern: Although the word “why” appeared fewer than 150 times, the word “what” appeared more than 1,000 times.

Therefore, to increase productive self-insight and decrease unproductive rumination, we should ask what, not why. “What” questions help us stay objective, future-focused, and empowered to act on our new insights.

For example, consider Jose, an entertainment industry veteran we interviewed, who hated his job. Where many would have gotten stuck thinking “Why do I feel so terrible?,” he asked, “What are the situations that make me feel terrible, and what do they have in common?” He realized that he’d never be happy in that career, and it gave him the courage to pursue a new and far more fulfilling one in wealth management.

Similarly, Robin, a customer service leader who was new to her job, needed to understand a piece of negative feedback she’d gotten from an employee. Instead of asking “Why did you say this about me?,” Robin inquired, “What are the steps I need to take in the future to do a better job?” This helped them move to solutions rather than focusing on the unproductive patterns of the past.

Self-awareness isn’t one truth. It’s a delicate balance of two distinct, even competing, viewpoints.

A final case is Paul, who told us about learning that the business he’d recently purchased was no longer profitable. At first, all he could ask himself was “Why wasn’t I able to turn things around?” But he quickly realized that he didn’t have the time or energy to beat himself up — he had to figure out what to do next. He started asking, “What do I need to do to move forward in a way that minimizes the impact to our customers and employees?” He created a plan, and was able to find creative ways to do as much good for others as possible while winding down the business. When all that was over, he challenged himself to articulate what he learned from the experience — his answer both helped him avoid similar mistakes in the future and helped others learn from them, too.

These qualitative findings have been bolstered by others’ quantitative research. In one study, psychologists J. Gregory Hixon and William Swann gave a group of undergraduates negative feedback on a test of their “sociability, likability and interest­ingness.” Some were given time to think about why they were the kind of person they were, while others were asked to think about what kind of person they were. When the researchers had them evaluate the accuracy of the feedback, the “why” students spent their energy rationalizing and denying what they’d learned, and the “what” students were more open to this new information and how they might learn from it. Hixon and Swann’s rather bold conclusion was that “Thinking about why one is the way one is may be no better than not thinking about one’s self at all.”

All of this brings us to conclude: Leaders who focus on building both internal and external self-awareness, who seek honest feedback from loving critics, and who ask what instead of why can learn to see themselves more clearly — and reap the many rewards that increased self-knowledge delivers. And no matter how much progress we make, there’s always more to learn. That’s one of the things that makes the journey to self-awareness so exciting.

04 Jan 16:11

People Aren't Ready for Self-Driving Cars

by Jack Barkenbus

... and the people are ready for the autonomous airplanes or with only 1 pilot?

Every day about 100 people die in car crashes on U.S. roads. That death toll is a major reason why both Congress and the Trump administration are backing automotive efforts to develop and deploy self-driving cars as quickly as possible.

However, officials’ eagerness far exceeds the degree to which the public views this as a serious concern, and overestimates the public’s willingness to see its driving patterns radically altered. As those of us involved in studies of technology and society have come to understand, foisting a technical fix on a skeptical public can lead to a backlash that sets back the cause indefinitely. The backlash over nuclear power and genetically modified organisms are exemplary of the problems that arise from rushing technology in the face of public fears. Public safety on the roads is too important to chance consumer backlash.

I recommend industry, government and consumers take a more measured and incremental approach to full autonomy. Initially emphasizing technologies that can assist human drivers—rather than the abilities of cars to drive themselves—will somewhat delay the day all those lives are saved on U.S. roads. But it will start saving some lives right away, and is more likely to avoid mass rejection of the new technology.

Not so fast

Most Americans are indifferent to what officials and safety advocates see as a serious problem. They react in horror to the deaths of even a few dozen passengers in a relatively infrequent airline crash but think little about the 100 lives lost daily from driving. The rewards from driving, such as personal freedom and convenience, overwhelm fears. In fact, most people believe their driving skills are better than average, making them more likely to think they’ll avoid the tragedies that befall others.

As a result, the push for autonomous driving on the basis of improved safety is a solution to a situation the public doesn’t consider a serious problem. We know from the studies of psychologist Paul Slovic that the public is very uncomfortable with novel technologies that cede human control to machines. This is particularly true, in a phenomenon called “betrayal aversion,” when the benefits of technologies are overpromised and reality doesn’t appear to be consistent with those expectations. Unless self-driving cars can dramatically reduce fatalities, the public may remain skeptical.

Serious safety concerns

Surveys show the American public is far from sold on the safety benefits of autonomous vehicles. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center revealed that more than half of the American public would be worried about riding in an autonomous vehicle due to concerns over safety and the lack of control.

Another survey found that only 15 percent of people would prefer autonomous vehicles to traditional human-driven cars. It’s true that some groups (men, people with more education and people under 45) are less worried than others, but these differences of opinion are less significant than the overall public view. Aside from simply the fear of being in these vehicles without the option of control, much of the American public still relishes the joy of the driving experience.

Public fears may ease as people become familiar with self-driving cars, but this experience needs to be gained gradually over time. The mental chasm between having complete control over the vehicle to the complete absence of control is huge. Consumer advocates are already warning public officials that federal laws and rules designed to hasten the movement to autonomy are too permissive, and risk triggering a public backlash.

A steady stream of crashes, both serious and minor, would simply reinforce public fears that self-driving cars are not safe. The media, sensitive to these fears, will be eager to cry betrayal when there is a contradiction between these accidents and the technology’s rationale. And politicians, wanting to be seen as protectors of public health, may promote a new “Make America Drive Again” movement.

To avoid public backlash or overreaction, industry and government should not rush, but rather move more deliberately toward deploying fully autonomous cars on U.S. roads. There is still much the industry can do in terms of cutting-edge technology to assist drivers. Innovations such as adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking already have considerable public support and will work to acclimate the public to more advanced stages of driver autonomy.

Government and industry are right to continue inventing and innovating technologies that can contribute to autonomous vehicles. But rather than racing to get self-driving cars on U.S. roads, they should slow the rollout down to a pace the public can adjust to. That way, the safety benefits can be both real and long-lasting.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

04 Jan 15:08

Research: We’re Less Likely to Collaborate in Bad Economic Times

by Nina Sirola
Mordolff/Getty Images

In the fall of 1930, the U.S. economy was on a path to recovery following a contraction that occurred the year before. However, worries about the state of the economy, and the banking system in particular, prompted an increasing number of bank customers to attempt to withdraw their funds, an event known as a bank run. Because banks normally keep only a small proportion of deposits in cash, bank runs create a self-fulfilling prophecy such that initial concerns about banks’ possible insolvency ultimately cause insolvency. The bank run of 1930 resulted in the worst economic downturn in the modern history, the Great Depression.

Something similar might happen within organizations. In a series of studies that my colleagues and I conducted, we investigated how employees’ perceptions of the economy affect how they work with one another. Most employees will experience five to 10 recessionary periods in the course of their professional lives. We suspected that, similar to the case of bank runs, employees might react to news of an economic downturn in ways that hinder rather than help their organizations’ ability to weather adverse economic times. If employees view the economy as zero-sum, bad economic news might make them less likely to help others. And that, in turn, might make their organization less likely to survive the recession.

Most workplaces depend on collaboration. For example, an employee may help a coworker who has been absent get up to speed or may adjust their work schedule to accommodate another employee’s desired schedule. Given the organizational benefits of employees helping one another, it seems important that helping not decline during difficult economic periods.

However, we suspected that cues that the economy might be performing poorly would make people more likely to start construing success in a zero-sum manner. Normally, the economy is not a zero-sum game; as long as an economy is growing, it’s possible for everyone to be better off this year than last year. But during economic downturns, less wealth is generated than before, which may make people more likely to conclude that their success must occur at the expense of another person’s. We predicted that bad economic news would translate into more zero-sum thinking, which in turn would make people less likely to help a colleague perform successfully at work — even in situations in which doing so would not really take away from their success. If people come to think of others’ success in a more negative light — as something that in general leaves less success available for others — their behavior might be impacted by this view even when the situation is objectively such that others’ success would not present a threat.

As an initial test of the theory, we used attitudinal data from almost 60,000 respondents surveyed across 51 countries and 17 years. These respondents indicated to what extent they agreed that “People can only get rich at the expense of others” versus “Wealth can grow so there is enough for everyone,” which served as a measure of the extent to which people construed success in a zero-sum manner. We found that participants were more likely to construe success in a zero-sum manner when the response was recorded in a worse-performing economy.

In a series of follow-up studies, we focused on situations that were defined such that helping the other person would not take away from others’ success, and we examined whether cues of economic downturns undermine helping by inducing a zero-sum construal of success. In two experiments, we recruited employees working in U.S. organizations and provided them with ostensibly real information describing the state of the country’s economy. In the control group, the economy was said to be performing well, but in the treatment group an economic downturn was said to be likely to happen. We found that merely reading that the economy might be entering an economic downturn induced a more zero-sum construal of success and made people report that they would be less inclined to help coworkers in a range of prototypical workplace situations that we described — even though the situations entailed no real competition among employees.

We conducted an additional study of freelance professionals from 47 countries, again finding that participants’ perception that their economy is performing poorly was related to a more zero-sum construal of success and less helping behavior toward an intern whose success, again, had no objective impact on participants. (In this case, helping included giving advice on how to perform better on a task in their domain of expertise.)

In another project, I employed a similar empirical strategy to the one outlined above, involving two large-scale attitudinal studies and three follow-up experiments, and I found that exposure to cues of economic downturns undermined willingness to behave cooperatively when cooperative endeavors involved a risk of exploitation. For example, after reading that the economy might be entering a downturn, people indicated they would be less likely to invest time and resources in a collaborative project with potentially large payoffs but that entailed a risk of the other person sharing the benefits while shirking work. Because economic downturns are associated with financial hardship, when people are exposed to cues of economically difficult times, they fear that others might be more likely to resort to exploitation to maximize their economic outcomes. This, ironically, reduces cooperativeness, which is necessary for well-functioning, productive workplaces.

The findings from these two projects illustrate that, similar to bank runs, employees might respond to cues of economic downturns in a way that generates a dangerous self-fulfilling prophecy, whereby initial concerns about economic performance make employees less helpful and collaborative, which ultimately may cause economic problems for the firm. Thus, managers cannot assume that employees will always behave in their best economic interest when difficult economic times hit and should actively manage the psychology and behavior of their workforce to avoid an erosion of cohesion and productive work behaviors in the organization. Bank customers’ responses to cues that the economic system or one of its vital parts might be faltering received much attention, leading to useful policies preventing irrational and counterproductive reactions. In a similar fashion, greater managerial efforts to motivate helping and cooperation in the workplace following cues of economic downturns should make organizations more resilient in an economic decline.

04 Jan 14:39

The university with its own airfield

A small fleet of aircraft are being used to chart the future of aviation
04 Jan 14:22

A new front in cyber-warfare

Emerging threats in a connected world
03 Jan 16:27

Surprising innovation in aviation

Look out for these on your next flight
18 Dec 12:10

Lockheed Martin and Aerion set sights on world's first supersonic business jet - New Atlas

New Atlas

Lockheed Martin and Aerion set sights on world's first supersonic business jet
New Atlas
NASA is also working on its own designs for a a supersonic passenger plane, which is also aiming for first flight tests in 2021, with Lockheed Martin again helping with the engineering and design challenges. Lockheed Martin's skill and experience with ...

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18 Dec 12:08

DARPA Gremlins to Launch & Recover Drones from Air Force C-130s - Scout


DARPA Gremlins to Launch & Recover Drones from Air Force C-130s
Adversaries' abilities to detect and engage those aircraft from longer ranges have improved over time as well,” said DARPA in a statement. Gremlins could well be described as a technological leap in manned-unmanned teaming beyond state of the art ...

18 Dec 12:00

Flying Uber cabs could be ready for take-off by 2024 - Independent Online

Independent Online

Flying Uber cabs could be ready for take-off by 2024
Independent Online
Sao Paulo, Brazil - A network of electric aircraft Uber Technologies is developing with Brazilian planemaker Embraer is likely to launch commercially in 2024. Embraer Chief Executive Paulo Cesar de Souza said on Friday the business model and financial ...

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07 Dec 19:51

Seleção Draft – Abrace a vulnerabilidade

by Dani Rosolen

Abrace a vulnerabilidade
Ainda existe o mito de que líderes não devem se mostrar vulneráveis. No entanto, o especialista em inteligência emocional Harvey Deutschendorf afirma que expor os pontos fracos pode ser uma ótima ferramenta de gestão. Na Fast Company, ele comenta situações práticas em que ser vulnerável não é uma fraqueza (como quando o líder não consegue encontrar a resposta para um problema e pede feedback à equipe). Segundo ele, isso demonstra aos colaboradores que quem está no comando também tem limitações, dando mais liberdade para que se arrisquem e busquem soluções inovadoras juntos. Leia mais no link acima.


Dentro ou fora de casa
No Your Story (link acima), Amit Dua, CEO da ValueAppz (desenvolvedora de apps), fala de como é estratégico o fundador de uma startup decidir se o serviço de tecnologia que vai utilizar será o de uma equipe “da casa” ou terceirizada. A primeira opção oferece vantagens como dedicação em tempo integral ao projeto, mais comprometimento e confidencialidade. Contudo, o autor destaca o desafio de recrutar o time certo. Já quando se trabalha com talentos externos, os custos podem cair até 60% e existe mais variedade de profissionais. O entrave é que, como não há garantia de exclusividade, podem ocorrer atrasos na entrega.


Fundo mineiro
O Governo de Minas Gerais acaba de lançar o Seed4Science, fundo de 50 milhões de reais, com o objetivo de desenvolver o empreendedorismo no estado. O foco são startups criadas em universidades e institutos, com soluções nas áreas de biotecnologia, TI, big data, nanotecnologia, IoT e machine learning. Para participar do processo de seleção, o faturamento anual do negócio deve ser de, no máximo, 4,8 milhões de reais. Saiba mais no link acima.


A cidade de São Paulo recebe, no próximo dia 16, o DevFest. O evento é realizado pelo Google Developers Group, uma comunidade aberta de entusiastas em tecnologias da empresa que busca repassar seus conhecimento em temas como Chrome, HTML5, Cloud, APIs, UI e UX. Os ingressos custam 110 reais e podem ser comprados no link acima.