HBR’s 10 Must Reads 2019: A book review by Bob Morris

HBR’s 10 Must Reads 2019: The Definitive Management Ideas of the Year from Harvard Business Review
Various Contributors
Harvard Business Review Press (2019)

Timeless and timely knowledge and wisdom for all managers

This is the latest in a series of the “HBR 10 Must Read” anthologies that are published every autumn. Each consists of ten articles plus a “bonus” article (or in this case two), all previously published in Harvard Business Review. The contents are selected by HBR editors. In the Note that introduces the 2018 edition, they say this: “Every year, as we build each issue of Harvard Business Review, we examine the most important challenges facing business leaders today.”

The standout articles of the year collected here, for example, explain emerging phenomena that include “the overcommitted organization,” why competent management is underrated, the perils of depending on numbers alone, the “new CEO activists,” AI for the real world, why every organization  needs an augmented intelligence (AR) strategy, and thriving in the gig economy. “We showcase these and other critical themes highlighted by our authors from the past year [or so] of Harvard Business Review in this volume.”

Here in Dallas near the downtown area, we have a farmer’s market at which a few merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples of their wares. In that same spirit, I offer brief excerpts from three articles:

o “Leadership can mitigate the risks of [assigning people to multiple teams] by building trust and familiarity through launches and skills mapping, identifying which groups are most vulnerable to shocks, improving coordination across teams, and carving out more opportunities for learning.”  Mark Mortensen and Heidi Gardner, “The Overcommitted Organization”

o “Organizations need competent management just as much as they need analytical brilliance. We should sop teaching business school students that operational issues are beneath the CEO — and should encourage firms to invest in strengthening management throughout the organization.” Raffaella Sadun, Nicholas Bloom, and John Van Reenen, “Why Do We Undervalue Competent Management?”

o Augmented Reality “transforms volumes of data and analytics into images or animation that are overlaid on the real world…Pioneering organizations, including GE, Mayo Clinic, and the U.S. Navy are using AR to improve productivity, quality, and training. By combining the strengths of humans and machines, AR will dramatically increase value creation.” Michael E. Porter and James E. Heppleman, “Why Every Organization Needs an Augmented Reality Strategy

The material in this volume will help to fill in knowledge gaps for relatively inexperienced managers, provide useful reminders to senior managers of what they already know, and help all managers respond more effectively to the challenges they now face, and meanwhile, to prepare for those that await them during the next calendar year.

Keep in mind, Amazon now sells this book (in a paperbound edition) for only $16.34 . If all of the articles were purchased separately as reprints, the total cost would be $107.40. That’s not a bargain; it’s a steal. Moreover, the articles are assembled in a single volume.

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