About HBR IdeaCast
A weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management.
How do you solve the world's toughest problems? Or find the next big thing in tech? Lots organizations fail to explore and take big bets on new ideas because they can't tolerate the mess of experimentation and the fear of failure. At X, Alphabet's dedicated innovation factory, they don't have that problem, and Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots at X, can explain why. Undertaking projects on everything from rural communication to ocean health to machine learning, he and his teams operate with different creative mindsets and decision-making principles than many of us. He spoke with host Alison Beard at HBR at 100: Future of Business live virtual conference.
What seemed like science fiction for decades is now a reality: companies are selling wearable tech and monitoring devices that can sense people’s brain activity. Neurotechnology opens incredible opportunities for new products and safer workplaces. It also raises huge red flags for privacy and ethics. And managers and organizational leaders are on the front lines of these dilemmas, says Duke University School of Law professor Nita Farahany. She explains the commercial products based on neurotechnology, the impact on workers and organizations, and the need for regulations and corporate policies. Farahany wrote the book The Battle for Your Brain: Defending the Right to Think Freely in the Age of Neurotechnology.
The online application ChatGPT and its integration into Microsoft search engines have put generative artificial intelligence technology in the hands of millions of people. Early adopters are using them in their daily jobs, and preliminary academic studies show big boosts in productivity. Managers can’t sit on the sidelines, says Ethan Mollick, an associate professor of management at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He argues that companies urgently need to experiment with ChatGPT and eventually develop policies for it. He explains the breakthrough, some promising uses, open questions, and what the technology could mean for workers, companies, and the broader economy. Mollick wrote the HBR article "ChatGPT Is a Tipping Point for AI."
For years, employers have used university degrees as a major requirement for hiring. But, for many jobs, success depends more on skills -- and the ability to adapt and learn -- than on piece-of-paper credentials. Ginni Rometty, former chairman and CEO of IBM, realized this early on -- first by watching her mother and other female relatives support their families and later by seeing what it took to rise to the top in her own career. At the helm of IBM from 2012 to 2020, she pushed the company to adopt skills-first recruitment and development practices, and now she's encouraging other organizations to do the same through her work at the non-profit OneTen. Rometty is coauthor of the HBR article “The New-Collar Workforce,” and the book Good Power: Leading Positive Change in Our Lives, Work, and World.
Online influencers are an increasingly important way for companies to find new customers and drive sales. Whether you're a marketer who wants to more effectively use social media or a consumer targeted by influencer content - in good ways and bad - you'll benefit from better understanding how the industry works. Emily Hund, researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, explains that it was born from not only increased connectivity but also Great Recession job cuts which forced people in creative fields to innovate. She argues that these are entrepreneurs who now have an impact on many different sectors of the economy and offers advice for both them and the brands wanting to develop better influencer marketing strategies. Hund is the author of the book The Influencer Industry: The Quest for Authenticity on Social Media.
Many people believe that leaders instinctively make the best decisions based on past experience, almost like muscle memory. But Carol Kauffman, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and the founder of the Institute of Coaching, says falling back on automatic patterns of behavior is often wrong—especially in a crisis or high-stakes choices. Instead, she explains a framework of stepping back, evaluating options, and choosing the tactics that work best in each situation. Kauffman is a coauthor, along with View Advisors founder David Noble, of the HBR article "The Power of Options" and the book Real-Time Leadership: Find Your Winning Moves When the Stakes Are High.
Whether you're someone who enjoys ruffling feathers or the type of person who'd like to challenge the status quo but shies away, you'll benefit from understanding the best, research--backed ways to practice disagreement - even insubordination - while holding onto others' respect at work. Todd Kashdan is a psychology professor at George Mason University and the author of the book The Art of Insubordination: How to Dissent and Defy Effectively. He explains how contrarians, and those with ideas that run counter to the mainstream, can pick their battles, articulate their arguments, and gain allies along the way.
From Microsoft to Google to Meta, many of the world's biggest tech companies have been announcing layoffs recently. Their explanation is usually that they overhired and need to cut costs. But Harvard Business School professor Sandra Sucher, who has been studying layoffs for years, says companies often underestimate the downsides. Layoffs don’t just come with bad publicity, she explains. They also lead to loss of institutional knowledge, weakened engagement, higher turnover, and lower innovation as remaining employees fear risk-taking. And she says it can take years for companies to catch up. Sucher is a coauthor of the HBR article "What Companies Still Get Wrong About Layoffs."
We all know that creativity is the backbone of innovation and, ultimately, business success. But we don't always think deeply about how creative people get their ideas and the steps we might take to do the same. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman, a physician and chief product and chief innovation officer at BetterUp, and Martin Seligman, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, say there are four types of creativity -- integration, splitting, figure-ground reversal, and distal thinking -- and explain how each shows up at work. Amid startling advances in artificial intelligence, people who hone these skills will set themselves apart. Kellerman and Seligman are the authors of the HBR article “Cultivating the Four Kinds of Creativity” and the book Tomorrowmind.
By hosting the podcasts How I Built This and Wisdom from the Top, Guy Raz has won an inside look at how visionary leaders build their own careers and incredible companies. While many leaders have unique qualities that help them succeed, he has identified three behaviors that consistently rise to the surface. These leaders create a culture of collaboration. They encourage risk-taking. And they allow for failure. Raz shares stories of leaders of everything from Starbucks to Proctor & Gamble.
Even in a slowing economy, the battle to attract and retain talent persists. But employers need to look beyond what people are currently demanding — whether it’s higher salaries, more stock options or the flexibility to work from home. Studies show that, over the long term, employees also find value in aspects of work that they overlook in the short term, such as community and opportunities for growth. Professor Amy Edmondson and INSEAD associate professor Mark Mortensen offer up strategies for a holistic talent acquisition and retention strategy that incorporates more lasting benefits, even if workers aren't asking for them right now. Edmondson and Mortensen are the authors of the HBR article "Rethink Your Employee Value Proposition."
It's the start of a fresh year, and optimism is in the air. But if you want happiness to extend far beyond your New Year's resolution, Robert Waldinger says you can take some inspiration from the longest-running study of happiness out there. He’s a psychiatrist who runs the Harvard Study of Adult Development. The longitudinal research has followed individuals and their families for nine decades. He shares what makes people happiest in the long run and how their work factors into that. Waldinger is the author of the new book "The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness."
From incivility for frontline workers to struggles with hybrid work to actual progress made since the murder of George Floyd, HBR IdeaCast spent 2022 sharing impactful management research and exploring the social and business trends that affect workers and leaders. Join hosts Alison Beard and Curt Nickisch as they listen in on some of their favorite interviews of the year. They share what made these conversations so memorable and insightful and why they’re still worth a listen—or a re-listen—in 2023. Alison’s and Curt’s Picks: The Positives—and Perils—of Storytelling Let’s Protect Our Frontline Workers from Rude Customers Fighting Bias and Inequality at the Team Level Sad, Mad, Anxious? How to Work Through Your ‘Big Feelings’ NASA’s Science Head on Leading Space Missions with Risk of Spectacular Failure Advice from the CEO of an All-Remote Company
In The New World of Work video series, host and HBR Editor in Chief Adi Ignatius explores how top-tier executives see the future and how their companies are trying to set themselves up for success. Each week, he interviews a top leader live on LinkedIn, and in this special IdeaCast episode, he speaks with LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky on how his company adapted during the pandemic (and after) and how he approaches growth, talent management, and more. You can browse previous episodes of The New World of Work on the HBR YouTube channel and follow HBR on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on future live interviews. Ignatius also shares an inside look at these conversations —and solicits questions for future discussions — in a newsletter just for HBR subscribers. If you’re a subscriber, you can sign up here.
For decades, actor-producer-director Ron Howard has made popular and critically acclaimed movies while also maintaining a reputation for being one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. He explains how he turned early TV gigs into long-term success and why he often involves his cast and crew members in creative decisions. His latest film is Thirteen Lives.
Managing rapid growth is a huge challenge for young businesses. Even start-ups with glowing reviews and skyrocketing sales can fail. That’s because new ventures and corporate initiatives alike have to sustain profitability at scale, according to Harvard Business School senior lecturer Jeffrey Rayport. He has researched some of the biggest stumbling blocks to long-lasting success and explains how to make the tricky transition out of the start-up phase successfully. With professors Davide Sola and Martin Kupp of ESCP Business School, Rayport cowrote the HBR article “The Overlooked Key to a Successful Scale-Up.”
Over the past few years, organizations around the world have invested in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives with varying results. But to achieve lasting change, they'll need to commit to that work for much longer, says Ella Washington, organizational psychologist and professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Her research shows that companies move toward DEI maturity in five stages (aware, compliant, tactical, integrated, and sustainable) and each takes time to work through. She explains why some organizations get stuck, and how to overcome those challenges. Washington is author of "The Necessary Journey: Making Real Progress on Equity and Inclusion" and the HBR article "The Five Stages of DEI Maturity."
From corporate social responsibility to ESG to “doing well by doing good,” an increasing number of organizations are pursuing positive social impact, and it’s not just nonprofits and government agencies. But incorporating social impact into a for-profit business raises all kinds of system dilemmas, says Jacob Harold, a cofounder of the philanthropy data platform Candid and the former CEO of GuideStar. He explains a bundle of tools that can be used together to create meaningful change. Harold wrote the new book “The Toolbox: Strategies for Crafting Social Impact.”
From videos of drunk and disorderly airline passengers to stories of hospital visitors angrily refusing to wear masks, customer-facing work seems to have gotten a lot more difficult – even dangerous -- over the past few years. It's important that organizations understand the experience of frontline workers now, and help to better protect their employees, says Christine Porath, professor of management at Georgetown University. She's studied incivility for 20 years, and has spoken to workers in many industries in the last few years about what it's like working with customers today - with stress, anger, and incivility seemingly on the rise. And she has advice for managers and leaders. Porath is the author of the HBR Big Idea article "Frontline Work When Everyone Is Angry."
Companies offer sponsorship programs to help a more diverse group of high performers and future leaders advance. But the efforts can often misfire. Herminia Ibarra, professor at London Business School, says that’s because these arranged developmental relationships can lack authenticity and meaningful paths for action. She explains the key distinctions of mentorship and sponsorship and recommends that companies focus on two vital qualities: public advocacy and relational authenticity. Ibarra wrote the HBR article “How to Do Sponsorship Right.”
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