Join Our Twitter Chat: Communicating Digitally and Visually

Discuss visual communication tools and strategies on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT

Whether it’s because you work on a geographically dispersed team, you serve customers with increasingly high demands, you’re too busy to have regular check-ins with your boss or direct reports, or a host of other reasons, you find communication at work challenging. Given the solutions available to facilitate the fast-paced virtual collaboration demanded in many of today’s work environments, and a growing expectation that employees should be fluent in data visualization tools, the team at MIT Sloan Management Review would like to better understand how digital and visual communication work for you.

We hope you’ll join us Tuesday, Jan. 28, to discuss the challenges and opportunities you face communicating and collaborating inside your organization.

To participate, head over to MIT Sloan Management Review’s Twitter feed at the chat start time or search Twitter for the hashtag “#MITSMRChat” to follow along.

Add this event to your Outlook or iCal calendar.

Questions we’ll discuss include the following:

  1. What communication challenges does your company have?
  2. Does your organization use visual communication tools, like dashboards, to share important information? What kinds of information?
  3. Are visual communication skills important for your business? Why or why not?
  4. Are there specific topics your organization has trouble communicating about?
  5. What best practices would you offer for effective communication and collaboration?

In advance of this chat, consider reading the following content from MIT SMR:

Choose Charts Everyone Understands

Communication expert Nancy Duarte groups charts into two categories: those used to explain and those used to explore.

It’s Time to Tackle Your Team’s Undiscussables

Review the checklist proposed by IMD professor Ginka Toegel and researcher Jean-Louis Barsoux to diagnose areas of conflict on your team at work.

Why Your Company Needs More Collaboration

MIT SMR executive editor David Kiron looks at how companies focused on digital strategy approach collaboration.

The Best of This Week

The week’s must-reads for managing in the digital age, curated by the MIT SMR editors.

Checking Messages About Work Versus, Um, Actually Doing Work

Slack has changed how we behave at work, leaving us either distracted by messages or anticipating being distracted. What was once heralded as the email killer is just sort of making us miserable now.

The Path Forward for Automated Vehicles

The future of mobility via automated vehicles isn’t autos versus tech, but rather autos plus tech: collaborations that weave together products, services, and business models to meet the needs of individual users across wide-ranging use cases.

Achieving Success When You’re the Underdog

No matter your current role, most of us can relate to the experience of feeling underestimated at some point in our careers. Recent research by Wharton professor Samir Nurmohamed found that employees who view themselves as underdogs are more likely to receive higher performance evaluations from their supervisors.

Understanding That Detroit Hustle

In resource-constrained environments like Detroit, individuals approach entrepreneurship in different ways than people in affluent regions such as Silicon Valley do. For a city that has experienced tough economic times, entrepreneurship is blooming.

How to Be a Better Funder

Tech philanthropy is booming, but it doesn’t always meet the real needs of the organizations it aims to help. How can tech philanthropists be better funders? Stanford Social Innovation Review offers five best practices to help tech companies move fast and improve how they fund nonprofits.

What Else We’re Reading

Quote of the Week

“We don’t yet know which predictions about the climate will be most accurate, nor what effects we have failed to consider. But there is no denying the direction we are heading. Every government, company, and shareholder must confront climate change.”

— Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock, in his annual letter to CEOs

Joaquin Phoenix said his late brother River told him: ‘You’re going to be a more successful actor than I am’

  • Joaquin Phoenix said his late brother River once told him, “You’re going to be a more successful actor than I am.”
  • Phoenix and his family gave a rare interview about River with Anderson Cooper in a “60 Minutes” special where they discussed the profound impact his death had on them. 
  • The 45-year-old Oscar nominee said his brother “awakened something” in him after he one day excitedly came home and told him to watch Martin Scorcese’s “Raging Bull.”
  • The actor also said that 26 years after River’s tragic death he still feels a connection to his brother in every movie he’s made. 
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The late River Phoenix once told his brother Joaquin: “You’re going to be a more successful actor than I am.”

Joaquin Phoenix spoke candidly in a special “60 Minutes” episode that aired Sunday night about the profound influence River had on his personal and career development. 

Anderson Cooper said during his time chatting with Joaquin, “one of the biggest things he learnt” was how much of an influence River was on the 45-year-old actor. 

“River Phoenix comes back after shooting some film and sits him down like, ‘You’re going to be a more successful actor than I am, you’re going to be better known than I am,'” Cooper said. 

Joaquin goes on to explain in the episode that River encouraged his acting career and “awakened something” in him.

He noted that when he was a teenager, River excitedly came home and told Joaquin to watch Martin Scorcese’s movie “Raging Bull” starring Robert De Niro.

“And through my brother and his understanding and appreciation of that kind of acting then it just awakened something in me and I suddenly could see it through his eyes,” Joaquin said.

River, most famously known for his role in “Stand By Me,” tragically overdosed at just 23 years old in 1993 at Hollywood nightclub The Viper Room during a night out with Joaquin and his sisters. 

stand by me
River Phoenix (right) during the 1983 coming of age movie “Stand By Me.”
Columbia Pictures

The usually private Joaquin seldom gives interviews about his brother, but at the Toronto International Film Festival in September last year, he also shared details about how River told him to start acting again. 

“He didn’t ask me, he told me. And I am indebted to him for that because acting has given me such an incredible life,” he said.

Joaquin also said during the “60 Minutes” interview that River’s influence is ever-present even 26 years after his death.

“I feel like in virtually every movie that I made, there was a connection to River in some way,” Joaquin said.

“And I think that we’ve all felt his presence and guidance in our lives in numerous ways.”

Joaquin was recently awarded a Golden Globe for his standout performance in 2019’s box office smash hit “Joker,” and now is in the running for an Oscar.

joker movie
It was announced on Monday that Phoenix was nominated for Best Actor Oscar.
Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros

Read more:

Joaquin Phoenix will wear the same tuxedo for every awards show this year to ‘reduce waste’

Joaquin Phoenix scorned a journalist who asked him an old question about ‘Joker’ at the Golden Globes: ‘I feel like I’ve talked about this for 6 months’

Joaquin Phoenix credits his brother River for his acting career in an emotional speech: ‘I am indebted to him’

A Boeing employee called Lion Air, the airline in the first 737 Max crash, ‘idiots’ for asking to have its pilots trained in flying the plane

  • Internal messages from Boeing employees reveal that one called Lion Air, the airline involved in the first fatal 737 Max crash”idiots” for wanting simulator training for its pilots.
  • Lion Air inquired about the training, prompting an employee to say that it might be “because of their own stupidity” in 2017, according to reports by Bloomberg and Forbes.
  • A Lion Air Boeing 737 Max plane crashed and killed all 189 people on board in October 2018, and the final report pointed partly to the plane’s technology and how pilots were not fully trained to deal with it.
  • Boeing sold the plane on the basis that pilots who could already fly the regular 737 would not need simulator training, making it cheaper and faster for airlines to introduce it to their fleets.
  • It relented this month, saying it will recommend pilots train in simulators before flying Max planes.
  • The messages were part of a drove of documents released by Boeing, which show employees talking about concerns with the plane but still pushing its production forward.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Boeing employees called the airline involved in the first fatal crash of a Boeing 737 Max plane crash “idiots” for wanting training before it started to fly the plane model.

Internal messages between Boeing employees revealed that employees were alarmed when Lion Air inquired about its pilots getting training in a simulator before they started to fly the new plane model.

The messages, released by Boeing, are redacted, but the House Transportation Committee gave Bloomberg some excerpts with Lion Air’s name unredacted. Forbes also identified Lion Air as the subject of the messages.

The messages, which mocked the airline’s inquiry, came as Boeing also convinced Lion Air that such training was not necessary – an idea Boeing used as a key selling point to sell the plane to airlines – both outlets reported.

They are from June 2017, the same month that Lion Air asked Boeing about additional training.

In one exchange, an unnamed employee writes: “Now friggin [Lion Air] might need a sim to fly the MAX, and maybe because of their own stupidity. I’m scrambling trying to figure out how to unscrew this now! Idiots.”

Lees ook op Business Insider

A colleague responded: “WHAT THE F%$&!!!! But their sister airline is already flying it!” – an apparent reference to Malaysian carrier Malindo Air, which was already flying the plane.

Lion Air did not comment on whether it was the carrier named in the messages, but people familiar with the exchanges told Bloomberg that Lion Air had inquired about simulator training before accepting Boeing’s line that it was not necessary.

One of Lion Air’s Boeing 737 Max planes then crashed in October 2018, killing all 189 people on board.

The final report into the crash criticized Boeing’s design of the plane, and criticized the manufacturer for not telling airlines about new software on the plane which malfunctioned during both fatal 737 Max crashes.

An Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed in March 2019, killing all 157 on board. The crash resulted in the Max planes being grounded around the world, where they still remain and cost airlines and Boeing billions of dollars.

Boeing is still working to get upgrades to the plane that would let it fly again approved by regulators.

Boeing had pushed back against the idea of simulator training as unnecessary

Boeing had argued that additional training was not necessary for pilots because of the plane’s similarity to previous Boeing 737 models, making its adoption cheaper and quicker for airlines, and thus a more attractive purchase.

In a March 2017 internal email released in the documents, Boeing’s 737 Chief Technical Pilot wrote:

“I want to stress the importance of holding firm that there will not be any type of simulator training required to transition from NG to MAX. Boeing will not allow that to happen. We’ll go face to face with any regulator who tries to make that a requirement.”

American pilots have been critical of Boeing for not telling airlines about the new software.

Then-Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg also defended the communication about the system after the second crash by saying it was “embedded” into the way pilots handled the plane, and so “when you train on the airplane, you are being trained on MCAS.”

Forbes reported that Lion Air had inquired about its pilots getting one simulator session and 24 hours of classroom time before flying the plane.

Boeing 737 Max cockpit

Foto: The cockpit of a Boeing 737 Max plane.sourceTed S. Warren/Associated Press

Boeing only reversed its position in January 2020, saying that it would recommend pilots train in simulators before they fly Max planes once it returns to service.

One analyst then noted that this could up the cost for airlines – who are already struggling under the cost of the Max crisis – and removes one of the airlines’ main incentives for buying the plane.

Jonathan Raviv, a Citi analyst, said in a research note: “This erodes one of the key selling points of the Max in the first place,”

A series of employee messages show they were concerned about the plane, but let it go to production

More than 100 pages of documents that show employee discussions about the Max plane obtained by Reuters reveal that some employees were aware of issues with the plane.

Two Boeing employees said eight months before the first crash that they wouldn’t let their families fly on the 737 Max.

And one employee said in May 2019, after both crashes: “I still haven’t been forgiven by god for the covering up I did last year. Can’t do it one more time. The Pearly gates will be closed …”

Another employee wrote: “This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys.”

Relatives of those killed on the planes described the release of the documents in harrowing terms to Business Insider.

Chris Moore, the father of 24-year-old Danielle Moore who was killed, said he spent “an agonizing night” thinking about the messages, and said that the families of those killed were the “punchline” of a joke among Boeing staff.

Boeing said the communications “do not reflect the company we are and need to be, and they are completely unacceptable.”

“We regret the content of these communications, and apologize to the FAA, Congress, our airline customers, and to the flying public for them. We have made significant changes as a company to enhance our safety processes, organizations, and culture.

“The language used in these communications, and some of the sentiments they express, are inconsistent with Boeing values, and the company is taking appropriate action in response. This will ultimately include disciplinary or other personnel action, once the necessary reviews are completed.”

How Digital Twins Are Reinventing Innovation

From faster and cheaper drug trials to fully “conscious” cities, digital replicas are changing the face and pace of innovation.

Last year the world held its breath as Notre Dame Cathedral stood shrouded in flames.

After the fire was extinguished, and it was revealed that the iconic cathedral was not lost, the hard work of restoration began. Until very recently, that process would have begun with a search through dusty archival blueprints to guide the intricate repair works. But in the age of the digital twin, engineers and architects were able to consult a digital model of the French cathedral — one far more detailed and interactive than any blueprint — which allowed them to stay true to the original structure while also incorporating new innovations in design and materials.

As its name suggests, a digital twin is a virtual replica of an object, being, or system that can be continuously updated with data from its physical counterpart. Supported by an estimated 25 billion connected global sensors by 2021, digital twins will soon exist for millions of things. A jet engine, a human heart, even an entire city can all have a digital twin that mirrors the same physical and biological properties as the real thing.

The implications are profound: real-time assessments and diagnostics much more precise than currently possible; repairs literally executed in the moment; and innovation that is faster, cheaper, and more radical.

An Innovation Game Changer

Many commentators today worry about a crisis of innovation afflicting companies and economies. Some say we’re running out of new ideas and “life-altering” innovations. Others claim that innovation is crippled by bureaucracy and regulation.

But a more basic explanation is that innovation has always been difficult. It takes time. It requires costly trial and error. And it often faces significant ethical, social, and regulatory obstacles.

Consider car manufacturing, where development time has shortened from 54 months in the 1980s yet still takes 22 months today. Or the development of new lifesaving drugs, where the journey from discovery to commercialization can last decades.

Digital twins stand to change the innovation game by enabling three critical drivers:

1. Continuous evaluation. Traditionally, most complex products could be fully analyzed, piece by piece, only twice during their lifetime — when they were created and when they were broken down at the end of their life cycle. Now that sensors can capture and continuously update the product’s digital twin throughout its lifetime, manufacturers have a live window inside the product at all times.

In manufacturing, AStar — Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology, and Research — works with companies to equip their machine equipment with digital twins that automatically make adjustments to its operation, such as correcting a wobbling piece on a spindle. This removes the need for extensive diagnosis and repair, and can significantly reduce downtime.

Tesla takes it a step further: Every car has its own digital twin. Through sensors, the physical car continuously sends data to its digital twin. If the vehicle has a rattling door, the system will prompt you to download software that will adjust the door’s hydraulics.

As Tesla collects information about the performance and use of each vehicle, its engineers also aggregate the data to create updates that will improve the performance of that specific range of cars, a very real example of real-time innovation. This process also helps engineers and designers understand what cannot be improved with software updates alone — crucial information to make bigger innovation leaps when seeding the next version of a product.

2. Faster, cheaper prototyping. Digital twins can dramatically lessen the need for expensive tests and physical prototypes, reducing the cost and increasing the speed of innovation. The cost of developing new drugs, for example, reaches into the billions, and preclinical testing phases alone take an average of three and a half years. Oklahoma State University developed a digital twin of an aerosol drug intended to reach lung tumors. By varying parameters on the digital twin such as inhalation rate and particle size, scientists increased the number of particles reaching their target from 20% to 90%, sparing them the need to create several prototypes and shortening the testing process.

Similarly, railroad passenger coaches have traditionally needed to be tested in wind tunnels to make sure they comply with regulations and don’t get too hot or cold. Siemens paired up with Ansys, an American engineering simulation software developer, to design a digital twin of a coach to test the effect of different wind and climate conditions. The result: testing times were halved, leading to savings on equipment, manpower, and wind-tunnel rental cost. Additionally, passenger comfort was improved beyond standard requirements, and the need to test product variants was eliminated.

Applied to a system or process, digital twins can eliminate the need for physical experimentation while optimizing performance under different conditions. For example, Accenture worked with Ireland’s An Post, a public postal service, to create a digital twin of its hundreds of vehicles, delivery routes, multiple sorting centers, and different processes to evaluate the impact of new technologies and test new approaches on throughput and timeliness.

3. Innovating at the limits. When it comes to solving big human and social problems, the process of innovation becomes that much tougher. It may be unethical to run experimental tests on somebody’s heart, for example, and you can’t stop traffic in a city’s rush hour to experiment with new routing systems. Or can you?

SenSat, a company specializing in creating digital twins of cities, believes you can. Its chief scientist, Sheikh Fakhar Khalid, explains, “We created a digital twin of Cambridge, England, and removed all traffic from its streets. This allows the city to experiment with new traffic systems. The model is already being used to plan 5G mast locations. Beyond that, we see many other possibilities: a training platform for autonomous vehicles, cityscapes for interactive content providers, and gaming, and so on.”

Some of the biggest advances are happening in health care, an area where innovation is often limited by ethical concerns. Consider the case of cardiovascular disease. Drawing on anatomical knowledge and thousands of heart images, Philips has created Heart Model, a digital representation of the human heart that can help clinicians diagnose cardiac images up to 80% faster and with fewer variations than traditional methods allow. “With digital twins in health care, you can evaluate different scenarios and treatment options; you can combine personal and medical data to provide real-time intervention and prevention,” explains Ger Janssen, department head of the digital twin department at Philips. “We’re looking not just at cardiology but also oncology, pulmonology, and neurology. A digital twin of the human body is the ultimate goal.”

What’s Next?

The impact that digital twins can make is huge. Many are just now in development due to the complexity of their creation, but soon millions of things will have digital twins. And their usefulness and capabilities will continue to evolve.

Collaborating twins: Just as humans collaborate to innovate, so too will digital twins. Much of the value associated with digital twins arises from a digital thread, a connecting infrastructure that allows digital twins to share information with one another and connect traditionally siloed functional perspectives. Consider a car ride: You want to get from point A to B; however, you are siloed from every other driver. If every driver knew where everyone else needed to get to, travel time would become shorter for everyone. Connecting the digital twins of cars enables a fully autonomous car grid and innovation in mobility systems. Siemens does this with robots in its Bad Neustadt factory in Bavaria, Germany. The digital twins of two — or more — of these robots can communicate to figure out how to best work together on a new assembly line.

But it doesn’t stop there. Linking the digital twins of completely different types of assets can feed the digital twin of more complex entities. An entire city, for example, will need to connect information from digital twins tied to traffic, weather patterns, pollution, citizens, energy, and other resources. This enables a transformation from smart cities to conscious cities — cities that are aware of assets flowing in and out of their borders. This level of understanding unlocks new avenues for innovation: new forms of urban mobility that are both faster and cheaper, elimination of congestion; reduction of pollution; new ways of emergency planning; and smart tracking of energy and water. A digital twin with all the complexity and detail of a physical city provides a larger and more valuable platform for experiments than has ever been created.

Corporate innovation: Similar to its promise for cities, digital twins can connect all of an enterprise’s information, providing companies with a real-time holistic view of their operations, and allowing them to swiftly improve operating models, develop better strategies, discover new pockets of efficiency and, perhaps, finally eradicate silo mentality.

Companies will also have a powerful new tool in business model innovation. By adopting digital twins, they can more effectively shift from the production and sale of a product to selling the use and maintenance of that product as a service.

Consider Kaeser Kompressoren, a German company that used to sell air compressors. After introducing digital twins, it has moved toward selling air-as-a-service, where the customer only pays for their use of the compressor.

While some companies have made the transition from product to service without the aid of digital twins (for example Rolls-Royce with its “power by the hour” offering for aircraft engines), the ability to continually improve and innovate complex products changes the value equation for customers and companies alike.

Multiplier effect: The coming of age of digital twins is happening at a time when many other new technologies are finding their footing as well. Digital twins will combine with other emerging technologies to multiply their potential for innovation.

When digital twins are designed with virtual reality capabilities, for example, the immersive views and natural interaction that VR offers makes tweaking designs more instinctive and less cumbersome. Simulations can be run in real time to observe what the product in action will look like, allowing for rapid-pace design phases. Furthermore, your actions in VR with a digital twin could be physically replicated by using robotics. Imagine a surgeon performing a remote surgery using the digital twin of a patient’s heart.

Indeed, the marriage between machine learning and digital twins may even be the answer to the slowing growth of innovative ideas. What if we could let a digital twin create ideas for us? Similar to the infinite monkey theorem, machine learning can be applied to a digital twin to create countless variations of the twin and come up with new patterns, solutions, or creative ideas that humans may not have considered. Recall AlphaGo’s famous victory over world champion Lee Sedol in the ancient game of Go, where AlphaGo made a number of decisive moves that Lee suggests no human Go player would have made.

Inspiration, ingenuity, and tenacity will always be the spur to innovation. Digital twins offer the opportunity to accelerate and multiply these qualities. It’s not too soon to be asking yourself how your company can seize the innovation advantage in this new mirror world.