James Heskett

177 Results

 

Who Should Choose Your Boss?

The employee-led battle to reinstate the fired CEO of Market Basket has riveted the business world. But Jim Heskett asks, who really should hire the CEO? The board? Company leaders? Rank and file employees? What do YOU think? Open for comment; 19 Comments posted.

What Is Warren Bennis’s Legacy?

Summing Up Jim Heskett's readers ponder the life and legacy of leading management educator Warren Bennis. Open for comment; 7 Comments posted.

Are Today’s Business Heroes Challenging Our Ideas About Leadership?

SUMMING UP New leadership styles should not cause us to challenge our belief in traditional leadership values, Jim Heskett's readers write. Open for comment; 40 Comments posted.

Does Internet Technology Threaten Brand Loyalty?

Internet technologies may not kill off brands, but they certainly magnify both the bad and good decisions of marketers. Jim Heskett's readers weight in on this month's question. Open for comment; 13 Comments posted.

How Should Wealth Be Redistributed?

SUMMING UP James Heskett's readers weigh in on Thomas Piketty and how wealth disparity is burdening society. Closed for comment; 42 Comments posted.

Has the Post-Capitalist Economy Finally Arrived?

Summing Up Capitalism is far from dead--but how it works is changing for good, say James Heskett's readers this month. What will it require from us? Closed for comment; 23 Comments posted.

When Will the Next Dot.com Bubble Burst?

Summing Up: Is that the sound of a dot.com bubble bursting? Could be, but is that a bad thing?, ask Jim Heskett's readers. Open for comment; 14 Comments posted.

Has Listening Become a Lost Art?

Summing Up: Managers may have ears, but do they use them? Jim Heskett's readers offer opinions on why listening might be a lost art. Closed for comment; 30 Comments posted.

Do Productivity Increases Contribute to Social Inequality?

Summing Up: Jim Heskett's readers are divided about whether corporate productivity increases make social inequality worse. Closed for comment; 23 Comments posted.

Is Walmart Defying Economic Gravity?

Summing Up Can Walmart sustain its half-a-trillion-dollar enterprise much longer? Jim Heskett's readers see a conflict between the company's immense size and its business model. Closed for comment; 17 Comments posted.

Is Top-Down Resource Allocation on the Rise?

Summing Up Respondents to this month's column provided Jim Heskett possible explanations for greater reliance on top-down resource allocation processes while arguing that a blend of influences from the top and bottom of an organization are still important for best results. Closed for comment; 14 Comments posted.

Is Leadership an Increasingly Difficult Balancing Act?

Summing Up: Do we long for the days of the conventional authority figure? Jim Heskett sums up this month's column. Closed for comment; 19 Comments posted.

How Relevant is Long-Range Strategic Planning?

Summing Up: Jim Heskett's readers argue that long-range planning, while necessary for organizational success, must be adaptable to the competitive environment. What do YOU think? Closed for comment; 32 Comments posted.

Is There Still a Role for Judgment in Decision-Making?

Summing Up: Human judgment should be a part of all decisions, but play a dominant role in significantly fewer of them, according to many of Jim Heskett's readers. Is good old-fashioned intuition out of date? What do YOU think? Closed for comment; 47 Comments posted.

What Are the Limits of Transparency?

Summing Up: What's the proper balance in an organization between transparency and opaqueness? Many of Jim Heskett's readers would err on the side of management forthrightness. Closed for comment; 22 Comments posted.

Do We Need to Extend ‘No Surprises Management?’

Summing Up: Jim Heskett's readers agree that 'no surprises management' should be practiced by bosses as well their direct reports. Closed for comment; 27 Comments posted.

Why Isn’t ‘Servant Leadership’ More Prevalent?

Summing Up: After plowing through an unusually full inbox of reader e-mails, Jim Heskett wonders whether the term "servant leadership" is an oxymoron? Closed for comment; 137 Comments posted.

Will Women Leaders Influence the Way We Work?

Summing Up: Readers are split on Jim Heskett's question about whether men and women manage differently. Closed for comment; 28 Comments posted.

Who Should Manage Our Work Time?

Summing Up Who will save us from our work habits? Jim Heskett's readers offer a range of viewpoints on the responsibility of employees to manage their time at work. Open for comment; 26 Comments posted.

Is ‘Conscious Capitalism’ an Antidote to Income Inequality?

Summing-Up If capitalism creates unacceptable income inequality, what can be done about it? asks Jim Heskett. Whole Foods Market offers one possible solution, and now Jim's readers offer their own. Closed for comment; 46 Comments posted.

Should We Rethink the Promise of Teams?

Summing Up: Teams that are properly structured and managed can support innovative thinking that depends on contributions from both extroverts and introverts, according to Professor Jim Heskett's readers. Closed for comment; 24 Comments posted.

Should Managers Bother Listening to Predictions?

Summing Up Should we use predictions at all when planning for the future? Jim Heskett's readers offer a variety of opinions. What do YOU think? Closed for comment; 38 Comments posted.

Should Pay-for-Performance Compensation be Replaced?

Summing up: In spite of its naysayers, pay for performance compensation still makes sense to most of us, according to those responding to Jim Heskett's column on the subject. But there is a difference of opinion of about when and how it works and how it should be structured. Open for comment; 24 Comments posted.

Can We Bring Back the “Industrial Commons” for Manufacturing?

Summing Up: Does the US have the political will or educational ability to remake its manufacturing sector on the back of an 'industrial commons?' Professor Jim Heskett's readers are dubious. Closed for comment; 26 Comments posted.

Will Business Management Save US Health Care?

Summing Up: Problems confronting the US health care system are much larger and broader than those that can be solved by management in the absence of other remedies, readers tell Jim Heskett. Open for comment; 28 Comments posted.

Should CEOs Worry About ‘Too Big to Succeed?’

Summing Up Is there a right size for a company? Jim Heskett's readers ponder his question: Can companies become too big to succeed? Open for comment; 20 Comments posted.

Why Is Trust So Hard to Achieve in Management?

Summing Up There are many reasons for the trust gap between employees and management—but also many ways to bridge the divide, according to Jim Heskett's readers. What do YOU think? Closed for comment; 108 Comments posted.

Is Something Wrong with the Way We Work?

Summing Up Who is to blame for our pressure-packed 24/7 work culture? Technology? Globalization? Increasingly demanding customers? Jim Heskett's readers say it's best to first look in the mirror. Closed for comment; 41 Comments posted.

Can the “Leadership Industry” Fulfill Its Promise?

Summing Up: Jim Heskett's readers believe leadership is teachable—to a point. Closed for comment; 72 Comments posted.

How Will the “Age of Big Data” Affect Management?

Summing up: How do we avoid losing useful knowledge in a seemingly endless flood of data? Jim Heskett's readers offer some wise suggestions. What do you think? Open for comment; 33 Comments posted.

Are Factory Jobs Important to the Economy?

Summing Up: The manufacturing field is key to a strong economy, but a renewed focus on the industry will not necessarily lead to significant job growth, Jim Heskett's readers say. What do you think? Closed for comment; 51 Comments posted.

Is Support for Small Business Misplaced?

Summing Up Is small business overhyped as a panacea for our economic troubles? Jim Heskett's readers don't think so. Closed for comment; 35 Comments posted.

Income Inequality: What’s the Right Amount?

Summing Up Comments were large in number and broad of opinion reflecting on Professor Jim Heskett's question, Does income inequality promote or stunt economic growth? Is there a "right" right amount of income disparity? Closed for comment; 67 Comments posted.

Thinking Slow: An Argument for Bureaucracy?

Summing Up Readers of Jim Heskett's column this month offer guidelines for when to think fast and when to think slow, from author Daniel Kahneman's book, Thinking, Fast and Slow. Open for comment; 26 Comments posted.

The Ultimate Question in Management

Summing Up: Many of Jim Heskett's readers this month offered suggestions for the ultimate question in management. What's yours? Closed for comment; 57 Comments posted.

How Will the ‘Moneyball Generation’ Influence Management?

Sum-up Nontraditional performance measures, as highlighted in the movie 'Moneyball', will become an increasingly important part of the young manager's toolkit, Jim Heskett's readers say. Closed for comment; 10 Comments posted.

The Profit Power of Corporate Culture

In the new book The Culture Cycle, Professor Emeritus James L. Heskett demonstrates that developing the right corporate culture helps companies be more profitable and provides sustainable competitive advantage. Open for comment; 8 Comments posted.

What’s Apple’s Biggest Challenge: Replacing Steve or Wall Street?

Summing Up: Steve Jobs' influence on Apple is pervasive--maybe too much so. Jim Heskett's readers think Apple faces an almost impossible task in replacing the visionary founder. Closed for comment; 17 Comments posted.

How Dangerous Is Common Sense to Managers?

Forum Closed Summing Up: Is experience really the best teacher? Sure—when not much is on the line, according to readers commenting on Professor Jim Heskett's column on common sense. Closed for comment; 65 Comments posted.

So We Adapt. What’s the Downside?

Summing Up Jim Heskett's readers ponder the question of whether the virtues of adaptability in a chaotic world undermine an organization's ability to commit. Closed for comment; 28 Comments posted.

Is it Time for a National Bankruptcy?

Summing Up Is a national bankruptcy a tragedy or a needed lesson in fiscal reform? Jim Heskett's readers ponder the implications of a country going insolvent. Closed for comment; 47 Comments posted.

How Ethical Can We Be?

Summing Up Managers like to think they act ethically, but at the end of the day ethical action is subjective, readers tell Jim Heskett. Reaction to the new book Blind Spots. Closed for comment; 38 Comments posted.

When Should the Public Sector Take Over in a Meltdown?

Summing Up Jim Heskett's readers have wildly differing opinions as to what extent governments should step in to remedy public sector "meltdowns." Closed for comment; 39 Comments posted.

To What Degree Does the Job Make the Person?

Summing Up: Jobs shape us as much as we shape our jobs, Jim Heskett's readers suggest. Closed for comment; 41 Comments posted.

Are We Going “Back to the Future” In Researching Management?

Summing Up Jim Heskett's readers wonder whether the best business management ideas over the next decade will be for cleaning up the messes from the previous one. (Online forum has closed; next forum opens March 10) Closed for comment; 104 Comments posted.

How Should Management Deal With “Anonymous”?

Summing Up When it comes to the leaky Web, Jim Heskett's readers say assume the worst and act accordingly. (New forum on February 3.) Closed for comment; 33 Comments posted.

Making Right Choices: Art or Science?

Summing Up Is choice an art or science? Jim Heskett's readers wonder whether the question is the right one to ask. (Online forum has closed; next forum opens January 6.) Closed for comment; 46 Comments posted.

Why Do We Chase Stars?

Summing Up: Is it wise for companies to recruit "star" performers? Discussing the book "Chasing Stars", Jim Heskett's readers support the idea that talent is portable between employers and that women are better at it than men. (Next Forum opens December 2) Closed for comment; 46 Comments posted.

Will Transparency in CEO Compensation Have Unintended Consequences?

Summing Up: The Dodd-Frank legislation requiring companies to compare CEO compensation with rank-and-file pay will have little or no impact on executive compensation levels, say Jim Heskett's readers. (Online forum has closed; next forum opens November 4.) Closed for comment; 55 Comments posted.

How Transparent Should Boards Be?

Summing Up: When should boards fire CEOs? How transparent should boards be? Jim Heskett's readers are divided as they look at the HP/Mark Hurd case. What do you think? (Online forum has closed; next forum opens October 8.) Closed for comment; 50 Comments posted.

What Is Customer Opinion Good For?

Summing Up: Are customer wishes irrelevant when creating a new product? Jim Heskett's readers say it depends on the product, on market goals, and where you are in the development cycle. (Online forum has closed; next forum opens September 2.) Closed for comment; 73 Comments posted.

Is Profit as a “Direct Goal” Overrated?

Summing Up: The word profit provoked a wide range of issues and emotions among respondents, says Jim Heskett. It also launched debates, and many readers argued for measures of success other than profit. (Online forum has closed; next forum opens August 5.) Closed for comment; 84 Comments posted.

How Do You Weigh Strategy, Execution, and Culture in an Organization’s Success?

Summing up: Respondents who ventured to place weights on the determinants of success gave the nod to culture by a wide margin, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. (Online forum now closed. Next forum opens July 2.) Closed for comment; 77 Comments posted.

Is Denial Endemic to Management?

Poring over reader responses to his May column, HBS professor Jim Heskett is struck by the fact that they include behavioral, structural, and even mechanical remedies. (Forum now closed. Next forum opens June 3.) Closed for comment; 49 Comments posted.

Why Are Fewer and Fewer U.S. Employees Satisfied With Their Jobs?

This month's column yielded many hypotheses to explain why U.S. employees' job satisfaction is at a 23-year low, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. Readers also offered antidotes to job malaise. (Online forum now closed. New forum begins May 5.) Closed for comment; 95 Comments posted.

To What Degree Does “Identity” Affect Economic Performance?

Summing up comments to his March column, Jim Heskett says perceptions vary widely on the issue of "identity" and economic performance, particularly as it applies to the U.S. What will it take to turn around negative trends in employee identity? (Forum now closed. Next forum begins April 2.) Closed for comment; 33 Comments posted.

What’s the Best Way to Make Careful Decisions?

Summing up reader responses, Professor Jim Heskett finds compelling arguments for a process involving intuition based on analysis and experience. Should people also make their own decision-making process more transparent to others and to themselves? (Next forum begins March 3.) Closed for comment; 87 Comments posted.

Is a Stringent Climate Change Agreement a Pot of Gold?

Reading this month's comments, HBS professor Jim Heskett wonders if we even need a climate change agreement as a catalyst to foster innovation and the VC investment required to support it. (Online forum has closed; next forum opens February 4.) Closed for comment; 19 Comments posted.

Should Immigration Policies Be More Welcoming to Low-Skilled Workers?

Immigration is a topic that stirs passions globally, judging from the responses to this month's column, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. Readers suggested ways to bring immigration policy into alignment with the reality of what is happening at borders and in workplaces around the world. (Online forum now closed. Next forum begins January 6.) Closed for comment; 43 Comments posted.

What is the Role of Government Vis--Vis Capitalism?

The debate this month boiled down to the extent of government's role in relation to capitalism, says professor Jim Heskett. While some readers argued for a relatively narrow role for government, others disagreed, and commented on the challenges it faces today. (Forum now closed. Next forum begins Dec. 3.) Closed for comment; 59 Comments posted.

Can the “Masks of Command” Coexist with Authentic Leadership?

Summing up. "Instructors seek case studies that provoke discussion on both sides of an issue and raise many questions. We seem to have found such an issue this month," says Professor Jim Heskett, reviewing nearly 80 insightful comments. (Online forum now closed; next forum begins November 4.) Closed for comment; 79 Comments posted.

Are Retention Bonuses Worth the Investment?

There is a time and place for retention bonuses but they should be used sparingly, wrote many respondents to this month's column, says Professor Jim Heskett. Others challenged the value of bonuses, and suggested compelling alternatives. (Online forum now closed; next forum begins October 2.) Closed for comment; 42 Comments posted.

Why Can’t Americans Get Health Care Right?

Change is desperately needed, agreed readers of Professor Jim Heskett's online forum. But how to make that change remains in doubt. What can Americans learn from solutions implemented by other countries? (Forum now closed; next forum begins September 4.) Closed for comment; 103 Comments posted.

Are You Ready to Manage in an Irrational World?

It is becoming clear that human behavior is much less rational than we assumed, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. Judging from replies to this month's question, there are many nuances to managing in an irrational world. (Online forum now closed. Next forum begins August 7.) Closed for comment; 97 Comments posted.

What Does Slower Economic Growth Really Mean?

Respondents to this month's column by HBS professor Jim Heskett came close to general agreement on the proposition that economic growth is not measured properly by GDP, calling for new indicators. Jim sums up. (Online forum now closed. Next forum begins July 6.) Closed for comment; 44 Comments posted.

Do Innovation and Entrepreneurship Have to Be Incompatible with Organization Size?

Like a good case study, this month's question divided respondents nearly down the middle, says professor Jim Heskett. Can managers lead both a large, established organization and encourage intrapreneurial effort inside it? Readers weighed in. (Online forum now closed. Next forum begins June 5.) Closed for comment; 81 Comments posted.

How Much Obsolescence Can Business and Society Absorb?

This month's question brought out both the poets and the engineers among respondents. The rapid pace of new technology adoption within organizations implies change for management and society, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. How does change affect the open sharing of information? (Forum now closed; next forum begins May 1.) Closed for comment; 41 Comments posted.

How Frank or Deceptive Should Leaders Be?

HBS professor Jim Heskett sums up comments to this month's column. Given the possibility that a naturally pessimistic (or perhaps more realistic) CEO might adversely affect everything from market reactions to employee morale, HBS Working Knowledge readers' comments are full of advice for honesty, candor, and an optimistic bias. Closed for comment; 119 Comments posted.

Why Can’t We Figure Out How to Select Leaders?

Managers discuss their own experience in organizations in response to February's column. All good leaders teach as well as learn, says Jim Heskett. Is it possible with any degree of confidence to select people for certain leadership jobs? (Forum now closed. Next forum begins March 5.) Closed for comment; 88 Comments posted.

Is the World Really Flat?

A provocative new book, The Venturesome Economy, argues that the world isn't flat at all, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. But in supporting innovation, does flatness even matter? Readers around the world weighed in with a constellation of viewpoints. (Online forum now closed; next forum begins February 5.) Closed for comment; 41 Comments posted.

10 Reasons to Design a Better Corporate Culture

Organizations with strong, adaptive cultures enjoy labor cost advantages, great employee and customer loyalty, and a smoother on-ramp in leadership succession. A book excerpt from The Ownership Quotient: Putting the Service Profit Chain to Work for Unbeatable Competitive Advantage by HBS professors Jim Heskett and W. Earl Sasser and coauthor Joe Wheeler. Read More

Can Housing and Credit be “Nudged” Back to Health?

Did human frailty cause this crisis? Several thinkers have come forward with a suggestion for improvements to fiscal policy that are based on fostering better decisions while preserving consumer choice, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. What should be done? What do you think? (Online forum now closed. Next forum begins January 7.) Closed for comment; 38 Comments posted.

How Much Can You Ask of Your Customers?

Think of IKEA and eBay. Some popular companies make it easy for customers to become "volunteers" in the organization's success, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. Is there a downside? Or will customer-fueled strategies provide competitive advantage in the future? Online forum now closed. Closed for comment; 28 Comments posted.

Workout vs. Bailout: Should Government Take Advantage of the Buffett Effect?

The depth of the global financial crisis is becoming clearer day by day, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. Respondents to this month's column offered creative solutions, and by and large resisted the temptation to venture into the realm of ideology. (Online forum now closed.) Closed for comment; 50 Comments posted.

Is Case Method Instruction Due for an Overhaul?

Online forum now closed. The case method of teaching business management has come under criticism on a number of fronts as educators rethink how to incorporate new teaching tools and methods made available by technology. Responses to Professor Jim Heskett's recent column, however, suggest that the case method might even be gaining relevance over time. Closed for comment; 111 Comments posted.

Has the Time Come for “Stretch” in Management?

Summing Up HBS professor Jim Heskett sums up comments from his readers on the topic of stretch goals. Does stretch still make sense as an organizing principle? What, if anything, should be done to ensure that stretch is allowed to flourish in companies today? What do you think? Closed for comment; 68 Comments posted.

Are Followers About to Get Their Due?

Online forum now closed. Leadership may be much-discussed, but followership merits equal attention, suggests HBS professor Jim Heskett. As a follower, what advice would you give other followers who want to have an impact on their jobs and organizations? As a leader, what do you do to foster good followership? Closed for comment; 77 Comments posted.

Why Don’t Managers Think Deeply?

Online forum closed. Summing Up. According to Gerald and Lindsay Zaltman, nearly all research techniques commonly used today probe humans only at their conscious level, though it is the subconscious level that really determines behavior. Closed for comment; 136 Comments posted.

What is the Future of State Capitalism?

In state capitalism, is the operative word "capitalism"? State capitalism is neither to be applauded nor feared, judging from the tone of responses to May's column. Jim Heskett sums up. Online forum now closed. Closed for comment; 43 Comments posted.

The New Math of Customer Relationships

Harvard Business School professor emeritus James L. Heskett has spent much of his career exploring how satisfied employees and customers can drive lifelong profit. Heskett and his colleagues will soon introduce a new concept into the business management literature: customer and employee "owners." Read More

Who Owns Intellectual Property?

Online forum now closed. Is intellectual property becoming community property? While the impact of change on the valuation of IP is of concern to some respondents, others wonder whether the issues are overblown. HBS professor Jim Heskett sums up responses to this month's column. Closed for comment; 40 Comments posted.

Where Will Management Innovation Take Us?

Management could change a lot in the coming years, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. A few reasons: continued development of the Internet and the transparency and communities it has spawned, and new attitudes toward work. But will innovation in management mostly be confined to entrepreneurs? What do you think? Online forum now closed. Closed for comment; 60 Comments posted.

How Sustainable Is Sustainability in a For-Profit Organization?

Online forum now closed. For managers, sustainability can mean the integration and intersection of social, environmental, and economic responsibilities. The concept is admirable, says Jim Heskett, but does it also confuse managers entrusted with the bottom line? How should they make trade-offs? Jim sums up reader responses. Closed for comment; 77 Comments posted.

Does Judgment Trump Experience?

It's a question as relevant for business as for the U.S. presidential campaign, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. If "judgment capability" is a function of experience, what kind of experience is important? Does plenty of experience really improve judgment? Online forum now CLOSED. Closed for comment; 111 Comments posted.

What Is Management’s Role in Innovation?

Online forum closed. It's an open question whether management, as it is currently practiced, contributes much to creativity and innovation, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. What changes will allow managers, particularly in larger organizations, to add value to the creative process? What do you think? Closed for comment; 93 Comments posted.

Why Is Succession So Badly Managed?

Online forum now closed. CEO and other leadership talent may be best developed within a firm rather than imported, says Jim Heskett. If such people—insiders with an outsider's perspective—provide answers to the need for such things as continuity, intimate knowledge of the organization, and a fresh look at the business, why don't we see more of them? Closed for comment; 77 Comments posted.

Has Managerial Capitalism Peaked?

Summing Up. Professor Jim Heskett considers his reader's comments on the growing imbalance between what John Bogle terms managerial capitalism and owners' capitalism. Closed for comment; 30 Comments posted.

Are Elite Business Schools Fostering the Deprofessionalization of Management?

Summing Up. The founders of top business schools wanted to make management a profession similar to law, medicine, and theology. But the results look different, according to a new book, From Higher Aims to Hired Hands, by HBS professor Rakesh Khurana. Now Jim Heskett asks: How, and to what extent, are business schools themselves contributing to the situation? Forum now closed. Closed for comment; 70 Comments posted.

How Will Millennials Manage?

Gen Yers or "millennials"—those born beginning in the late 1970s—are generally bright, cheery, seemingly well-adjusted, and cooperative, says Jim Heskett. Their work styles are sometimes confounding, though. As managers, how will they shape organizations of the future? Online forum now closed. Closed for comment; 112 Comments posted.

How Much of Leadership Is About Control, Delegation, or Theater?

Forum now closed. Summing up the many responses, Jim Heskett says that the mix of control, delegation, and theater employed by successful leaders depends on timing and circumstances. "The strongest messages I received were that if leadership involves control, it is only over setting an organization's course and priorities." Closed for comment; 127 Comments posted.

How Should Pay Be Linked to Performance?

Online forum now CLOSED. Professor Jim Heskett sums up 98 reader responses from around the world. As he concludes, is there another subject as important as this one about which we assume so much and know so little? Closed for comment; 98 Comments posted.

How Do Managers Think?

"Uncertainty sometimes is essential for success" asserts a new book, How Doctors Think. The work of doctors raises intriguing questions about managing, says Jim Heskett, since diagnostics are an important part of managerial decision-making, too. Jim sums up nearly 60 responses from readers around the world, including practicing physicians. Closed for comment; 59 Comments posted.

Will Market Forces Stop Global Warming?

HBS professor Jim Heskett sums up many creative responses from readers on the role of business in combatting global climate change. Online forum now closed. Closed for comment; 59 Comments posted.

What Is the Government’s Role in U.S. Healthcare?

Healthcare will grab ever more headlines in the U.S. in the coming months, says Jim Heskett. Any service that is on track to consume 40 percent of the gross national product of the world's largest economy by the year 2050 will be hard to ignore. But are we addressing healthcare cost issues with the creativity they deserve? What do you think? Closed for comment; 66 Comments posted.

Is There Too Little “Know Why” In Business?

There's know-how in business and then there's "know why." Purpose is a powerful motivator on many levels, says Jim Heskett. Can we aspire to a strong sense of "know why" even if our organization is not out to change the world? What do you think? Online forum now open. Closed for comment; 83 Comments posted.

Neuro Economics: Science or Science Fiction?

The growing use of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) devices for studying decision making means that in 2007 we may hear a number of striking conclusions based on studies involving a small number of brain scans, says Jim Heskett. What are the more general implications of this trend? Will it have strong explanatory as well as manipulative potential for us as consumers, managers, and citizens? Closed for comment; 61 Comments posted.

How Important Is Quality of Labor? And How Is It Achieved?

A new book by Gregory Clark identifies "labor quality" as the major enticement for capital flows that lead to economic prosperity. By defining labor quality in terms of discipline and attitudes toward work, this argument minimizes the long-term threat of outsourcing to developed economies. By understanding labor quality, can we better confront anxieties about outsourcing and immigration? Closed for comment; 48 Comments posted.

What’s to Be Done About Performance Reviews?

What can we do to make performance reviews more productive and less distasteful? Should their objectives be scaled back to just one or two? Should they be disengaged from the determination of compensation and, if so, how? Closed for comment; 93 Comments posted.

How Do We Respond to the “Dependency Ratio” Dilemma?

Without knowing it, we have already heard a great deal about "dependency ratios." We can expect to hear a lot more, both at the level of nations and individual firms. What is the answer to a dilemma that we are going to be confronting more and more frequently? Closed for comment; 34 Comments posted.

Are We Ready for Self-Management?

On its face, self-management looks like a "win-win" answer to the scarcity of good managers and the predominance of low-involvement entry-level jobs. But are sufficient numbers of entry-level employees ready for self-management? And is management ready? Closed for comment; 94 Comments posted.

What Happens When the Economics of Scarcity Meets the Economics of Abundance?

The "Long Tail," a term coined by Chris Anderson—and the title of his new book—describes the item popularity curve. Does the Long Tail represent a paradigm shift for business and consumer behavior? What are its implications for management going forward? Closed for comment; 36 Comments posted.

How Important Is “Executive Intelligence” for Leaders?

Leadership talent is enjoying a perceived "seller's market," says Jim Heskett. As we select and train future leaders for all levels of our organizations, how much effort do we really spend assessing executive intelligence as opposed to personality and style? What do YOU think? Closed for comment; 97 Comments posted.

How Important Is the “Service Sector Effect” on Productivity?

In the cost-driven U.S. service economy, are worker benefits being sacrificed in the name of lower-cost services to customers? Are these social costs more than offset by the benefits of job creation, the consumption stimulus that spurs job creation, and lower unemployment? Closed for comment; 16 Comments posted.

Who Will Cast a Longer Shadow on the 21st Century: Friedman or Galbraith?

Both of these economists greatly influenced the political economics of the twentieth century. But what of this century? Which set of views will most shape the policies of governments and our way of life? Closed for comment; 39 Comments posted.

Has Globalization Reached Its Peak?

A new book argues that globalization has led corporations to outsource too much of their work and, more important, their intellectual capital. What with the increasing fluidity of labor markets, is it all too much for global managers to handle? Closed for comment; 26 Comments posted.

The China Dilemma for U.S. Firms: Comply, Resist, or Leave?

If you were an advisor to the senior managements of these companies doing business in China, what would you propose that they do? Closed for comment; 34 Comments posted.

Should CEOs of Public Companies Offer Earnings Guidance?

A small but growing chorus of public company CEOs is deciding not to provide quarterly earnings guidance. Is this a good or bad development for shareholders, investors, analysts, the marketplace, and the company’s short- and long-term health? Closed for comment; 17 Comments posted.

Should More Transparency Extend to Education for Management?

The pros and cons of grade disclosure is a hot topic at business schools these days, including Harvard Business School. Should students have to disclose their grades to recruiters? And how does this issue connect to the need for greater transparency in business generally? Closed for comment; 35 Comments posted.

Is Growth Good?

What are the moral consequences of economic growth? It’s a subject that political economist Benjamin M. Friedman tackles in a new book. Growth numbers may move markets, but do they also lull us into a false sense of satisfaction and security? Closed for comment; 7 Comments posted.

Is Less Becoming More?

Americans these days have a lot more choices in products and services. But do consumers and suppliers suffer from choice overload? If so, what does this abundance mean for companies? Closed for comment; 21 Comments posted.

What’s the Future of Globally Organized Labor?

There’s an ongoing story of fragmentation in the union movement in North America. Will the concept of cooperation and individual sacrifice for the common good work in a global labor market populated by large multinational employers? Closed for comment; 11 Comments posted.

What are the Lessons of New Orleans?

The response by public officials to the Hurricane Katrina disaster will be analyzed for years. Can lessons learned in the private sector instruct us in minimizing the suffering and damage from inevitable future calamities? Closed for comment; 44 Comments posted.

Is There an “Efficient Market” in CEO Compensation?

There appears to be little or no relationship between the size of American CEO compensation awards and actual corporate performance. Will change come from the increased level of competition among global companies with significantly different approaches to the compensation of senior managers? Closed for comment; 12 Comments posted.

How Can Business Schools Be Made More Relevant?

Are business schools overemphasizing research at the expense of practical experience in the classroom? Are they preparing graduates in useful ways for careers in management? Closed for comment; 42 Comments posted.

Is a “Level Playing Field” a Good Thing?

There is a lot of talk these days about a level playing field, sparked in part by Thomas L. Friedman's bestseller, The World is Flat. But what is a level playing field in the world today, and does everyone play by the same rules? Closed for comment; 16 Comments posted.

Where is Consumer Generated Marketing Taking Us?

There is a kind of "always on" communication system shaping up between the most committed of tech-minded users and those who supply them. Is the close monitoring of developing trends always in our best interests as marketers and customers? Closed for comment; 13 Comments posted.

Can an Organization’s “Deep Smarts” Be Preserved?

When employees leave, they take more than their coat and hat. How can companies better preserve the accumulated knowledge of individuals? Isn’t that what separates average companies from truly great ones? Closed for comment; 24 Comments posted.

Should Business Management Be Regarded as a Profession?

How would the business world—and society—be different if managers needed to be licensed the way doctors, lawyers, and the clergy are? Closed for comment; 22 Comments posted.

If You Blink, Will You Miss?

Malcolm Gladwell's popular new book is about the power of snap judgements and the ways in which people develop the ability to make them. Can—and should—people make typical business decisions in the blink of an eye? Closed for comment; 30 Comments posted.

Public Pension Reform: Does Mexico Have the Answer?

Mexico may have found a formula for avoiding most of the misfortunes that could arise when individuals invest their own funds. What's the right way to support an aging workforce? And why is it that a concept—life-long security—that should bring comfort to all of us is so distasteful to address in public? Closed for comment; 10 Comments posted.

Why Do Managers Fail to Act on Their Predictions?

Important trends are identified as part of nearly every strategic planning exercise. But the efforts to address them too often stop there. How come? Closed for comment; 15 Comments posted.

Should the Wisdom of Crowds Influence Our Thinking About Leadership?

New research suggests that large groups of people are better than a few experts at everything from estimating the true magnitude of things to diagnosing causes of problems to predicting outcomes. If this is correct, what does it say about the true nature of effective leadership? Closed for comment; 26 Comments posted.

Does Speed Trump Intellectual Property?

Speed can enhance product development and innovation, but speed can also be used effectively by fast imitators to both save design costs and preempt market share. Closed for comment; 17 Comments posted.

How Do We Prepare for a World Without Cheap Oil?

How should the world (and firms, and countries) best adjust to an age of more expensive energy? Among the possible alternatives for tackling the problem, three seem to stand out. Closed for comment; 43 Comments posted.

For Greater Transparency, Is Section 404 an Effective Response?

Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires that managers certify the integrity of their internal controls for financial reporting. In the end, are shareholders getting their money’s worth? Are more costly amendments to come? Closed for comment; 15 Comments posted.

Work-Life: Is Productivity in the Balance?

Many organizations regard work-life benefits as an investment designed, among other things, to attract and retain talent. How do such benefits affect productivity for the individuals, the company, and society? Closed for comment; 38 Comments posted.

How Important are Big Ideas?

A couple new books, including most controversially Does IT Matter? focus on sources of competitive advantage. Are management concepts on their own the best way to compete? And, does it matter that new concepts—and their guru practitioners—seem to come from the U.S.? Closed for comment; 21 Comments posted.

How Much Is Enough?

A new book by Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson, Just Enough, suggests four dimensions for looking at personal success: happiness, achievement, significance, and legacy. Is this a useful way for hardworking managers to gauge their sense of self-worth? Closed for comment; 30 Comments posted.

Should We Brace Ourselves for Another Era of M&A Value Destruction?

It looks like more mergers and acquisitions are on the horizon. Time and again, why do so few mergers and acquisitions meet expectations? Is the information about human resources just too difficult to obtain during a sensitive acquisition process? Closed for comment; 11 Comments posted.

Are Customer Loyalty Initiatives Worth the Investment?

What are the loyalty rules? Have managers been led too far afield with customer loyalty management programs? Closed for comment; 37 Comments posted.

Leadership: A Matter of Sustaining or Eliminating Groupthink?

Fighting groupthink is probably just as worthy an endeavor as attaining "buy in." But what are the risks for the leader and his or her subordinates? What has worked for you? What hasn't worked? Closed for comment; 13 Comments posted.

How Should We Think About the Exportation of Jobs?

It looks like productivity increases in the U.S. are accommodating growth with little increase in the number of jobs. Doesn’t it suggest that the jobs that people do hold must be getting better? Closed for comment; 19 Comments posted.

Is This the Twilight Era for the Managed Mutual Fund?

Once a "safe bet," mutual funds are facing a rocky future as investment managers come under fire for such mismanagement as arbitrage trading. These alleged double dealings will end up costing investors a bundle in the long run. Are we witnessing mutual funds' swan song? Closed for comment; 11 Comments posted.

Can Investors Have Too Much Accounting Transparency?

The earnings of all publicly owned organizations may soon take a hit as the organizations comply with various provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and new FASB rules. Are these and perhaps other "cures" to the corporate scandals really worth the cost to investors? Closed for comment; 12 Comments posted.

Is “the Innovator’s Solution” to Sustained Corporate Growth an Unnatural Act?

In their new book, The Innovator’s Solution, HBS professor Clayton Christensen and co-author Michael E. Raynor propose four guidelines for developing a "disruptive growth engine." The problem: According to the authors, few organizations have been able to achieve more than one disruptive technology in their lifetimes. Why is it so difficult? Closed for comment; 11 Comments posted.

To Whom Should Boards be Accountable?

A well-respected and influential newspaper was forced into a public auction by a hostile buy-out offer. Let's say you were on the board. How would you have reacted? Closed for comment; 18 Comments posted.

Are We Facing an Attitude Shortage?

How should organizations juggle the need for the right skills as well as the right attitudes? What goes wrong when one or the other is missing? Closed for comment; 35 Comments posted.

Can We Have Too Much Productivity Improvement?

From airlines to professional services, is improvement in productivity always a good thing, especially right now? Is it the ultimate answer for foundering economies? Or will it increase the ranks of the unemployed? You decide. Closed for comment; 38 Comments posted.

What Can Aspiring Leaders Be Taught?

Let’s say you are left in charge of an MBA program. How would you and your students sort through the tensions in corporate life vis-à-vis society, employees, and investors? How would you build those learnings into your program and make them stick? Closed for comment; 38 Comments posted.

Is This a Golden Era for Marketing Productivity?

This should be a good time to be a marketer and a consumer as well, suggests Jim Heskett. More focused sales, less waste in advertising, an industry in tune with its best customers. Is this your experience? Do you think marketing has hit its stride? Can it? Closed for comment; 9 Comments posted.

Should Global Business Initiatives Be Devalued?

Are executives who ask this question overreacting to current events? Or, if the current geopolitical events are merely symptoms of a greater and longer struggle, should we begin to think about devaluing, discounting, or postponing global initiatives in favor of more predictable business investments "closer to home"? Closed for comment; 11 Comments posted.

How Your Employees and Customers Drive a New Value Profit Chain

Thinking of your customers and employees as key creators of value can produce profitable results. Harvard Business School professors W. Earl Sasser and James L. Heskett discuss their new book, The Value Profit Chain. Plus: Book excerpt. Read More

Are Conditions Right for the Next Accounting Scandal?

Will risk-averse corporate audit committees' natural tendencies to engage the biggest accounting firms insure that the current accounting oligopoly will become even stronger? Closed for comment; 12 Comments posted.

Can Business Schools Teach the Craft of Getting Things Done?

No one doubts business schools are expert at teaching management theory. But what about teaching real-world basics? In short, can students be taught execution? Closed for comment; 25 Comments posted.

China: The Next Big Market Opportunity or the Next Big Bubble?

Is China post WTO a land of great entrepreneurial opportunity, or a house of cards threatening to collapse on foreign investors? Closed for comment; 20 Comments posted.