HBR IdeaCast

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From Harvard Business Review

Episodios

Tech’s Exponential Growth – and How to Solve the Problems It’s Created

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Technological development is happening faster than ever and changing our lives in fundamental ways. The companies behind all these new gadgets and services are no doubt the greatest corporate success stories of our age. But entrepreneur and investor Azeem Azhar worries that our public institutions haven't kept pace with the industry, which has created an exponential gap between digital haves and have nots. He offers recommendations on how bridge the divide and achieve growth with broader societal benefits. You can hear more from Azeem Azhar on his HBR Presents podcast, Exponential View.

First He Saved Unilever. Now He Wants to Save Capitalism.

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Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, led a dazzling career in consumer goods, from Procter & Gamble to Nestlé to the British multinational. His experience fending off a hostile takeover bid taught him that the doctrine of shareholder capitalism is wrong. He believes there’s a better way of doing business, one that embraces all stakeholders — not just stockholders — and improves the environment. He cofounded the consultancy IMAGINE to further sustainable goals, and he shares his advice for the next generation of leaders. With Andrew Winston, Polman wrote the new book “Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More than They Take”.

How to Make Strategic Career Decisions, Even in a Crisis (Back to Work, Better)

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When it comes to work, it's easy to focus on the near term: the next meeting, project, promotion. The global pandemic pushed many of us even further into heads-down mode. But Dorie Clark, author of the book The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-term World, wants everyone to step back, take a breath, and start thinking longer term about what you really want to do and how to progress toward those goals. She offers advice on how to ignore social media distractions, balance priorities, cultivate patience, and make the right strategic decisions. Clark also wrote the HBR article "Feeling Stuck or Stymied."

The Innovation System Behind Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine

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Noubar Afeyan, cofounder and chair of Moderna Therapeutics and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, says that the breakthrough innovation behind the company’s Covid-19 vaccine came not as a stroke of luck, but from a repeatable process. He outlines a system called “emergent discovery” that involves working back from future ideals, pioneering in novel spaces, encouraging unreasonable ideas, and persistently questioning hypotheses. And he says this process applies to other industries besides life sciences. Afeyan is the coauthor, with HBS professor Gary Pisano, of the HBR article "What Evolution Can Teach Us About Innovation."

Can Big Tech Reform Itself?

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Mehran Sahami, a Stanford professor and former Google employee, wants to see a reset from the technology industry. For the past few decades, the world's technologists (many of whom become its corporate executives and venture capitalists) have been taught to prioritize optimization and efficiency without thinking a whole lot about ethics. The result has been stunning corporate success but significant costs to society. Sahami argues that regulation can certainly help right the balance. But he also believes that tech company leaders and employees can shift their mindsets and practices to ensure they're serving the greater good, not just themselves. He's the coauthor, along with Rob Reich and Jeremy Weinstein, of "System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot."

Why Companies Need Returnship Programs (Back to Work, Better)

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Carol Fishman Cohen, human resource consultant and CEO of iRelaunch, says that extended career breaks have always been common. Now the pandemic has made them even more widespread. So, companies are increasingly considering formal back-to-work programs and “returnships.” That’s where employers set up special training and support mechanisms to ease people back into work. Cohen speaks about the best practices for organizations and returning workers alike. She's the author of the HBR article "Return-to-Work Programs Come of Age."

How the Pandemic Changed Talent Management (Back to Work, Better)

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Johnny C. Taylor Jr., CEO and President of the Society for Human Resource Management, says that this is a reset moment for organizations that want to finally get human resources right. The crisis has taught leaders just how important it is to find and mobilize talent and evaluate and adjust to employee needs. He shares research on several trends set to accelerate, including hybrid and contract work and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and offers guidance to leaders around the world trying to identify what the "new normal" should look like in their organizations.Taylor is the author of the book "Reset: A Leader's Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval."

Best of IdeaCast: Saying No to More Work

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When the work keeps piling on, there comes a time when everyone needs to say no. But how do you do so without offending your coworkers or hurting your career? Former host Sarah Green Carmichael, and Karen Dillon, the author of the “HBR Guide to Office Politics,” talk about the best practices on saying no to work when you're overwhelmed.

What We Still Need to Learn about AI in Marketing — and Beyond

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Eva Ascarza, professor at Harvard Business School, studies customer analytics and finds that many companies investing in artificial intelligence fail to improve their marketing decisions. Why is AI falling flat when it comes to this key lever for profit? She says the main reasons are that organizations neglect to ask the right questions, weigh the value of being right with the cost of being wrong, and leverage the improving abilities of AI to change how companies make decisions overall. With London Business School’s Bruce G.S. Hardie and Michael Ross, Ascarza wrote the HBR article "Why You Aren’t Getting More from Your Marketing AI."

Rethinking Our Relationship with Work (Back to Work, Better)

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Emily Esfahani Smith, author of “The Power of Meaning,” has long studied how people find fulfillment. As the ongoing pandemic causes many of us to rethink how and why we do our jobs, she offers advice on how to find more enjoyment and engagement, avoid burnout, reset ambitions, and, if necessary, change paths. One key is to define - or redefine - your purpose as it relates to work, and Smith explains how to do that wherever you are in your career.

When Entrepreneurs Distort the Truth

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Kyle Jensen, associate dean at the Yale School of Management, has seen firsthand just how tempting it is for entrepreneurs to lie. As a startup founder himself, he says they have to be always "on" and ready to promote their venture. Another reason they’re incentivized to exaggerate is that while many startups fail, successes can become billion-dollar enterprises. Finally, Jensen argues, misrepresenting is relatively easy to get away with in a field of unproven potential. He talks through infamous examples of entrepreneurs distorting the truth and how to change startup culture for the better. Jensen is a coauthor of the HBR article "Entrepreneurs and the Truth."

Moving the Needle on DEI

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Shelly McNamara, head of equality and inclusion at Procter & Gamble, knows just how valuable it is to work at an inclusive company. Back in 2012, as a VP at P&G, she came out publicly as LGBTQ, and she's since worked tirelessly to ensure that the organization is not only diverse but also a place where all employees feel like they can be their authentic selves. After more than a year of pandemic and political and racial tensions in the U.S. and other parts of the world, these issues have become even more critical for businesses to address, and McNamara points to specific DEI strategies that have proven effective in a variety of corporate environments. McNamara is the author of the book "No Blanks, No Pauses: A Path to Loving Self and Others."

Building Successful Hybrid Teams (Back to Work, Better)

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Tsedal Neeley, professor at Harvard Business School, has been studying remote work and global teams for years. In episode 732 early in the pandemic, she shared how managers could lead their teams while many team members worked from home. Now, as more people return to more in-person work, she’s back on the show to help managers lead their teams effectively in a hybrid workplace, a mix of working from home and the office. Neeley is the author of the book "Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere", and the HBR article “15 Questions About Remote Work Answered.”

Lessons in Innovation from Bowie, Beyoncé, and More

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Panos Panay, incoming co-president of the Recording Academy, which presents the Grammys, and R. Michael Hendrix, partner at the innovation consultancy IDEO, argue that the music world offers myriad lessons for anyone looking to improve their performance at work. They explain how strategies long used by musicians -- from egoless experimentation to gathering talented teams for creative collaboration -- can be applied directly to business. Panay and Hendrix are the authors of "Two Beats Ahead: What Musical Minds Teach Us About Innovation."

Stop Networking, Start Connecting

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Susan McPherson, communications consultant, says many people feel strange reconnecting in person with colleagues after an extended period working in physical isolation. To help shake off the rust, she offers simple tips in a “Gather, Ask, Do” method. It's not just about networking, she says, but about finding simple connection points with others that can truly help you succeed. McPherson is the author of the book "The Lost Art of Connecting."

Best Buy’s Hubert Joly on Walking the Talk of Stakeholder Capitalism

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Hubert Joly, former chairman and CEO of Best Buy, says that now is the time for companies to get serious about operating to benefit not just shareholders but also employees, customers and broader society. In the face of environmental crisis, racial turmoil, and rising economic inequality, he argues that leaders shouldn't debate whether or when to embrace this new version of capitalism. They should focus on how to do it. He says this starts with having a clear purpose and ensuring that everyone in the organization connects with it and one another. It also involves offering fair pay and opportunities for advancement and working with, not against, consumers, the community, the competition. He shares how these strategies helped turn Best Buy around despite the rise of Amazon. Joly is the author of the book “The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism” and the HBR article “How to Lead in the Stakeholder Era.”

Hybrid Work Is Here To Stay. Now What? (Back to Work, Better)

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Nicholas Bloom, economics professor at Stanford University, has been studying remote work and hybrid (a mix of remote and onsite) work for years. Then the pandemic made these modes widespread and lasting. He says as more organizations turn to hybrid work, they face difficult logistical, strategic, and managerial challenges. Bloom shares a guideline to implementing hybrid work plans, and helps managers think through these arrangements while balancing fairness to employees and organizational needs. Bloom is the author of the HBR article “Don’t Let Employees Pick Their WFH Days.”

The Rise and Fall of Carlos Ghosn: Part 4

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Suddenly powerless in Tokyo prison after his arrest, Carlos Ghosn plans an audacious escape and flees Japan while out on bail. Out of reach of Japanese authorities, the once celebrated CEO of Nissan and Renault defends his legacy as he faces new investigations by French and other authorities. This final episode of a special, four-part series features Ghosn himself and examines whether system failures contributed to his downfall. Who gave Carlos Ghosn such extraordinary power? What can we learn from his story?

What Anthropologists Can Teach Us About Work Culture

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Greg Urban, anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania, used to study indigenous tribes in Brazil. Now he hangs out in break rooms and boardrooms analyzing how people interact — and create and change culture — in organizations. He shares lessons and tips for managers to better understand and motivate their teams. Urban is the coauthor of the book "The Culture Puzzle: Harnessing the Forces that Drive Your Organization's Success."

The Rise and Fall of Carlos Ghosn: Part 3

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A decade into Ghosn’s tenure, Nissan starts missing his goals for growth, profits, and electric vehicle sales. Then a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan and a self-made crisis at Renault in France test Ghosn’s leadership. Who is holding Ghosn accountable? This third episode of a four-part series explores the cracks that appear in Ghosn’s track record.

Former Washington Post Top Editor on Leading Through Change

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Martin Baron, former executive editor of the Washington Post, managed the newsroom during a decade of incredible change and shifting views about the media and truth. Baron led his team through a tumultuous time, as they covered everything from the Trump presidency, to the covid pandemic, to the Black Lives Matter movement. Along the way, he learned some important lessons about managing a public-facing company while remaining true to its purpose and mission. He speaks with HBR editor-in-chief Adi Ignatius.

The Rise and Fall of Carlos Ghosn: Part 2

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After Carlos Ghosn’s dramatic turnaround at Nissan, profits soar and Ghosnmania sweeps Japan. But signs of trouble emerge as Ghosn takes over as the CEO of both Renault and Nissan in 2005. Then Ghosn’s high pay creates controversy in Japan and France. This second episode of a four-part series explores Ghosn’s leadership style and how it contributes to his eventual downfall.

What Business Leaders Need to Know About China Now

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Elsbeth Johnson, senior lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and Rana Mitter, professor of history at Oxford, argue that there's a lot about the Chinese political system and economy that business leaders from elsewhere in the world still misunderstand. They argue that democracy and a free market system aren't always as tightly linked as we think, and that many people in China also live, work, and invest differently than Westerners do. Better understanding these dynamics will be the key to business success in the world's most populous country. Johnson and Mitter are the authors of the HBR article "What the West Gets Wrong About China."

The Rise and Fall of Carlos Ghosn: Part 1

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When Japan's most famous CEO is suddenly arrested, conflicts are revealed in the Renault-Nissan Alliance he led for two decades. Then Carlos Ghosn jumps bail by stowing away in a private jet to Lebanon. Ghosn's daring escape raises new questions about his alleged financial misconduct — and the corporate system that kept him in power.

How Leaders Can Encourage Imagination

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Martin Reeves, managing director and senior partner at Boston Consulting Group’s Henderson Institute, has looked at how companies reinvent themselves to achieve success. And he has found that an essential ingredient in that process is imagination. It’s something we cultivate in children but rarely practice deliberately in the business world. He explains how to encourage and systematize imagination in your organization. Reeves is the coauthor of the new book The Imagination Machine: How to Spark New Ideas and Create Your Company's Future.

CEO Series: Ursula Burns on Leading with Authenticity at Xerox

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Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox from 2009 to 2016, rose from humble beginnings to become the first Black woman to lead a Fortune 500 company. In this interview with HBR editor-in-chief Adi Ignatius, she talks candidly about the frequent challenges and occasional advantages of being "the only" and explains why organizations needs to do a better job of promoting both economic and racial equality -- themes that also animate her new memoir, "Where You Are is Not Who You Are".

Why Smart People (Sometimes) Make Bad Decisions

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Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner and emeritus professor at Princeton University, and Olivier Sibony, professor of strategy at HEC, say that bias isn't the only thing that prevents people and organizations from making good choices. We’re also susceptible to something they call "noise" - variability in calls made by otherwise interchangeable professionals and even by the same person at a different time or day. But the solution isn’t necessarily taking humans out of the equation with artificial intelligence. There are ways to combat noise, and leaders should take steps to do so. Kahneman and Sibony are the coauthors, along with Cass Sunstein, of the book "Noise: A Flaw In Human Judgment."

CEO Series: 23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki on Scientific Breakthroughs and Public Trust

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Anne Wojcicki, CEO of 23andMe, spent a decade in healthcare and biotechnology before launching the DNA testing and analysis company in 2006. Her goal was twofold: to help individuals learn more about their own genetics, enabling them to pursue more personalized medical care, and to create a database of genetic information for commercial and academic researchers to promote broader improvements to the healthcare system. She speaks with HBR's Editor-in-Chief Adi Ignatius about tackling challenges in an emerging industry.

Understanding the Venture Capital Gender Gap

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Jenny Lefcourt, partner at Freestyle VC and cofounder of All Raise, says that even as a serial entrepreneur herself, she long underestimated how little venture capital funding goes to female startup founders compared to the money men get. She believes unconscious biases, an industry built on intuition, and historical dynamics all contribute to this inequity. They also affect the low numbers of women in decision-making roles at VC firms. Lefcourt explains the ways the industry can actively reduce this gap.

CEO Series: Mastercard’s Ajay Banga on Promoting Financial Inclusion

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Ajay Banga, the executive chairman and former CEO of Mastercard, has spearheaded a strategy focused on serving the previously unbanked via new technologies. During his 11-year tenure as president and chief executive, the company tripled revenues, increased net income six-fold, and saw its market cap rise from below $30 billion to more than $300 billion. He attributes this growth to setting ambitious goals, planning for the long term, and ensuring that all employees and customers feel valued.

How To Talk Yourself Up (Without Turning People Off)

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Leslie John, associate professor at Harvard Business School, has done some deep research into the ways that people self-promote in their professional lives and identified what works and what doesn't. She says it is possible tout your own accomplishments without annoying your colleagues, if you do it at the right time or enlist others to boast on your behalf. She notes that many common workarounds -- such as humblebragging -- are highly ineffective and advises people to not only look for more natural opportunities to self-promote but also try to present balanced views of themselves. She's full of tips you can put to work, even in virtual settings. John is the author of the HBR article "Savvy Self-Promotion."

CEO Series: Mary Barra of General Motors on Committing to an Eco-Friendly Future

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Mary Barra, chair and CEO of General Motors, says that electric vehicles are the future for the company and the automobile industry. GM has said it will phase out vehicles using internal combustion engines by 2035 and go carbon neutral at all of its facilities. Barra describes how she's executing on that plan as well as offering broader leadership lessons in an interview with HBR editor Amy Bernstein.

How Tech Adoption Fuels China’s Innovation Boom

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Zak Dychtwald, founder of the advisory firm Young China Group, believes that the perception of China as a copycat and not an innovator is outdated. Instead, he argues the willingness of Chinese consumers to try new things is powering the country’s new innovation economy. Technology adoption rates in areas such as mobile payment are extremely high. He says non-Chinese companies can learn important lessons from this rapidly changing market and potentially use it to jump-start their own innovation engines. Dychtwald is the author of the HBR article "China’s New Innovation Advantage."

Quit Overthinking Things

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Ethan Kross, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, has spent years studying how people talk to themselves and the effect that this "chatter" has on our performance. From professional athletes to top students and senior executives, even the most talented among us sometimes struggle to quiet the voices in our heads. And Kross says that, while some self-talk can help us, it's often unproductive. He offers tips and tricks to break out of negative thinking and get back on track, especially at work. He's the author of the book “Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why it Matters, and How to Harness It.”

Streamlining Your Company’s Strategy

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Felix Oberholzer-Gee, professor at Harvard Business School, says many organizations spend so much energy on strategy that it overwhelms with conflicting priorities. Instead, he argues companies should simplify and focus on two value drivers: customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction. By aligning strategic initiatives on these alone, leaders make their workers’ jobs less complicated and also improve customer experiences. Oberholzer-Gee is the author of the HBR article “Eliminate Strategic Overload” as well as the new book "Better, Simpler Strategy: A Value-Based Guide to Exceptional Performance."