New Harvard Business Review: Slight Improvement

The new January-February issue of Harvard Business Review has a redesigned look and some new features.

Here is my take.


  • The columns from Dan Ariely and C.K. Prahalad are going to be conversation starters. And they are being smart about making them available outside the firewall. Check out Prahalad’s piece on The Responsible Manager and Ariely’s article on The Long-Term Effects of Short Term Emotions.
  • The book review section is outstanding. The magazine is now sourcing their selection from the contributors in the issue. The method creates a wonderfully electic mix from Condoleezza Rice’s choice of Alexander Hamilton or Roger Martin’s pick of The Enlightened Eye by Elliot Eisner. Erin Meyer recommends the outstanding Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em as a cross-cultural tool for global executives to better understand how to manage American reports. Really like this approach to reviewing books.
  • The visual language is clear and crisp. The sidebars and graphs are easily understood. Not a huge step from the old format, but nice and simple.
  • The Defend Your Research column is good and they pick a great first choice in Alex Pentland’s work on social signals. I hope they’ll continue to push this feature and be willing to push researchers.
  • The bulk of the articles are familiar fare. Many will find this reassuring.


  • The bulk of the articles are familiar fare. Some (like me) will want HBR to push more. More innovative thought is needed.
    • Where was the Dan Pink feature on his motivation findings from Drive?
    • Why hasn’t some researcher taken on Kevin Maney’s Trade-Off framework and either further supported with data or dispelled the theory as weak?
    • Why not a much longer piece on the counterclaims for Jim Collins’ Good To Great research that Michael Raynor and company are doing at Deliotte?
    • The book review of Chief Culture Officer was nice, but Grant McCracken deserved some space to make the case himself. See his ChangeThis manifesto to see what could have been done.
  • The magazine features works by sculpture Michel de Broin this month. While the approach of using modern art is interesting, the use of these sculptures is a stretch at creating meaning for the associated articles.
  • The Roger Martin piece on customer capitalism is more op-ed than constructive argument.
  • Yes, everyone loves lists, but the Best Performing CEOs countdown felt like something from you’d find Fortune, not Harvard Business Review.

Overall, I think this is an improvement. HBR won’t lose anyone, but I don’t think they we gain many either. Most will find it a facelift to the classic offering, rather than some redefinition of the magazine.

I hope we’ll see more tweaks and improvements in the coming months.

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