HOW TO RESOLVE THE
REALLY HARD PROBLEMS
very manager makes tough calls—it
comes with the job. And the hardest
decisions are the “gray areas”—
situations where you and your team have
worked hard to ﬁnd an answer, you’ve done
the best analysis you can, and you still don’t
know what to do. But you have to make a
decision. You have to choose, commit, act,
and live with the consequences and per-
suade others to follow your lead. Gray areas
test your skills as a manager, your judgment,
and even your humanity. How do you get
these decisions right?
In Managing in the Gray, Joseph
Badaracco offers a powerful, practical, and
even radical way to resolve these problems.
Picking up where conventional tools of
analysis leave off, this book provides tools
for judgment in the form of ﬁve revealing
questions. Asking yourself these ﬁve ques-
tions provides a simple yet profound way
to broaden your thinking, sharpen your
judgment, and develop a fresh perspective.
What makes these questions so valuable is
that they have truly stood the test of time—
they’ve guided countless men and women,
across many centuries and cultures, to
resolve the hardest questions of work,
responsibility, and life.
You can use the ﬁve-question framework
on your own or with others on your team to
help you cut through complexities, under-
stand critical trade-offs, and develop work-
able solutions for even the grayest issues.
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Joseph L. Badaracco is the John Shad
Professor of Business Ethics at Harvard
Business School, where he has taught
courses on leadership, strategy, corporate
responsibility, and management in the
school’s MBA and executive programs.
His books on these subjects include
Defining Moments and the New York
Times bestseller Leading Quietly.
managing in the
5 TIMELESS QUESTIONS
FOR RESOLVING YOUR
Joseph L. Badaracco
HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW PRESS
“This wonderful book is a graduate course in the science
of thinking. It is rigorous and enjoyable.”
Professor, Harvard Business School; author, The Innovator’s Dilemma
and How Will You Measure Your Life?
“Anyone will learn from the critical questions and useful tools
of deliberation and judgment revealed in Managing in the Gray.”
Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
“Badaracco advises managers on not just how to think
about vexing problems, but also how to ﬁx them.”
President, Barnard College
“All business leaders, whatever their managerial problems,
will ﬁnd much to stimulate their thinking in this book.”
“Managing in the Gray provides a practical, nuanced, and comprehensive
framework to grapple with the toughest questions of life and business.”
Former Chairman and CEO, Amgen;
Senior Lecturer, Harvard Business School
“Badaracco provides a useful and profound guide to dealing
with problems that fall into gray areas. Interesting, practical,
President and CEO, American Red Cross
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MANAGING IN THE GRAY
“Making difﬁcult decisions is what management is all about.
And the most important choices are rarely easy. Managing
in the Gray provides a framework for anyone responsible for
making tough decisions.”
—Steve Burke, CEO, NBCUniversal
“This wonderful book is a graduate course in the science of
thinking. It is rigorous and enjoyable.”
—Clayton ChriStenSen, Professor, Harvard Business School;
author, The Innovator’s Dilemma and How Will You Measure Your
“Joseph Badaracco has got it right—leadership has to come
from the heart. With insight and candor, he conveys the
importance of working through managerial issues with facts
and analysis, but resolving them with respect and human-
ity. Anyone will learn from the critical questions and useful
tools of deliberation and judgment revealed in Managing in
—Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
“Every leader faces decisions that are not black or white.
Badaracco draws on examples—ranging from modern-day
dilemmas to the insights of ancient philosophers—to pro-
vide a useful and profound guide to dealing with problems
that fall into gray areas. His book is interesting, practical,
—Gail mcGovern, President and CEO, American Red Cross
“Leaders are most signiﬁcantly deﬁned and judged by their
decisions and actions related to the toughest problems.
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