How Coca-Cola, Netflix, and Amazon Learn from Failure

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Why, all of a sudden, are so many successful business leaders urging their companies and colleagues to make more mistakes and embrace more failures?

In May, right after he became CEO of Coca-Cola Co., James Quincey called upon rank-and-file managers to get beyond the fear of failure that had dogged the company since the “New Coke” fiasco of so many years ago. “If we’re not making mistakes,” he insisted, “we’re not trying hard enough.”

In June, even as his company was enjoying unparalleled success with its subscribers, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings worried that his fabulously valuable streaming service had too many hit shows and was canceling too few new shows. “Our hit ratio is too high right now,” he told a technology conference. “We have to take more risk…to try more crazy things…we should have a higher cancel rate overall.”

Even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos,

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5 Ways to Design Products Customers Love

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As a teenager, Mike Pfotenhauer loved to hike, but he hated how uncomfortable he felt carrying the backpacks then on the market. So, at age 16, he created his own, sewing all the pieces together himself. He went on to design and deliver customized outdoor equipment to clients who’d heard of him through the grapevine, and eventually he founded Osprey, a company that designs and manufactures all kinds of specialty bags and packs, with user-friendly features such as body-hugging contours, a top “lid” flap that converts into a spacious day pack, and a magnetic connector to secure the drinking tube from the built-in water reservoir.

This story exemplifies one type of empathic design, namely by a user-designer who combines deep knowledge of product use with the ability to foresee new possibilities for it. Another well-documented way to achieve the same outcome is through ethnographic research — surveying

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Why GE’s Jeff Immelt Lost His Job: Disruption and Activist Investors


Jeff Immelt ran GE for 16 years. He radically transformed the company from a classic conglomerate that did everything to one that focused on its core industrial businesses. He sold off slower-growth, low-tech, and nonindustrial businesses — financial services, media, entertainment, plastics, and appliances. He doubled GE’s investment in R&D.

In his Harvard Business Review article summing up his tenure, Immelt recalls that the two things that influenced him most were Marc Andreessen’s 2011 Wall Street Journal article “Why Software Is Eating the World” and Eric Ries’s book The Lean Startup.

Andreessen’s article helped accelerate the company’s digital transformation. GE made a $4 billion bet on connecting industrial equipment through the internet of things and analytical software with a suite of products called Predix Cloud.

In response to Ries’s book, GE adopted lean methods and built its Fastworks program around them. Beth Comstock, GE vice chair responsible

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The Innovation Health Care Really Needs: Help People Manage Their Own Health

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Finally, health care, which has been largely immune to the forces of disruptive innovation, is beginning to change. Seeing the potential to improve health with simple primary-care strategies, some of the biggest incumbent players are inviting new entrants focused on empowering consumers into their highly regulated ecosystems, bringing down costs.

This shift is long overdue. Whereas new technologies, competitors, and business models have made products and services more affordable and accessible in media, finance, retail, and other sectors, U.S. health care keeps getting costlier. It is now by far the world’s most expensive system per capita, about twice that of the UK, Canada, and Australia, with chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease now accounting for more than 80% of total spending.

These astronomical costs are largely due to the way competition works in American health care. Employers and insurance companies — not end

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Leading Innovation Is the Art of Creating “Collective Genius” – SPONSOR CONTENT FROM HBS EXECUTIVE EDUCATION


As Harvard Business School Professor Linda A. Hill began to dig into the scholarship around leadership and innovation, she soon realized there was a lot of research on both.

What she didn’t find, however, was work linking the two. Specifically, what is the role of the leader in creating and sustaining an innovative organization? A new book written with three coauthors attempts to answer the question of why some companies, such as Pixar, are able to invent continuously, while others aren’t.

The book, Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation, was written by Hill, the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration, with Greg Brandeau, former CTO of The Walt Disney Studios and current COO/president of Media Maker; Emily Truelove, a PhD candidate at MIT’s Sloan School of Management; and

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Netflix and Why the Future of Streaming Looks Like Old-School TV

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Netflix hit the industry with some bombshell moves this month. First, it announced that it plans to spend $8 billion on original content next year (including on 80 new movies). This is far more than any other online player. Obviously, this is great news for its 100 million-odd customers worldwide.

What isn’t so great for customers is the other news. Netflix will raise the price of its standard plan by a dollar a month and its premium plan by two dollars a month. With these increases it is slowly edging toward the $15-a-month plan offered by its competitor HBO.

This means Netflix isn’t just your Blockbuster replacement anymore. Makers of original content — including the likes of Disney — are moving away from Netflix. Instead, Netflix looks like an old-school TV network; if one had to predict what the industry will look like in five years, one might say

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Our favorite startups from 500 startups’ 21st class

 Another season, another group of startups presenting as part of 500 Startups’ 21st demo day. This time around, 29 companies pitched on stage at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. We noticed strong trends in healthcare focused businesses as well as startups tackling international markets out of the gate. Perhaps the most interesting trait of the startups selected for our top… Read More