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Posts By Rita McGrath

How fleeting an advantage can be in financial services -

Yesterday, I was teaching in Columbia’s flagship Columbia Senior Executive Program (which we call CSEP for short).  We were discussing how difficult it can be to prevent competitive imitation of innovations in financial services, and one of the participants gave a great example.  Turns out that he and his colleagues observed the success Bank of America has had with its “keep the change” program.  For those of you that don’t... read more »

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Venture Capitalists may not be so good at stopping failing projects after all

My colleague, Isin Guler, has just published a fascinating study in one of our more erudite management journals.  In an exhaustive look at investments made by venture capital companies, she finds that as funding rounds proceed, expected returns to the investment decline.  You would think that a hard-nosed VC would just shut the loser down, wouldn’t you?  Turns out, not so.  In fact, the likelihood of a venture being terminated... read more »

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Corporate Venturing - Stop being so fickle!

Enthusiasm for corporate venturing (efforts by firms to create new businesses from within) come and go over time.  Firms set up venture groups, get disillusioned with them, fold them back into the core business only to discover a few years later that they need some place for new ideas and the people who have them to go, and the whole cycle starts up again.  A key reason companies find organic... read more »

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How one industry was nearly undermind by its own success - Cycling

Imagine, if you will, that your industry received global attention for many years, had a popular and charismatic heroic character for people to look up to, and sparked waves of interest and enthusiasm among all observers.  Wouldn’t you think that would be a wonderful thing? Turns out, not so for U. S. based manufacturers of bicycles.  The industry has been in flat growth or in slow decline mode for decades,... read more »

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Observations on educational institutions

Two books which challenge the current way educational institutions organize themselves are now out, and they are both a fascinating read.  Rakesh Khurana’s book From Higher Aims to Hired Hands traces the evolution and development of business schools and observes that they have more or less abandoned the professionalization of managers as a goal.  He questions the long run viability of the current model.  The other fascinating read is by... read more »

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Master Class by Rita McGrath featured in Recruiter Magazine in the UK

October 4, 2007 Recently, I gave a talk at the CIPD Annual Conference, which is the UK’s leading association for Human Resource Professionals. The talk involved how HR can become a leading force in helping companies to become more entrepreneurial, and seems to have inspired a fair amount of interest. Check it out at: Recruiter Magazine read more »

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Of curtains and cup holders

Today I was teaching in Columbia Business School’s “Emerging Leader Development Program,” which as the name suggests is an executive education program focused on developing the leadership skills of younger, high-potential managers.  We were chatting about the interesting fact that the lowly cup-holder, introduced into the States by Honda in 1988, has by now become what I call a ‘non negotiable’ attribute in cars designed for the American market.  One... read more »

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Opportunity Idea:  A financial product that would help those crippled by credit card debt

People that owe a lot of money on credit card balances would just love to have a lower-interest loan that would help them get that monkey off their backs.  WIth some people getting hit by interest rates as high as 30% or more, surely there is a profitable space for conventional financial institutions to help them.  Now, of course, some people are just addicted to credit.  But there are a... read more »

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Do you think banks process transactions first-come-first served?  Think again.  Opportunity!

In yesterday’s USA Today a columnist noted that banks have taken to the practice of clearing transactions from the highest to the lowest dollar amount, rather than in the order they arrive for processing (USA Today, Tuesday, September 25, 2007 page 3B).  The purpose?  According to the banks, it’s to make sure that big bills such as mortgages, get paid in a timely way.  A second-order consequence, should an account... read more »

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My co-author, Ian C. MacMillan, cited for his social enterprise efforts

September 26, 2007The Philadelphia Daily News printed a great story about my colleague, Ian C. MacMillan who is doing very creative work using entrepreneurship to address social problems in Africa. To see the whole article, click here: read more »

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If you want to be more productive, stop multi-tasking

I hear it (and see it) all the time – executives who are supposed to be studying, discussing or working together tuning in and out as they engage in the so-called blackberry prayer, or trying to simultaneously deal with email while supposedly on a conference call.  My protests, notwithstanding, they will often argue that such multi-tasking allows them to accomplish more in less time.  Turns out that recent research supports... read more »

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