Business Lessons from How Marvel Makes Movies


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Spencer Harrison, an associate professor at INSEAD, says that managers in any industry can learn from the success of the Marvel movie franchise. While some sequels lack creativity, Marvel manages to make each of its new releases just different enough, so consumers are not just satisfied but also surprised. Research shows that several strategies drive this success; they include bringing in different types of talent while also maintaining a stable core creative team then working together to challenge the superhero action-film formula. And, Harrison argues, leaders in other industries and functions can easily apply them to their own businesses. He is the co-author of the HBR article “Marvel’s Blockbuster Machine.”

JUUL: Leading the Vaping Revolution


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In his case, “JUUL and the Vaping Revolution,” Harvard Business School professor Mike Toffel discusses the controversy surrounding the exponential growth of JUUL vaping products in 2018, in particular the success of its e-cigarettes with teenage high school students who had never smoked.

Career Crossroads


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Are you weighing the trade-offs of a big career decision? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser at the executive search firm Egon Zehnder. They talk through what to do when you want to transition from individual contributor to management, you’re mulling over a more senior role at a smaller organization, or you’re having doubts about staying on a high-pressure career track.

The 3 Types of Leaders of Innovative Companies


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Deborah Ancona and Kate Isaacs, researchers at MIT Sloan School of Management, say many companies struggle to be nimble with a command-and-control leadership culture. They studied Xerox’s R&D outfit PARC and the materials science company W.L. Gore & Associates and found these highly innovative organizations have three kinds of leaders: entrepreneurial, enabling, and architecting ones. These roles work together to give direction and avoid creative chaos. Ancona and Isaacs are coauthors of the HBR article “Nimble Leadership.”

The Controversial History of United Fruit


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Harvard Business School professor Geoffrey Jones discusses the overthrow of President Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala in 1954 in a U.S.-backed coup in support of the United Fruit Co. (now Chiquita Brands International). Jones examines the impact and role of the company in the Guatemalan economy.

Stopping White-Collar Crime at Your Company


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Eugene Soltes, associate professor at Harvard Business School, studies white-collar crime and has even interviewed convicts behind bars. While most people think of high-profile scandals like Enron, he says every sizable organization has lapses in integrity. He shares practical tools for managers to identify pockets of ethical violations to prevent them from ballooning into serious reputational and financial damage. Soltes is the author of the HBR article “Where Is Your Company Most Prone to Lapses in Integrity?”

Nonprofit Workplaces


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Does standard work advice not apply to you because you’re at a nonprofit? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Joan Garry, a nonprofit leadership consultant and former executive director. They talk through what to do when you’re trying to advance amid a leadership change, your job seems to shift as sources of funding do, or you’re unsure how to describe your work to people in the private sector.

How to Fix Your Hiring Process


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Peter Cappelli, professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and director of its Center for Human Resources, says managers at companies large and small are doing hiring all wrong. A confluence of changes, from the onslaught of online tools to a rise in recruitment outsourcing, have promised more efficiency but actually made us less effective at finding the best candidates. Cappelli says there are better, simpler ways to measure whether someone will be a good employee and advises companies to focus more on internal talent. He’s the author of the HBR article “Your Approach to Hiring is All Wrong.”

Surveillance Capitalism


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“All digital infrastructure is used to shape human behavior in the direction that will be successful in the marketplace,” says Shoshana Zuboff, whose latest book, “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism,” is a primer for understanding how technology companies are shaping our economy and society.