Best of 2015

HBS has a list of top stories for 2015. Here are some that piqued my interest:

Management / Marketing

Need to Solve a Problem? Take a Break From Collaborating
“The most-clustered groups gathered 5 percent more information than the least-clustered groups, … However, clustering also seemed to inhibit the breadth and number of answers that the players proposed…. ‘We realized that the network structure seemed to have opposite effects for searching for information and searching for solutions'”

Almost everything I do is in teams, in networks. Knowing that certain team structures are better than others (at specific tasks), this implies I should be more critical when engaging people within/across the company.

How Our Brain Determines if the Product is Worth the Price
“When the product came first, the decision question seemed to be one of ‘Do I like it?’ and when the price came first, the question seemed to be ‘Is it worth it?'”

When companies advertise, or when price and product are shown sequentially, the sequence can be very important to how consumers perceive the product. For example, should an advertiser focus on product features or specify price in the ad?

Tech / San Francisco:

HBS Cases: The Battle for San Francisco
San Francisco, the Bay Area, and other cities are getting more polarized as technology companies grow.
“At the root of the issue are a series of questions: What is the problem? Who is responsible for it? And who is responsible for fixing it? Coming up with answers to these questions is not easy.”

I care about SF because I grew up here (college, early work, now). One problem I have with this is that the case was written based on interviews with ex-HBS-MBA’s: “They invited 22 Bay Area-based Harvard MBAs who had graduated as recently as a year ago and as long as 30 years ago to a series of roundtables to discuss their perspectives on inequality and the tension between the community and technology firms and their employees. Far from the unfeeling interlopers depicted by the Google bus protesters, they found a group that cared deeply about preserving the culture of the city, and that wrestled with how they might understand and change the underlying conflicts.” I don’t quite understand how a single set of perspectives can come up with answers.

How to Predict if a New Business Idea is Any Good
“Expert interest was highly predictive of success in sectors that were R&D intensive, such as energy, hardware, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals. However, in non-R&D-intensive sectors, such as mobile apps and software, the ability to predict success was no better than random.”

When I was interviewing with startups, my main concern was about failure. One of the advice that resonated with me was by Andy Rachleff: “You get more credit than you deserve for being part of a successful company, and less credit than you deserve for being part of an unsuccessful company. Success will help propel your career. At a fast-growing company, chances are good you’ll have a higher position two years after you join. At a slow-growth company, no matter how good a job you do, you won’t have the same opportunities to advance.”

Tech, like its economic-boom predecessor, has a gender / race / diversity issue. These two articles deal with gender.

Kids Benefit From Having a Working Mom
“Women whose moms worked outside the home are more likely to have jobs themselves, are more likely to hold supervisory responsibility at those jobs, and earn higher wages than women whose mothers stayed home full time”

Men Want Powerful Jobs More Than Women Do
“While women and men believe they are equally able to attain high-level leadership positions, men want that power more than women do”

Both studies are based on surveys, so they are more descriptive about the current situation, not so much prescriptive. Companies need to look both inward and outward to understand gender issues at the workplace.

For those thinking about their careers, here is a fun bit of research:

‘Humblebragging’ is a Bad Strategy, Especially in a Job Interview
“The takeaway: By public perception, complainers are better than braggers. And humblebraggers are the worst.”

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