HBR IdeaCast

Harvard Business Review


A weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management.

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931 episodes

Why Managers Play Favorites – and How They Can Change

While most good bosses try to be fair and balanced with their direct reports, it's only human to prefer the company and work styles of some team members over others, and employees are keenly aware of those preferences. They see favorites and non-favorites, ingroups and outgroups -- and when those divisions fester, they can destroy team culture and performance. Ginka Toegel, professor at IMD Business School, explains why even well-intentioned managers succumb to favoritism, how workers on both sides are affected, and what we can do to both avoid and rectify the problem. Toegel is the coauthor of the HBR article "Stop Playing Favorites."

Jun 18
Tech at Work: The Future of Spatial Computing

Managing technology has never been more challenging. HBR IdeaCast’s new special series, Tech at Work, offers research, stories, and advice to make technology work for you and your team. This week: how to prepare your company for the future of spatial computing.

Jun 13
Yum! Brands’ Former CEO on Why You Should Never Stop Learning

After 15 years leading the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, David Novak wanted to help others become better leaders. He believes the key is to put learning at the center of everything you do, whether you’re an entry-level worker or a multinational executive. Novak outlines three main areas for learning: from your own life experiences, from the people and situations available right now, and from the habit of curiosity. Above all, he says the most effective leaders turn their learnings into action, something that takes insight and practice. Novak’s new book is How Leaders Learn: Master the Habits of the World's Most Successful People.

Jun 11
Why You Need to Stress Test Your Strategies (and Tactics)

While many teams and organizations engage in scenario planning, most don't go far enough. Arjan Singh, consultant and adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University, says a more disciplined approach, borrowed from the military, can help leaders truly test how their strategies, operations, and tactics hold up against competitors, shifting market dynamics, and unexpected events. He's helped hundreds of companies identify risks and find new ways to innovate by leading them through corporate war games, and he explains his process and results. Singh is the author of the book Competitive Success: Building Winning Strategies with Corporate War Games.

Jun 04
Tech at Work: How to Get the Most out of Digital Collaboration Tools

Managing technology has never been more challenging. HBR IdeaCast’s new special series, Tech at Work, offers research, stories, and advice to make technology work for you and your team. This week: how your team can get the most out of digital collaboration tools.

May 30
What Venture Capitalists Can Teach Companies About Decision-Making

Venture capital firms notoriously embrace risk and take big swings, hoping that one startup will become a monster hit that pays for many other failed investments. This VC approach scares established companies, but it shouldn’t. Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Ilya Strebulaev says that VC firms have proven best practices that all leaders should apply in their own companies. He explains exactly how VC’s operationalize risk, embrace disagreement over consensus, and stay agile in their decision-making—all valuable lessons that apply outside of Silicon Valley. With author Alex Dang, Strebulaev cowrote the new book The Venture Mindset: How to Make Smarter Bets and Achieve Extraordinary Growth and the HBR article "Make Decisions with a VC Mindset."

May 28
How to Navigate Change at Any Career Stage

Disruption and transformation at the new normal in nearly every industry. So how do you stay ahead of the curve?  Over the past four decades, Bonnie Hammer  successfully adapted to massive changes in the media industry, rising from production assistant to leadership roles in broadcast, cable, and streaming. Now vice chair of NBCUniversal, she has advice on how to get noticed, acquire the right skillsets, make smart decisions, and adjust to shifting corporate and market dynamics. She's the author of the book 15 Lies Women Are Told at Work: ...and the Truth We Need to Succeed.

May 21
Tech at Work: How the End of Cookies Will Transform Digital Marketing

Managing technology has never been more challenging. HBR IdeaCast’s new special series, Tech at Work, offers research, stories, and advice to make technology work for you and your team. This week: how digital marketers are preparing for the end of third-party cookies—and what this change means for the open Internet.

May 16
The Hidden Burden of Long Covid and What Companies Can Do

Around 18 million adults in the U.S. alone suffer from long Covid, a chronic illness with a wide range of symptoms and severity. With approved therapies a long way off, workers with long Covid often struggle in silence. And most companies have neither a good understanding of the situation nor effective policies in place, say MIT research scientist Beth Pollack and Vanguard University professor Ludmila Praslova. They share the conditions associated with long Covid, what life is like for those workers, and the accommodations and flexibility they recommend HR leaders and organizations implement. Pollack and Praslova are coauthors with researcher Katie Bach of the HBR Big Idea article “Long Covid at Work: A Manager's Guide.”

May 14
Behind the Boom in Celebrity Brands

There was a time when consumer goods companies paid musicians, athletes, and actors for endorsements, or to license their name and likeness. But in recent years, there's been an explosion of celebrities getting into business directly, selling everything from shapewear to tequila. Ayelet Israeli, professor at Harvard Business School, says the growth of social media and online, direct-to-consumer retail accelerated this trend, but notes that not all celebrity brands are a success. She explains what works and doesn't, and outlines lessons for non-famous entrepreneurs and established companies. Israeli is coauthor of the HBR article "What Makes a Successful Celebrity Brand?"

May 07
Tech at Work: What GenAI Means for Companies Right Now

Managing technology has never been more challenging. HBR IdeaCast’s new special series, Tech at Work, offers research, stories, and advice to make technology work for you and your team. This week: how your team can get the most out of working with generative AI.

May 02
How Bad Leaders Get Worse over Time

There's plenty of advice on how to grow into a better leader. And it takes effort to become more effective. But bad leadership gets worse almost effortlessly, says Barbara Kellerman, a Center for Public Leadership Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School. She shares real examples from the public and private sectors of how bad leaders spiral downward, and how bad followership enables that negative trend. She gives her advice for recognizing and avoiding ineffective and unethical leaders. Kellerman is the author of the new book Leadership from Bad to Worse: What Happens When Bad Festers.

Apr 30
Special Series: Tech at Work

Managing technology has never been more challenging. HBR IdeaCast’s new special series, Tech at Work, offers research, stories, and advice to make technology work for you and your team. Listen every other Thursday starting May 2 in the HBR IdeaCast feed, after the regular Tuesday episode.

Apr 25
Feeling Unmotivated? Here’s How to Get Out of the Rut

Worker disengagement is on the rise around the world. Even those of us who generally like our jobs sometimes find it hard to muster energy and focus. So what's the key to regaining motivation? Harvard Business School professor Boris Groysberg and research associate Robin Abrahams share a four part process to help you get your groove back: detachment, empathy, action and reframing. They offer simple tips like thinking in the third person, helping others, and gamification to help get back on track. Groysberg and Abrahams are the authors of the HBR article "Advice for the Unmotivated."

Apr 23
Are You Asking the Right Questions?

Few leaders have been trained to ask great questions. That might explain why they tend to be good at certain kinds of questions, and less effective at other kinds. Unfortunately, that hurts their ability to pursue strategic priorities. Arnaud Chevallier, strategy professor at IMD Business School, explains how leaders can break out of that rut and systematically ask five kinds of questions: investigative, speculative, productive, interpretive, and subjective. He shares real-life examples of how asking the right sort of question at a key time can unlock value and propel your organization. With his IMD colleagues Frédéric Dalsace and Jean-Louis Barsoux, Chevallier wrote the HBR article "The Art of Asking Smarter Questions."

Apr 16
A Roadmap for Today’s Entrepreneurs

Many people aspire to entrepreneurship but we all know it's a high-risk endeavor. Bill Aulet, the Ethernet Inventors Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management, has for decades studied what it takes for start-ups to succeed and advises the next generation of founders on how to do it. He discusses the key trends and changes he's seen over the past few years, and outlines concrete steps anyone can take to get a new venture -- including those within larger organizations -- off the ground. Aulet is the author of the newly updated book Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup.

Apr 09
Treat Email Like Laundry — and Other Tips from Google’s Productivity Expert

The amount of work we need to get done seems to grow daily. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, we have to become more productive than ever. Laura Mae Martin has advice on what has worked well at one of the biggest organizations in the world. She's the Executive Productivity Advisor at Google and shares the practical ways she helps her colleagues and company executives manage their time, calendars, email inboxes, and more. Martin is the author of the new book Uptime: A Practical Guide to Personal Productivity and Wellbeing.

Apr 02
Why the Glass Cliff Persists

It's been nearly two decades since the term "glass cliff" was coined; it refers to the tendency for women to break through the glass ceiling to top management roles only when there is a big crisis to overcome, which makes it more difficult for them to succeed. In short, senior female leaders are often set up to fail — and this continues to happen today, as recent examples from business, politics, and academia show. Sophie Williams, a former C-suite advertising executive and global leader at Netflix, has researched why the glass cliff remains a problem and offers advice for women facing them — as well as lessons for the broader corporate world. She's the author of the book "The Glass Cliff: Why Women in Power Are Undermined - and How to Fight Back."

Mar 26
Why Leaders Need to Value Their Retirement-Age Workforce

A growing number of workers are reaching retirement age around the globe. At the same time, many countries face a worker shortage, especially in critical areas like health care. Ken Dychtwald, cofounder and CEO of Age Wave, says it’s time for companies to stop overlooking this valuable labor pool, because AI alone won't alleviate the tight supply. He explains why many late-career people want to work longer. And he shares creative and often simple ways that companies can keep older workers engaged, including phased retirements, non-ageist recruiting, mentorship programs, and grandparental leave. Dychtwald is a coauthor of the HBR article "Redesigning Retirement."

Mar 19
What’s Your Interviewing Style?

There's a lot of advice out there on how to get job interviews right, whether you're the one trying to get hired or the one evaluating the candidates. But the dos and don'ts aren't always applicable to every person. In fact, author Anna Papalia thinks we're better served by understanding and leveraging our own natural interviewing style. Having spent years as a corporate recruiter, organizational consultant, and coach to students and professions, she's conducted thousands of real and mock interviews and noticed that people tend to fall into one of four categories: charmer, examiner, challenger, or harmonizer.  She outlines the strengths and weaknesses of each and explains how this framework can help us get better from both sides of the desks. Papalia wrote the book "Interviewology: The New Science of Interviewing."

Mar 12
To Negotiate Better, Start with Yourself

The coauthor of the classic book Getting to Yes has new advice on how to negotiate, designed for a world that feels more conflicted than ever. William Ury, cofounder of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation, has come to learn that the biggest obstacle in a negotiation is often yourself—not your opponent. Ury, who also coined the term BATNA, explains the latest thinking from his research and consulting. He shares his tried-and-true methods for overcoming yourself to negotiate better outcomes at work and in life. Ury wrote the new book Possible: How We Survive (and Thrive) in an Age of Conflict.

Mar 05
Rethinking Growth at All Costs

Many companies, especially in the tech world, have come to embrace the idea of growth at all costs. But according to research from Gary Pisano, professor at Harvard Business School, most firms fail to consistently increase revenues and profits over the long term, adjusting for inflation. He says that it’s important for leaders to think more strategically about not just the rate of growth they want to achieve but the direction they want to grow in and their method for doing so. Trying to grow too fast can be the downfall of many organizations. He shares examples of companies that have fallen into this trap, as well as those getting the balance right.  Pisano wrote the HBR article "How Fast Should Your Company Really Grow?"

Feb 27
Companies Can Win by Reducing Overwork

Organizations regularly reward devoted workers who put in long hours. At the same time, “always-on” communication spurred by the pandemic and new digital tools encourage workaholism. But research shows that it’s not just individuals who are harmed by overworking. Their employers are, too. Malissa Clark, associate professor and head of the Healthy Work Lab at the University of Georgia, explains how companies unwittingly create a workaholic culture — one that ultimately backfires with higher turnover and disengaged employees. She shares what companies can easily do to change that. Clark wrote the new book Never Not Working: Why the Always-On Culture Is Bad for Business--and How to Fix It.

Feb 20
When Should Companies Weigh in on Contentious Issues?

In a globally connected and highly politicized world, organizations are increasingly expected to comment on social, political, and environmental issues. But taking a stance doesn't always make business sense and can backfire when employees or consumers see a disconnect between leaders’ words and actions. Alison Taylor, associate professor at New York University, says there's a better way to make decisions on corporate speech, which includes involving workers in the process. Taylor is the author of the HBR book Higher Ground: How Business Can Do the Right Thing in a Turbulent World and the HBR article “Corporate Advocacy in a Time of Social Outrage.”

Feb 13
Stuck on a Problem? Try Switching Up Your Approach

Many leaders confidently go about tackling challenges. After all, relying on their experience got them to where they are. But taking the same approach over and over again can actually hold you back. Sometimes you need to switch up your tactics to break through to the next level. Decision-making expert Cheryl Strauss Einhorn says the first step is to understand your personal problem-solving style. Then she explains a framework to assess the situation and select the best approach. Einhorn is founder and CEO of Decisive. She also wrote the book Problem Solver: Maximizing Your Strengths to Make Better Decisions and the HBR article “When Your Go-To Problem-Solving Approach Fails.”

Feb 06
How to Reduce the Friction that Hurts You — and Harness the Friction that Helps

Organizations too often subject their employees and customers to unnecessary friction that creates inefficiency and causes frustration. But, in some situations, friction can be a positive force, spurring more innovation and better decision-making. So how do you reduce the bad kind and embrace the good?  Stanford professors Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao have studied this problem for seven years and offer strategies for leaders at every level to help them recognize when friction is needed or not and then add or subtract accordingly. They share ample examples of people and companies getting it right. Sutton and Rao are the authors of The Friction Project: How Smart Leaders Make the Right Things Easier and the Wrong Things Harder, as well as the HBR article, "Rid Your Organization of Obstacles that Infuriate Everyone."

Jan 30
What the New Freelance Economy Means for Your Talent Strategy

The rapid pace of technological change is making a big impact on hiring. Some organizations are dynamically securing freelance workers through platform apps like Upwork and Freelancer. Other companies are investing heavily in work enabled by artificial intelligence. John Winsor and Jin Paik say these structural changes call for a reimagining of your talent strategy — one that is open to flexible, project-based work for talent inside or outside your organization — and they explain how to go about it. Winsor is the founder and chair of Open Assembly and an executive-in-residence at the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard. Paik is a cofounder and managing partner at the AI consultancy Altruistic and a visiting research scientist at Harvard Business School. Together, they wrote the book Open Talent: Leveraging the Global Workforce to Solve Your Biggest Challenges and the HBR article "Do You Need an External Talent Cloud?"

Jan 23
Making Peace with Your Midlife, Mid-career Self

Research shows that happiness bottoms out for people in their mid to late 40s. We might struggle with mid-career slumps, caring for both children and aging parents, and existential questions about whether everything has turned out as we'd planned. But Chip Conley says we can approach this phase of our personal and profesional lives with a different perspective. He's a former hospitality industry CEO and founder of the Modern Elder Academy, and he explains how to reframe our thinking about middle age, find new energy, and become more fulfilled and successful people at work and home. Conley wrote the book Learning to Love Midlife: 12 Reasons Why Life Gets Better with Age.

Jan 16
Supercharge Your One-on-One Meetings

Most good bosses know that they should schedule regular one-on-ones with each of their team members. But fewer know exactly how to manage these meetings well, in part because organizations rarely offer relevant training. Steven Rogelberg, Chancellor's Professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has spent years researching the best way to prepare for, structure, engage in, and follow up on one-on-ones. He says they're a key way to boost performance, and offers tips for ensuring that we all get more out of them. Rogelberg is author of the book Glad We Met: The Art and Science of 1:1 Meetings.

Jan 09
The Best Return-to-Office Policies Aren’t One-Size-Fits-All

A growing number of companies are mandating office time for employees and structuring hybrid work under broad, rigid rules. But pushing people into the office is a mistake, argues Kimberly Shells, a senior director in the Gartner HR practice. She shares research showing how much flexibility and autonomy and belonging workers want. And Shells says organizations can still foster those qualities in an in-person office culture that also improves productivity and collaboration. She explains that companies should follow through on a clear purpose and craft policies that allow for options, flexibility, offsite team-building events, and support services such as on-site childcare. Shells cowrote the HBR article “Return-to-Office Plans Don’t Have to Undermine Employee Autonomy.”

Jan 02