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  • How to Have an Honest Data-Driven Debate

    HBR Blog Network Full Feed
    Michael Schrage
    17 Apr 2014 | 9:00 am
    Malcolm Gladwell of bestselling Tipping Point and Outliersfame proposed a delightfully provocative way to begin his onstage debate with Sports Gene author David Epstein about whether practice or genetics is the better guarantor of professional success. But instead of launching directly into argument, said Gladwell, they’d start by summarizing their opponent’s best arguments. The exceedingly careful, precise and thoughtful characterizations of each other’s position that followed proved remarkably entertaining and informative. More importantly, it facilitated one of the…
  • Big Data and the Role of Intuition

    HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review » Tom Davenport
    Tom Davenport
    24 Dec 2013 | 5:00 am
    Many people have asked me over the years about whether intuition has a role in the analytics and data-driven organization. I have always reassured them that there are plenty of places where intuition is still relevant. For example, a hypothesis is an intuition about what’s going on in the data you have about the world. The difference with analytics, of course, is that you don’t stop with the intuition — you test the hypothesis to learn whether your intuition is correct. Another place where intuition is found in analytical companies is in the choice of the business area where analytical…
  • Best of the IdeaCast

    HBR.org
    HBR IdeaCast
    17 Apr 2014 | 5:43 pm
    Featuring Jeff Bezos, Howard Schultz, Francis Ford Coppola, Maya Angelou, Nancy Koehn, Rob Goffee, Gareth Jones, Cathy Davidson, and Mark Blyth. Download this podcast
  • 400: Best of the IdeaCast

    HBR IdeaCast
    Harvard Business Review
    17 Apr 2014 | 6:43 pm
    Featuring Jeff Bezos, Howard Schultz, Francis Ford Coppola, Maya Angelou, Nancy Koehn, Rob Goffee, Gareth Jones, Cathy Davidson, and Mark Blyth.
  • What Makes Big Data Projects Succeed

    HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review » Tom Davenport
    Tom Davenport
    26 Mar 2014 | 9:00 am
    In conversations with executives, many of the same misconceptions about big data projects — and what makes them successful — keep coming up.  To help clear the air and foster a better understanding of what makes big data initiatives succeed, here are some of the key things I’ve learned from companies that are realizing substantial business value with their big data initiatives. Technology: The most popular misconception many organizations have is that big data projects are all about technologies that are specific to big data—Hadoop, Python, Pig, Hive, etc. It is certainly true that…
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    HBR.org

  • Best of the IdeaCast

    HBR IdeaCast
    17 Apr 2014 | 5:43 pm
    Featuring Jeff Bezos, Howard Schultz, Francis Ford Coppola, Maya Angelou, Nancy Koehn, Rob Goffee, Gareth Jones, Cathy Davidson, and Mark Blyth. Download this podcast
  • How to Have an Honest Data-Driven Debate

    Michael Schrage
    17 Apr 2014 | 9:00 am
    Malcolm Gladwell of bestselling Tipping Point and Outliersfame proposed a delightfully provocative way to begin his onstage debate with Sports Gene author David Epstein about whether practice or genetics is the better guarantor of professional success. But instead of launching directly into argument, said Gladwell, they’d start by summarizing their opponent’s best arguments. The exceedingly careful, precise and thoughtful characterizations of each other’s position that followed proved remarkably entertaining and informative. More importantly, it facilitated one of the…
  • Help Your Employees Find Flow

    Terri Griffith
    17 Apr 2014 | 8:00 am
    Holacracy. Results-Only Work Environments. These new, more flexible ways of working may be a step too far for many organizations. Still, greater employee freedom can create a better sense of “flow,” which enhances engagement, retention, and performance. This can be achieved by loosening your grip on work practices — but you don’t have to let go completely: remove obstacles, set boundaries and meaningful goals, then let work take its course. Stefan Groschupf, founder and CEO of Datameer, a big data analytics company, talked with me about how he tries to reduce negative…
  • The Secret Ingredient in GE’s Talent-Review System

    Raghu Krishnamoorthy
    17 Apr 2014 | 7:00 am
    GE is often highlighted as an organization that develops some of the most effective leaders. Most companies have a version of the talent-review system we use at GE. But judging from what I hear from managers of companies that visit us to benchmark our system, the difference between our approach and theirs does not lie in forms, rankings, tools, or technologies. It lies in the intensity of the discussion about performance and values. The debate, the dialogue, and the time taken to have an exhaustive view of an individual − evaluating them based on both what they accomplish and how they lead…
  • The Two Questions Every Manager Must Ask

    Freek Vermeulen
    17 Apr 2014 | 6:00 am
    When something seems too good to be true, it usually is. And management techniques, practices, and strategies are no different. When you read a business book or attend a presentation on a particular management practice, it is a good habit to explicitly ask, “What might it not be good for?” When might it not work; what could be its drawbacks? If the presenter’s answer is “there are none,” a healthy dose of skepticism is warranted. Because that’s unfortunately not how life works, and that’s not how organizations work. It relates to what Michael Porter meant with being “stuck in…
 
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    HBR IdeaCast

  • 400: Best of the IdeaCast

    Harvard Business Review
    17 Apr 2014 | 6:43 pm
    Featuring Jeff Bezos, Howard Schultz, Francis Ford Coppola, Maya Angelou, Nancy Koehn, Rob Goffee, Gareth Jones, Cathy Davidson, and Mark Blyth.
  • 399: How Companies Can Embrace Speed

    Harvard Business Review
    10 Apr 2014 | 3:02 pm
    John Kotter, author of "Accelerate," on how slow-footed organizations can get faster.
  • 398: How Unusual CEOs Drive Value

    Harvard Business Review
    3 Apr 2014 | 1:53 pm
    William Thorndike, investor and author of "The Outsiders," looks at some less-known but more effective executives.
  • 397: Are You the "Real You" in the Office?

    Harvard Business Review
    27 Mar 2014 | 3:45 pm
    Harvard's Robert Kegan on companies that do really personal development.
  • 396: Identify Your Primary Customer

    Harvard Business Review
    20 Mar 2014 | 3:54 pm
    Robert Simons, Harvard Business School professor, says companies still struggle to choose the right customer.
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    HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review » Tom Davenport

  • What Makes Big Data Projects Succeed

    Tom Davenport
    26 Mar 2014 | 9:00 am
    In conversations with executives, many of the same misconceptions about big data projects — and what makes them successful — keep coming up.  To help clear the air and foster a better understanding of what makes big data initiatives succeed, here are some of the key things I’ve learned from companies that are realizing substantial business value with their big data initiatives. Technology: The most popular misconception many organizations have is that big data projects are all about technologies that are specific to big data—Hadoop, Python, Pig, Hive, etc. It is certainly true that…
  • Book Publishing’s Big Data Future

    Tom Davenport
    3 Mar 2014 | 8:00 am
    The publishing industry is not one of the overachievers in terms of its use of big data. And since my book on big data—Big Data @ Work—is out, I thought it might be fun to speculate on what big data will do to the business of publishing books. The goal of any publisher is to get its content bought and read. In the past, publishers could know only if their books and magazines were bought, and knowing even that was problematic. With the advent of Nielsen’s Bookscan in 2001, publishers could begin to receive point of sale data from physical bookstores. Of course, physical bookstores, both…
  • Big Data and the Role of Intuition

    Tom Davenport
    24 Dec 2013 | 5:00 am
    Many people have asked me over the years about whether intuition has a role in the analytics and data-driven organization. I have always reassured them that there are plenty of places where intuition is still relevant. For example, a hypothesis is an intuition about what’s going on in the data you have about the world. The difference with analytics, of course, is that you don’t stop with the intuition — you test the hypothesis to learn whether your intuition is correct. Another place where intuition is found in analytical companies is in the choice of the business area where analytical…
  • The Big Lesson from Twelve Good Decisions

    Tom Davenport
    28 Oct 2013 | 5:00 am
    How is it that managers facing high-stakes decisions, despite all the resources and knowledge available to them, often make them so poorly?  In large part, it’s because their whole perspective on decision-making is wrong. Managers think of major decisions as choices they must make in order for the work of the organization to proceed. The truth is that decision-making is work.  This simple shift in perspective – seeing big decisions as tasks to be managed – has huge implications. It means they should be approached with the same level of discipline and direction good managers bring to…
  • What to Ask Your "Numbers People"

    Tom Davenport
    12 Jul 2013 | 7:00 am
    If you’re a manager working with the analysts in your organization to make more data-driven business decisions, asking good questions should be one of your top priorities. Many managers fear that asking questions will make them appear unintelligent about quantitative matters. However, if you ask the right kinds of questions, you can both appear knowledgeable and advance the likelihood of a good decision outcome. In my new book (co-authored with Jinho Kim) Keeping Up with the Quants, and in a related article in this month’s HBR, we list a lot of possible questions for various…
 
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    HBR Blog Network Full Feed

  • Best of the IdeaCast

    HBR IdeaCast
    17 Apr 2014 | 5:43 pm
    Featuring Jeff Bezos, Howard Schultz, Francis Ford Coppola, Maya Angelou, Nancy Koehn, Rob Goffee, Gareth Jones, Cathy Davidson, and Mark Blyth. Download this podcast
  • How to Have an Honest Data-Driven Debate

    Michael Schrage
    17 Apr 2014 | 9:00 am
    Malcolm Gladwell of bestselling Tipping Point and Outliersfame proposed a delightfully provocative way to begin his onstage debate with Sports Gene author David Epstein about whether practice or genetics is the better guarantor of professional success. But instead of launching directly into argument, said Gladwell, they’d start by summarizing their opponent’s best arguments. The exceedingly careful, precise and thoughtful characterizations of each other’s position that followed proved remarkably entertaining and informative. More importantly, it facilitated one of the…
  • Help Your Employees Find Flow

    Terri Griffith
    17 Apr 2014 | 8:00 am
    Holacracy. Results-Only Work Environments. These new, more flexible ways of working may be a step too far for many organizations. Still, greater employee freedom can create a better sense of “flow,” which enhances engagement, retention, and performance. This can be achieved by loosening your grip on work practices — but you don’t have to let go completely: remove obstacles, set boundaries and meaningful goals, then let work take its course. Stefan Groschupf, founder and CEO of Datameer, a big data analytics company, talked with me about how he tries to reduce negative…
  • The Secret Ingredient in GE’s Talent-Review System

    Raghu Krishnamoorthy
    17 Apr 2014 | 7:00 am
    GE is often highlighted as an organization that develops some of the most effective leaders. Most companies have a version of the talent-review system we use at GE. But judging from what I hear from managers of companies that visit us to benchmark our system, the difference between our approach and theirs does not lie in forms, rankings, tools, or technologies. It lies in the intensity of the discussion about performance and values. The debate, the dialogue, and the time taken to have an exhaustive view of an individual − evaluating them based on both what they accomplish and how they lead…
  • The Two Questions Every Manager Must Ask

    Freek Vermeulen
    17 Apr 2014 | 6:00 am
    When something seems too good to be true, it usually is. And management techniques, practices, and strategies are no different. When you read a business book or attend a presentation on a particular management practice, it is a good habit to explicitly ask, “What might it not be good for?” When might it not work; what could be its drawbacks? If the presenter’s answer is “there are none,” a healthy dose of skepticism is warranted. Because that’s unfortunately not how life works, and that’s not how organizations work. It relates to what Michael Porter meant with being “stuck in…
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    HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review » Scott Anthony

  • How Corporate Investors Can Improve Their Odds

    Scott Anthony
    27 Mar 2014 | 6:00 am
    When investing in new growth businesses, corporate leaders are commonly advised to behave more like venture capitalists. VCs, they’re told, take more of a long-term approach, have a greater degree of risk tolerance, and parcel out their funds in stages to mitigate risk. All of this is right, as far as it goes. But having spent the past five years straddling between our consulting business (which advises large companies) and our venture investment arm (which provides seed investment to entrepreneurs), I now believe there is a more fundamental philosophical difference that corporate leaders…
  • Should Big Companies Give Up on Innovation?

    Scott Anthony
    11 Mar 2014 | 7:00 am
    “Why bother?” It’s a common question thrown at me by entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, or the more cynically minded corporate leaders. That is, why bother trying to innovate if no matter what they do, large companies can no longer maintain a sustainable advantage and their life spans are just getting shorter and shorter?  Isn’t it better to hasten Joseph Schumpeter’s process of creative destruction and move capital and employment from inefficient dinosaurs to more vibrant and agile upstarts? I give them three reasons. First, timing matters. There’s a difference between…
  • The Strategic Mistake Almost Everybody Makes

    Scott Anthony
    21 Feb 2014 | 9:00 am
    “It is simple math,” the strategist said in a tone that sounded suspiciously similar to how I explain things to my six-year-old daughter. “Decreasing churn by a percent — a single percent! — creates tens of millions of dollars of value. A point of market share creates five times that amount. Our growth investments are years from providing that kind of return.” The general point is right — a dollar of investment in incrementally improving the core is almost always going to earn a greater near-term return than a dollar invested in a growth business that might take…
  • Why the X Games Won’t Dethrone the Olympics

    Scott Anthony
    6 Feb 2014 | 7:00 am
    A “new model for how winter sports are done” that “feeds an audience hunger for life-treating daredevilry” and drives “high market penetration and . . . high dollars.” Yes, that’s a collection of phrases describing the X Games, a series of athletic competitions created by cable giant ESPN. With the Winter Olympics set to start this week, is it just a matter of time before we can add “disruptor” to the list of words used to describe the upstart? ESPN started the X Games almost 20 years ago as an effort to reach younger consumers that seemed to be turning away from more…
  • Eight Essential Questions for Every Corporate Innovator

    Scott Anthony
    31 Jan 2014 | 10:00 am
    One of the first, and most lasting, pieces of career advice I received came from Linda Bush, my first project manager when I was a wee pup working at McKinsey & Company. “Ask a lot of questions,” Linda advised me. “You might think you are being annoying, but it’s the only way you learn. And trust me, people will tell you when you have crossed the line.” There’s nothing quite like asking a good question. Bush’s advice helped me in those early days to learn about technical tasks (the magic of pivot tables in Excel), the seeming banalities of the working world (the mysterious…
 
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    HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review » Vineet Nayar

  • A Shared Purpose Drives Collaboration

    Vineet Nayar
    2 Apr 2014 | 5:00 am
    Imagine coming back home from work, calling the family into the living room, and urging everyone to collaborate more. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Ever wondered what makes collaboration seem so natural at home but unnatural at work? The answer: Purpose. Purpose is collaboration’s most unacknowledged determinant.  While it can be taken for granted within families, that’s not true of most organizations. “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work but rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea,”…
  • Increase the Odds of Your Start-Up’s Success

    Vineet Nayar
    12 Dec 2013 | 7:00 am
    While traveling between India and the U.S. these past few months, I spent some of the long hours in the air looking back at my professional life and the lessons I learned along the way.  Each phase of my career offered different challenges, successes, and lessons, but my most exhilarating moments were undoubtedly during the start-up phases. As some of you will remember, I headed a start-up called HCL Comnet in 1993, which incubated the idea of remote infrastructure management services.  It’s a $1.4 billion business today, with 20,000 employees, and boasts some of the best people…
  • Three Differences Between Managers and Leaders

    Vineet Nayar
    2 Aug 2013 | 8:01 am
    A young manager accosted me the other day. “I’ve been reading all about leadership, have implemented several ideas, and think I’m doing a good job at leading my team. How will I know when I’ve crossed over from being a manager to a leader?” he wanted to know. I didn’t have a ready answer and it’s a complicated issue, so we decided to talk the next day. I thought long and hard, and came up with three tests that will help you decide if you’ve made the shift from managing people to leading them. Counting value vs Creating value. You’re…
  • Listening to Your Inner Voice Makes You a Better Manager

    Vineet Nayar
    13 May 2013 | 12:00 pm
    Some of the best advice we have all got — be it while making big personal decisions or making critical business decisions — is the same: Follow your inner voice. Most of us have heeded that counsel, yet if we were asked to list the elements that enable better decision-making, we would cite experience, research, data, even polls — but never our inner voices. Logic precedes sixth sense because the known outnumber the unknown. When the reverse was true, people counted on extra-sensory cues to lead their lives. As our world enters an age of uncertainty, with economics, politics,…
  • The Power of Intent

    Vineet Nayar
    18 Feb 2013 | 9:00 am
    A fellow business leader complained the other day that although he had repeatedly sought feedback, his team had never told him what they really thought about his management style. We’ve been friends for a long time, so I asked: “Do you want feedback so you can do something with it? Or are you asking only because you think that’s the right thing to do?” The problem, I told him, is that people can perceive your intentions right away; it has nothing to do with what you say or do. There was a long pause, and then he admitted: “Deep inside, I’m probably not…
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    Bill Taylor on HarvardBusiness.org

  • Why Amazon Is Copying Zappos and Paying Employees to Quit

    Bill Taylor
    14 Apr 2014 | 11:05 am
    Last week, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos released his annual letter to shareholders. As is the case every year, it is a tour de force of ideas and initiatives about the customer experience (Amazon Prime), disruptive technology (Fire TV), fast-growing product initiatives (Amazon Web Services), and strategic consistency. (As he does every year, Bezos attached his first letter to shareholders from back in 1997 to underscore the company’s long-term commitments.) Still, for all these big, cutting-edge innovations, it was a small, pre-existing idea, something that Amazon borrowed from one its…
  • Stop Me Before I “Innovate” Again!

    Bill Taylor
    6 Dec 2013 | 5:00 am
    The Wall Street Journal is out with a funny (and brutally honest) takedown of a word that has achieved almost-mythical status among business thinkers like me. That word is innovation, and it’s quickly losing whatever meaning it once had. Journal writer Dennis Berman begins by citing Kellogg CEO John Bryant, the respected head of a well-run company, who was describing one of its “innovations” for 2013. What was the game-changing, head-spinning new offering that Kellogg unveiled? The Gone Nutty! Peanut-butter Pop-Tart. That’s right, a world that has had to survive for decades with…
  • Pret a Manger Wants Happy Employees — And That’s OK

    Bill Taylor
    7 Nov 2013 | 5:00 am
    Last week, the front page of the New York Times carried an in-depth report on a “broad and transformative trend” in Russia. It had nothing to do with more democracy or less corruption. It had to do with better customer service — specifically, an intense focus inside Aeroflot, the infamous Russian airline, to teach flight attendants how to smile. “Anna, you just showed her the champagne bottle but didn’t say anything,” one instructor coaxed a young employee. “This is the silent service of Soviet times. You need to talk to her. And you need to smile and smile and smile.” I…
  • Playing It Safe Is Riskier than You Think

    Bill Taylor
    17 Sep 2013 | 6:00 am
    There are all sorts of reasons why so many big organizations can be slow to make changes that everyone agrees need to be made. “Our current margins are too good, even though the business is being eroded by new competitors.” “Our current products are still popular, even though a new generation of offerings is getting traction.” “Our current distribution system can’t reach the customers we need to reach to build a new business.” In other words, most leaders and organizations are really good at quantifying the risks of trying something bold or striking out in a new direction. What…
  • The More Things Change, the More Our Objections to Change Stay the Same

    Bill Taylor
    4 Sep 2013 | 4:00 am
    One of the very first articles in the very first issue of Fast Company, a magazine I started 20 years ago with Alan Webber, is a smart and entertaining list compiled by E.F. Borisch, product manager at a long-established outfit called Milwaukee Gear Company. Borisch’s article was titled, “50 Reasons Why We Cannot Change,” and it offered a clever and entertaining collection of objections to and worries about the hard work of making real progress. Reason #1: “We’ve never done it before.” Reason #4: “We tried it before.” Reason #13: “Our…
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    HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review » Anthony K. Tjan

  • The Indispensable Power of Story

    Anthony K. Tjan
    15 Apr 2014 | 5:00 am
    Some people have a way of making the complex clear.  They know who they are, why they do what they do, and where they want to go. Because they have internalized all this, they are able to sharply crystallize ideas and vision. They speak in simple, relatable terms. And they can get a lot accomplished. Making your words understandable and inspirational isn’t about dumbing them down. Instead, it requires bringing in elements such as anecdote, mnemonic, metaphor, storytelling, and analogy in ways that connect the essence of a message with both logic and emotion. Almost everyone leading or…
  • The First Strategic Question Every Business Must Ask

    Anthony K. Tjan
    6 Feb 2014 | 5:00 am
    What business are you in?  It seems like a straightforward question, and one that should take no time to answer.  But the truth is that most company leaders are too narrow in defining their competitive landscape or market space.  They fail to see the potential for “non-traditional” competitors, and therefore often misperceive their basic business definition and future market space. This is because it is much easier to see the world through the lens of today — and through the lens of research analysts who make comparisons to the competitors that look most similar and sell the most…
  • How to Get the Answer You Want

    Anthony K. Tjan
    3 Dec 2013 | 7:00 am
    You have a meeting or an important discussion coming up.  What is your real objective?  If it has anything to do with selling, how can you maximize the likelihood of success? And just to be clear, your objective almost certainly does have something to do with selling. As Daniel Pink argues in his latest book, To Sell is Human, we’re constantly trying to influence behavior — a.k.a. selling. We may not be selling cars, but we are likely on a daily basis to be pushing ideas (e.g., a pitch for a campaign or strategic project), telling about our capabilities and track-record (e.g., for a…
  • The Power of Restraint: Always Leave Them Wanting More

    Anthony K. Tjan
    15 Oct 2013 | 6:00 am
    The setting: the spectacular office of one of the most respected names in entertainment, a senior executive in the motion picture industry. The players: the executive, accompanied by his bevy of direct reports and support staff, plus a CEO friend of mine and his chairman (we’ll call him Mr. Chairman). The meeting was unusual in its purpose. Mr. Chairman, who does not come from the entertainment industry, wanted to share his epiphany on how movie-makers should rethink the categorization of movie genres.  His hypothesis was that movies should not be called romantic, horror, thriller, etc.,…
  • It Takes Purpose to Become a Billionaire

    Anthony K. Tjan
    10 Sep 2013 | 2:00 am
    What do billionaires have in common? What is it that they do better than anyone else? Why do we admire them, or their companies’ products and services, so much? I’ve spent some time trying to identify common traits in the Forbes list of billionaires and other similar lists of the world’s wealthiest. I’m particularly interested in finding patterns in the types of people whom I respect. It’s less about all that dough they’ve accumulated than about better understanding how and why they made their fortunes. It turns out there are many ways to make a billion…
 
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