In early 2015, Amy Hood, CFO of Microsoft, and the rest of the senior leadership team faced a set of fundamental choices. The firm had opportunities to serve customers in ways that would be associated with higher growth but lower margin. Professor Fritz Foley discusses how leaders faced these difficult decisions, and worked to get investors and employees on board.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra faced real challenges, as all U.S. orchestras did: an aging subscriber base, disinterest from younger audiences, and development of a pipeline of donors for the future. Professor Rohit Deshpande discusses how protagonist Deborah Borda positioned the orchestra for continued success, building on healthy financials, a celebrity music director (Gustavo Dudamel), the beautiful Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the development of a youth orchestra.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card was one of the hottest product launches in 2016 enthusiastically received by millennial consumers, a group that had previously eluded JPMorgan Chase and its competitors. Shelle Santana discusses how protagonists Pam Codispoti and Eileen Serra shifted their focus to retaining customers attracted by the one-time signup bonus of 100,000 reward points and on acquiring new customers now that the bonus had been reduced.
Ride-hailing service Careem, the “Uber of the Middle East,” experienced expansion so dramatic that it monitored its growth target every 15 minutes. Was this a fabled startup unicorn? But doubling the size of the company every six months took its toll. Professor Shikhar Ghosh discusses how the founders approached a number of critical organizational and cultural issues to keep its 4 million customers satisfied.
Riccardo Zacconi was the co-founder and CEO of King Digital Entertainment, the video game company that had quickly established itself as the world’s leading maker of casual games for mobile devices after the sensational success of its game “Candy Crush Saga.” He’s faced with the central question of whether and how to scale the company through an astronomical period of growth. Jeffrey Rayport discusses whether a single creative studio can scale to manage a portfolio of almost 200 games, when one of them is the mammoth hit Candy Crush.
JPMorgan Chase is working with local economic- and workforce-development organizations, small businesses, philanthropies, and the mayor. The goal? To put in place a series of investments to help turn around the struggling city. Professor Joseph Bower and JPMorgan’s head of corporate responsibility, Peter Scher, discuss why businesses should create philanthropic programs of their own.
Enel, Italy’s state-owned power company, was one of Europe’s largest coal users and polluters. Now it is recognized as a leader in renewable energy services. How did it engineer that monumental change? Mark Kramer discusses how CEO Francesco Starace’s vision of sustainability drove innovation and fostered a completely new enterprise around developing and promoting renewable energy.
In the 2016 United States presidential election, candidates from both major political parties used anti-establishment messaging to appeal to Americans, a theme that had been on the sidelines of US political discourse for decades. Donald Trump, in particular, played into the rising anti-establishment sentiment, embracing a populist platform and emphasizing his position as a Washington outsider. Why did his message resonate with voters? Rafael Di Tella discusses how many Americans felt betrayed by the educated “elite” view on globalization, and looked to Trump as a president who would put American workers and values first.
Dr. Brian Alexander at the Dana-Farber Cancer Center in Boston was in the process of launching a new type of clinical trial: an adaptive platform trial. Unlike the traditional randomized controlled trial, adaptive platform trials facilitate simultaneously studying multiple therapies for a given disease and have the potential to make clinical trials for new cancer drugs more efficient and accessible to patients. Developing questions around design, operations, and financing set the stage for this discussion with Ariel Stern about her case: Adaptive Platform Trials: The Clinical Trial of the Future?
The African American CEO of a money management firm publicly criticizes the Fortune 500 for paying lip service to diversity. His board urges him to stop. What should he do? HBS Professor Steven Rogers and protagonist John Rogers discuss a new case study about the risks of speaking up, and the importance of black empowerment in the investment sector.
Oprah Winfrey believes in sharing the experiences that led her to become the wealthiest woman in the entertainment industry and the first African American woman billionaire. Professor Bill George traces her growth from childhood, focusing on how and when she discovered her true voice and how that authenticity spurred her career success.
The One Love Foundation is a group dedicated to the prevention of relationship violence through education. Professor Tom DeLong talks about the challenges CEO Katie Hood faces as the organization works to create a movement and then maintain momentum around community engagement, fundraising, and growth.
As the Montgomery Bus Boycott starts, the young Martin Luther King, Jr. faces challenges to his leadership goals, strategic vision, and personal and family safety. Professor Bill George discusses Dr. King’s early years and how they shaped his ability to respond with courage at his crucible moment—and how leaders today can find the strength to do the same.
Inspired by research linking happiness and productivity, the Japanese multinational conglomerate Hitachi Ltd, invested in developing “people analytics” technologies like high-tech badges (so-called “happiness sensors”) to help companies monitor and increase employee happiness. Ethan Bernstein discusses Hitachi’s next challenge—how to find the right business model—as well as the ethics of collecting and sharing employee happiness data and whether a happier workplace is truly a more productive one.
Professor Teresa Amabile discusses how managers can create the ideal conditions for employee creativity and success based on her research in three industries, seven companies, and 26 creative project teams.
Japan’s largest online retailer Rakuten is rapidly expanding into global markets. In order to ensure the success of the organization, but also to break down linguistic and cultural boundaries in Japanese society, CEO Hiroshi Mikitani mandates English proficiency within two years for all employees. Professor Tsedal Neeley discusses the thinking behind Mikitani’s mandate and why there’s such a strong connection between language and globalization.
What’s the value of crowdsourcing technological solutions to societal problems? Could a hackathon help solve the heroin crisis in Cincinnati, Ohio? Professor Mitch Weiss discusses the underlying skepticism and emerging realities that unfold during protagonist Annie Rittgers’ journey to organizing a successful hackathon in his case, Hacking Heroin.
With about 54 million Hispanics in the U.S. who have an estimated buying power of 2.3 trillion dollars, it’s no wonder Telemundo is the fastest growing television network here. But as the traditional broadcast market as a whole continues to shrink, Telemundo chairman Cesar Conde grapples with how to redefine Hispanic television to capture millennials consuming media on digital devices. Professor Henry McGee discusses how digitalization and globalization are reshaping the entire media industry, including Telemundo, right now.
Bob Nease, chief scientist at Express Scripts, wants to promote home delivery of prescription drugs by mail — a process proven to lower error rates, increase cost savings, and improve medication adherence. But, if switching to home delivery is beneficial to most employees, why don’t more of them do it? Associate Professor John Beshears describes how using choice architecture, or nudging people, can guide employees to making wiser decisions while still respecting their autonomy.
Financial returns are important, but for many companies, using capital to influence positive outcomes is just as important. Enter impact investing and the example of State Street’s SHE, a gender diversity index ETF designed to track U.S. companies leading their industry in placing women on boards of directors and in senior leadership positions. Professor Vikram Gandhi discusses the importance of investing for impact and the potential for influence on corporate America.
Faber-Castell is a 255-year-old company that makes pencils. How does an established company like this think about innovation, particularly if and when to adopt a new technology? Assistant Professor Ryan Raffaelli’s research looks at established companies that produce beloved products and how they manage technological shifts in their industry and in the world. This case explores Faber-Castell’s “companion for life” strategy and its bet to double down on the pencil.
Longchamp’s Le Pliage is one of the fashion world’s most successful products, a cultural icon across the globe. But managing the low priced, nylon handbag is challenging as Longchamp tries to move its brand upmarket into higher priced, luxury leather goods. Senior Lecturer Jill Avery discusses the balancing act of cherishing the heritage of an established brand against the need to look forward and grow in the face of a rapidly changing industry.
Pal's Sudden Service has developed a unique operating model and organizational culture in the fast food restaurant business. With an emphasis on process control, zero errors, and extensive employee training and engagement, Pal's has been able to achieve excellent performance in an extremely competitive industry. Professor Gary Pisano discusses the company’s strategic challenge of deciding how much to grow and whether its organization model will scale.
Advertising in the digital age bears little resemblance to the Mad Men depiction—the Don Drapers of advertising have been replaced by big data and the people who work with it. Professor John Deighton, the author of the case, WPP: From Mad Men to Math Men (and Women), and Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and group chief executive of WPP and the protagonist in the case, discuss how WPP has been successful in the new advertising world order where algorithms and robots rule.
ShotSpotter provides gunfire detection sensors to cities across the United States. CEO Ralph Clark is interested in taking the company beyond the business-to-government sales model and into new services. Could his company provide a service to colleges and schools concerned with mass shootings? Could the technology be adapted for indoor applications like shopping malls and movie theaters? Or even citywide deployment through smart cities to detect gunfire during terrorist attacks. Professor Mitch Weiss discusses how moving from one business model to another is difficult, and how successful companies make the transition.