Our top 5 Harvard Business Review articles of 2021
Blog: The Enterprise Project - Digital Transformation
Our top 5 Harvard Business Review articles of 2021
December 1, 2021 – 2:00am
Each month, through our partnership with Harvard Business Review, we share five new HBR articles we believe CIOs and IT leaders will value highly. As 2021 comes to a close, we are taking a look back at the five most popular HBR articles from this past year. Here are the stories that resonated with you.
Many people swear by their personal productivity hacks, whether that’s the elusive “inbox zero,” time boxing their calendars, or even their good old pen and paper to-do list. However, these and other individual techniques and preferences fall short when working in a complex organization with interdependencies among people and teams. To make a true impact on the productivity of an entire organization, improvements must be made on a systems level, writes Daniel Markovitz in this article. Here he provides four strategies companies can adopt to make work more visible, define communication best practices, reduce scattershot emails, and empower everyone to be more productive in their day to day.
Objectives and key results (OKRs) have become a popular method teams use to plan for success and measure it. This framework has been so successful, Jeff Gothelf says, because it focuses on the impact of the work rather than the actual work itself. But when organizations apply OKRs to individuals, as some do, it presents two problems: Employees tend to create goals that are easy to measure but don’t actually determine whether they’ve grown or improved in a meaningful way, and they tend to choose targets they know they can hit, rather than taking a risk on something more ambitious. In this article, Gothelf shares examples detailing why OKRs don’t work for individual team members and identifies why this framework should be applied only to teams in the workplace.
Download: “Use OKRs to set goals for teams, not individuals“
What’s the difference between digitizing and digital transformation? For the past year, organizations have focused on digitizing – spearheading digital initiatives to help them stay in the game during COVID-19. Now, write Paul Leinwand and Mahadeva Matt Mani, businesses need to shift gears and focus on digital transformation – building a long-term competitive advantage to succeed in the future. “We are hearing many executives express concern that they are actually falling behind on making the important choices that lead to differentiation,” they write. “They’re right to worry, because winning in the post-Covid world will require reimagining not just how you work, but what you do to create value in the digital era.” In this article, Leinwand and Mani share how three companies have done just that, and offer three tips to secure your organization’s future.
Most would agree that people are an essential component to a successful digital transformation, but Becky Frankiewicz and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic get to the heart of why talent far outweighs technology in importance in this HBR article. “You can pretty much buy any technology, but your ability to adapt to an even more digital future depends on developing the next generation of skills, closing the gap between talent supply and demand, and future-proofing your own and others’ potential,” they write. Here, they provide a roadmap for how leaders can put people first and focus on the right skill development for digital transformation success. When it comes to the technology side of the house, Frankiewicz and Chamorro-Premuzic advise leaders to act on data insights and embrace a culture of experimentation.
Many organizations are trying to respond to intensifying competitive pressures and challenges by asking too much of their employees. But focusing on a few important initiatives can lead to greater impact. By expanding the total amount of value created for their customers, employees, and suppliers, IT leaders can position their companies for enduring financial success. “An easy-to-use framework called value-based strategy gives executives a common language for evaluating strategic initiatives and developing a holistic view of the many activities taking place within their organizations.” What makes a strategic initiative truly worthwhile? Strategy expert Felix Oberholzer-Gee shares his thoughts in this HBR article.
Download: “Eliminate strategic overload“
IT leadership in the next normal
The next normal has arrived, and CIOs play a central and critical role in whether organizations thrive in this reality. This research from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services identifies four focus areas for CIOs and IT organizations, based on interviews with CIOs and CTOs from Abbott, Adobe, Equifax, Johnson & Johnson, Qualcomm, Raytheon, Toyota Financial Services, and University of Alabama at Birmingham, and other tech executives. Download this report to learn the 10 new leadership rules these executives are embracing.
Download: “IT leadership in the next normal”