Management Ideas from Harvard Business Review

This article is about 3 topics discovered in “HBR’s 10 Must Reads 2020 : The Definitive Management Ideas of the Year from Harvard Business Review”. This book is an awesome collection of articles with ideas, insights, and best practices from the management and leadership areas.

📰 “The Surprising Power of Questions”

by Alison Wood Brooks and Leslie K. John

When managing people it’s about collaboration and getting updates. One of the skills necessary to unlock the values in your team or organization is the ability to ask powerful questions. By asking questions we get an entire set of advantages:

  • enforce the exchange of ideas between team members
  • challenge their ideas
  • involve learning and engagement
  • build trust among team members
  • involve innovation and creativity
  • improve emotional intelligence

Most people usually don’t understand how beneficial is to ask questions. Based on researches when people are engaged in a conversation they doing it for 2 different reasons: information exchange (learning) or impression management (liking) and by asking questions we could achieve both of these purposes.

Other than asking a lot of questions it is important to use the right type and to address it using an adequate tone . In terms of questions types we have five different categories:

  • ❓introductory questions – “How are you?”
  • ❓mirror questions – “I’m fine. How are you?”
  • full-switch questions – ones that change the topic entirely
  • ❓follow-up questions – ones that solicit more information

The follow-up questions have super powers because they help us to show to our conversation partner that we care, we are there to listen and want to learn more about that specific topic.

📰”Strategy Needs Creativity”

by Adam Brandenburger

Strategic thinking is an essential component of leadership and this article is about building a strategy based on four creativity-enhancing tools or 4C’s map:

  • Contrast – identify and challenge the assumptions
    • Identify the assumptions that underlie conventional thinking in building your product
    • Think about what might be gained by proving one or more of them false
    • Deliberately disturb an aspect of your normal work pattern to break up ingrained assumptions
  • Combination – according to Steve Jobs creativity is “just connecting things”
    • Form groups with diverse expertise and experience to have multiple perspectives and brainstorm new combinations of products and services
    • Look for ways to coordinate with providers of complementary products
  • Constraint – transform limitations in strengths
    • List the “incompetencies” and test if they can be turned in strengths
    • Impose some constraints to encourage people to find new ways of thinking and working
  • Context – identify similar problems solved in an entirely different context and collect the insights
    • Find people from other industries, explain to them your challenges or your product and they will bring a fresh perspective from a different context
    • Engage with lead users, extreme users, and innovation hotspots

📰”What Most People Get Wrong about Men and Women”

by Catherine H. Tinsley and Robin J. Ely

Meta-analyses show that, on average, men and women are far more similar in their inclinations, attitudes, and skills than popular opinion would have us believe.

A meta-analysis is a statistical technique used to combine the results of many studies, providing a more reliable basis for drawing conclusions for research.

This truth matters a lot because too many managers try to “fix” women or accommodate their supposed differences, and this approach does not work. Companies must instead address the organizational conditions that lead to lower rates of retention and promotion for women.

An alternative approach to better understand how women experience the workplace consists in four steps:

  1. Question the narrative: be curious, work to identify the stereotypes behind your practices
  2. Generate a plausible alternative explanation: consider other factors that might explain the gender gap in the workplace
  3. Change the context and asses the results: change workplace conditions based on the things discovered on the previous steps and measure the results
  4. Promote continual learning: never stop challenging assumptions and sharing learning to create a culture in which all employees can reach their full potential

The authors of the article affirm that “The solution to women’s lagged advancement is not to fix women or their managers but to fix the conditions that undermine women and reinforce gender stereotypes.”

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