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HBR IdeaCast

Author: Harvard Business Review

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A weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management.
945 Episodes
After the summer of 2020 in the United States, many organizations made a big push to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in their ranks and operations. But now, many fear that that momentum is slipping, especially in the face of economic headwinds. Laura Morgan Roberts, organizational psychologist and professor at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, says it is time to recommit to these efforts by creating the conditions for all workers to flourish. She explains four freedoms that organizations can foster to allow employees to become their best selves — and even be able to fade into the background when they choose. Roberts wrote the HBR Big Idea article “Where Does DEI Go From Here?”
It is now accepted wisdom that increasing the diversity of your workforce in any dimension can improve both organizational culture and performance. But one group — people living with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities — continues to be overlooked by many companies. Luisa Alemany, associate professor at London Business School, has studied workplaces that do recruit and hire employees with disabilities and found that it can be a true source of competitive advantage. She explains four main ways this talent strategy benefits the firm. She’s the coauthor, along with Freek Vermeulen, of the HBR article “Disability as a Source of Competitive Advantage.”
Many leaders realize they need to change their organization’s culture to save the business. But employees usually resist change and stick to past norms. Jay Barney, professor at the University of Utah’s Eccles School of Business, studied leaders who successfully led culture change and found one thing in common: they created and spread stories. He says it's not about making up stories but taking action — in authentic, yet theatrical and memorable ways. The new stories then emanate throughout the workforce and rewrite the old narrative. Barney explains the six rules of this practice that leaders need to follow. He’s a coauthor, with Manoel Amorim and Carlos Júlio, of The Secret of Culture Change: How to Build Authentic Stories That Transform Your Organization and the HBR article “Create Stories That Change Your Company’s Culture.”
New AI technology enables anyone to become a programmer — opening doors to faster analytics and automation but also presenting big challenges. Organizations need policies and strategies to manage the chaos created by what Tom Davenport calls “citizen developers.” Davenport is a professor of management and information technology at Babson College, and he’s been studying how employees are using new AI tools and how companies can both encourage and benefit from this work. He suggests practical ways for team and organizational leaders and IT departments to best oversee these efforts. Davenport is coauthor of the HBR article “We’re All Programmers Now” and the book All-in On AI: How Smart Companies Win Big with Artificial Intelligence.
Companies plan for crises and aim to be resilient and adaptive in the face of all kinds of risks, but it’s always easier said than done. And perhaps none of these threats is as serious as war. That’s what Roman Rodomansky had to prepare his company for. He’s the cofounder and COO at Ralabs, a Ukrainian software development company. As Russia prepared to invade his home country, Rodomansky and his leadership team crafted a plan to survive and keep serving clients. He shares how his firm put people first, communicated with customers, and managed to become resilient. Rodomansky wrote the HBR article “A Cofounder of Ralabs on Leading a Ukrainian Start-Up Through a Year of War.”
How does a brand or product that's been around for decades suddenly become popular with a whole new segment of consumers? Terence Reilly has some pointers. As CMO of Crocs, he used social media and celebrity collaborations to drive sales of its signature boat shoes. Now, as president at Stanley, he has made the company's durable mugs TikTok famous and bestsellers across numerous retail outlets. He explains how listening to employees and customers and acting quickly on their insights can help any organization spur growth.
Much of the business world has bought into the idea of stakeholder capitalism. But Freada Kapor Klein and Mitch Kapor say that doing some good by doing well isn’t enough when the business impact still creates negative effects and broader disparities overall. Freada, with a background in social justice and empirical research, and Mitch, an entrepreneur and investor who got his start making early spreadsheet software, strive to invest in ventures that close the distance between those with wealth and privilege and those without. The founders explain their metrics and decision-making process at Kapor Capital. The profitable firm explicitly invests in tech startups serving low-income and underrepresented communities. Freada and Mitch wrote the book Closing the Equity Gap: Creating Wealth and Fostering Justice in Startup Investing.
After decades of industrial policy that favored globalization and free trade, we are entering a new era. Prompted by the pandemic, climate change, rising geopolitical tensions and economic concerns, countries and groups of countries are once again using the power they have to intervene in the private sector, whether it's investing in drug development, offering clean energy tax breaks, or incentivizing domestic manufacturing. Harvard Business School professor Willy Shih wants to help corporate leaders navigate these changes in a way that protects their businesses, workers, and customers. He explains the new challenges - as well as opportunities. Shih wrote the HBR article, "The New Era of Industrial Policy is Here."
There are few jobs that demand decisive, clear thinking under pressure more than that of a fighter jet pilot. But the best combat pilots don't act on gut and muscle memory alone. They train to use proven mental models for making tough, fast decisions with extremely high stakes. Hasard Lee is a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and instructor who has learned, practiced, and taught these techniques. He breaks down the tools that individuals and organizational leaders alike can apply to some of their biggest problems and most difficult situations. Lee wrote the new book The Art of Clear Thinking: A Stealth Fighter Pilot’s Timeless Rules for Making Tough Decisions.
Middle managers are meant to serve as a go-between for leadership teams and individual contributors. But in large organizations, with many layers of hierarchy, some of these roles feel like bureaucratic bloat, which, in tighter economic times, makes them a target for elimination. Emily Field, a partner at McKinsey & Company, thinks in many cases that's a mistake. She argues that most middle managers are critical to corporate performance and productivity, executive team insight, and employee well-being. The key is making sure their roles adapt to the times. Field is the coauthor, along with Bryan Hancock and Bill Schaninger, of the HBR article "Don’t Eliminate Your Middle Managers," as well as the book Power to the Middle: Why Managers Hold the Keys to the Future of Work.
If you had the chance to talk to hundreds of business leaders at the top of their game, what habits and patterns would you learn? Adam Bryant has done just that. He's the senior managing director of the ExCo Group and founded the “Corner Office” interview series at The New York Times. Along the way, he has identified the mindset and attributes that the world's best leaders have acquired to truly influence and change their organizations. He shares what they are and how to develop them in your own career. Bryant wrote the HBR article “The Leap to Leader” as well as the book The Leap to Leader: How Ambitious Managers Make the Jump to Leadership.
We know that trying new things, taking risks, and even failing are vital to most success stories. But getting out of areas where you’re comfortable and breaking through to the next level is easier said than done. Andy Molinsky, professor of organizational behavior at Brandeis International Business School, says that there are actions we all can take to get out of our safe zone and achieve our goals. In this classic episode, he shares his research and advice with former IdeaCast host Sarah Green Carmichael. Molinsky is the author of Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge and Build Confidence.
With all the hype in the startup world around unicorns and hypergrowth, entrepreneurs feel enormous pressure to raise massive amounts of cash from venture capitalists. But now, as interest rates have risen, a lot of that funding has dried up. And a growing number of founders are seeking ways to scale without burning through cash to acquire users. Mike Salguero is the CEO and founder of the meat subscription service ButcherBox. After a negative experience with venture capital at his prior company, Salguero pledged to grow his new startup without it. That meant a "Box One Profitable" strategy built on the creative leverage of influencers, laser focus on costs, and making tough decisions during the pandemic. Salguero shares how he grew a $600 million company in seven years without outside money.
Most of us can point to a few key people who have made a real difference in our lives and careers - a family member, a coach, a boss. And many who get that kind of mentoring build on the lessons they learn to become leaders and role models themselves. Basketball star Chris Paul is a prime example. He had the support of a tight-knit family growing up, was mentored by a great coach in college, and as an NBA rookie looked to league veterans for guidance. Now, at age 38, he's the seasoned vet, a perennial All-Star across multiple teams who led the National Basketball Players Association from 2013 through the 2020 Covid-19 crisis and racial reckoning in the United States and is widely regarded as one of the best point guards of all time. Paul's new book is "Sixty-One: Life Lessons from Papa, On and Off the Court." Note: This episode was taped before the start of the 2023 NBA playoffs.
It's easy to see how big stresses at work or home -- like layoffs, illnesses, or even a complex and important project -- cause anxiety too spike. But sometimes the stresses that cause the most hard are the tiny, everyday ones that build up over time into a much bigger problem because we don't take the time to recognize and manage our reactions to them. Former HBR editor Karen Dillon and Babson College professor Rob Cross studied the most common types of "microstress" and the ways in which they impact individuals, teams, and organizations. They explain why, if left unchecked, microstress can lead to mistakes, burnout, damaged relationships, and poor mental and physical health. But they also offer advice for better handling it -- and helping others to do the same. Dillon and Cross wrote the book The Microstress Effect and the HBR article "The Hidden Toll of Microstress."
Sabbaticals have long been thought of as an academic privilege, but a growing number of companies offer them, especially since the pandemic. DJ DiDonna, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and founder of The Sabbatical Project, has interviewed hundreds of workers who’ve taken them and studied organizations that offer them. From his research and his own experience on a sabbatical, DiDonna shares the surprising impacts that extended time off—paid or unpaid—can have on workers, teams, and the overall organization. And he explains how organizations can make sabbaticals work both financially and culturally.
The use of artificial intelligence and specifically generative AI is growing rapidly, and tech giants like Google have an important role to play in how that technology gets adopted and developed. Sundar Pichai is the CEO of Google as well as its parent company Alphabet, which he's led as an AI-first company for several years. He speaks with HBR editor in chief Adi Ignatius about shaping Google's AI strategy, putting safeguards in place, and how work and leadership will change as AI advances.
Strategy is about making the future happen, not just reacting to it, according to author Gary Hamel. And with generative artificial intelligence, senior leaders suddenly wield an awesome new tool to change the fortunes of their organizations. The promise of generative AI is more than just a sweet hack to boost productivity and streamline operations. Its deeper potential lies in companies that rethink what they do and conjure brand-new, AI-first products and services. Simply put, generative AI is blasting open new strategic paths to create novel business opportunities, even as it brings serious risks and heightened competition. In this episode, How Generative AI Changes Strategy, HBR editor in chief Adi Ignatius speaks to Microsoft’s head of strategy Chris Young and Harvard Business School professor Andy Wu. They lay out the technology, its emerging value chains, and its main providers. They also break down the key choices and tradeoffs that large and small companies alike will be making in this fast-changing market. This is the fourth and final episode in the special series How Generative AI Changes Everything. Each week, HBR editor in chief Adi Ignatius and HBR editor Amy Bernstein have been hosting conversations with experts and business leaders about the impact of generative AI. Find those episodes on the impact on productivity, creativity, and organizational culture in the HBR IdeaCast feed. And for more on ethics in the age of AI, check out HBR’s Big Idea on implementing the new technology responsibly.
One of the first things we learn about people is what they do for a living. But the link between work and identify has moved far beyond that, especially in certain industries, geographies, and cultures. Many of us put everything we have into our jobs, expecting our careers to fulfill us. Author Simone Stolzoff argues for a different approach. He wants us to find work that keeps us engaged and gives us the security we need, while still allowing us to define ourselves in other ways. Drawing on research and real-life stories, he explains what it means to have a "good enough" job, and why this shift in thinking could be good not just for individuals but also for teams and organizations. Stolzoff is the author of The Good Enough Job: Reclaiming Life from Work.
Read just about any business history and you realize just how much a firm’s success depends on its culture. Without the right culture, you can't have successful innovation. You can't compete successfully. You can't thrive over the long term. So, if you want to lead your organization into a future that features generative artificial intelligence, you need to build the right culture for it. In this episode, How Generative AI Changes Organizational Culture, HBR editor Amy Bernstein speaks to two experts, Nitin Mittal and Tsedal Neeley, about how to adopt generative AI effectively and ethically within your organization. Mittal leads Deloitte’s global AI business and cowrote the book All-in On AI: How Smart Companies Win Big with Artificial Intelligence. Neeley is a professor at Harvard Business School and wrote the HBR article “8 Questions About Using AI Responsibly, Answered.” They discuss the risks, challenges, and emerging best practices of adapting organizational culture to generative AI. How Generative AI Changes Everything is a special series from HBR IdeaCast. Each week, HBR editor in chief Adi Ignatius and HBR editor Amy Bernstein host conversations with experts and business leaders about the impact of generative AI on productivity, creativity and innovation, organizational culture, and strategy. The episodes publish in the IdeaCast feed each Thursday in May, after the regular Tuesday episode. And for more on ethics in the age of AI, check out HBR’s Big Idea on implementing the new technology responsibly.
Comments (97)



Jul 4th

William Gerorge

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Jun 6th

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May 31st

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May 26th


Great one..🥳

May 9th

Drew W

Error at 1 minute 42 seconds: 11 million km, not 11 km

Oct 18th

Farhad Rad


Oct 1st



Oct 1st


great episode, thanks. I have a comment about the Synergy effect. Some products, especially commodity goods will have better performance selling on Amazon than on a direct channel such as the company website. Because for example, the customer wants to shop for all needed things in the kitchen or for a special event such as moving, and here she wouldn't use multiple channels and have multiple shipments on her doorstep.

Aug 26th


thanks alot

Aug 23rd
Reply (1)


thanks alot

Aug 13th


amazingly well ; i enjoyed

Aug 8th


Ms. Gerhardt's certainly has done solid groundwork in researching and understanding cultural differences within the workforce. That said, large Enterprise firms which are highly segmented and siled often view age differently then does for example a online music startup. The former will typically have a broader, and more diverse workforce both age-based, and culturally whereas in this example the music platform company by their own blog post accounts has a workforce well under 40, is this unconscious or a more deliberate form of bias? Does her research show that smaller Internet companies tend to hire people much like themselves? In my experience having worked at a large professional services firm until being Riff'd at age 60, age bias and discrimination was not even a recognized or discussed topic, during my nine years at this firm. Ethnic and cultural biases both unconscious and conscious were often discussed at great length. Lastly large firms towards the reactive and not proactiv

Mar 15th

Hosein Vahdat

Amazing episode. thanks to all, especially Antonio

Mar 9th

Slavic Jakubko

Here I am reading a lot of useful information about earning, for example, on the Internet. Your comrades will also probably not know about this site and it would be better to let them know about it and as many people as possible

Feb 23rd

Red Arrow

Nowadays, it's not easy without work!

Feb 23rd

Timo Marquez

What about when the gaslighter is the CEO ?

Jan 12th

Felipe Dutra

Great episode!! So many valuable tips!

Sep 7th


Truth is always the best policy. Thank you for this episode. #Honesty

Aug 18th

Mike Wood


Jul 13th
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