Harvard Business Review January - February 2018

For over 80 years, Harvard Business Review magazine has been an indispensable and unrivaled source of ideas, insight, and inspiration for business leaders worldwide. Each issue contains breakthrough ideas on strategy, leadership, innovation and management. Now, newly redesigned, HBR presents these ideas in a smart new design with improved navigation and rich infographics. Become a more effective leader by subscribing to Harvard Business Review.

United States
Harvard Business School Publishing
6 期号


ceos step into the fray

Once upon a time, CEOs steered away from political controversy. Who could blame them? Weighing in on divisive topics could alienate as many potential customers as it might win over. That’s not to say that corporate leaders were apolitical. They and their organizations have long been active in the process— supporting PACs and lobbying to shape rules and regulations that directly affect their businesses. Now all bets are off. Social upheaval and government paralysis, particularly in the United States, are spurring CEOs to speak out on an array of contentious subjects. Such leaders as Tim Cook of Apple, Marc Benioff of Salesforce, and Kenneth Frazier of Merck have advocated for causes that aren’t obviously related to their companies. Among the issues they’re taking on: LGBTQ rights, immigration, racism, and the environment.…


As a young bank teller Dennis Campbell had to follow nonsensical directives from bosses who were out of touch with the realities on the front line. That triggered his interest in empowering employees, who he believes can have a huge effect on customer satisfaction and company performance. In this issue he and coauthors John Case and Bill Fotsch describe how to realize workers’ potential by creating “good jobs” that offer ownership, accountability, and skills in exchange for engagement. Patty McCord, former chief talent officer of Netflix, has long argued that many so-called best practices in talent management make little sense. Her peers, who largely rejected her message at first, are starting to come around. “When I used to say these things in speeches to HR people, half the audience would look…


HOW TO SWING FOR THE FENCES HBR ARTICLE BY SUSAN WOLF DITKOFF AND ABE GRINDLE, SEPTEMBER–OCTOBER Private philanthropists have played a leading role in some of the biggest social-impact success stories of the past century. They’ve helped to end apartheid in South Africa, to virtually eradicate polio globally, and to launch a universal 911 service in the United States (for starters). Today’s donors aspire to achieve similarly audacious goals, but many aren’t seeing transformative results. Ditkoff and Grindle look at 15 breakthrough initiatives and reveal five elements that increase the odds that a philanthropic endeavor will succeed. This article was motivating. I’m a trustee of a small health-care foundation, and it helped me realize the need to network with others in my situation. One element not discussed, however, is the role that education—especially…

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“sorry” is not enough

It’s the first rule of customer service: When something goes wrong, apologize. In many cases, the apologies continue throughout the interaction as an employee goes the extra mile to convey empathy and concern. But surprising new research shows that approach can backfire: An apology that extends beyond the first seconds of an interaction can reduce customer satisfaction. Employees should instead focus on demonstrating how creatively and energetically they are trying to solve the customer’s problem—that, not warmth or empathy, is what drives satisfaction. Researchers reached these insights via a novel study that allowed them to observe exactly what happens when a customer rep is confronted with an unhappy customer. Although many companies record customer interactions, privacy concerns generally prevent them from sharing the results with researchers. However, a team led by…

“clients care about solutions, not apologies”

Why does this research interest you? I’ve been with Accenture for 20 years, on the front lines delivering services to our largest clients. People think of “frontline service workers” as employees at a call center or an airline desk, but if you talk to customers and solve problems, this research applies to you. I’m a senior executive, and I’m definitely a frontline service worker, so I’ve been experimenting with the research in my client interactions. How? We’re all trained to apologize when something goes wrong—and the desire to do so is almost instinctive. Lately, though, I’ve avoided words like “apologize” and “sorry.” Instead, I’ll say something like, “I acknowledge the problem, but you probably want us to move immediately into finding options to solve it, so let’s start talking about the…