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The leaders of many traditional companies sometimes wish for the fast and innovative cultures of digital startups. They covet the cultures of large digital-born companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google, which have used their innovativeness and customer obsession to become three of the top four most valuable companies in the world.But, in thinking more deeply, smart execs tamper down that wish. Companies with thousands of employees cannot use the management practices of startups; they’re just too big. Uber, Facebook, and other digital firms have encountered ethics-related difficulties that no executive would want to experience. Other digital darlings have reputations as difficult places to work. What’s more, their HR practices may not be something that you want to copy. For example, Netflix allows employees to take as much vacation as they want, or to buy anything they feel is important for the business without supervisor authorization. It regularly replaces people who are no longer high performing stars.
How can leaders in large traditional companies build cultures that keep up with the digital leaders? Our research, published in MIT Sloan Management Review, shows that these companies should strive not to be digital, but rather to be “digital enough.” Rather …
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