Home / Annotated Bibliography / Spring Annotations

Spring Annotations

Carr, C.A. & Gordon, C.M.  (2012). Dirigo International.  HBS No. 9-212-056.  Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing. 

Dirigio International is an HBS case study on a fictitious story but a very realistic set of circumstances that is a common scenario in real life.  The case study describes a situation where a company, Dirigo, was attempting to expand its physical footprint by building a development in an underutilized area of the town, Kezar.  The study explores the position that Kezar’s Mayor is put in by having to determine the best path for the city-to allow Dirigo to develop or not. Thus far in my life, I have yet to be involved in any real estate dealings involving new buildings, only buildings that are currently existing, but as professor Morris mentioned in his video, it is highly likely that almost every company will intersect with property law.  The case, specifically the exhibits, highlighted general areas of concern in the planning and zoning processes, creating a benchmark for necessary considerations in a real life process similar to the one outlined in the Dirigo International case. I have lived in multiple gentrifying neighborhoods and it is easy to be a part of the gentrification without being educated on the impact. This case study created awareness around issues to consider including education, workforce development along with the overall impact of the potential development.  

Keywords:  Development, Real estate, zoning, community, property

LO2:  demonstrate the ability to assess complex organizational environments and achieve communicative goals.

LO3:  address complex challenges by collaboratively leading teams across disciplines, distances, and sectors.

Coutu, D.  (2009, May).  Why teams don’t work.  Harvard Business Review, 99-105.  Retrieved from https://hbr.org. 

This article was very impactful because the author’s thesis goes against so much of what we as individuals are taught by our institutions, our jobs and our parents, that teamwork and being a team player is important for success.  However, being on a team does not automatically equate with success. A good team has to be built and has to continue to be maintained, which is difficult to do the larger a team gets. Teams have to be well defined both in construct and in direction and the members need to each understand his/her place on the team as well as have support in the organization outside the immediate team.  It is also suggested that teams need coaching as a group, not as individuals, in order to thrive. Having a credible source, a leading organizational psychologist, in a very credible publication, state the fact that getting teams to work well together is hard, is incredibly refreshing and important. As a manger and someone who is managed, I need to have the realistic expectation that teams are not automatically effective at solving problems.  

Keywords:  teams, organization, success 

LO2:  demonstrate the ability to assess complex organizational environments and achieve communicative goals.  

LO3:  address complex challenges by collaboratively leading teams across disciplines, distances, and sectors.  

Desai, M. & Willalonga, B.  (2003). Antitrust regulations in a global setting:  The EU investigation of the GE/Honeywell merger. 

HBS No. 9-204-081.  Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.

General Electric (GE) and Honeywell were looking to merge, by GE acquiring Honeywell, and while they were ultimately approved to do so in the United States, they were not by the European Union Competition Commissioner Mario Monti.  Monti felt that the acquisition would violate antitrust laws in the EU. The article highlights the differences in the anti trust acts between the US and the EU. While GE could have made some changes to the terms of the acquisition to make it compliant with the antitrust laws, GE CEO Jack Welch felt that the requirements put forth by the EU were too substantial and therefore decided not to move forward with pursuing the acquisition of Honeywell.   I have never worked for a global organization, but this article provides an example around the fact that when one is working for a global organization, there is global awareness around organizational decisions and also potential global regulation that the organization may be subject to. In future roles I may have with global organizations, I know to always be keeping that fact in the back of my mind when making decisions around products or services that will have a global audience.     

Keywords:  mergers, acquisitions, regulation, global regulatio

LO3:  address complex challenges by collaboratively leading teams across disciplines, distances, and sectors.  

Edmondson, A.C.  (2012, April). Teamwork on the fly.  Harvard Business Review, 72-80.  

Prior to reading this article, I had never heard of the word “teaming,” which Edmonson describes as teamwork on the fly (p. 74). ”   The concept of teaming implies that a group functions as an effective team without the history of being a team or the formality of being one.  Edmondson believes that teaming highlights a changing business landscape where proximity of all team members is not only less likely, but also not necessary to successfully complete a project.  For me, being able to team is a valuable skill set in the workforce as a leader and as a team member. As someone whose strengths are leadership and project management, with a background of cross-functional work, I can position myself not as a strong team player but as someone strong in “teaming.”   

Keywords: teamwork, teaming, challenges, information

LO3:  address complex challenges by collaboratively leading teams across disciplines, distances, and sectors.  

Edmondson, A.C.  (2016, June). Wicked problem solvers: Lessons from successful cross-industry teams.  Harvard Business Review, 53-59.  

Edmonson shares examples of cross-industry teams who were successful in working together.  As he states, “the challenge is to frame people’s differences as a source of strength or advantage for the team” (2006, p. 58).  The successful teams are ones in which individuals allow people to speak their minds without being ridiculed or made to feel bad for expressing an opinion.  If people feel safe to share, they are more apt to contribute and allow the others on the team to be more open. As I am interested in professional roles that are highly cross-functional and also in continuing to develop to be a great leader, it is important to learn leadership practices that can help me, and the teams I work with, meet our potential.  Applying the By engaging in the collaborative approach shared in the article, in conjunction with the application of the central themes of the MSC program, and applies to problem solving.  

Keywords: teams, leadership, problem solving, learning

LO1:  articulate connections between the interdisciplinary field of communication and the central themes of managing complexity, collaborative leadership, and elegant communication. 

Garvin, D. A. & Roberto, M. A.  (2001, September). What you don’t know about making decisions.  Harvard Business Review OnPoint, 1-8.

The authors explain two different approaches that leaders take in the decision making process, advocacy vs. inquiry.  Advocacy is rooted in persuasion-trying to get others to support your position-whereas inquiry is more collaborative, inviting others to participate in the decision while gathering information.  The inquiry approach has more fairness throughout the process, which according to researchers, results in more buy-in from the group, even if individuals disagree with the outcome (p. 7). In the article, there are tips for making good decisions including having well-defined criteria and encouraging debate.  As these are tools to be a more effective leader, they are incredibly relevant as I continue to develop my leadership style and interview for leadership roles.

Keywords: inquiry, advocacy, decision making, decisions, leaders

LO3:  address complex challenges by collaboratively leading teams across disciplines, distances, and sectors.  

LO6: create and deliver elegant messages appropriate to the audience, purpose, and context. 

Kaufman, S., Shih, W., and Spinola, D.  (2009). Netflix.  HBS No.  9-607-138.  Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.  

This case study provided an overview on the introduction of Netflix and the background leading up to the later decision to introduce their online video product.  The history of home video rental was reviewed in addition to an overview of Netflix’s history, competitor’s history and the current competition for video-on-demand(VOD)  products at the time that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, was determining how to introduce Netflix’s online video feature.  While the case study ends, leaving the reader to think about Hasting’s decision, which is certainly important and relevant to the future of Netflix and VOD services, the lesson is this case study is that many factors have to be taken into consideration when making a business decision, especially one that will directly impact customers.  Logistics, financials, customer numbers, competition and communication plans all play a role in making a strategic decision that will both positively impact the company’s bottom line and be well received by the customer.        

Keywords:  technology, home video, movies, growth strategy, streaming

LO1:  articulate connections between the interdisciplinary field of communication and the central themes of managing complexity, collaborative leadership, and elegant communication.  

Kerr, D.  (2018, April 22).  Electric scooters are invading.  Bird’s CEO leads the charge. CNET. 

Retrieved from https://canvas.northwestern.edu/courses/91852/pages/applied-law-technology-and-strategy-problems.

Scooter companies are on the leading edge of transportation technology.  Law does not always rule and there are loopholes in regulation and in doing business.  Despite there being legal issues, company is still operating. Likely have more money behind them than the city municipalities do so the cost of paying a fine may be worth it if the ridership base continues to grow.  Wonder about the awareness of riders as to the city laws. I live in a city where Bird and Lime scooters are prevalent and it is frustrating to see people being disrespectful not only of the laws but of other citizens.  The article shows how companies with products and in industries that are not yet regulated, can get away with things, even more so when their product has a strong usage. Shows that many scooter customers do not necessarily care about the law either, as I would speculate, that they do not see breaking it as a big deal.  As VanderZanden states in the article, “it’s ultimately up to the riders to follow the rules.” Responsibility as a company only goes so far and shows an effective communication strategy in managing a complex situation, 

Keywords:  transportation, technology, regulation, legality

LO1:  articulate connections between the interdisciplinary field of communication and the central themes of managing complexity, collaborative leadership, and elegant communication. 

Miller, M.  (2008, May 5).  Ultimate cash machine.  Forbes.com. Retrieved from


Keywords:  strategize, comeback, lobbying 

LO2:  demonstrate the ability to assess complex organizational environments and achieve communicative goals. 

Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta had purchased the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for $2 million, which is a small amount of money compared to the valuation of it now, which exceeds $1 billion.  The Fertittas had considered selling the business and then gave themselves once last chance to turn the business around. Rather than try to change their business, they exposed it on reality television.  The strategy of sharing a story directly with consumers, worked for them. The UFC story is a lesson in recovery and comeback from business defeat. While I have never overseen a million dollar organization, I have certainly been in managerial situations where I felt like I was failing or I was actually failing.  The Fertitta story is a reminder that with perseverance and creative thinking there is opportunity to turn a business around.    

Morris, R.  23andMe Case [Online lecture].  In R. Morris, Current Issues in Law, Technology & Strategy.  Retrieved from


This lecture provided an overview of the 23andMe case, which covered the history, rise and fall of 23 and me as a source of genetic testing.  23andMe was an informative test that an individual could take at home by providing a saliva sample and then mailing it off to be analyzed.  It became very popular after celebrity Angelina Jolie did the genetic test and advertised so. The FDA felt that 23andMe should be regulated by them because the FDA viewed it as a diagnostic test. sent them letters demanding that they either comply or shut down.  As the founder of 23andMe had a lot of mone decided to just ignore the FDA and instead shifted the product within the United States to provide ancestry information rather than genetic information. According to Professor Morris, it is an example of how not to handle a regulation problem. Most companies do not have the means to just shift their business.  Almost anyone else would have gone out of business. I have had to comply with FDA regulations on several occasions. An example of addressing a complex issue, they did not engage with strategies to comply, instead engage with stataties to achieve their goal. Have to get creative, comply or not comply and be willing to risk everything. Might not be a viable option for a business I work with, but there can be options. 

Keywords: FDA, regulation, compliance  

LO2:  demonstrate the ability to assess complex organizational environments and achieve communicative goals.   

Morris, R.  Strategies for Regulated Business Environment.  [Course handout}.

Retrieved from https://canvas.northwestern.edu/courses/91852/pages/communication-theory

The document that Professor Morris shared in the first week of class is a list for forty-nine strategies to use for a regulated business environment, any business that is regulated by any type of government agency, which it turns out, are the majority of businesses.  This list of strategies is one I have been referencing for all of our course related work, but I know I will continue to reference it for all professional work in the future, as there is such a large variety of strategies available and in really thinking about it, a strategic approach for all situations.   

Keywords:  Strategy, technology, law, regulation 

LO2:  demonstrate the ability to assess complex organizational environments and achieve communicative goals.  

LO6:  create and deliver elegant messages appropriate to the audience, purpose, and context.  

Morris, R.  The Speech Box.  [Course handout].  Retrieved from


“The speech box” is a model for visualizing two types of speech, protected and unprotected, when referring to the constitution of the United States.  What areas fall into these types visual display of crossing the line into one area of speech from another. It is a great reference point for a high-level view categorize what type of speech.  May encounter an issue at work, for example, a colleague damaging to another colleagues reputation. If you take a glance at the speech box, see that is unprotected speech. Likely go to human resources but as I wouldn’t have known where the types of speech fell into which category if for not having this reference sheet. 

Keywords:  Speech, protected speech, unprotected speech, criticism 

LO1:  articulate connections between the interdisciplinary field of communication and the central themes of managing complexity, collaborative leadership, and elegant communication.

LO5:  critically analyze messages

Morris, R.  Intro to Trademarks.  [Online Lecture].

Retrieved from https://canvas.northwestern.edu/courses/91852/pages/tiffany-vs-ebay-case-and-intro-to-trademarks

This lecture provided an overview of what a trademark is and when to use one.  Professor Morris also covered the difference between a trademark, a copyright and a patent.  There are differences in the number of years each is valid for. A trademark will be defunct if you do not file something after five years to show that it is being used, where as a copyright is valid for life plus seventy, meaning for the life of the author plus another seventy years, and a patent expires after twenty years.  I have gone through the initial process of getting an item trademarked before, thinking that the confusing registration process was needed, however we learned that once an item is in commerce, the trademark exits, even without a formal registration. Once registered however, there are rules rules surrounding the duration of a trademark and also of a copyright and patent.  The information we learned in this lecture is very useful as there will likely be other times in the future where I work with items or intellectual property that will need to or want to obtain a government mark and now I am in a better position to do so.      

Keywords:  trademark, copyright, patent, commerce

LO2:  demonstrate the ability to assess complex organizational environments and achieve communicative goals.

Sengupta, S.  (2011, August 26).  Case of 8,000 menacing posts tests limits of twitter speech.  In The New York Times

Retrieved from https://canvas.northwestern.edu/courses/91852/pages/regulated-industries-and-strategies

As technology has evolved, there are new electronic platforms for communicating that did not exist when the United States constitution was composed.  One of these platforms is Twitter. This article explains a case where one individual was sending damaging and hurtful messages to another user, via public posting on Twitter, causing that user distress.  Question of online expression and to what extent it is protected under the First Amendment. Article highlights, it is a case of what can be said about a person, vs. to a person. A line between public communication and direct communication.  Companies need to understand how to interact on twitter. As someone who works in customer experience and with goods/services, not uncommon for customers to reach out via twitter. Have to pay attention to the messages out there in the twittersphere.  Most companies have a Twitter account, so it is important to understand what may be appropriate or inappropriate to use it for but also to know that it is an unregulated technology. If using a tool, especially in a space where there is little protection, it is necessary to understand how to operate within it, whether on the receiving end or if sending a message, awareness of any ramifications it may have either as a personal user or as a user on behalf of an organization.  

Keywords:  Twitter, speech, first amendment, technology

LO5:  critically analyze messages.

Serafeim, G. & Welch, K.  (2012). Ultimate Fighting Championship: License to Operate (A).  Harvard Business School.  HBS No. 9-112-011. 

Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing. 

This HBS case study covers the growth and regulatory challenges of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), alongside the rise in fighting events in the global market.  The case study closes with the owner of the UFC deliberating a purchase proposition for the league, which was in a poor state due to regulation and the fact that it cost viewers money as a pay-per-view event.  While we now know that UFC was later purchased and has gone on to be a global phenomenon, as the case study covers, in the early phases of UFC there was regulation changes that had to happen for the sport to continue, as it was seen as violent and dangerous.  The UFC story shows the necessity of lobbying when in a regulated industry, as regulatory change can result. Impact of regulation on all types of industries and how to operate a business within a regulated industry. Lobbying can require a large investment of time, money and energy but if an organization has the means to harness these, making the commitment can certainly result in a positive action.  I work in a regulated industry, most often regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), but never thought of petitioning the regulations as I felt that neither myself, nor the small companies I have worked for have been in a position to do so. As someone who often works with small businesses, I am curious to learn more about lobbying groups for small business owners and how to potentially direct clients and/or resources to them in the future.  

Keywords: broadcasting, regulation, lobbying, UFC

LO2:  demonstrate the ability to assess complex organizational environments and achieve communicative goals.

Van Den Steen, E.  (2015). Tesla Motors.  Harvard Business School.  HBS 9-714-413.  Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.

I found this case study fascinating as it covers an object, the car, that I use regularly and yet rarely think about in regards to the industry it is a part of, the auto industry.  Tesla founder Elon Musk, communicated openly to the public about his plans and goals for the company within the auto-industry. The article specifically highlighted the introduction of Tesla, an electric vehicle company, to an industry that has traditionally been dominated by three companies.  While the case study covered the car business from a historical approach, which I enjoyed learning about, the most impactful takeaway for me was that it shows that even huge industries and popular companies are not immune to issues. Tesla may have been getting a lot of attention, like the new good looking kid at school, but that does not been that Tesla had its operational business figured out.  As the Tesla case study shows, the reality of a company can be very different than the public perception. In addition, any time there can be a big change to an industry that has not changed in a long time, there are likely to be a lot of issues. However, inventions and innovation are still very much alive and as an industry progresses, people will do so as well, evolving with the times and with the changes in technology.  The Tesla example shows that disrupting an industry is about more than the product. Musk did not just have the idea to design a luxury electric vehicle, he had to think through every component from manufacturing to service model.  

Highlights the back-end of the business, which is the side that I work in.  The development of products and brands. In modern times, with all of the influencers and the instagram hype,  these things will only take a brand so far. An appealing brand has to have an effective business model to back it up.    

Keywords:  auto industry, cars, competition, disruptor, profits

LO6:  create and deliver elegant messages appropriate to the audience, purpose, and context.