HBR: Companies That Do Right by Their Workers Start by Elevating Their Definition of Success

A sound economy, a booming stock market, and huge business tax cuts, the story goes, have convinced CEOs of companies flush with cash to distribute some of it to frontline employees.

That story is fine as far as it goes — but does it go nearly far enough? With unemployment at record lows, yet inequality at record highs, this feels like a time for CEOs to think bigger — not just to raise wages, but to elevate their definition of success about how their companies can win big in the marketplace and afford employees a greater sense of security and participation in the workplace, how they can generate wealth and share that wealth with everyone who has a hand in its creation.

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HBR: The 4 Kinds of Leaders Who Create the Future

Alan Kay, the educator and computer designer, famously declared, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” But what does it take to invent the future in such a turbulent and uncertain world? How do successful organizations build on their history, even as they craft a new point of view about what comes next? How do established brands stay true to their original promise, while also making themselves relevant to new customers with different values and preferences? How can accomplished executives be sure that all they know — their hard-earned wisdom and expertise — doesn’t limit what they can imagine?

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HBR: How Coca-Cola, Netflix, and Amazon Learn from Failure

I can’t tell you how many business leaders I meet, how many organizations I visit, that espouse the virtues of innovation and creativity. Yet so many of these same leaders and organizations live in fear of mistakes, missteps, and disappointments — which is why they have so little innovation and creativity. If you’re not prepared to fail, you’re not prepared to learn. And unless people and organizations manage to keep learning as fast as the world is changing, they’ll never keep growing and evolving. So what’s the right way to be wrong?

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HBR: Amazon, Whole Foods, and the Future of the (Old) New Economy

I heard the news today, oh boy — Amazon is buying Whole Foods Market in a deal worth nearly $14 billion. The combination of these iconic companies, both of which have come of age in the last two decades, raises obvious questions. Does the transaction reflect how hard it’s been for Whole Foods to keep Wall Street satisfied with its growth and profits? (It does.) Does the deal underscore just how expansive a vision Jeff Bezos has for Amazon, his dream of it becoming the “everything store”? (No doubt.)

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HBR: 5 Questions to Ask About Corporate Culture to Get Beyond the Usual Meaningless Blather

There aren’t many leaders who would disagree with the idea that a healthy, productive culture is a defining element of business success. Yet I’ve seen so many companies with lofty-sounding “mission statements” and “core values” that have the most toxic workplaces imaginable. I’ve met so many leaders who are brilliant when it comes to product design and capital structure but who treat the people in business as an afterthought, a matter of sound administration as opposed to daring innovation.

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Fortune: Where Was the Pilot On That United Airlines Flight?

I’m as horrified as everyone else watching that video of a United Airlines passenger being forcibly dragged from his seat, knocked down and bloodied, to make room for a crew member. I’m also stunned, as someone who studies strategy, culture, and customer service, at what an epic failure this whole episode was, and continues to be. Industry experts have criticized outdated overbooking strategies. Policy experts have criticized laws and regulations that make such evictions legal. Everyone has criticized the public-relations response.

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HBR: Trust Your Employees, Not Your Rule Book

Here’s the good news: The big airlines are revising their rules for booking and boarding flights — rules that led to one of the great business fiascos in recent history, United Express Flight 3411. Here’s the bad news: If the long-term lesson that leaders of the airline business (or any other business) take away from this episode is that it’s time to rewrite policies and practices, to fine-tune bureaucratic procedures, then they will have missed a huge, perhaps even historic, learning opportunity.

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HBR: 4 Kinds of Workplaces, and How to Know Which Is Best for You

We all want to be part of a great organization and a high-performance workplace. We want to be at our best, surrounded by colleagues who help us and challenge us, doing work that is financially rewarding and personally meaningful. But there’s more than one kind of successful organization, and there are many kinds of productive workplaces.

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Fortune: What Bill and Melinda Gates See That Donald Trump Doesn’t

Bill and Melinda Gates just released their Annual Letter on the work of their philanthropic foundation. I look forward to the Letter every year, because it offers such in-depth, data-driven, easy-to-understand perspectives on how the ultimate power couple is addressing some of the world’s toughest problems. To me, spending time with the Letter feels like taking a master class on economics, statistics, demographics, and public health.
But this year’s Letter is particularly powerful—and, truth be told, disconcerting. That’s because the world Bill and Melinda Gates describes seems completely at odds with the attitudes, priorities, and policies of Donald Trump and the new administration in Washington. I’m sure they did not intend their Letter to be read as some sort of political treatise, and I am not writing this to make a political statement. But for executives, technologists, and leaders of every stripe who want to build successful organizations and make a positive impact, it has to mean something when the two richest people on earth and the most powerful politician on earth see the world, its problems, and the best ways to solve them, in completely different ways.
Here, then, are a few things that Bill and Melinda Gates see that Donald Trump doesn’t.

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