Since its inception, strategy+business has focused on the value of management thinking and practice. This week, we celebrate the magazine’s 15th anniversary by looking back at the wisdom we have published in our pages. Much of it is still worth reading now.
When strategy+business was founded in 1995 by former Harvard Business Review editor Joel Kurtzman and a group of farsighted partners at Booz & Company (then part of Booz Allen Hamilton), the dot-com era was just beginning, and the shape of the world economy was very different than it is today. Amazon had just been launched and Google did not yet exist; neither China nor India was seen as a global economic force. The United States, the magazine’s central focus at the time, was at a peak of prosperity, with rising equity prices, a sound federal budget heading toward surplus, and strong business confidence. How could anything published in those years matter to anyone in 2010?
Yet despite all the turbulence since then, there has been a slow but steady increase in knowledge involving economic value and organizational capability. Our magazine — through the editorships of Kurtzman (1995–2000), Randall Rothenberg (2000–2005), and me (since 2005) — has been at the forefront of developing and publishing that knowledge. Indeed, our primary editorial mission has been to help readers find the most profound and most pragmatic forms of management insight, and put it to use.
We polled the editors-in-chief, past and present (the three noted above), plus former editors Amy Bernstein, Lawrence Fisher, Ann Graham, and Larry Yu, to identify the articles in our first 60 quarterly print issues that are management classics. The articles most favored by the editors follow in chronological order. To help narrow what could have become a long list, I imposed one limit: no more than one article per single author, two per coauthor. In my view, all these pieces have stood the test of time. They are as relevant to management today as they were when they were first published.
1. Why CEOs Succeed (and Why They Fail): Hunters and Gatherers in the Corporate Life - Edward F. Tuck and Timothy Earle, Fourth Quarter 1996
An innovative venture capitalist and a prominent anthropologist explained why modern CEOs and boards play out the same roles that the chiefs and elders of prehistoric tribes established thousands of years ago.
2. Finding the Knowledge Needle in the Technology Haystack - David Berreby, Fourth Quarter 1996
Written when knowledge management was in its infancy, this article laid out some basic principles for finding patterns, trends, and relationships hiding in the stream of data generated by operations.
3. How to Manage Creative People: The Case of Industrial Light and Magic - Lawrence M. Fisher, Second Quarter 1997
The special effects shop that George Lucas founded built its success on good relationships, explained this frequent contributor. (Larry Fisher’s many other brilliant articles for s+b over the years included Creative Mind profiles of Jay Forrester, Ricardo Semler, and Fernando Flores.)
4. 10X Value: The Engine Powering Long-term Shareholder Returns - Charles E. Lucier, Leslie H. Moeller, and Raymond Held, Third Quarter 1997
A fascinating study of 30-year growth patterns of 1,300 publicly traded companies in the U.S. showed that it was possible to raise a company’s value 10-fold, by fostering the right kind of innovation.
5. How Harley Davidson Revs Its Brand - Glenn Rifkin, Fourth Quarter 1997
This piece profiled how the iconic motorcycle manufacturer, a pathfinder of nontraditional routes to marketing excellence, had built a community of enthusiasts around its product.
6. Are There Limits to Total Quality Management? - Arthur M. Schneiderman, Second Quarter 1998
The answer turned out to be yes: As companies go up the hierarchy, problems grow too complex for continuous improvement.