Rank #1: How Wayfair Built a Furniture Brand from Scratch
Wayfair has been around since the early days of ecommerce. But where it now exists as a single, popular brand, it was once an unaffiliated collection of 240 websites selling very different things. Harvard Business School professor Thales Teixeira takes listeners on a journey through the rise of internet sales and search engine marketing, and into the minds of the company’s executives as they built an online furniture giant from scratch. Teixeira is the author of the case entitled “Building an e-Commerce Brand at Wayfair.”
Rank #2: From Don Draper to Big Data: The Revolution in Advertising
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in the digital age bears little resemblance to the “Mad Men” depiction — the Don Drapers of advertising have been replaced by big data and the people who work with it. Harvard Business School 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.
Rank #3: Cost-cutting Leads to Turbulence in the Airline Industry
Is it possible to retain brand value after cutting costs and services dramatically just to stay alive? The airline industry has struggled with this question for decades in the face of economic downturns, changes in market structure, and shifting clientele. Harvard Business School professor Susanna Gallani discusses one of the central lessons from her case study (co-authored with Harvard Business School professor Eva Labro), “RegionFly: Cutting Costs in the Airline Industry,” that encompasses any company in any industry: the long-term focus for any leadership team has to be on not just survival, but figuring out how to come back from a rough patch to regain and even exceed market position.
Rank #4: How Chase Sapphire Made Credit Cool for Millennials
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. Harvard Business School professor Shelle Santana discusses her case, “Chase Sapphire: Creating a Millennial Cult Brand” — 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.
Rank #5: Making Health Insurance Consumers Actually Like
Health insurance that consumers like? Doesn’t sound possible, but South African company Vitality is doing just that. By focusing on consumer-driven health insurance ideas like paying customers to take care of themselves, Vitality has expanded to the UK and China. Harvard Business School professor Regina Herzlinger discusses her case entitled “The Vitality Group: Paying for Self-Care” — why this idea of paying for self-care has the potential to improve health care in the United States as well.
Rank #6: The Transformation of Microsoft
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. Harvard Business School professor Fritz Foley discusses his case entitled “The Transformation of Microsoft” — how leaders faced these difficult decisions, and worked to get investors and employees on board.
Rank #7: If the Key to Business Success Is Focus, Why Does Amazon Work?
Harvard Business School professor Sunil Gupta explores the infiltration of Amazon into dozens of industries including web services, grocery, online video streaming, content creation and, oh, did we mention physical bookstores? What’s the big plan? Is the company spread too thin, or poised for astronomical success? Learn more about this discussion in his case, “Amazon 2019.”
Rank #8: Managing in the Real World: How to Make Gray-Area Decisions
An unfortunate but necessary part of a manager’s job is having to let underperforming employees go. Knowing when and how to take that step with the company’s, the employee’s, and your own best interests in mind is a difficult task. Harvard Business School professor Joe Badaracco discusses the best ways to make hard decisions and deliver bad news, pulling from his case “Two Tough Calls” and his new book, Managing in the Gray.
Rank #9: Why JPMorgan Chase is Investing Millions in Detroit
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. Harvard Business School professor Joseph Bower and JPMorgan’s head of corporate responsibility, Peter Scher, discuss why businesses should create philanthropic programs of their own. Bower is the author of the case study, “JPMorgan Chase: Invested in Detroit.”
Rank #10: Reversing the Losing Streak on Sesame Street
When CEO Jeffrey Dunn took over Sesame Street in 2014 and made a licensing arrangement with HBO, many people were skeptical this would take the program in the right direction. But with a new mission to, “Make kids smarter, stronger, and kinder,” and a lot more innovation, it seems the opposite is in the works. Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, who wrote the case entitled “Sesame Workshop: Bringing Big Bird Back to Health” with Harvard Business School professor Ryan L. Raffaelli, talks about reversing a losing streak with new partnerships and in the process determining how to answer foundational questions like, “Who are we if we make this deal?”
Rank #11: How to Monetize Happiness
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. Harvard Business School professor Ethan Bernstein discusses his case entitled “Sensing (and Monetizing) Happiness at Hitachi” — 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.
Rank #12: Making the Case for a New Kind of Classroom
There are no grade levels, no official start times, and teachers get stock options. Is AltSchool the school of the future? Harvard Business School professor John Kim discusses his case entitled “AltSchool: School Reimagined.”
Rank #13: Digital Change: Lessons from the Newspaper Industry
On the internet, content may be king, but connecting users is the key to building an empire. The Norwegian media giant Schibsted learned this lesson the hard way, and then used it to thrive in an online news market where many others have failed. Through the lens of his new book, The Content Trap, Harvard Business School professor Bharat Anand discusses his case entitled, “Schibsted,” regarding Schibsted’s resounding success, how bringing users together drives revenue, and the importance of media companies adopting a “digital-first” approach.
Rank #14: Does Le Pliage Help or Hurt the Longchamp Luxury Brand?
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. Harvard Business School professor Jill Avery discusses her case, “Longchamp” regarding 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.
Rank #15: The Key to Keeping Resolutions? Betting Against Yourself
It’s been a few months since many of us made New Year’s resolutions. Have you stuck with yours? Harvard Business School professor Leslie John studies how to help people change bad habits (and reinforce good ones) by looking at what makes them tick. Here, she discusses stickK, an application that motivates people by forcing them to put skin in the game of self-improvement. John is the author of the case entitled, “Making stickK Stick: The Business of Behavioral Economics.”
Rank #16: The Delicious History of Hershey Chocolate
Have you ever wondered how Hershey chocolate came to be so popular? Harvard Business School professor Nancy Koehn discusses her case entitled “Candy Land, the Utopian Vision of Milton Hershey,” which explores the life and vision of Milton Hershey, the entrepreneur and philanthropist behind the Hershey chocolate bar, the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania, and the Milton Hershey School.
Rank #17: Building India’s First $100 Billion Company
It’s a common challenge for almost every startup: how much and how fast to grow. But Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of the Indian mobile payments and commerce platform Paytm, knows that he wants to take his company to $100 billion and replicate its model in other emerging markets. Harvard Business School professor Sunil Gupta discusses his case “Paytm: Building a Payments Network” — how reaching Sharma’s lofty goal won’t be about technology and finding new solutions, but rather all about finding new use cases for existing solutions.
Rank #18: For the Hotel Business, it’s TripAdvisor or Bust
Research says that 85% of people will make a purchase after reading online reviews about a product or service. This has had huge implications for the hotel industry and helps explain why TripAdvisor, a massive repository of user-generated reviews, was the most-visited travel website in the world in 2013. Harvard Business School professor Thales Teixeira discusses his case study, “Managing Online Reviews at TripAdvisor,” regarding TripAdvisor’s staggering success, how the company has forced an entire industry to change the way it considers (and purposefully influences) the online review process, and how consumers navigate that sea of reviews.
Rank #19: Does Time Pressure Hinder or Facilitate Creativity at Work?
Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile discusses her case, “Creativity Under the Gun at Litmus Corporation” — 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.
Rank #20: Black Business Leaders Series: John Rogers and the Importance of Hiring Minority-Owned Services Firms
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? Harvard Business School professor Steven Rogers and protagonist John Rogers discuss Rogers’ new case, “John Rogers Jr. — Ariel Investments,” about the risks of speaking up, and the importance of black empowerment in the investment sector.