Caught between two elemental forces—one called Calamity and the other called Change—we launch our latest edition of breakthrough articles into the teeth of a gale. A new administration has taken charge in the United States at a time of major challenges on many fronts. The world economy staggers toward stabilization and whatever comes next. Business soldiers on, controlling what it can and coping with what it can't.
This year's HBR List includes ideas that we think are more useful than fanciful, more immediately practicable than speculative. Although we began compiling and winnowing contenders many months ago, we nonetheless did our best to anticipate the context in which you now read them. Thus some of the articles you'll find here comment directly on the economic crisis, but most of them address other matters that business leaders must contend with: strategic decision making, tapping new markets, finding and keeping top talent, harnessing network effects, dealing with disruptive technologies and business models.
As in recent years, we gathered ideas primarily from our editors' networks of expert authors. In addition, we held a brainstorming meeting in partnership with the World Economic Forum in New York last June. A good many worthy contenders emerged from that day-long session, and four of them made the final cut.
Also this year, we've aimed to make the online version of the list more interactive, starting above, where you'll have noticed our graphical table of contents. Simply click on any part of the collage that interests you to find out more about one of the 20 breakthrough ideas for 2009 and connect to the full story. Also, don't miss our interactive feature on the List item about biomimicry. Finally, when you've read all of the List items, vote for your favorite breakthrough idea in our poll.
We look forward to your reactions to the List as a whole and to any of the individual articles. Enjoy!