Strategy & Execution
Ulrich Simon, the head of the Microscopy business group at Carl Zeiss AG knew that his unit was facing a disruptive threat, so he chartered a special team to tackle the industrial segment. Given a high degree of autonomy, the project team developed an understanding of the marketplace challenge and proceeded to develop and execute on a new business plan. Simon gave the team ample freedom to develop new processes and priorities appropriate to the market segment needs, but he couldn’t help but wonder whether it would continue as a stand-alone unit or he would need to reintegrate it into the mainline business. He also was nervous about the plan itself. The team had established timelines and milestones, but now they had to execute and deliver thjeir first product next year.
Disruptive innovation, Marketing, Product development, Supply chain, Technology
Daniel B. Bergstresser, Lauren H. Cohen, Randolph B. Cohen, Christopher Malloy
Finance & Accounting
AQR is a hedge fund based in Greenwich, Connecticut, that is considering offering a wholly new line of product to retail investors, namely the ability to invest in the price phenomenon known as momentum. There is a large body of empirical evidence supporting momentum across many different asset classes and countries. However, up until this point, momentum was a strategy employed nearly exclusively by hedge funds, and thus not an available investment strategy to most individual investors. This case highlights the difficulties in implementing this “mutual fund-itizing” of a hedge fund product, along with the challenges that the open-end and regulatory features that a mutual fund poses to many successful strategies implemented in other contexts. In addition, it gives students the ability to calculate and interpret various horizons of correlations between many popular investment strategies using long time-series data and then thinking about the potential complementarities of strategies from a portfolio construction context.
Product development, Regulation
Thomas R. Eisenmann, Michael Pao, Lauren Barley
Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Dropbox is a venture-backed Silicon Valley startup, founded in 2006, that provides online storage and backup services to millions of customers using a “freemium” (free + premium offers) business model. The case recounts Dropbox’s history from conception through mid-2010, when founder/CEO Drew Houston must make strategic decisions about new product features, how to target enterprise customers, and whether to pursue distribution deals with smartphone manufacturers.
Entrepreneurship, Growth strategy, Internet, Marketing, Product development
Anne Donnellon, Joshua D. Margolis
When students have the English-language PDF of this Brief Case in a coursepack, they will also have the option to purchase an audio version.Key topics include designing teams, managing teams, managing conflict, group dynamics, project management, product development , interdepartmental relations, and organizational change. MediSys, a U.S.-based medical equipment maker, has been developing IntensCare, a new medical system for monitoring intensive-care patients. MediSys has invested heavily in IntensCare, which is eagerly awaited by the market. The product development team, representing several functional areas of the company, has been working on the product for six months but is now running into significant problems with the product design, the schedule, and their own group dynamics. Recently, pressure increased when they learned that two more powerful competitors had begun work on their own products for this market. Several team members are concerned about meeting the team’s targets. Struggling especially hard to overcome the various problems is the marketing manager who has profit-and-loss responsibility for IntensCare.
Communication, Conflict, Leadership, Organizational culture, Product development, Project management
Technology & Operations
To maximize their effectiveness, color cases should be printed in color.Describes IDEO, the world’s leading product design firm, and its innovation culture and process. Emphasis is placed on the important role of prototyping and experimentation in general, and in the design of the very successful Palm V handheld computer in particular. A studio leader is asked by a business start-up (Handspring) to develop a novel hand-held computer (Visor) in less than half the time it took to develop the Palm V, requiring several shortcuts to IDEO’s legendary innovation process. Focuses on: 1) prototyping and experimentation practices at a leading product developer; 2) the role of playfulness, discipline, and structure in innovation processes; and 3) the managerial challenges of creating and managing an unusually creative and innovative company culture. Includes color exhibits.
Design, Managing organizations, Operations management, Product development
Ethan S. Bernstein, Ryan W. Buell
Technology & Operations
In 2005, Teruo Yabe is asked to revive Tessei, the 669-person JR-East subsidiary responsible for cleaning its Shinkansen (“”bullet””) trains. Operational mistakes, customer complaints, safety issues, and employee turnover are at or near all-time highs, even as the demands on Tessei continued to grow. Given previous leaders’ failed attempts to fix Tessei’s problems with increased managerial monitoring and controls, Yabe seeks a creative approach to overcome the motivation, capability, and coordination challenges facing his organization. Like many contemporary leaders, he selects transparency as his tool. He is, however, unique in adopting a highly nuanced approach to implementing transparency. In the process, he not only leads a fantastic organizational turnaround but even helps to make otherwise “”dirty”” work more meaningful for Tessei front-line employees. The case therefore presents students, particularly in leadership, organizational behavior, operations management , and service operations courses, with an opportunity to think through how a well-crafted transparency strategy can act as a powerful leadership tool.
Leadership, Motivating people, Product development, Supply chain, Transparency
Technology & Operations
On May 1, 1992, Doug Friesen, manager of assembly for Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky, plant, faces a problem with the seats installed in the plant’s sole product–Camrys. A growing number of cars are sitting off-line with defective seats or are missing them entirely. This situation is one of several causes of recent overtime, yet neither the reason for the problem nor a solution is readily apparent. As the plant is an exemplar of Toyota’s famed production system (TPS), Friesen is determined that, if possible, the situation will be resolved using TPS principles and tools. Students are asked to suggest what action(s) Friesen should take and to analyze whether Georgetown’s current handling of the seat problem fits within the TPS philosophy.
Manufacturing, Product development
Ryan W. Buell, Ananth Raman, Vidhya Muthuram
Leadership & Managing People
Celebrated as one of the world’s premiere luxury hotel brands, Oberoi Hotels attracts and serves some of the most quality sensitive guests in the world. The case considers the challenge of how an organization, with a standardized service model, can repeatedly delight customers whose expectations grow with every interaction. To explore this question, the case details the design elements of Oberoi’s complex service operation, including its approaches to employee management and continuous improvement, as well as the dynamics of service competition in a rapidly growing market. Teaching Note includes links to videos intended for display during classroom debrief.
Developing employees, Labor, Motivating people, Product development, Supply chain
Stefan Thomke, Barbara Feinberg
Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Winner of a 2013 ecch Case AwardDescribes Apple’s approach to innovation, management, and design thinking. For several years, Apple has been ranked as the most innovative company in the world, but how it has achieved such success remains mysterious because of the company’s obsession with secrecy. This note considers the ingredients of Apple’s success and its quest to develop, in the words of CEO Steve Jobs, insanely great products. Focuses on: 1) design thinking; 2) product development strategy and execution; 3) CEO as chief innovator; and 4) bold business experimentation.
Creativity, Experimentation, Product development, Productivity, Strategy, Technology