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    Heidi K. Gardner, PhD Speaking Highlights
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    HLS Library Book Talk | Smart Collaboration
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    Heidi Gardner, Passage of power: Who inherits clients of retiring professional partners?
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    Leadership for Lawyers Book Launch Event

Learn More About Heidi K. Gardner

Heidi K. Gardner, Ph.D. is the author of the best-selling book “Smart Collaboration: How Professionals and Their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2017) and the forthcoming “Smarter Collaboration: A New Approach to Breaking Down Barriers and Transforming Work” (Harvard Business Review Press, November 2022). A Distinguished Fellow at Harvard Law School and previously a professor at Harvard Business School, she is currently the faculty chair and instructor in multiple executive education programs at both institutions.

Named by Thinkers50 as a Next Generation Business Guru, Gardner is a sought-after advisor, keynote speaker, and facilitator for organizations across a wide range of industries globally. With her team at Gardner & Co., she works extensively with boards, executive teams, and other senior leaders to boost performance by embedding the principles and practices of smarter, agile, cross-silo collaboration within those groups and across the broader organization and ecosystem. Her work results in concrete, quantifiable performance improvements.

Altogether, Gardner has authored (or co-authored) more than 80 books, chapters, case studies, and articles. Her research received the Academy of Management’s prize for Outstanding Practical Implications for Management and has been selected multiple times for Harvard Business Review’s “best of” collections. Her research has been featured in major media outlets around the globe.

Gardner has lived and worked on four continents, including as a Fulbright Fellow, and for McKinsey & Co. and Procter & Gamble. She earned her BA in Japanese from the University of Pennsylvania (Phi Beta Kappa, Summa cum Laude), a master’s degree from the London School of Economics, and a second master’s and Ph.D. from London Business School.

Heidi K. Gardner is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Heidi K. Gardner was last modified: October 7th, 2022 by Meg Virag

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Smarter Collaboration: Breaking Down Silos to Boost Profits, Innovation and Engagement

From market volatility to ESG to capitalizing on the metaverse, leaders now face more complex challenges and opportunities than ever. Tackling these multi-faceted issues requires problem solving from diverse minds across the company and its ecosystem – but most of the time, the expertise is trapped in silos rather than harnessed for success. Drawing on a decade of award-winning, data-backed research at Harvard and firsthand work with hundreds of global companies, Dr. Heidi Gardner shows leaders how to get people working across functions and geographies – and with outside partners – to drive innovation, delight customers and engage their top talent. Sharing insights from her Washington Post bestselling book “Smart Collaboration” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2017) and its new sequel “Smarter Collaboration” (Harvard Business Review Press, November 2022), the highly interactive keynotes, workshops and advisory meetings help organizations troubleshoot thorny collaboration challenges like misaligned incentives, collaboration overload and unintended consequences on diversity and inclusion. Participants walk away with clear, pragmatic ideas for capturing the business and talent advantages of smarter collaboration.

Smarter Collaboration: Leading and Thriving through Turbulent Times

Instability and extreme pressure are inevitable parts of the business landscape. That’s when leaders especially need their people to join forces, apply their unique knowledge and skills and create innovative ways for overcoming the issue at hand – what Harvard’s Dr. Heidi Gardner calls Smarter Collaboration. But the irony is that the stress of factors like political uncertainty, market shocks or digital dislocation often forces people to retreat into defensive mindsets and behaviors. Dr. Gardner’s extensive research and experience with hundreds of organizations across the globe shows that during a crisis people typically defer to authorities, conform, and opt for safe solutions – the antithesis of smarter collaboration. But data-backed strategies do exist for embracing collaboration and its full range of benefits – including higher revenue and profit, deeper customer relationships, and a happier workforce – during the times it is most needed. Hear these game-changing ideas from Dr. Gardner, an award-winning speaker, bestselling author, and former McKinsey consultant. Offered in keynotes, workshops, or advisory meetings, her engagements help participants come up with approaches that are customized for their organization’s specific market, needs and challenges.

Profits, People and Purpose: Smarter Collaboration for Engagement and Performance

As much as enlightened leaders know the way to optimize performance is by engaging their talent, the pressures of today’s workplaces often create a task-focused, productivity-driven relationship between organizations and their people. In her bestselling book “Smart Collaboration” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2017), Dr. Heidi K. Gardner shows how companies can resolve this paradox: they get diverse people to work together across organizational silos – and with outside partners – to tackle higher-value issues and solutions, playing to their unique strengths and deriving greater meaning from their work. This more engaged workforce then generates higher revenues and profits, improved customer satisfaction and faster innovation. Drawing on psychology, neuroscience and data-backed analytics, Dr. Gardner’s work provides a framework for leaders to address the whole organization – boosting productivity and inclusion, while preventing over-commitment and burnout. Having lived and worked on four continents, Dr. Gardner is well-equipped to lead keynotes, workshops, or advisory meetings that address the cross-cultural nuances of designing solutions that optimize profits, people and purpose.

The Smart Collaboration Accelerator

By now, collaboration is a key pillar and enabler of 70+% of firms’ and corporations’ strategy. But how can that tangibly translate into specific and everyday actions of the individuals? In her best-selling book “Smart Collaboration: How Professionals and Their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2017), Heidi K. Gardner shows how organizations earn higher margins, inspire greater customer loyalty, produce more innovative work, and attract and retain the best talent when experts engage in Smart Collaboration across boundaries. Gardner has developed the Smart Collaboration Accelerator as a research-based psychometric assessment to help understand your behavioral tendencies and turn them into catalysts to drive collaboration – and recognize the full array of commercial benefits.

Each person has the potential to enhance collaboration by drawing on their unique combination of strengths. When you are aware of your natural tendencies and make smart choices about how to deploy them in a team setting, you have the power to help the group to leverage members’ potential and make collaboration work better. Gardner’s Accelerator presents leaders with a suite of tools developed to help you understand your behavioral tendencies and turn them into ‘catalysts’ for Smart Collaboration.

Smarter Collaboration Master Class: Advanced Practices to Transform Client Service and Engage Your Workforce

Professional service firm leaders are being asked to solve increasingly complex problems and provide comprehensive solutions to clients and boost profits. In her books “Smart Collaboration: How Professionals and Their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2017) and forthcoming “Smarter Collaboration: A New Approach to Breaking Down Barriers and Transforming Work” (Harvard Business Review Press, November 2022), Heidi K. Gardner shows when specialists collaborate across silos, firms can earn higher margins, enhance client service, engage and retain the best talent, and gain a competitive edge.

The Smarter Collaboration Master Class focuses on how to capture those benefits and shows senior leaders how to move from a collaboration-backed strategy to real behavioral change. This engaging and highly interactive program focuses on the structures, tools and practical steps to promote collaboration and drive business performance.

Through case studies, interactive simulations, and in-depth discussions, participants will gain the knowledge and tools to put collaboration into action to achieve business objectives.

Advance Praise for “Smarter Collaboration”

“The authors’ deep grasp of the business world combines with expertise in the psychology underpinning our human foibles. The result is actionable advice for implementing smarter collaboration to capture its financial and human benefits.”

Amy C. Edmondson, Professor, Harvard Business School; Author, “The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth” (Wiley, 2019)

“Gardner and Matviak provide leaders with a clear guide on making smarter collaboration happen. It’s full of tips on today’s most pressing topics, including hybrid working, inclusion, diversity and equity, and the role of technology and analytics. This is a must-read for any business leader. “

Nhlamu Dlomu, Global Head of People, KPMG International

“An organization’s culture determines its destiny. Smarter Collaboration does an excellent job of showing you how to get a great one.”

Ray Dalio, Founder, Bridgewater Associates; Author, “Principles: Life & Work” (Simon & Schuster, 2017)

“’Smarter Collaboration’ gives a practical blueprint for how leaders can systematically embed collaboration within and across organizational boundaries to achieve more meaningful, purpose driven outcomes.”

Ranjay Gulati, Professor, Harvard Business School; Author, “Deep Purpose: The Heart and Soul of High-Performance Companies” (Harper Business Publishing, 2022)

“Everyone talks about collaboration but relatively few people actually know how to do effectively. Gardner and Matviak have written the go-to guide for doing collaboration right. Their use cases for smarter collaboration will resonate deeply with any business leader who’s seeking to rev up innovation, profitability and employee engagement."

Gunjan Kedia, Vice Chairman, U.S. Bank

“In the coming years, one of the most significant private sector divides will be between companies which embrace collaboration, bridge-building and collective action to help them thrive, and those which remain limited by siloed-thinking and poor partnership skills. Gardner and Matviak will help your business ensure it is on the right side of that line.”

Paul Polman, Former CEO, Unilever; Business Leader and Campaigner; Co-Author, “Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take” (HBR Press, 2021)

“With the scale and complexity of challenges facing business and society today, knowing how to collaborate – how to really collaborate – is one of the most important skills of our time. Through pragmatic insight and engaging examples, Gardner and Matviak illuminate a path for leaders that begins with truly valuing the wisdom people bring, and results in innovations beyond what any one group could create alone.”

Sandy Speicher, Former CEO, IDEO

“Research-backed, full of case studies and practical advice, this book lays out a realistic roadmap for leaders to implement smarter collaboration and reap the benefits. ‘Smarter Collaboration’ is highly readable and thought-provoking.”

Neil Dhar, Vice Chair and Chief Clients Officer, PwC United States

Praise for “Smart Collaboration”

“[Gardner’s research] shows, unequivocally, the business and people benefits of collaboration…Far from being an added cost that clients will not pay for, it is the firms and individuals who do not address collaboration who are at the greatest risk of failing to grow, or even going out of business altogether.”

Journal of the Knowledge and Information Management Group (CILIP)

“This may be the best professional service marketing book for 20 years.”

Professional Marketer

“[Gardner] explains that in the modern world clients increasingly demand a highly sophisticated service when seeking solutions to complex problems. Such issues demand interdisciplinary teams.”


“The book is persuasive and thorough… a good guide on collaboration and how to overcome the resistance of the solo player.”

Financial Times

“[Gardner proposes] clear methods to help leaders promote collaboration in and between their teams, to improve the client experience and to attract and retain talent…. always with a view to ensuring that collaboration remains a useful tool and does not become an end in itself.”

Business Digest (France)

“Gardner’s insights offer valuable guidance for any knowledge-based organization that needs to bring teams of people together to innovate, create, and implement complex business solutions… She also offers practical advice on issues such as creating the right compensation systems, knowledge sharing and collaborative technology platforms.”

Developing Leaders

“A practical, research-grounded, book on collaboration.”

CHOICE, the publication of the American Library Association

“… valuable material to those of us who recognize that incremental change is, in reality, more sustainable and valuable. And that getting better at this is not a nice-to-have, it is vital.”

Legal Business Magazine

“Drawing on deep analysis and case studies across organizations, Gardner has turned a tricky topic―how to collaborate and why―into a set of clear prescriptions.”

Scott McDonald, President and CEO, Oliver Wyman Group

“’Smart Collaboration’ makes a bulletproof case for why collaborating provides the best results for clients and just makes good business sense.”

Jami McKeon, Chair, Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP

“A remarkable blend of theory and practice, Gardner’s work on collaboration is at once rigorous and actionable. Backed by extensive empirical research, her book offers crucial guidance for professionals who want to deepen their relationships with clients, improve the service they provide, and increase their profitability―and that should be all professionals.”

Richard Susskind, Co-Author, "The Future of the Professions"