HBR’s 10 Must Reads…Essentials: A book review by Bob Morris

HBR’s 10 Must Reads: Essentials
Various Authors
Harvard Business Review Press (2011)

This volume is one of several in a new series of anthologies of articles that initially appeared in the Harvard Business Review, in this instance from 1960 until 2006. Remarkably, none seems dated; on the contrary, if anything, all seem more relevant now than ever before as their authors discuss what are (literally) essential dimensions of leadership and management.

More specifically, how to meet the challenges of disruptive change, compete on analytics, manage one’s self, understand what all effective leaders share in common, put the balanced scorecard to work, what innovation’s “classic traps” are and how to avoid or escape from them, why most transformations fail, what “marketing myopia” is and how/why it limits (if not prevents) success, what strategy is (and isn’t) and what it does (and doesn’t) do, and how/why the core competencies of the corporation determine the nature and extent of its success or failure.

Each article includes two invaluable reader-friendly devices, “Idea in Brief” and “Idea in Practice” sections, that facilitate, indeed expedite review of key points. Some articles also include mini-essays on even more specific subjects such as “Fitting the Tool to the Task” (Clayton M. Christensen and Michael Overdorf), “Going to Bat for the Stats” and “You Know You Compete on Analytics When”  (Thomas H. Davenport), “Can Emotional Intelligence Be Learned?” (Daniel Goleman), “Building a Balanced Scorecard” (Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton), “The Lessons of Innovation” (Rosabeth Moss Kanter), “Japanese Companies Rarely Have Strategies” (Michael Porter), and “Vickers Learns the Value of Strategic Architecture” (C.K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel).

These ten articles do not – because they obviously cannot – explain everything that one knows to know and understand about these essential business issues. However, I do not know of another single source at this price (currently $16.32 from Amazon) that provides more and better information, insights, and advice that will help leaders to achieve success in the business dimensions examined in this volume.

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