Summary: A weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management.
Beth Comstock, the first female vice chair at General Electric, thinks companies large and small often approach innovation the wrong way. They either try to throw money at the problem before it has a clear market, misallocate resources, or don't get buy in from senior leaders to enact real change. Comstock spent many years at GE - under both Jack Welsh's and Jeffrey Immelt's leadership - before leaving the company late last year. She's the author of the book "Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change.”
Ming Zeng, the chief strategy officer at Alibaba, talks about how the China-based e-commerce company was able to create the biggest online shopping site in the world. He credits Alibaba’s retail and distribution juggernaut to leveraging automation, algorithms, and networks to better serve customers. And he says in the future, successful digital companies will use technologies such as artificial intelligence, the mobile internet, and cloud computing to redefine how value is created. Zeng is the author of "Smart Business: What Alibaba's Success Reveals about the Future of Strategy.”
Marc Effron, president of the Talent Strategy Group, looked at the scientific literature behind high performance at work and identified eight steps we can all take to get an edge. Among those steps is taking care of your body -- sleep, exercise, and nutrition. But the most important is sleep. He offers some practical advice on getting more and better rest, and making time to exercise. Effron is the author of the new book, "8 Steps to High Performance: Focus On What You Can Change (Ignore the Rest)."
Sunil Gupta, a professor at Harvard Business School, argues that many companies are still doing digital strategy wrong. Their leaders think of "going digital" as either a way to cut costs or to attract customers with a flashy new app. Gupta says successful digital strategy is more complicated than that. He recommends emulating the multi-faceted strategies of leading digital companies. Gupta's the author of “Driving Digital Strategy: A Guide to Reimagining Your Business."
Rebecca Shambaugh, a leadership coach, says being too collaborative can actually hold you back at work. Instead of showing how well you build consensus and work with others, it can look like indecision or failure to prioritize. She explains what to do if you over-collaborate, how to manage someone who does, and offers some advice for women — whose bosses are more likely to see them as overly consensus-driven. Shambaugh is the author of the books "It's Not a Glass Ceiling, It's a Sticky Floor" and "Make Room For Her."
David Burkus, a professor at Oral Roberts University and author of the book “Friend of a Friend,” explains common misconceptions about networking. First, trading business cards at a networking event doesn’t mean you’re a phony. Second, your most valuable contacts are actually the people you already know. Burkus says some of the most useful networking you can do involves strengthening your ties with old friends and current coworkers.
Kathryn Hume, VP of integrate.ai, discusses the current boundaries between artificially intelligent machines, and humans. While the power of A.I. can conjure up some of our darkest fears, she says the reality is that there is still a whole lot that A.I. can't do. So far, A.I. is able to accomplish some tasks that humans might need a lot of training for, such as diagnosing cancer. But she says those tasks are actually more simple than we might think - and that algorithms still can't replace emotional intelligence just yet. Plus, A.I. might just help us discover new business opportunities we didn't know existed.
Katherine Phillips, a professor at Columbia Business School, discusses research showing that African-Americans are often reluctant to tell their white colleagues about their personal lives — and that it hurts their careers. She says people should expect and welcome differences at work, and she gives practical advice for strengthening connections among colleagues of different racial backgrounds. Phillips is a coauthor of the article “Diversity and Authenticity,” in the March–April 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review.
Roger Martin, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, offers two main reasons General Electric has lost its competitiveness. GE’s stock has been removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Martin blames pressures from activist investors as well as a short-sighted mergers and acquisitions strategy. He’s the author of “GE’s Fall Has Been Accelerated by Two Problems. Most Other Big Companies Face Them, Too.”
Gerry Anderson, the CEO of DTE Energy, and Robert Quinn and Anjan Thakor, professors at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and the Olin Business School at Washington University, respectively, discuss how an aspirational mission can motivate employees and improve performance. Anderson talks about his own experience. Quinn and Thakor explain their research showing how leaders can foster a sense of purpose that sharpens competitiveness. They wrote the article “Creating a Purpose-Driven Organization” in the July-August 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review.
Kristie Rogers, an assistant professor of management at Marquette University, has identified a free and abundant resource most leaders aren’t giving employees enough of: respect. She explains the two types of workplace respect, how to communicate them, and what happens when you don't foster both. Rogers is the author of the article “Do Your Employees Feel Respected?” in the July–August 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review.
Howard Yu, Lego Professor of Management and Innovation at IMD Business School in Switzerland, discusses how the industrial cluster in the Swiss city of Basel is a unique example of enduring competitive advantage. He explains how early dye makers were able to continually jump to new capabilities and thrive for generations. He says the story of those companies offers a counter-narrative to the pessimistic view that unless your company is Google or Apple, you can’t stay ahead of the competition for long. Yu is the author of “LEAP: How to Thrive in a World Where Everything Can Be Copied.”
Daniel Libeskind, a former academic turned architect and urban designer, discusses his unorthodox career path and repeat success at high-profile, emotionally charged projects. He also talks about his unusual creative process and shares tips for collaborating and managing emotions and expectations of multiple stakeholders. Libeskind was interviewed for the July-August 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review.
Bhaskar Chakravorti, the dean of global business at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, analyzes the economic impact of India’s unprecedented demonetization move in 2016. With no advance warning, India pulled the two largest banknotes from circulation, notes that accounted for 86% of cash transactions in a country where most payments happen in cash. Chakravorti discusses the impact on consumers, businesses, and digital payment providers, and whether Indian policymakers reached their anti-corruption goals. He’s the author of the article “One Year After India Killed Off Cash, Here’s What Other Countries Should Learn From It.”
Heidi Grant, a social psychologist, explains the right ways and wrong ways to ask colleagues for help. She says people are much more likely to lend us a hand than we think they are; they just want it to be a rewarding experience. Grant is the author of “Reinforcements: How to Get People to Help You.”