Business lessons buried in the news of the day.
The NCAA sanctions of Penn State football offer a signature business lesson in leadership responsibility. In his critical report, former FBI director Louis Freeh identified the following as a key factor in the university’s organizational failure:
A president who discouraged discussion and dissent.
Buried business lesson: CEOs serve their company and customers by fostering a culture of open dissent. Too much harmony can be lethal.
The author of the Encylopedia Brown series has passed away. Donald J. Sobol wrote mysteries since 1959 in an innovative format that enthralled me as a kid.
Each book is subdivided into around a dozen short mysteries. Sobol intended them to be solved by the young reader, tipped off by a logical or factual inconsistency somewhere in the text. As Entertainment Weekly reports:
Sobol came up with the concept when he came across a book by chance at the New York Public Library. The book had puzzles on one side of the page and solutions on the other, and it occurred to him to write a mystery book in the same style.
Buried business lesson: You gain strategic advantage by making greater use of a given format. Are you limited by real constraints, or just convention?
Buried in the odd story of the death of Eva Rausing is some background on the genesis of the billionaire’s wealth. Eva married Hans Kristian Rausing, an heir to the Tetra Pak fortune. (Tetra Pak’s are recyclable, foil-lined cartons popular in Europe for storing liquids.) Reuters explained:
Hans Kristian’s Swedish grandfather Ruben invented the now ubiquitous foil-lined drinks carton after his wife complained about heavy glass milk bottles.
Buried business lesson: People are willing to pay you for solving their problems. In this case, a problem as simple as a heavy milk container.