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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.
730 Episodes
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Kim Scott, a cofounder of the executive coaching firm Radical Candor, says that too many managers give meaningless positive feedback, while many others are highly critical without showing any understanding. Scott, who previously worked at Google and has consulted for Twitter and Dropbox, says leaders should learn to give honest feedback in the moment, while also developing a relationship that shows how the hard feedback is coming from a place of caring. She explains the steps managers can take to challenge more directly while also communicating empathy. Scott is the author of the book "Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity."
Laura Huang, associate professor at Harvard Business School, has studied groups that face bias in the workplace, from entrepreneurs with accents to women and people of color. She says that the best way for individuals to overcome this type of adversity is to acknowledge and harness it, so it plays to their advantage instead of holding them back. Start by recognizing your outsider status and the preconceived notions others might have about you, then surprise them by showing how you defy their expectations and can offer unique value. Huang is the author of the book "Edge: Turning Adversity Into Advantage."
Stefan Thomke, professor at Harvard Business School, says running experiments can give companies tremendous value, but too often business leaders make decisions based on intuition. While A/B testing on large transaction volumes is common practice at Google, Booking.com, and Netflix, Thomke says even small firms can get a competitive advantage from experiments. He explains how to introduce, run, and learn from them, as well as how to cultivate an experimental mindset at your organization. Thomke is the author of the book "Experimentation Works: The Surprising Power of Business Experiments" and the HBR article "Building a Culture of Experimentation."
Henry Chesbrough, adjunct professor at the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business, coined the term "open innovation" over a decade ago. This is the practice of sourcing ideas outside your own organization as well as sharing your own research with others. However, he says that despite a booming economy in Silicon Valley, companies aren't executing on open innovation as well as they should. They are outsourcing, but not collaborating, and fewer value-added new products and services are being created as a result. He's the author of the book "Open Innovation Results: Going Beyond the Hype and Getting Down to Business".
In this repeat episode, we honor the legacy of HBS professor Clayton Christensen, who passed away on January 23, 2020. The legendary management thinker was best known for his influential theory of “disruptive innovation,” which inspired a generation of executives and entrepreneurs. This HBR IdeaCast interview was originally published in 2016.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter, professor at Harvard Business School, believes the world demands a new kind of business leader. She says so-called “advanced leaders” work inside and outside their companies to tackle big issues such as climate change, public health, and social inequality. She gives real-life examples and explains how business leaders can harness their experience, networks, innovative approaches, and the power of their organizations to solve challenging problems. Kanter is the author of the book "Think Outside the Building: How Advanced Leaders Can Change the World One Small Innovation at a Time."
Joan Williams, professor and the founding director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, says that it's extremely difficult for organizations to rid their workforces of the unconscious biases that can prevent women and minorities from advancing. But it's not so hard for individual managers to interrupt bias within their own teams. She offers specific suggestions for how bosses can shift their approach in four areas: hiring, meetings, assignments, and reviews/promotions. Leaders who employ these practices, she argues, are able to embrace and reap the advantages of diversity, even in the absence of larger organizational directives. Williams is the author of the HBR article "How the Best Bosses Interrupt Bias on Their Teams."
Horst Schulze, cofounder of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, started out cleaning ashtrays as a busboy before working his way up through some of the world's best hotels and becoming COO of Ritz-Carlton and later CEO of Capella Hotel Group. He shares the principles of stellar customer service to which he credits his success — and explains how they apply to every business. Schulze is the author of the book "Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise.”
James Clear, entrepreneur and author, says that the way we go about trying to form new habits and break bad ones — at work or home — is all wrong. Many people, he says, focus on big goals without thinking about the small steps they need to take along the way. Just like saving money, habits accrue compound interest: when you do 1% more or different each day or week, it eventually leads to meaningful improvement. So if you’ve made a resolution for the new year or have an idea for how to propel your career forward at any time, these strategies will help. Clear is the author of the book "Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results."
Nancy McKinstry, CEO of Wolters Kluwer, has successfully shifted her company’s business to digital products over 15 years. The Dutch multinational started in the 1830s as a publishing house and now earns more than 90% of its revenue from digital. McKinstry explains how her firm kept investing in product innovation – and how she learned to be patient as consumers slowly adopted new products and services. She also credits the role of increased diversity in her organization. McKinstry is the top woman in HBR’s 2019 list of the world’s best-performing chief executives.
Wayne Baker, professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, has spent much of his career researching the best way to effectively ask for help at work. Whether you're soliciting support on a tricky assignment or more resources for your team, it can feel uncomfortable to approach bosses and colleagues with hat in hand. But we rarely get what we need or want without asking for it. Baker highlights some of the most effective strategies for defining your goal, figuring out who to ask, and crafting your message so it will be positively received. He is also the author of the book “All You Have to Do Is Ask: How to Master the Most Important Skill for Success.”
Dashun Wang, associate professor at Kellogg School of Management, crunched big datasets of entrepreneurs, scientists, and even terrorist organizations to better understand the fine line between failure and success. One surprising finding is that people who experience early failures often become more accomplished than counterparts who achieve early successes. Another insight is that the pace of failure is an indicator of the tipping point between stagnation and eventual success. Wang is a coauthor of the study in the journal Nature: “Quantifying the dynamics of failure across science, startups and security.”
Thomas Parenty and Jack Domet, cofounders of the cybersecurity firm Archefact Group, say that most organizations are approaching cybersecurity all wrong. Whether they're running small companies or working in multinational corporations, leaders have to think beyond their IT department and technology systems to instead focus on protecting their businesses' most important assets from attack. They need to work across functions and geographies to identify key risks, imagine potential threats and adversaries, and develop a plan for combating them. Parenty and Domet are the authors of the HBR article “Sizing up your Cyber Risks,” as well as the HBR Press book "A Leader’s Guide to Cybersecurity."
Esther Duflo, an MIT economist, won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for her experimental approach to alleviating global poverty. Duflo’s early life working at a non-governmental organization in Madagascar and volunteering in soup kitchens in her native France inspired her to study economics and research the root causes of poverty. With her fellow Nobel winners Abhijit Banerjee of MIT and Michael Kremer of Harvard, Duflo showed that effective policies often go against conventional wisdom and popular economic models. The only way to find out what works, she argues, is to rigorously test solutions on the ground, and she encourages businesses to do the same. With Banerjee, Duflo also wrote the new book "Good Economics for Hard Times."
Pauline Brown, former chairman of North America for the luxury goods company LVMH, argues that in additional to traditional and emotional intelligence, great leaders also need to develop what she calls aesthetic intelligence. This means knowing what good taste is and thinking about how your services and products stimulate all five senses to create delight. Brown argues that in today's crowded marketplace, this kind of AI is what will set companies apart -- and not just in the consumer products and luxury sectors. B2B or B2C, small or large, digital or bricks-and-mortar, all organizations need to hire and train people to think this way. Brown is the author of the book "Aesthetic Intelligence: How to Boost It and Use It in Business and Beyond."
Sari Wilde, a managing vice president at Gartner, studied 5,000 managers and identified four different types of leaders. The surprising result is that the “always on” manager is less effective at developing employees, even though many companies encourage supervisors to give constant feedback. Instead, the “connector” manager is the most effective, because they facilitate productive interactions across the organization. Wilde explains what the best connector managers do, how to be one, and how to work for one. With Jaime Roca, Wilde wrote the book “The Connector Manager: Why Some Leaders Build Exceptional Talent -- and Others Don’t.”
Steven Rogelberg, a professor at UNC Charlotte, has spent decades researching workplace meetings and reports that many of them are a waste of time. Why? Because the vast majority of managers aren't trained in or reviewed on effective meeting management. He explains how leaders can improve meetings -- for example, by welcoming attendees as if they were party guests or banning use of the mute button on conference calls -- and how organizations can support these efforts with better practices and policies, from creating meeting-free days to appointing a Chief Meeting Officer. Rogelberg is the author of the book "The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance" and the HBR article "Why Your Meetings Stink -- And What To Do About It."
Ethan Bernstein, associate professor at Harvard Business School, studied how coworkers interacted before and after their company moved to an open office plan. The research shows why open workspaces often fail to foster the collaboration they’re designed for. Workers get good at shutting others out and their interactions can even decline. Bernstein explains how companies can conduct experiments to learn how to achieve the productive interactions they want. With Ben Waber of Humanyze, Bernstein wrote the HBR article "The Truth About Open Offices."
Scott Young, who gained fame for teaching himself the four-year MIT computer science curriculum in just 12 months, says that the type of fast, focused learning he employed is possible for all of us -- whether we want to master coding, become fluent in a foreign language, or excel at public speaking. And, in a dynamic, fast-paced business environment that leaves so many of us strapped for time and struggling to keep up, he believes that the ability to quickly develop new knowledge and skills will be a tremendous asset. After researching best practices and experimenting on his own, he has developed a set of principles that any of us can follow to become "ultralearners." Young is the author of the book "Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career."
On The Anxious Achiever, Morra Aarons-Mele explores the way anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues affect people at work – for better or worse. In this episode, she speaks with clinical psychologist Ellen Hendriksen and Arvind Rajan, the CEO of Cricket Health, about the tension between work and social anxiety. "The Anxious Achiever with Morra Aarons-Mele" is part of HBR Presents, a new network of business podcasts curated by HBR editors. For our full lineup of shows, search “HBR” on your favorite podcast app or visit hbr.org/podcasts.
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Comments (45)

Emine Kucukbenli

One of the worst episodes I'm afraid.. the main message is a five minutes summary at best. sadly the guest goes around some questions that could actually expand the subject and make the episode worth listening.

Jan 29th
Reply

saikrishna katta

best podcast♥️

Jan 9th
Reply

Rick Johnson

Nice refresher on not being afraid to ask for assistance.

Dec 26th
Reply (1)

Rick Johnson

Enjoy her approach to marketing and operations. It forces the employer to slow down and become mindful than throw money at the problem or look for the low hanging fruit.

Dec 20th
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Surya Prakash

An excellent succinct quantitatively supporting research to follow the slogan of "Failing Fast". The Tipping point of success region and stagnation region. Demystifying that not all failures lead to successes and that what we need to do after we encounter each failure. And that the difference between failure and success is not "black and white" but a very thin line.

Dec 20th
Reply

Rick Johnson

Good info.

Dec 20th
Reply (1)

Michel Depière

This person speaks from an ivory tower. She combines thoughts of user experience, branding, emotional marketing and the basics of connecting with a potential customer. In a world where choice of similar products is abundant a good marketer find the connection on emotion and not solely on merit of the product. Please spend a week in a good marketing crew and not only talk to c level people and you'll get a totally different view.

Dec 10th
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Alexey Shifman

Thanks for interesting ideas. Wonderful to see the ways for improvements

Nov 22nd
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M D (Dashka)

awesome

Nov 8th
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Rohit Vichare

not quite intuitive

Aug 29th
Reply

Rajnish Kumar

I am stilll not convinced how business intent is different from mission and vision. It would be really great if prof. can explain it with some examples.

Aug 26th
Reply

Luiza Holban-Fediuc

Inspiring episode

Aug 21st
Reply

Mauro Costa Neto

Great content

Jun 7th
Reply

David Young

It's ok podcast but it's full of endless episodes of some lecturer plugging a new book they wrote. Also would love some proper real-world business discussion as these academics seem too detached.

Jun 4th
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Niclas Daniels

#blueoceanstrategy

Apr 11th
Reply

Breechay Wi

great episode

Mar 26th
Reply

tej singh

Some great insights on how operational transparency can created a value enhancing effect on the business and a deeper connection between customers and the employees of the company some of who have never seen each other. good work and thanks for the efforts.

Mar 17th
Reply (1)

CJ

I moved from the US to China. It’s been amazing and part of the reason is because I have so much more free time to do things that I enjoy because labor is really cheap here. I “outsource” all of those chores and responsibilities that I used to do in the US and just have much more time now. For example, we have maid services that’s like the equivalent of $5 per hour, so I never have to clean my apartment anymore. I have a nanny now who helps us cook dinner and take care of changing diapers and feeding our son, so I can spend more time reading and playing with him. It’s honestly made my life much more enjoyable, that I can’t imagine my life without these time saving services.

Mar 16th
Reply

Sriram Sreedhar

nice 👍

Mar 14th
Reply

AJAN LAL SHRESTHA

wow!

Feb 26th
Reply
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