Home » My 8 weeks at Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program » Day 38 – Not everything taught can be applied universally

Day 38 – Not everything taught can be applied universally

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Apart from the classes today, there were 3 ‘external’ speakers.  It is a privilege to meet and hear from so many accomplished leaders.  Here was today’s lineup:

We had a case on Generation Investment Management.  This is a company founded by Al Gore and David Blood and focuses on long term ‘socially responsible’ investment.  They follow a strict set of investment guidelines focused around sustainability themes that have the potential to impact the long-term operating context for businesses. The themes they focus on have Climate Change, Poverty, Human Capital, Corruption/Bribery, Pandemics etc.

david bloodOf particular interest in a case was Generation’s evaluation of ABB India for inclusion in their portfolio or ‘watch list’.  ABB India is into power generation and distribution and to make a decision, Generation had to wrangle with the issues of Climate Change (ABB’s use of coal causes pollution and impacts global warming), Poverty (ABB’s efforts could bring electricity to millions of households in India thus improving the standard of living) and Corruption (India has its issues with this).

ABB India was put of Generation’s watch list – its price however did not meet the criteria for portfolio inclusion.  David amongst other things has been the CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

The case on IBM’s organizational change to foster growth of a behemoth – $64B in revenues at that point in time.  Bruce Harreld (who was IBM’s Strategy Officer at that point) was in class to share his views on how IBM did it – they are ~100B in revenue today. Here is Bruce in class:Bruce IBM

The case points to something Bruce and the other scholars at Harvard have called ‘Organizational Ambidexterity’.  Bruce has since resigned from IBM (in 2008 I think) and now teaches at Harvard.

The last speaker for the day was probably the most enlightening (although I hate to have a rating system here).  Clayton Christensen is a professor at HBS and he spoke about innovation and more importantly ‘disruptive’ innovation. He started his presentation with a most amusing statement – Not everything we teach here is true!  Here is Clay and his first slide.

clay chrisClay is a big guy – literally and figuratively.  He got his Doctorate from Harvard and also studied at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. One thing that caught my eye – he is on the board of Tata Consulting Services.  One of his sons played basketball professionally.  Genes I guess!  I did not want to stand next to him.

taught but not universaly true

Tomorrow has some tough cases in store for discussion.  The diversity of these cases sparks surprising and thought provoking discussions on topics of ethics, failures, financial engineering and human nature.


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