You should read this if you want the best research into leadership, management and organizational change









Harvard Business Review

Why should educators read Harvard Business Review?

The prospect of reading a periodical like HBR might seem unnecessary for many educational leaders. We are in teaching after all, not business. Many think that the worlds of business and education are just too far apart for us to gain any real insight or learning from. But this is precisely the reason why we should read HBR. We can get caught up in our own world at school. When we look for outside help, we look to leaders at other schools, facing similar problems, with similar budgets, resources and constraints. Sometimes we need to look outside of our own systems and problems in order to find clarity.

If you want access to the most cutting edge research into leadership, management and organizational change you should read Harvard Business Review.

Virtually every major study into leadership, management and organizational change gets its first public (outside of University) airing in this periodical, which gives you access to some of the best economists, psychologists, management experts and authors in the world.

So what’s in it?

Well, this month’s edition (October 2012) there’s a range of articles about data, including ‘The True Measure of Success’, how businesses are identifying the data that really counts. Also, Gautam Makunda defends the thesis of his intriguing book (I have it in my Amazon cart) Indispensible: When Leaders Really Matter. Makunda argues that truly great leaders don’t need experience, and that many so called great leaders from history, didn’t really make much of an impact at all.

This edition also contains a great “HBR first” article by Steve Martin (not that Steve Martin) titled ‘98% of HBR Readers Love This Article”. The thesis of Martin’s work is explored in this article, which explores social norms, and the power they have in changing people’s behavior. Sending defaulting taxpayers a social norm letter telling them ‘that 93% of people in this postcode pay their taxes on time’ increases payments at a much higher rate than traditional threat letters ‘legal proceedings may begin against you’. Martin’s article shows one example of an easily transferable lesson from business to education.

It’s a time friendly read too. Excellent graphics and text call out boxes make the gist of an article quick to identify. For the really time poor, the outstanding Executive Summaries section at the back, provides an in brief summary of every article in the edition.

But HBR is more than just a periodical. It’s the public front for Harvard Business Review Press, which releases dozens of outstanding reads a year, including the outstanding HBR 10 Must reads on… series (which will be reviewed here another time). The website is also really thorough, easy to navigate, and readily points you towards a myriad of resources.

You should read Harvard Business Review because there is a world outside of school by the way, and we can learn a lot from it.

Please don’t take this review as a stereotypical “schools should be more like businesses” tirade, because they shouldn’t. They have entirely different purposes and functions in society. But schools and educational leaders should take their own advice – never stop learning, read widely and think creatively. If you do those things while reading HBR, you will improve your leadership and find ways to improve your school.

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Airfreighted copies of HBR can be bought from good newsagents in Australia for around $25 so it’s a little pricey. The full colour Kindle edition is a much cheaper option at about $10 an edition.

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