HBR’s 10 Must Reads 2017 presents a selection of the year’s most definitive management articles by some of the world’s forefront business thought leaders. Each article was hand-selected by Harvard Business Review editors to present a critical theme that is relevant to the modern business world. These articles collectively represent the best practices, ideas, and insights of the past year, and they aim to educate business leaders on collaborative overload, the necessity of managing algorithms, design thinking, negotiating across cultures, finding career success in a world of automation, and much more.

HBR’s 10 Must Reads 2017 presents 11 of the most cutting-edge, influential articles published in Harvard Business Review in the past year. Key concepts from these pieces include:

  • The negative effects of constant collaboration. Collaborative work has increased dramatically, and while there are clear benefits to this level of teamwork, too much collaboration can have its downsides. Employees who engage in an overabundance of collaborative activities can cause workflow bottlenecks and eventually burn out.
  • The importance of human oversight when using algorithms. Managers who make business predictions often rely on algorithms to identify subtle patterns, but computer algorithms have their limitations. Algorithms are most effective when managers are explicit about their goals and concerns, minimize myopia, and choose the right inputs.
  • The intricacies of doing business abroad. When managers from different parts of the world negotiate, they often misread signals and reach inaccurate conclusions. Managers can overcome these issues by building trust, paying attention to subtle messages, and understanding how to express their emotions.
  • The necessity of evolving the role of the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO). CHROs should be empowered to think strategically about their workforce talent to provide competitive advantages for their organizations.
  • The need for knowledge workers to think about work beyond automation. In the future, some workplace roles may be made obsolete by machines, but to continue to find new roles employees must proactively work with technology rather than against it.

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Platform StrategyFor the past 20 years, platform businesses that match, connect, and enable transactions among buyers and sellers have been growing at a tremendous rate. These businesses continue to disrupt traditional businesses in almost every sector and redefine the rules of success. In Platform Strategy, Laure Claire Reillier and Benoit Reillier define the unique characteristics of these emerging businesses, how they operate, and how platform business leaders and traditional business leaders alike can harness their power to develop and scale innovative business models. Through this comprehensive guide, the authors offer solutions to address some of the unique challenges that platform businesses face as they ignite and scale platforms to critical mass and find success in this new way of doing business.

Platform businesses serve multisided markets. While these businesses evolve and change over time, they remain focused on five key activities:

  1. Attracting a critical mass of participants from each side of the market. Business leaders must attract the attention of potential users and producers and acquire them as new customers. As platforms mature, business leaders must also focus on retaining a critical mass of participants on both sides to build self-sustaining networks.
  2. Matching producers and consumers of goods. Leaders and platform designers must provide a means of matching producers and users in a timely way that meets their specific needs. They must ensure that there is an optimal level of choice for platform participants as they search for solutions.
  3. Connecting potential buyers and sellers. Platform designers must provide ways for producers and users to connect and exchange additional information and establish the level of trust that is necessary for conducting transactions.
  4. Enabling transactions to take place. Platform designers must also provide a means for exchanging the agreed-upon money, information, or services in a manner that drives value for businesses and maximizes the value of interactions and core transactions between buyers and sellers.
  5. Optimizing their operating and ecosystems. Business leaders and platform designers must work together to fully optimize the core functions of their platforms, including their abilities to match, connect, and enable transactions among their platforms’ participants. They must collect, analyze, and learn from data to enhance participants’ experiences and make continuous enhancements to their platforms.

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HBR Emotional Intelligence Series EmpathyWhich leadership quality can boost performance levels to new highs, yet drive them into the ground if overused? The answer is empathy. In the new Harvard Business Review title HBR Emotional Intelligence Series: Empathy, leading experts share how empathy can be used as a powerful leadership tool and a critical component of emotional intelligence that must be understood, nurtured, and protected. With self-awareness and effort, individuals can learn to make good use of empathy to benefit themselves, their organizations, and the world.

The authors believe that:


  • Empathy is a key component of emotional intelligence. As a characteristic and skill based in self-awareness, empathy contributes to an individual’s emotional intelligence.
  • Empathic leaders are natural leaders. Individuals with empathy naturally emerge as leaders in every aspect of their lives, regardless of their formal positions.
  • Empathy can be developed. Empathy begins with self-awareness, then extends to a focus on others. Individuals can work toward becoming more self-aware, and thereby increase their capacity for empathy.
  • Empathy plays a very important role in the workplace. Empathetic leaders build trust and loyalty among their employees and increase employee well-being–all of which contribute to higher levels of performance.
  • Empathy is finite, and must be protected. Exhibiting too much empathy can result in burnout. Individuals must avoid overextending their use of empathy to ensure their capacity for empathy is not depleted.

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The Human WayAfter many years of study, reflection, and practical experience as a manager, Kelly Odell identified 10 essential elements of successful leadership. These factors transcend varying organizational cultures and differences in individual personalities. In The Human Way, Odell presents his 10 commandments to transform managers into leaders. They present a values-based approach to leadership that is independent of specific activities, behaviors, and skills. Successful leaders are not perfect and do not always make the right decisions; rather, they understand and accept their own humanity, which allows them to achieve success.

There are 10 critical elements to successful leadership. Leaders should:

1. Be humble. To lead is also to serve.

2. Dare to delegate. A manager’s job is to lead, not have all the answers.

3. Maintain their freedom. A leader should always be able to afford to tell his or her employer to get lost.

4. Take risks. Losing a job is not the worst thing that can happen to a leader. In some cases, it may be the best thing.

5. Deliver actual results. Leaders should not worry about office politics. In the long run, results are what counts.

6. Be inspired and inspire others. Leaders need to be passionate about their jobs and evoke that same passion in others.

7. Base decisions on facts. Intuition is better than no information, but facts are best.

8. Say what they think. Leaders should create a workplace culture that encourages open communication.

9. Support their staff. Employees work for a manager of their own free will.

10. Go from manager to leader. Organizations appoint managers; employees decide whether their managers are also their leaders.

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41HMT8msViL._SX352_BO1,204,203,200_In Economics for Business, Ivan K. Cohen argues that in order to develop effective business strategies for their companies, leaders must first gain a fundamental understanding of the complex global economy in which they operate. With such knowledge it becomes possible to make better pricing, branding, and investment decisions. To that end, Economics for Business provides a comprehensive guide to the myriad forces, institutions, and concepts of micro- and macroeconomics.

To make successful business decisions, leaders must understand the essential principles of the economic environment, including:

  • Microeconomics: The study of independent economic entities like a company, industry, or market.
  • Macroeconomics: The study of the economy as a whole.
  • Supply: The quantity of a product that a supplier is willing to sell at a given price.
  • Demand: The lifeblood of any business; the consumer desire and ability to make purchases.
  • Forecasting: A strategy leaders use, informed by historic and market data, to estimate future conditions, such as demand for specific products.
  • Globalization: An economic phenomenon in which national economic systems grow more interconnected through international trade and investment.

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9780749475550Social media has changed the way people write, read, and understand English. The ability to manipulate business English has never been more important than in today’s globally interconnected world. In the second edition of How to Write…Effective Business English, Fiona Talbot employs her four-step Word Power Skills system to help readers write successful business English that conveys passion, not “management speak.” Talbot’s handy guide will help writers impress their audiences, sell products and services, and create brand reputation across a wide range of platforms.

The author believes that:

  • Written English is the primary form of communication in business today.
  • Social media messaging has transformed business writing.
  • Successful business writing uses simple, accessible language.
  • Writers should compose their messages to elicit a response.
  • An effective writer employs a style that conveys personal brand along with company values.
  • Knowing the target audience makes it easier for companies to customize content.

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The Politics of PromotionMastering politics is essential for advancement in the workplace, particularly at the management or executive level. In The Politics of Promotion, executive coach Bonnie Marcus explains that talent and hard work are not enough; to get promoted the way men do, women must learn the unwritten rules of the game, gather insider information, manage their images, and build influence with key stakeholders and decision makers. By acknowledging and understanding the need for politics and using Marcus’ Political Toolkit, women can effectively navigate their organizations’ political landscapes to rapidly move ahead.

The author believes that:

  • Many women mistakenly believe that hard work and talent will eventually lead to promotion, and they ignore the importance of workplace politics. Their failure to establish and manage strategic professional relationships often leads to them being passed over for promotions or even asked to step down.
  • High-achieving women face obstacles their male counterparts do not, including subtle gender bias and self-limiting attitudes and behaviors. Factors that keep women from getting ahead include lack of confidence, fear of being seen as unlikable or aggressive, failure to delegate, having a negative view of office politics, and being excluded from informal networks.
  • Career advancement requires political savvy. By demonstrating their value proposition, understanding workplace culture and dynamics, forming strategic alliances, seeking mentorship and sponsorship, and committing to executive coaching, women can remove roadblocks and achieve their career goals.
  • To get ahead and stay ahead, women must master Marcus’ Political Toolkit. This toolkit contains five metaphorical tools–the Mirror, Magnifying Glass, Pass Go and Collect $200 Card, Get Out of Jail Free Card, and GPS–that can help women put abstract political concepts into practice.
  • Continued career advancement demands dedication, ongoing self-evaluation, and being aware of ever-changing workplace dynamics. Highly developed political skills become even more critical at the senior level. Women must continue to use the tools that got them to the top to stay on top, but with a slightly different focus.

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