A weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management.
Algorithms Won’t Solve All Your Pricing Problems
26:34Marco Bertini, marketing professor at Esade Business School, says more and more companies are turning to pricing algorithms to maximize profits. But many are unaware of a big downside. The constant price shifts can hurt the perception of the brand and its products. He warns that overreliance on artificial intelligence and machine learning without considering human psychology can cause serious damage to the customer relationship. And he outlines steps managers should take, including implementing guardrails, overrides, and better communication tactics. With London Business School professor Oded Koenigsberg, Bertini wrote the HBR article "The Pitfalls of Pricing Algorithms."
Tech’s Exponential Growth – and How to Solve the Problems It’s Created
24:29Technological development is happening faster than ever and changing our lives in fundamental ways. The companies behind all these new gadgets and services are no doubt the greatest corporate success stories of our age. But entrepreneur and investor Azeem Azhar worries that our public institutions haven't kept pace with the industry, which has created an exponential gap between digital haves and have nots. He offers recommendations on how bridge the divide and achieve growth with broader societal benefits. You can hear more from Azeem Azhar on his HBR Presents podcast, Exponential View.
First He Saved Unilever. Now He Wants to Save Capitalism.
24:41Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, led a dazzling career in consumer goods, from Procter & Gamble to Nestlé to the British multinational. His experience fending off a hostile takeover bid taught him that the doctrine of shareholder capitalism is wrong. He believes there’s a better way of doing business, one that embraces all stakeholders — not just stockholders — and improves the environment. He cofounded the consultancy IMAGINE to further sustainable goals, and he shares his advice for the next generation of leaders. With Andrew Winston, Polman wrote the new book “Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More than They Take”.
How to Make Strategic Career Decisions, Even in a Crisis (Back to Work, Better)
28:53When it comes to work, it's easy to focus on the near term: the next meeting, project, promotion. The global pandemic pushed many of us even further into heads-down mode. But Dorie Clark, author of the book The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-term World, wants everyone to step back, take a breath, and start thinking longer term about what you really want to do and how to progress toward those goals. She offers advice on how to ignore social media distractions, balance priorities, cultivate patience, and make the right strategic decisions. Clark also wrote the HBR article "Feeling Stuck or Stymied."
The Innovation System Behind Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine
21:18Noubar Afeyan, cofounder and chair of Moderna Therapeutics and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, says that the breakthrough innovation behind the company’s Covid-19 vaccine came not as a stroke of luck, but from a repeatable process. He outlines a system called “emergent discovery” that involves working back from future ideals, pioneering in novel spaces, encouraging unreasonable ideas, and persistently questioning hypotheses. And he says this process applies to other industries besides life sciences. Afeyan is the coauthor, with HBS professor Gary Pisano, of the HBR article "What Evolution Can Teach Us About Innovation."
Can Big Tech Reform Itself?
26:54Mehran Sahami, a Stanford professor and former Google employee, wants to see a reset from the technology industry. For the past few decades, the world's technologists (many of whom become its corporate executives and venture capitalists) have been taught to prioritize optimization and efficiency without thinking a whole lot about ethics. The result has been stunning corporate success but significant costs to society. Sahami argues that regulation can certainly help right the balance. But he also believes that tech company leaders and employees can shift their mindsets and practices to ensure they're serving the greater good, not just themselves. He's the coauthor, along with Rob Reich and Jeremy Weinstein, of "System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot."
Why Companies Need Returnship Programs (Back to Work, Better)
20:37Carol Fishman Cohen, human resource consultant and CEO of iRelaunch, says that extended career breaks have always been common. Now the pandemic has made them even more widespread. So, companies are increasingly considering formal back-to-work programs and “returnships.” That’s where employers set up special training and support mechanisms to ease people back into work. Cohen speaks about the best practices for organizations and returning workers alike. She's the author of the HBR article "Return-to-Work Programs Come of Age."
How the Pandemic Changed Talent Management (Back to Work, Better)
29:25Johnny C. Taylor Jr., CEO and President of the Society for Human Resource Management, says that this is a reset moment for organizations that want to finally get human resources right. The crisis has taught leaders just how important it is to find and mobilize talent and evaluate and adjust to employee needs. He shares research on several trends set to accelerate, including hybrid and contract work and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and offers guidance to leaders around the world trying to identify what the "new normal" should look like in their organizations.Taylor is the author of the book "Reset: A Leader's Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval."
Best of IdeaCast: Saying No to More Work
21:46When the work keeps piling on, there comes a time when everyone needs to say no. But how do you do so without offending your coworkers or hurting your career? Former host Sarah Green Carmichael, and Karen Dillon, the author of the “HBR Guide to Office Politics,” talk about the best practices on saying no to work when you're overwhelmed.
What We Still Need to Learn about AI in Marketing — and Beyond
22:33Eva Ascarza, professor at Harvard Business School, studies customer analytics and finds that many companies investing in artificial intelligence fail to improve their marketing decisions. Why is AI falling flat when it comes to this key lever for profit? She says the main reasons are that organizations neglect to ask the right questions, weigh the value of being right with the cost of being wrong, and leverage the improving abilities of AI to change how companies make decisions overall. With London Business School’s Bruce G.S. Hardie and Michael Ross, Ascarza wrote the HBR article "Why You Aren’t Getting More from Your Marketing AI."