HBR IdeaCast

HBR IdeaCast

United States

A weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management from Harvard Business Review.

Episodes

589: When to Listen to a Dire Warning  

Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism adviser to U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, has made a career of investigating disaster warnings. The way he sees it, catastrophes can happen at any time, so why should decision makers ignore a Cassandra? Now a cybersecurity firm CEO, Clarke is an expert at figuring out who is a conspiracy theorist and who is a credible source. He explains his method through a few case studies—on the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown, and others—from his new book, “Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes.”

588: When Startups Scrapped the Business Plan  

Steve Blank, entrepreneurship lecturer at Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Columbia, talks about his experience of coming to Silicon Valley and building companies from the ground up. He shares how he learned to apply customer discovery methods to emerging high technology startups. And he explains why he believes most established companies are still failing to apply lean startup methodology in their corporate innovation programs. Blank is the author of the HBR article, "Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything."

587: Build Your Portfolio Career  

Kabir Sehgal, a corporate strategist, Grammy-winning producer, investment banker, bestselling author, and military reserve officer, talks about building and thriving in a portfolio career. He discusses the benefits of pursuing diverse interests, the tradeoffs and productivity discipline demanded by that career choice, and he offers tips for managing a schedule with multiple work activities. And he argues we should stop calling these second careers "side hustles." Sehgal is the author of the HBR article, “Why You Should Have (at Least) Two Careers”.

586: How AI Is Already Changing Business  

Erik Brynjolfsson, MIT Sloan School professor, explains how rapid advances in machine learning are presenting new opportunities for businesses. He breaks down how the technology works and what it can and can’t do (yet). He also discusses the potential impact of AI on the economy, how workforces will interact with it in the future, and suggests managers start experimenting now. Brynjolfsson is the co-author, with Andrew McAfee, of the HBR Big Idea article, “The Business of Artificial Intelligence.” They’re also the co-authors of the new book, “Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future.

585: Nike's Co-founder on Innovation, Culture, and Succession  

Phil Knight, former chair and CEO of Nike, tells the story of starting the sports apparel and equipment giant after taking an entrepreneurship class at Stanford and teaming up with his former track coach, Bill Bowerman. Together (and with the help of a waffle iron) they changed how running shoes are designed and made. Knight discusses the company's enduring culture of innovation, as well as the succession process that led to former runner and Nike insider Mark Parker becoming CEO.

584: How Authority and Decision-Making Differ Across Cultures  

Erin Meyer, professor at INSEAD, discusses management hierarchy and decision-making across cultures. Turns out, these two things don’t always track together. Sometimes top-down cultures still have strong consensus-driven decision-making styles — and the other way around. Meyer helps break down and map these factors so that managers working across cultures can adapt. She’s the author of the article, "Being the Boss in Brussels, Boston, and Beijing" in the July-August 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review.

583: Mental Preparation Secrets of Top Athletes, Entertainers, and Surgeons  

Dan McGinn, senior editor at Harvard Business Review, talks about what businesspeople can learn from how top performers and athletes prepare for their big moments. In business, a big sales meeting, presentation, or interview can be pivotal to success. The same goes for pep talks that motivate employees. McGinn talks about both the research and practical applications of mental preparation and motivation. He’s the author of the book, "Psyched Up: How the Science of Mental Preparation Can Help You Succeed." His article, “The Science of Pep Talks,” is in the July-August 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review.

582: The Talent Pool Your Company Probably Overlooks  

Robert Austin, a professor at Ivey Business School, and Gary Pisano, a professor at Harvard Business School, talk about the growing number of pioneering firms that are actively identifying and hiring more employees with autism spectrum disorder and other forms of neurodiversity. Global companies such as SAP and Hewlett Packard Enterprise are customizing their hiring and onboarding processes to enable highly-talented individuals, who might have eccentricities that keep them from passing a job interview — to succeed and deliver uncommon value. Austin and Pisano talk about the challenges, the lessons for managers and organizations, and the difference made in the lives of an underemployed population. Austin and Pisano are the co-authors of the article, “Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage” in the May-June 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review.

581: Blockchain — What You Need to Know  

Karim Lakhani, Harvard Business School professor and co-founder of the HBS Digital Initiative, discusses blockchain, an online record-keeping technology that many believe will revolutionize commerce. Lakhani breaks down how the technology behind bitcoin works and talks about the industries and companies that could see new growth opportunities or lose business. He also has recommendations for managers: start experimenting with blockchain as soon as possible. Lakhani is the co-author of the article “The Truth About Blockchain” in the January-February 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review.

580: Which Type of Entrepreneur Are You?  

Chris Kuenne, entrepreneurship lecturer at Princeton, and John Danner, senior fellow at the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business talk about one of the least understood factors that leads to success at scale: the personality of the company founder. Their research describes four distinct types of highly successful entrepreneurial personalities: the Driver, the Explorer, the Crusader, and the Captain. While popular culture currently celebrates big-ego personalities in the mold of Steve Jobs, the interview guests show how different kinds of people succeed at that level. Kuenne and Danner are co-authors of the new book, “Built for Growth: How Builder Personality Shapes Your Business, Your Team, and Your Ability to Win.”

579: Why Finance Needs More Humanity, and Why Humanity Needs Finance  

Mihir Desai, professor at Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School, argues for re-humanizing finance. He says the practice of finance, with increasing quantification, has lost touch with its foundations. But he says finance can be principled, ethical, even life-affirming. And demonizing it or ignoring it means that the rest of us – those not in finance – risk misunderstanding it, which has all kinds of implications for how we make decisions and plan for our futures. Desai is the author of the new book, "The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return." He also writes about finance and the economy for hbr.org.

578: 4 Behaviors of Top-Performing CEOs  

Elena Botelho, partner at leadership advisory firm ghSmart, talks about the disconnect between the stereotype of the CEO and what research shows actually leads to high performance at that level. She says the image of the charismatic, tall male with a top university degree who’s a strategic visionary and makes great decisions under pressure is a pervasive one. However, research shows that four behaviors more consistently lead to high performance in the corner office: 1) deciding with speed and conviction 2) engaging for impact 3) adapting proactively 4) delivering reliably. Botelho is the co-author of the article “What Sets Successful CEOs Apart” in the May-June 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review.

577: Why Doesn't More of the Working Class Move for Jobs?  

Joan C. Williams, director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, discusses serious misconceptions that the U.S. managerial and professional elite in the United States have about the so-called working class. Many people conflate "working class" with "poor"--but the working class is, in fact, the elusive, purportedly disappearing middle class. Williams argues that economic mobility has declined, and explains why suggestions like “they should move to where the jobs are” or "they should just go to college" are insufficient. She has some ideas for policy makers to create more and meaningful jobs for this demographic, an influential voting bloc. Williams is the author of the new book, “White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America.”

576: How to Survive Being Labeled a Star  

Jennifer Petriglieri, professor at INSEAD, discusses how talented employees can avoid being crushed by lofty expectations -- whether their own, or others'. She has researched how people seen as "high potential" often start to feel trapped and ultimately burn out. Petriglieri discusses practical ways employees can handle this, and come to see this difficult phase as a career rite of passage. She’s the co-author of “The Talent Curse” in the May-June 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review.

575: Low-Risk, High-Reward Innovation  

Wharton professor David Robertson discusses a "third way" to innovate besides disruptive and sustaining innovations. He outlines this approach through the examples of companies including LEGO, GoPro, Victoria's Secret, USAA, and CarMax. It consists of creating a family of complementary innovations around a product or service, all of which work as a system to carry out a single strategy. Robertson's the author of "The Power of Little Ideas: A Low-Risk, High-Reward Approach to Innovation."

574: Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant on Resilience  

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg talks about returning to work after her husband’s death, and Wharton management and psychology professor Adam Grant discusses what the research says about resilience. In this joint interview, they talk about how to build resilience in yourself, your team, and your organization. They’re the authors of the new book, "Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy."

573: Our Delusions About Talent  

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psychology at University College London, dispels some of the myths that have persisted in the 20 years since McKinsey coined the phrase “war for talent.” He argues the science of talent acquisition and retention is still in its early stages. Chamorro-Premuzic is the CEO of Hogan Assessments and the author of the book “The Talent Delusion: Why Data, Not Intuition, is the Key to Unlocking Human Potential.”

572: To Reinvent Your Firm, Do Two Things at the Same Time  

DEK: Scott D. Anthony, Innosight managing partner, discusses why established corporations should be better at handling disruptive threats. He lays out a practical approach to transform a company’s existing business while creating future business. It hinges on a “capabilities link,” which means using corporate assets—that startups don’t have—to fight unfairly. He also discusses the leadership qualities of executives who effectively navigate their companies’ imminent disruption. Anthony is the coauthor of the new book, “Dual Transformation: How to Reposition Today’s Business While Creating the Future.”

571: Dealing with Conflict Avoiders and Seekers  

Amy Gallo, HBR contributing editor, discusses a useful tactic to more effectively deal with conflict in the workplace: understanding whether you generally seek or avoid conflict. Each personality style influences how you approach a particular conflict, as well as how your counterpart does. Gallo talks about how to escape the common pitfalls of conflict seekers and conflict avoiders, so that you can improve your work and your relationships. She’s the author of the “HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict.”

570: How Personalities Affect Team Chemistry  

Deloitte national managing director Kim Christfort talks about the different personality styles in an organization and the challenges of bringing them together. Her firm has developed a classification system to help companies better understand personality styles and capitalize on their cognitive diversity. She and Suzanne M. Johnson Vickberg coauthored the article, "Pioneers, Drivers, Integrators, and Guardians" in the March-April 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review.

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