Harvard Business Review November/December 2021

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 Issues

in this issue

1 min
your projects are your future

BEFORE COMING TO HBR, I spent a dozen years as an editor at Time, the iconic newsmagazine. We published weekly, and the fast pace seemed to encourage short-term thinking. Almost everyone at the organization worked primarily on that week’s issue, even as new competitors (which were primarily digital) began chipping away at our economic model. Time has survived, but it’s far smaller than it once was, and its competition remains fierce. At HBR we put thousands of hours of work into each issue of the magazine (and our website and books). But a lot of our energy is devoted not to these current products but to long-term projects that will help us develop innovations that will drive our business into the future. The same is true at your company, I hope. Pulling…

2 min

While pursuing an MBA two decades ago, Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez was struck by the glaring absence of courses in project management. “Given that many executives have to manage hundreds of projects at a time, this seemed misguided,” he says. He set out to educate senior leaders on the importance of project management, to make it more accessible and focused on value, and to persuade MBA programs to teach it. His success with those goals led Thinkers50 to give him an Ideas into Practice Award. He is also the author of HBR Project Management Handbook, from which his article in this issue is adapted. 38 The Project Economy Has Arrived After Linda Hill and her coauthors published Collective Genius, a book about highly innovative companies, leaders kept asking her, “How do we become an…

5 min
how to help your cmo boost global growth

CHIEF MARKETING OFFICERS have fallen out of fashion in recent years. Some researchers claim they don’t add value, and many companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Uber, and Hyatt, have scaled back or even eliminated the position. A new study finds that, on the contrary, CMOs have a crucial role to play in multinational companies. They can be instrumental in helping those businesses grow globally—but only under certain conditions. “Every multinational enterprise faces two major challenges: a rise in nationalism and a saturation in domestic markets,” says V. Kumar, a professor at St. John’s University and the lead author of the study. Unlike other C-suite officers, he explains, CMOs have expertise on the front lines of the business—and that firsthand customer experience is vital to international growth. And because their responsibilities are…

3 min
“we can’t just copy the plays we run in the u.s.”

Is internationalization harder and more important than ever before? Yes. At UPS, we have three strategic growth imperatives. The first is our health care logistics business. The second is the small and medium-size business segment. The third is international. We have our highest margins in the third—our global business model is “asset light,” without many of the structural costs we have in the U.S.—but international business is a lot newer and smaller. Much of my role is to make sure that resources, time, digital investments, and talent are allocated appropriately in international. We can’t just copy the plays we run in the U.S. We have to be attuned to the different cultures, business models, economies, and languages. So we draw on programs we’ve developed in the U.S., where we have scale and…

2 min
in defense of multitasking

The knocks against multitasking are well-known: It reduces the efficiency and quality of work and increases stress. But a series of studies finds an upside: Multitaskers are more creative on subsequent tasks. One of the studies focused on the TV reality show Chopped, in which contestants must create a three-course meal incorporating items from mystery boxes of ingredients. Examining 44 episodes of the series, professional chefs coded the dishes in the appetizer and entrée rounds for multitasking by counting the actions needed to produce them. Other chefs rated the creativity of the dishes in all three rounds. High levels of multitasking in the appetizer round led to more-creative entrées, while multitasking in the entrée round led to more-creative desserts. (The effect held only for downstream work; multitasking during the appetizer round,…

2 min
the power of a nickname—when judiciously employed

Coke, Tarjay, Big Blue: Brand nicknames abound, causing some marketers to worry that customers will be confused by them or that the brand’s image will suffer (Chevrolet reportedly kept a “swear jar” to discourage in-house references to “Chevy”). New research finds that they can be a boon, boosting credibility and engagement—as long as some guardrails are observed. Across six studies involving both real and fictitious brands and various online platforms, the researchers showed that the inclusion of a nickname in user-generated content signals that the user has a genuine relationship with the brand, increasing potential buyers’ confidence in the testimonial. In one experiment, participants read a tweet from a hypothetical consumer touting McDonald’s iced coffee and referring to the company either by its full name or as Mickey D’s. Those who…