Harvard Business Review May 2016

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United States
Harvard Business School Publishing
6 期号


toward a more agile future

We live in a fast-changing world. But there are still a few certainties (beyond, you know, death and taxes). For example: (1) Failure happens, (2) strategy constantly needs to adapt, and (3) at some point you’re going to have to figure out “agile.” In this issue, we try to bring fresh perspective to all three. We all know that failure is a critical part of a successful business journey. But how can we make sure that it’s really an instructive tool? In “Increase Your Return on Failure” (page 88), Julian Birkinshaw of London Business School and Martine Haas of Wharton show that we’re actually not as tolerant of failure as we think. They offer advice, nonetheless, on how to get the most out of it. In “Planned Opportunism” (page 54), Tuck professor Vijay Govindarajan…


Julian Birkinshaw’s first boss was a tyrant. Whenever an initiative failed, he would subject its hapless leader to a public dressing-down and then make sure the project’s results never saw the light of day. This got Birkinshaw, now a professor at London Business School, thinking about the value that could be captured from failure in organizations—but usually isn’t. In the article on page 88, he and Wharton’s Martine Haas, an expert in team dynamics, describe a practical process for extracting that value. Sarah Morris, this month’s Spotlight artist, is a British-born painter and filmmaker who’s now based in New York City. Inspired by architecture, her work investigates what she refers to as “urban, social, and bureaucratic typologies.” You can see examples of it beginning on page 52. Tiziana Casciaro admits that networking…

how digital has changed branding

Branded content succeeds when the work is good and culturally relevant. PR and social media are good distribution tools, with traditional TV and paid YouTube views a distant second. The problem is (and always has been) the quality of the creative product. Marketers keep refusing to accept this. While the debate continues, the same creative-driven companies keep delivering for intelligent brands, no matter what the climate. I speak from experience, having written Dove’s first viral “Evolution” and cocreated the Chipotle series, which had an 800% return on investment and won enormous social media and PR attention. That said, I enjoyed the article and found it mostly valid. Tim Piper, writer and director, Piro Case studies of popular brands clearly demonstrate that marketing and branding activities work when they’re linked with some way of life.…

creative job titles can energize workers

Job titles don’t usually generate much excitement. They’re printed on business cards, emblazoned on LinkedIn pages, and used in formal introductions. Some organizations, however, see them as a chance to get creative. Consider Disney, which calls its theme park workers “cast members” and its engineers and multimedia experts “imagineers.” Subway’s line workers are “sandwich artists.” At some companies, receptionists are “directors of first impressions” and PR people are “brand evangelists.” It would be easy to dismiss retitling as a silly exercise in euphemisms. But over the past decade London Business School professor Dan Cable has come to view it as a legitimate tool for improving workers’ attitudes and boosting recruitment. “The traditional view of job titles is that they’re about standardization and benchmarking,” he says. “But titles often send the wrong…

“it gave employees ownership of their roles”

A few years ago, when Susan Fenters Lerch, former CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan, attended a seminar at the Disney Institute, she heard a discussion of how people’s titles influence their feelings about their jobs. So when she returned to the office, she let her 31-person staff create their own titles to supplement the ones on the org chart. She recently described the process to HBR. Edited excerpts follow. Why did you try self-created titles? We faced challenging situations, working with families whose children had serious health issues. I was looking to do something fun that would give employees a sense of control. People kept their traditional titles, but everyone created an additional, fun title. I became “the fairy godmother.” Our finance director became “the minister of dollars and…

global governance, then and now

FIRMS TODAY have 37% fewer shared board members, but a higher proportion of connections are international. EACH DOT represents a company. GRAY LINES show board members shared within countries or regions, such as the European Community. MAGENTA LINES show members shared internationally. ALTHOUGH EC FIRMS have branched out, they remain tightly interwoven. Most non-EC European firms have branched out internationally. BUSINESS NETWORKS in Asia are typically organized in distinct business groups, including keiretsu (Japan), chaebol (Korea), and qiye jituan (China). Boards connect within but not across groups, making links sparse even today. SOURCE “THE GLOBAL CORPORATE ELITE AFTER THE FINANCIAL CRISIS: EVIDENCE FROM THE TRANSNATIONAL NETWORK OF INTERLOCKING DIRECTORATES,” BY EELKE M. HEEMSKERK, MEINDERT FENNEMA, AND WILLIAM K. CARROLL (GLOBAL NETWORKS, , 2016) To see how corporate boards around the world are linked, researchers led…