Most Popular Stories 2007
Stories and research about career advancement, negotiation, and leadership are perennially popular at HBS Working Knowledge, and 2007 was no exception. But this past year our readers also showed growing interest in the topics of team performance, the networked economy, and innovation.
Here are the 20 most popular stories from 2007.
- How Much of Leadership Is About Control, Delegation, or Theater?
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."
- HBS Cases: How Wikipedia Works (or Doesn't)
For HBS professor Andrew McAfee, Wikipedia is a surprisingly high-quality product. But when his concept of "Enterprise 2.0" turned up on the online encyclopedia one day—and was recommended for deletion—McAfee and colleague Karim R. Lakhani knew they had the makings of an insightful case study on collaboration and governance in the digital world.
- Feeling Stuck? Getting Past Impasse
Feeling "stuck," as psychologically painful as it is, is the first step to awareness of new opportunities in career and in life, says Harvard Business School's Timothy Butler. In this Q&A and excerpt from his new book, Getting Unstuck, he explains six steps for getting from here to there.
- The Key to Managing Stars? Think Team
Stars don't shine alone. As Harvard Business School's Boris Groysberg and Linda-Eling Lee reveal in new research, it is imperative that top performers as well as their managers take into account the quality of colleagues. Groysberg and Lee explain the implications for star mobility and retention in this Q&A.
- Making the Move to General Manager
Managers face a critical transition when they rise from functional expert to general manager. It's an exciting shift but it's also fraught with pitfalls. A new executive education program at Harvard Business School aims to smooth and accelerate this transition, as professor and program chair Benjamin C. Esty explains.
- 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?
- Encouraging Dissent in Decision-Making
Our natural tendency to maintain silence and not rock the boat, a flaw at once personal and organizational, results in bad—sometimes deadly—decisions. Think New Coke, The Bay of Pigs, and the Columbia space shuttle disaster, for starters. Here's how leaders can encourage all points of view.
- Are Great Teams Less Productive?
While studying teamwork, Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson chanced upon a seeming paradox: Well-led teams appeared to make more mistakes than average teams. Could this be true? As it turned out, good teams, which value communication, report more errors. In a recent research paper Edmondson and doctoral student Sara Singer explore this and other hidden barriers to organizational learning.
- Five Steps to Better Family Negotiations
Family relationships are complicated, even more so when your uncle, mother, or daughter is your business partner. Harvard Business School's John A. Davis and Deepak Malhotra outline 5 ways to analyze and improve dealmaking and dispute resolution while protecting family ties. As they write, family negotiations are difficult yet also contain built-in advantages.
- Sharpening Your Skills: Negotiation
A collection of Working Knowledge stories offering tips and insights for improving your negotiation skills.
- Understanding the 'Want' vs. 'Should' Decision
Pizza or salad? Consumers use different approaches to buying things they want (pizza) versus items they should buy (salad). In their research on online grocery-buying habits and DVD rentals, Harvard Business School's Katy Milkman and Todd Rogers, along with Professor Max Bazerman, provide insights on the want-should conflict and the implications for managers in areas such as demand forecasting, consumer spending habits, and effective store layout.
- HBS Cases: When Good Teams Go Bad
Know when teamwork doesn't work—and how to fix it. Professors Jeff Polzer and Scott Snook teach "The Army Crew Team" case and the dilemma faced by a rowing coach who has great individual parts but can't get them to synchronize.
- Handicapping the Best Countries for Business
India? South Africa? Russia? Which are the best countries for a firm to invest in? In a new book, Professor Richard Vietor looks at the economic, political, and structural strengths and weaknesses of ten countries and tells readers how to analyze the development of these areas in the future. Read our Q&A and book excerpt.
- Podcast: The Authentic Leader
The best leaders are not the "follow me over the hill" type, says Professor Bill George. Rather, they're the people who lead from the heart as well as the head, and whose leadership style springs from their fundamental character and values. George discusses his new book True North, co-written with Peter Sims.
- Delivering the Digital Goods: iTunes vs. Peer-to-Peer
Apple's iTunes music download service and illegal peer-to-peer music downloads offer two contrasting approaches to delivering digital content to users. Can Apple and the recording industry seriously compete against free? Do iTunes and p2p help each other in some ways? Professor Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and collaborator Andres Hervas-Drane discuss their recent research on competition in digital distribution.
- Jumpstarting Innovation: Using Disruption to Your Advantage
Fostering innovation in a mature company can often seem like a swim upstream—the needs of the existing business often overwhelm attempts to create something new. Harvard Business School professor Lynda M. Applegate shows how one of the forces that threatens established companies can also be a source of salvation: disruptive change. Plus: Innovation worksheets.
- Bringing 'Lean' Principles to Service Industries
Toyota and other top manufacturing companies have embraced, improved, and profited by lean production methods. But the payoffs have not been nearly as dramatic for service industries applying lean principles. HBS professor David Upton and doctoral student Bradley Staats look at the experience of Indian software services provider Wipro for answers.
- How Do You Value a "Free" Customer?
Sometimes a valuable customer may be the person who never buys a thing. In a new research paper, Professor Sunil Gupta discusses how to assess the profitability of a customer in a networked setting—a "free" customer who nevertheless influences your bottom line.
- Businesses Beware: The World Is Not Flat
With apologies to Thomas Friedman, managers who believe the hype of a flat world do so at their own risk, says HBS professor Pankaj Ghemawat. National borders still matter a lot for business strategists. While identifying similarities from one place to the next is essential, effective cross-border strategies will take careful stock of differences as well.
- Will Market Forces Stop Global Warming?
HBS professor Jim Heskett sums up many creative responses from readers on the role of business in combating global climate change.