Mountains of Business Wisdom: Six Months of Conversations with Top B-School Profs

Last Updated Apr 14, 2010 1:11 PM EDT

We've heard some informative and provocative perspectives from top business school professors over the last six months...

Anita Elberse of HBS discussed why she finds studying "creative industries" so critical in today's economy, assessed the acquisition of Marvel by Disney last fall and opined on the power of the Real Madrid brand in futbol.

London Business School's Don Sull talked about his book The Upside of Turbulence: Seizing Opportunities in an Uncertain World. Turbulent business environments, he maintains, can be prime opportunities for innovation, but mid-level managers often need to be proactive in setting the new agenda during crises. Finally, Sull discusses a subject b-school professors often avoid: the role of luck in a business' success or failure.

Michael Norton of the Harvard Business School explained "The Ikea Effect": the heightened sense of value and satisfaction customers get when they play a role in creating the products they consume. Norton also explained how corporate philanthropy can be a strategic tool and deepen customer and employee loyalty.

Eric Sussman of UCLA-Anderson discussed the real causes of the 2008 real estate crash and how people have been fooled by a false conception of the "American Dream"-one linked exclusively to home ownership.

Duke's Ashish Arora assessed the capabilities of India's expanding technology sector, including firms' emphasis on repeatable processes. He also explained the importance of well-structured and robust markets for intellectual property.

John Mullins of LBS introduced his new book The New Business Road Test: What Entrepreneurs and Executives Should Do Before Writing a Business Plan. He discussed why it's important for entrepreneurs to find "analogs" and "antilogs" in existing business models to guide the thinking in a business plan. Even once they think they've got their stories nailed, entrepreneurs need to be prepared to take a "leap of faith" on a few critical unknowns. Finally, he provides us five elements that entrepreneurs and VCs alike can use to assess plans and business models.

In one of our more discussed installments of the year, Bob Kulhan of Duke's Fuqua School of Business explained the power of improvisation techniques in the business world. He then isolated how certain leaders have employed these skills to further their organizations' goals.

Linda Hill of HBS discussed how managers learn how to lead. She informed us of the critical need of "managing up" throughout our careers in order to make our bosses into allies. Finally, she recounted the tale of how one well-known Indian CEO opened himself up to the scrutiny of 360 degree feedback.

Gareth Jones of LBS and INSEAD conversed about his book Clever: Leading Your Smartest, Most Creative People. He revealed five rules for managing clever employees as well as some pitfalls to avoid. Finally, Jones discussed the conditions leaders need to set to turn their companies into "clever organizations."

  • Jeremy Dann

    Jeremy Dann is a Lecturer in Marketing at UCLA's Anderson School of Management and an innovation consultant and writer. He has been a contributor to several business and technology publications and is the founding editor of "Strategy & Innovation."