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Learn More About George Westerman

Now that the pandemic has uprooted old ways of doing business, how do we rebuild and come back stronger?

Even before the crisis, digital transformation pioneer and MIT scholar George Westerman was teaching organizational leaders how to drive competitive advantage through technology and how to stay ahead of the digital curve. A rare kind of strategist whose experience as a researcher, academic and corporate leader uniquely positions him to speak the language of both senior executives and technology professionals, Westerman goes beyond helping decision makers understand what’s happening in the digital space to showing them what to do about it – and how to prepare for what’s ahead.

With nearly 20 years of experience in the MIT Sloan School of Management, Westerman is a practical visionary with a futurist’s eye. Equal parts shepherd, bridge builder, storyteller and translator, he continually studies the transformations that new and emerging technologies will enable in organizations. He then identifies related leadership trends and develops clear, research-backed frameworks that help leaders use these innovations to their advantage.

Technology changes quickly, but organizations change much more slowly,” says Westerman. “Digital transformation is not a technology problem, it’s a leadership problem. It’s about changing the business. I’m a strategy guy. I help C-suite leaders figure out where they want to go and what technologies will get them there. I also help bridge conversations between business leaders and their IT teams.”

Westerman has written three award-winning books, including the longtime bestseller “Leading Digital: Turning Technology Into Business Transformation” (Harvard Business Review Press). His courses at MIT have helped CEOs, COOs, CFOs and CIOs transform their organizations – and more recently he has been helping chief learning officers (CLOs) and talent managers reshape how they deliver skills for the times ahead.

“Going back better is doable. In fact, the old way wasn’t that great to begin with. This is an opportunity.” says Westerman. “Prior to the pandemic, we focused too much on the customer experience and not enough on the employee experience. The pandemic showed the difficulties of that approach. Giving your people the right tools, skills and culture is critical to success.”

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George Westerman is co-chair of the MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Awards, a member of the US Library of Congress Digital Strategy Roundtable, a Learning Strategy Advisor to the World Health Organization, and faculty director for three executive courses at MIT. As a senior lecturer with MIT Sloan, he conducts research and executive workshops on digital transformation and culture, helping leaders understand emerging trends and what to do about them. As principal research scientist for the MIT Jameel World Education Laboratory and Executive Director of the Global Opportunity Initiative, he is helping to reshape the nature of workforce learning around the world.  A globally-recognized pioneer in digital transformation research, he has published papers in Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, and other top journals. Prior to earning a doctorate from Harvard Business School, he gained more than 13 years of experience in product development and technology leadership roles.

George Westerman is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

George Westerman was last modified: March 15th, 2024 by Justin Louis

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What Every Executive Needs To Know About AI

In today’s business environment, every leader needs to consider the potential of artificial intelligence (AI). But not every leader feels comfortable doing that. In this engaging session, which can be delivered in keynote or workshop format, MIT researcher and digital transformation pioneer George Westerman will provide you with the information you need to be confident in talking about AI and making decisions about it. He’ll demystify AI and provide an executive-level overview of key categories including generative AI, deep learning, rule-based systems and other models. Participants will explore practical applications across various sectors, highlighting the transformative potential and potential risks for customer experience, operations, decision-making, and employee careers. This is not a technical discussion; it’s a leadership one that reveals what every leader needs to know about these fast-moving technologies. Audiences walk away ready to ask the right questions and make the right decisions about how to lead an organization through the AI revolution.

Leading the New Era of Digital Transformation

Companies and researchers have been talking about digital transformation for many years. While not all organizations are good at it yet, most understand the key concepts. But, in leading digital transformation, much more is needed than just speaking the language or choosing and executing digital projects, says MIT researcher and digital transformation pioneer George Westerman. A new wave of capability and change is now emerging as critical to success for companies and individuals. Drawing on more than ten years of research and working closely with executives, Westerman shares his latest insights on how to prepare your company for long-term success in the digital economy.

IT for the Non-IT Executive

For nearly 20 years, George Westerman’s MIT Sloan executive education course on the non-IT executive has drawn business leaders from around the world who want to improve the way their IT units and CIOs deliver for the company. They learn frameworks and just enough about technology to allow them to make better, more informed decisions.  In this presentation, Westerman condenses two full days of executive education into the essential elements needed to improve the way executives interact with their IT staff so, together, they can deliver for the business.

Digital Enough: Building a Digital-Ready Culture in a Traditional Firm

Top executives often lament that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” But if you build the right culture, you can eat the lunch of your competitors. While it’s tempting to try copying the culture of digital native companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, it’s tough to do when you can’t hire, fire, pay, or manage in the same way that those companies do. Fortunately, MIT Professor George Westerman’s research with more than 500 companies shows that traditional companies can build a digital-enough culture that can thrive. You can get the speed and innovativeness you need while preserving the best of what has made you strong. In this session, he examines the values and practices that can help you win in today’s fast-moving, digitally powered markets.

Participants will leave this session understanding:

  • What’s wrong with just trying to copy the cultures of digital darlings like Google and Amazon
  • The key values and practices of digital-ready culture for traditional firms
  • What to start, keep, and reorient to build a digital ready culture
  • Numerous case studies and examples to help you make it happen

Ask us about George Westerman’s hands-on experiences that take learning beyond the boardroom.

Building Capabilities and Culture for Digital Transformation

MIT Professor George Westerman and his collaborators have been studying digital transformation for more than a decade – from before it was a term anyone used. During that time, they have continually provided useful research-based frameworks and examples to help leaders get a handle on digital transformation – what it is, what capabilities they need, and what it can mean for the future of their companies. In this workshop, Westerman will help you diagnose your digital transformation capabilities and identify strategies to become a digital master. Using numerous examples, he’ll show you where to look for opportunities and how to build a culture that can beat digital startups. This workshop can be tailored for board level, top management team and middle management, depending on where you want to start driving digital transformation in your company.

The Future of Work in the Covid-19 Era

For decades, automation and technology innovation have changed the mix of skills businesses require. The Covid-19 crisis has now created a discontinuity in these trends. As businesses reopen, they will be different from the past – both in the work they do and the skills their workers need. The “future of work” conversation that has been taking place in recent years has much more urgency now. How will jobs change as we return to “normal”? Which skills and jobs will grow or shrink in demand? What does this mean for workers who will need to learn new skills to cope with these changes? How do we reskill and upskill in ways that meet the needs of employers and employees, and how quickly can we do that? In this hands-on workshop, MIT Professor George Westerman works closely with participants to help them understand how the pandemic has changed the nature of and demand for certain skills and makes projections about how these changes will affect their company’s future.

Transforming IT From Struggle to Strategic Asset

In too many companies, IT is seen as a black hole. Money time and attention go into it, and little ever gets out.  But MIT Professor George Westerman’s nearly 20 years studying IT, including an award-winning book on the topic, shows that there is a way to fix this problem. Whether you’re inside or outside of IT, you can take specific steps to help your IT leaders communicate better, deliver better, and provide continuous strategic value to your company. Drawing on frameworks from his long-running course Essential IT for Non-IT Executives, and numerous examples from co-chairing the MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Awards, Westerman will help you turn your IT unit into the strategic asset you need it to be. This workshop can work successfully for IT leaders, or, even better, non-IT leaders in collaboration with their IT counterparts.

“George hit a home run with our group. He does an amazing job breaking down a complex topic in a way everyone can understand. Great having George with us; our team loved him.”

Denny Moynihan, Executive Director, External Engagement, Quest Diagnostics