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HBR On Strategy

Author: Harvard Business Review

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Business strategy isn’t a plan, it’s a framework for success.

Whether you’re building, innovating, or executing, HBR On Strategy is your destination for insights and inspiration from the world’s top experts on business strategy and innovation.

Every Wednesday, the editors at the Harvard Business Review hand-picked case studies and conversations from across HBR podcasts, videos, articles, and beyond to unlock new ways of doing business.
62 Episodes
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Booking.com was founded by a Dutch university student in 1996. It grew slowly for almost a decade. By 2011, the company was generating more than a billion dollars in profits annually — making it the most financially successful digital travel market at the time. The secret to that accelerating growth was the company’s use of large-scale testing and experimentation. In this episode, Harvard Business School professor Stefan Thomke explains how the company created and sustained a culture of innovation that challenged conventional assumptions about management and process.Key episode topics include: strategy, experimentation, innovation, travel, digital, platform. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Listen to the original Cold Call episode: At Booking.com, Innovation Means Constant Failure (2019)· Find more episodes of Cold Call· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
So much has been written about how to future-proof a strategy. But Peter Scoblic says that too many companies still rely on short-sighted strategies that don’t effectively plan for different potential future scenarios. Scoblic is a co-founder and principal of the consultancy Event Horizon Strategies. In this episode, he explains how thoughtful and ongoing scenario-planning exercises can help organizations decide which investments will allow them to thrive — even in a crisis. He also shares how to balance short-term factors with longer term modeling and why it’s so important to ensure that your planning team is truly diverse. As he says, “This is a case where diversity absolutely matters, in all senses of the word, because what you want is to get people to think outside of the box. It’s very difficult to do that if you don’t recognize the box that you’re in.” Key episode topics include: strategy, strategic planning, crisis management, scenario panning, modeling. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Listen to the full HBR IdeaCast episode: Future-Proofing Your Strategy with Scenario Planning (2020)· Find more episodes of HBR IdeaCast· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
As the CEO of one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S., Lynn Good is leading Duke Energy’s aggressive transition to renewables and net zero emissions. It’s a complex undertaking that involves short-term planning and long-term advances in technology as well as managing a wide range of stakeholders. In this episode, HBR editor-in-chief Adi Ignatius sits down with Good to discuss her strategy for Duke’s clean energy transition. They discuss how to make incremental adjustments to strategy as new technologies emerge. Good also explains how and how often she tests her assumptions, and why she nurtures collaborations both within the energy industry and beyond it. Key episode topics include: strategy, innovation, growth strategy, environmental sustainability, energy and natural resources sector, clean energy, transition, Duke Energy, technology, renewable energy, change management. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Learn more about HBR’s “Future of Business” virtual conference (November 2023)· Find more Harvard Business Review live events· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
When it comes to solving complicated problems, the default for many organizational leaders is to take their time to work through the issues at hand. Unfortunately, that often leads to patchwork solutions or problems not truly getting resolved. But Anne Morriss offers a different framework. In this episode, she outlines a five-step process for solving any problem and explains why starting with trust and ending with speed is so important for effective change leadership. As she says, “Let’s get into dialogue with the people who are also impacted by the problem before we start running down the path of solving it.” Morriss is an entrepreneur and leadership coach. She’s also the coauthor of the book, Move Fast and Fix Things: The Trusted Leader’s Guide to Solving Hard Problems. Key episode topics include: strategy, decision making and problem solving, strategy execution, managing people, collaboration and teams, trustworthiness, organizational culture, change leadership, problem solving, leadership. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Listen to the full HBR IdeaCast episode: How to Solve Tough Problems Better and Faster (2023)· Find more episodes of HBR IdeaCast· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
In today's global economy, what are the factors that go into choosing a production location? In this episode, Harvard Business School professor Willy Shih draws on his case study about China-based automotive glass maker Fuyao to discuss this core strategic question. The company must decide between two options to fulfill its upcoming contracts: its new Ohio factory or its factory based out of Tianjin, China. Unlike the Ohio factory, the Chinese factory produces below the cost target, but it also incurs extensive shipping costs and requires a far greater amount of inventory holding. Shih explains how to account for product life cycles and the length of your inventory pipelines when selecting a manufacturing location. He also discusses how to assess other possible risks that could cause delays or increase production costs—like customs delays and labor strikes.Key episode topics include: strategy, cross-cultural management, global strategy, operations and supply chain management, China, shipping, production planning, inventory pipeline. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Listen to the original HBR Cold Call episode: China-based Fuyao Glass Considers Manufacturing in the U.S. (2020)· Find more episodes of Cold Call· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
The secret to success for many Silicon Valley tech companies isn’t necessarily that they’re ultra-nimble startups, or that they’re led by tech-savvy geniuses. Andy McAfee says their success often has more to do with a specific type of corporate culture that focuses on finding unconventional solutions to hard business problems. McAfee is a principal research scientist at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and he’s the author of The Geek Way: The Radical Mindset That Drives Extraordinary Results. In this episode, he explains why business leaders need to think more like geeks and explains why it’s important to center your culture on company norms, rather than organizational structure. He also offers tips for finding that delicate balance between human judgement and data-driven insights. Key episode topics include: strategy, technology, start-ups, innovation, competitive strategy, Silicon Valley. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Watch the original HBR New World of Work episode: How the Geeks Rewrote the Rules of Management (2023)· Find more episodes of the New World of Work series on YouTube· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org ]]>
In the 1990s and 2000s, video game developer Epic Games had a string of mid-size successes. But the release of Fortnite Battle Royale in 2017 changed the company’s path forever. The game was a blockbuster. By 2019, Fortnite had registered more than 250 million users, with 10 million concurrent users. But Fortnite’s phenomenal success raised a new question for Epic: How could they turn this singular hit into a series of growth opportunities? In this episode, Harvard Business School associate professor Andy Wu explains why Epic monetized Fortnite through micro-transactions within the game, rather than charging a fee for the game itself. He also discusses how Epic’s creation of a platform, the Epic store, and a premium subscription service built on Fortnite’s success and helped to distinguish their brand from other free-play games.Key episode topics include: strategy, growth strategy, R&D, strategy execution, video games, fortnite, epic games. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Listen to the original Cold Call episode: Fortnite Was a Blockbuster for Epic Games, What’s the Encore? (2020)· Find more episodes of Cold Call· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
So much has been written about Amazon’s outsized growth. But Harvard Business School professor Sunil Gupta says it’s the company’s unusual approach to strategy that has captured his scholarly attention. Gupta has spent years studying Amazon’s strategy and its founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos.In this episode, Gupta shares how Amazon upended traditional corporate strategy by diversifying into multiple products serving many end users, instead of having a narrow focus.He argues that some of Amazon’s simplest business strategies — like their obsession with customers and insistence on long-term thinking — are approaches that companies, big and small, can emulate. Key episode topics include: strategy, innovation, leadership, scaling, Jeff Bezos, long-term thinking, customer focus. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Listen to the full HBR IdeaCast episode: How Jeff Bezos Built One of the World’s Most Valuable Companies (2020)· Find more episodes of HBR IdeaCast· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
In 1995, the late and legendary Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen introduced his theory of “disruptive innovation” right here in the pages of the Harvard Business Review. The idea inspired a generation of entrepreneurs and businesses, ranging from small start-ups to global corporations. Three decades later, debates have emerged around how the theory should be applied — especially within technology start-ups that have driven so much economic growth since 2000. In this episode, Harvard Business Review editor Amy Bernstein and a panel of expert scholars discuss the legacy of disruptive innovation, and how the common perception of disruption has drifted away from its original meaning.Expert guests include:· Harvard Business School senior lecturer and director of the Forum for Growth and Innovation Derek van Bever· Columbia Business School professor Rita McGrath· Harvard Business School professor Felix Oberholzer-Gee Key episode topics include: strategy, competitive strategy, business history, disruptive innovation, Clay Christensen, innovator’s dilemma. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Listen to the full HBR IdeaCast episode: 4 Business Ideas That Changed the World: Disruptive Innovation (2022)· Find more episodes of HBR IdeaCast· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
In February 2013, U.S. Airways announced that it would merge with American Airlines to create the world’s largest airline. During the acquisition, then-CEO Doug Parker and his board had transformative decisions to make. How should two large corporations merge their operations? Which members of each company’s C-suites should stay? How fast should they move on these changes? Parker knew that these strategic decisions would send important signals to employees, customers, and competitors. In this episode, Harvard Business School senior lecturer David Fubini breaks down the strategy underlying this historic airline industry merger. He explains how Parker approached each of these strategic decisions — especially in areas, like culture and operations, where American and U.S. Airways had huge differences.Key episode topics include: strategy, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, operations strategy, aerospace sector, airlines, leadership. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Listen to the original HBR Cold Call episode: How to Lead through a Merger: U.S. Airways and American Airlines (2021)· Find more episodes of Cold Call· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
Is your growth strategy working consistently? Strategy expert Ken Favaro says creating and sustaining growth isn’t rocket science. However, you do have to understand the difference between “organic” growth and “inorganic” alternatives, which come through a merger or acquisition. Favaro is the chief strategy officer at BERA Brand Management. Formerly he was a senior partner at Booz & Company—now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). In this episode, he argues that it’s important to focus on creating incentives for organic growth within your organization. He also explains why you should avoid typecasting your business units as “cash cows” or “growth engines” if you want them to achieve ongoing growth. Key episode topics include: strategy, operations and supply chain management, growth strategy. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Listen to the original HBR IdeaCast episode: Growth Isn’t Rocket Science (2012)· Find more episodes of HBR IdeaCast· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
For more than a century, the pharmaceutical company Roche has been headquartered in Basel, Switzerland. It’s one of more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies that have long been based there.Howard Yu, Lego Professor of Management and Innovation at IMD Business School in Switzerland, discusses how this industrial cluster is a unique example of enduring competitive advantage. He explains how these companies offer a counter-narrative to the pessimistic view that you can’t stay ahead of the competition for long.In this episode, you'll learn how these historic companies began as makers of chemical dyes and later evolved into microbiology. You’ll also learn how to repackage your company’s existing knowledge to pioneer new products and services. And you’ll learn why persistence and experimentation over the long term are prerequisites for innovation. Key episode topics include: strategy, innovation, competitive strategy, pharmaceutical industry, competitive strategy. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Listen to the full HBR IdeaCast episode: How Some Companies Beat the Competition… For Centuries (2018)· Find more episodes of HBR IdeaCast· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
So, you’ve successfully scaled your start-up and you’re growing into a mature company. What, if anything, should you retain from those early days? Harvard Business School professor Ranjay Gulati says the most successful organizations have one thing in common: a soul. “Soul” goes beyond culture, purpose, or even the founder. It’s about having three things: strategic business intent, a strong connection to customers, and a stellar employee experience. Gulati argues that if you don’t preserve these elements as you scale, you’ll lose what makes your company special. In this episode, he explains how to define the specific problem your company solves, with plenty of real-world examples from Netflix, Apple, and Warby Parker. You’ll also learn how to bring the voice of customers into your organization and ensure that your employees feel connected to them. Key episode topics include: strategy, entrepreneurship, organizational culture, start-up, scaling. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Listen to the full HBR IdeaCast episode: Finding (and Keeping) Your Company’s Soul (2019)· Find more episodes of HBR IdeaCast· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
How to Fail Right

How to Fail Right

2024-03-1336:54

We all know Silicon Valley’s mantra: fail fast, fail often. But when is it OK to fail in the real world? Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson says it depends on how and why you fail. She’s an expert on psychological safety and the author of the book, Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well. In this episode, she explains the difference between good and bad types of failures. One has to do with experimentation, while the other is rooted in inattention or lack of training. Edmondson also explores the downsides of not experimenting enough because your team fears failure. Key episode topics include: strategy, psychology, business failures, psychological safety, experimentation. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Watch the original HBR New World of Work episode: It's OK to Fail, but You Have to Do It Right (2023)· Find more episodes of the New World of Work series on YouTube· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
Think of CEOs who have made strong rates of return for investors and built durable businesses. What strategies do you associate with their success? Investor and author William Thorndike studied eight CEOs who outperformed the market and their peers. The group included big names, like Warren Buffet and Katharine Graham, but also other leaders who are virtually unknown today. One example is Henry Singleton, an MIT-educated electrical engineer who led Teledyne Technologies from 1960 to 1986. Thorndike noticed that these eight iconoclastic leaders all took a similar approach to capital allocation. They focused on investing their companies’ profits to repurchase their own stock when prices were optimal. But they generally avoided very large acquisitions, accruing debt, and paying dividends. In this episode, you’ll learn how effective capital allocation strategies, like the ones used by these leaders, can generate wealth for shareholders. Thorndike is the author of The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success. Key episode topics include: strategy, strategic planning, entrepreneurship, operations and supply chain management, leadership, capital allocation, debt, dividends, stock buybacks, acquisitions. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Listen to the full HBR IdeaCast episode: How Unusual CEOs Drive Value (2014)· Find more episodes of HBR IdeaCast· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
In 2020, Kwame Spearman left his consulting job in New York City to take over an iconic independent bookstore, the Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, Colorado—his hometown. Spearman saw an opportunity to reinvent the local business to build a community space after the pandemic. But to keep the store successful, he had figure out how to compete with online retailers and big box stores, amid technological change and shifting business models. In this episode, Harvard Business School associate professor Ryan Raffaelli is joined by Spearman to discuss his case, “Kwame Spearman at Tattered Cover: Reinventing Brick-and-Mortar Retail.” He and Spearman explain how to set sustainable wages for employees and why community engagement is a key part of the store’s strategy for growth. Key episode topics include: strategy, leadership, marketing, innovation, retail and consumer goods, books, wages, community engagement. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Listen to the original HBR Cold Call episode: Reinventing an Iconic Independent Bookstore (2022)· Find more episodes of Cold Call· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
Does your company have a strategy for working with investors?Whether your company is big or small, IBM’s former CEO Sam Palmisano says it’s essential to build relationships with your shareholders before there’s a specific problem to address.In this episode, you’ll learn how to communicate with your investors to meet their needs — without needing to change your strategy. When Palmisano was leading IBM, he offered investors detailed multi-year projections of revenue growth, rather than quarterly outlooks. This approach helped to keep the company’s focus on the long term. As he describes, “We needed to give [investors] something that worked for us and our management system and our strategy, but also was simpler and clearer so they could decide what investments they would like to make.”You’ll also learn how Palmisano approached his role as CEO in shareholder meetings in order to send the right message to both shareholders and employees. Key episode topics include: strategy, leadership, growth, growth strategy, economics, investors, Wall Street, shareholders, IBM. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Listen to the full HBR IdeaCast episode: How to Manage Wall Street (2014)· Find more episodes of HBR IdeaCast· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
Efficiency is usually something businesses strive for, but is it possible to be too efficient? Roger Martin is professor emeritus at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. He warns that an obsession with eliminating inefficiencies in U.S. companies has come with social and economic costs. He sees those downsides in everything from staffing to wages and even corporate debt levels. But he argues that it’s not too late for businesses to change their priorities. In this episode, Martin helps leaders understand how to shift their thinking to connect excess resources in the shorter term with a positive outcome: long-term resilience. Martin also explains why it’s important to avoid the strategy trap of setting and meeting singular goals. Key episode topics include: strategy, business and society, operations and supply chain management, efficiency, corporate debt, wages, staffing, inequality, goals. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Listen to the full HBR IdeaCast episode: When Efficiency Goes Too Far (2020)· Find more episodes of HBR IdeaCast· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
When Hubert Joly became CEO of Best Buy in 2012, online retailers like Amazon were exploding in popularity, and Best Buy was facing a sea change.But Joly famously turned around the struggling electronics retailer by changing the organization’s holistic strategy. He prioritized fair pay for workers, opportunities for employees to advance, and working with consumers, the larger community, and even competitors.In this episode, you’ll learn how Joly re-defined Best Buy’s purpose and aligned incentives with that larger strategy. You’ll also learn how he found mutually beneficial ways for the company to work with competitors and suppliers, including Amazon, the e-commerce giant that once threatened the company’s survival. Key episode topics include: strategy, business management, corporate social responsibility, leadership and managing people, retail strategy, leading through change, leadership transition, innovation, customer service. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Listen to the full HBR IdeaCast episode: Best Buy’s Hubert Joly on Walking the Talk of Stakeholder Capitalism (2021)· Find more episodes of HBR IdeaCast· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
Careem launched as the “Uber of the Middle East” in Dubai in 2012, with a mission to make life and work better for drivers in the region. Despite technical, cultural, and financial challenges, Careem eventually became the Middle East’s first unicorn start-up, valued at more than a billion dollars. It was acquired by Uber in 2019 for $3.1 billion. In this episode, Harvard Business School professor Shikhar Ghosh discusses his case, “Careem: Raising a Unicorn.” He explains how the company scaled its operations and expanded from Dubai into Africa and South Asia. That growth required many small and large innovations—from creating their own localized version of Google maps to forging relationships with local and national governments.Key episode topics include: strategy, growth strategy, innovation, technology, ride share, startup, Middle East, scaling, recruiting. HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week. · Listen to the original HBR Cold Call episode: Careem: Riding the First Unicorn in the Middle East (2018)· Find more episodes of Cold Call· Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org]]>
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Comments (3)

Nihal Bin Abbas

digital marketing strategist https://nihalmp.com/

Feb 8th
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malutty malu

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Feb 5th
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armen shahmirian

there are definitely reasons behind why this video and its topic was the most viewd one on HBR. I think Roger has by far transformed the boundaries of strategy more than anybody else. He has made strategy simple and concrete.

May 4th
Reply