In The News

Uber Can't be fixed- It's Time for its Regulators To Shut It Down

From many passengers’ perspective, Uber is a godsend — lower fares than taxis, clean vehicles, courteous drivers, easy electronic payments. Yet the company’s mounting scandals reveal something seriously amiss, culminating in last week’s stern report from former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Some people attribute the company’s missteps to the personal failings of founder-CEO Travis Kalanick. These have certainly contributed to the company’s problems, and his resignation is probably appropriate. Kalanick and other top executives signal by example what is and is not acceptable behavior, and they are clearly responsible for the company’s ethically and legally questionable decisions and practices. But I suggest that the problem at Uber goes beyond a culture created by toxic leadership. The c....

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The 4 Types of Innovation and the Problems They Solve

One of the best innovation stories I’ve ever heard came to me from a senior executive at a leading tech firm. Apparently, his company had won a million-dollar contract to design a sensor that could detect pollutants at very small concentrations underwater. It was an unusually complex problem, so the firm set up a team of crack microchip designers, and they started putting their heads together. About 45 minutes into their first working session, the marine biologist assigned to their team walked in with a bag of clams and set them on the table. Seeing the confused looks of the chip designers, he explained that clams can detect pollutants at just a few parts per million, and when that happens, they open their shells. As it turned out, they didn’t really need a fancy chip to detect pollutants — just a simple one that c....

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Understanding Your Legal Options If You've been Sexually Harassed

Sexual harassment scandals at companies such as Uber and Fox News have been a reminder not only that sexual harassment is still a regrettably routine feature of working life but also that even some of the most powerful perpetrators can, eventually, be held accountable. Despite over four decades of legal sanctions and workplace training, harassing conduct remains persistent and pervasive. We have written elsewhere about how the law and workplace need to change to better address the problem. Our focus here is on what women, who make up 90% of harassment targets, can do when they confront it personally and what strategies are most likely to be effective. The most critical questions for employees who have been harassed at work are, first, what response do they want? And second, what are they prepared to risk to get it? For most women, the an....

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The CEO of Children's National Health System on Leadership, Innovation, and Delivering Specialized Care

Dr. Kurt Newman became a pediatric surgeon because he was attracted to the innovative culture and the extraordinary variety of problems doctors encounter at children’s hospitals, as well as the dramatic recoveries children can make. He went on to become the president and CEO of Children’s National Health System in Washington, DC and recently published a memoir, Healing Children: A Surgeon’s Stories from the Frontiers of Pediatric Medicine. I spoke to him about the advantages and challenges of specialized children’s hospitals. What follows is an edited version of our conversation.  HBR: Patient outcomes for children are better at specialized pediatric hospitals. Why is that? Newman: Pediatric medicine attracts people who are passionate about making a difference early in children’s lives. The payback....

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How Cultures Across the World Approach Leadership

They vary in deference and decision making.

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Looking Beyond H-1B Visas to Find Tech Talent

H-1B visa applications have declined for the first time in years, according to a recent report from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The department announced last month that it received 199,000 applications this year — 37,000 fewer than last year. This is concerning to tech companies, many of which expected a huge increase in applications, due to the program’s uncertain future. As a result, tech hiring managers are now racing to recruit from a very small pool of domestic candidates. Many have doubled down on their recruitment efforts by increasing their spending on LinkedIn and Facebook ads or by attending local networking events to attract candidates. Insight Center Putting Data to Work Sponsored by Accenture Analytics are critical to companies’ performance. There is no doubt that these....

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How Analytics Has Changed in the Last 10 Years (and How It's Stayed Same)

Photo by Ferdinand Stöhr Ten years ago, Jeanne Harris and I published the book Competing on Analytics, and we’ve just finished updating it for publication in September. One major reason for the update is that analytical technology has changed dramatically over the last decade; the sections we wrote on those topics have become woefully out of date. So revising our book offered us a chance to take stock of 10 years of change in analytics. Of course, not everything is different. Some technologies from a decade ago are still in broad use, and I’ll describe them here too. There has been even more stability in analytical leadership, change management, and culture, and in many cases those remain the toughest problems to address. But we’re here to talk about technology. Here’s a brief summary of what’s ....

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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....

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Use Stories from Customers to Highlight Your Company's Purpose

Leaders commonly try to influence their company culture with a lofty statement of purpose. But despite the time and money an organization pours into crafting its own special statement, the result is often vague and generic — it sounds like every other well-meaning company’s purpose statement. One simple way around this is to highlight specific stories that illustrate the values leaders want to emphasize. Stories are free, always available, and are such a core part of our human DNA that they automatically make us feel good. Especially when they’re true. And best of all, when a company brings true stories to light, the culture becomes one of paying attention. Leaders and managers learn to keep their eyes and ears on what’s most important — the real experiences of real people. Sweetgreen is a healthy ....

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6 Reasons Salespeople Win or Lose a Sale

Steven Moore for HBR Why does a salesperson lose a sale? It’s a question I’ve studied for years, as part of the win-loss analysis research I conduct. There’s a tendency to assume that the salesperson lost because their product was inferior in some way. However, in the majority of interviews buyers rank all the feature sets of the competing products as being roughly equal. This suggests that other factors separate the winner from the losers. In order to identify these hidden decision-making factors, more than 230 buyers completed a 76-part survey. The research project goals were to understand how customers perceive the salespeople they meet with, explore the circumstances that determine which vendor is selected, and learn how different company departments and vertical industries make buying decisions. We had si....

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When Health Care Providers Look at Problems from Multiple Perspectives, Patients Benefit

Mr. Smith was ready to be discharged home after his laryngectomy, an extensive operation that removes a patient’s throat due to cancer. In the opinion of Dr. Lu-Myers, he was a capable man who had passed his physical and occupational therapy evaluations with flying colors. Mr. Smith had fulfilled the doctor’s list of clinical discharge criteria, and she was eager to send him home. She planned to entrust him and his family to manage his dressing changes, as well as his tracheostomy and drain care, with the support of frequent outpatient nursing visits — all very routine protocol, especially for someone who seemed alert and capable. The day before Mr. Smith was to be discharged, Dolores, his nurse, approached Dr. Lu-Myers with some concerns: “Mr. Smith seems depressed to me, and you know, his wi....

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Can Insurance Companies Incentivize Their Customers to Be Healthier?

Behavioral economists know well the power of instant gratification and overoptimism that too often lead to poor decisions — like reaching for an extra slice of cake or putting off the dreaded morning run. The behavioral biases play out in a simple paradox: People overconsume health care but underconsume prevention, and insurers or taxpayers are left with the bill. The same plays out with many lines of insurance, where the immediate benefits of poor choices outweigh the often hidden cost of dealing with their consequences, such as reckless driving or failing to flood-proof infrastructure in highly exposed communities. Of all industries, insurance has a unique opportunity to align its commercial interests with preventive behaviors. Insurers, along with public services, can directly “monetize” better individual behavi....

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Why Startups Like Uber Stumble Over Problems They Could Have Avoided

News this week that Uber’s CEO was stepping down likely was not a surprise to those who have been following the company in the headlines. In our work over many years, we have learned enough to know that you have to be on the inside of any company to have the full picture of what went wrong and how. But we do know from our research that rapidly growing companies — especially unicorns like Uber — face a high risk of stumbling. As a business term, “unicorn” was coined to describe a rarity: In 2011 there were just 28 early-stage companies, still privately owned, with investment valuations of $1 billion or more. Today there are more than 200 unicorns, with a total value estimated by CB Insights at almost $700 billion. Uber is one of them: Its valuation rose to a record-setting $68 billion just seven years after i....

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How to Integrate Data and Analytics into Every Part of Your Organization

Many conversations about data and analytics (D&A) start by focusing on technology. Having the right tools is critically important, but too often executives overlook or underestimate the significance of the people and organizational components required to build a successful D&A function. When that happens, D&A initiatives can falter — not delivering the insights needed to drive the organization forward or inspiring confidence in the actions required to do so. The stakes are high, with International Data Corporation estimating that global business investments in D&A will surpass $200 billion a year by 2020. A robust, successful D&A function encompasses more than a stack of technologies, or a few people isolated on one floor of the building. D&A should be the pulse of the organization, incorporated in....

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Why You Should Tell Your Team to Take a Break and Go Outside

Wellness programs are becoming an integral priority for most human resource managers. After all, research shows that a happier workplace is more productive. To this end, workplaces are adding health-related perks from exercise rooms to yoga classes. Leaders participate in mindfulness and compassion trainings and are coached to learn emotional intelligence. However, there is one important wellness factor that many are forgetting even though it may be the most potent of all: access to green spaces. Greenery isn’t just an air-freshener that’s pleasant to look at, it can actually significantly boost employee well-being, reduce stress, enhance innovative potential, and boost a sense of connection. Yet most of us don’t spend much time in nature. Richard Louv, author of the Nature Principal, argue....

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The Benefits of Taking a Slower Approach to Innovation

Paul Garbett for HBR In our experience, managers tend to focus their innovation efforts on processes that are either large in scale (new products and business models ) or swift in development (hackathons, rapid prototyping, or emerging platforms). There’s nothing wrong with this, per se, as both approaches can pay huge dividends. But there’s also another type of innovation that is more gradual and smaller in scale. We call it slow innovation. Slow innovation projects can be just as impactful in the long-term. However, they are difficult for organizations to propose, prioritize, and fund. Their scope and pace often run counter to the rhythms of company goals. Their extended timelines struggle to weather leadership change. And, for those managing such projects, it can be difficult to sustainably guide them through cir....

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Why Apple's New HQ Is Nothing Like The Silicon Valley

“I think we have a shot at building the best office building in the world” were the words Steve Jobs used to describe Apple’s new headquarters in 2011. The grand vision at the heart of his last project is now being unveiled as Apple finalizes construction on Apple Park. Wired called the facility “insanely great (or just insane),” and in many ways it is exactly that. The sheer magnitude of Apple’s new headquarters sets it apart from any other technology workspace on the West Coast. Instead of many buildings spread across a campus, the site features one master circular structure (2.8 million square feet) called the Ring, designed to house 12,000 employees. (To get a sense of its scale, the Ring’s internal courtyard is wider than St. Peter’s Square in Rome. Its external wall would surround the....

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Case Study: When You Have to Choose Between Core and New Customers

It was the Monday morning after the Phoenix race. Erica Jackson, chief marketing officer of the Mendoza Marathon Corporation, had risen early to watch people line up to register for next year’s event and expected an enthusiastic crowd. But when she walked into the field, she saw only dour looks and slumped shoulders. Alan Kurtz, MMC’s chief operating officer, was standing off to the side, and she moved to join him, but a racer intercepted her. “Do you work for Mendoza?” he asked, sounding annoyed. Editor's NoteThis fictionalized case study will appear in a forthcoming issue of Harvard Business Review, along with commentary from experts and readers. If you’d like your comment to be considered for publication, please be sure to include your full name, company or university affiliation, and email address. ....

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White Americans' Mortality Rates Are Rising. Something Similar Happened In Russia from 1965 to 2005

In 2015 Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton published a stunning finding: The mortality rates for working-age white Americans have been rising since 1999. For mortality rates to rise instead of fall is extremely rare in developed countries except as a result of war or pandemic.   However, history does offer a recent example of a large industrialized country where mortality rates rose over an extended period: Russia in the decades before and after the Soviet Union’s collapse. Although there are important differences between the two phenomena, there are also sobering similarities.   From 1965 to 2005 the mortality rates for nonelderly Russian men and women rose by an average of 1.5% and 0.9%, respectively, per year. For children and the elderly, mortality remained relatively flat. In broad strokes, this e....

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Why Your Company Culture Should Match Your Brand

Ask people how to develop a good corporate culture, and most of them will immediately suggest offering generous employee benefits, like they do at Starbucks, or letting people dress casually, as Southwest Airlines does. Rarely do people point to encouraging employees to disagree with their managers, as Amazon does, or firing top performers, as Jack Welch did at GE. But in fact, it’s having a distinct corporate culture — not a copycat of another firm’s culture — that allows these great organizations to produce phenomenal results. Each of these companies has aligned and integrated its culture and brand to create a powerful engine of competitive advantage and growth. Their leaders understand that a strong, differentiated company culture contributes to a strong, differentiated brand — and that an ....

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How to De-Escalate an Argument with a Coworker

During a conversation with a colleague, you stop following what he’s saying, and focus on how red his face is, as he yells at you about what’s wrong with your proposal. When you tune back in, you hear him scream, “It’s a one-sided, shortsighted approach that shows no respect for my team’s input!” You know you’ve hit a nerve, but you have no idea why. If you’re going to find a mutually acceptable path forward, you know you need to de-escalate this conflict fast. But how? The bad news is that your instincts are generally useless in a situation like this. The good news is that you can counter your natural reaction — whether you’re more inclined to dig in your heels or run for cover — and slowly shift the conversation from aggressive and adversarial to controlled and....

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A New Way to Think About Office Lighting

Most offices have adequate but aging lighting systems that often operate inefficiently, can waste vast amounts of energy, and annoy employees. Wasted electricity, excessive or uneven illumination, and difficulty concentrating are three top complaints of office workers. More significantly, increasing awareness about the building sector’s growing role in climate change is shifting tenant and investor preferences and influencing owners to improve the performance of their buildings to stay competitive. U.S. buildings consume nearly three-quarters of the country’s electricity and are responsible for 39% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The technology exists to revolutionize commercial lighting: LED bulbs and today’s intelligent digital controls systems can together provide higher-quality indoor environments while saving sign....

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Male and Female Entrepreneurs Get Asked Different Questions by VCs ---and It Affects How Much Funding They Get

There is an enormous gender gap in venture capital funding in the United States. Female entrepreneurs receive only about 2% of all venture funding, despite owning 38% of the businesses in the country. The prevailing hope among academics, policy makers, and practitioners alike has been that this gap will narrow as more women become venture capitalists. However, homophily does not seem to be the only culprit behind the funding gap. Over the past several years, the U.S. has seen an increase in the number of female venture capitalists (from 3% of all VCs in 2014 to an estimated 7% today), but the funding gap has only widened. Research my colleagues and I conducted offers new evidence as to why female entrepreneurs continue to receive less funding than their male counterparts. We observed Q&A interactions between 140 prominent v....

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Motivating Employees Is Not About Carrots or Sticks


Vincent Tsui for HBR Motivating employees seems like it should be easy. And it is — in theory. But while the concept of motivation may be straightforward, motivating employees in real-life situations is far more challenging. As leaders, we’re asked to understand what motivates each individual on our team and manage them accordingly. What a challenging ask of leaders, particularly those with large or dispersed teams and those who are already overwhelmed by their own workloads. Leaders are also encouraged to rely on the carrot versus stick approach for motivation, where the carrot is a reward for compliance and the stick is a consequence for noncompliance. But when our sole task as leaders becomes compliance, trying to compel others to do something, chances are we’re the only ones who will be motivated. ....

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When AI Becomes the New Face of Your Brand

Cat Yu for HBR In the world of marketing, brand anthropomorphism can be a powerful mechanism for connecting with consumers. It’s the tactic of giving brand symbols people-like characteristics: Think of Tony the Tiger and the Michelin Man. Today some companies are taking brand anthropomorphism to a whole new level with sophisticated AI technologies. Consider advanced chatbots, like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana. Thanks to the simplicity of their conversational interfaces, it’s quite possible that customers will spend increasingly more time engaged with a company’s AI than with any other interface, including the firm’s own employees. And over time Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, and their individual “personalities,” could become even more famous than ....

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