Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Overview and Objectives

This course is about the building, running, and growing an organization. This course has four central themes: (1) How to think analytically about designing organizational systems, (2) How leaders, especially founders, play a critical role in shaping an organization’s culture, (3) What really needs to be done to build a successful organization for the long-term; and (4) What you can do to improve your personal likelihood of success.

This is not a survey course in entrepreneurship or in leadership. Instead, this course addresses the principles of organizational architecture, group behavior and performance, interpersonal influence, leadership and motivation in entrepreneurial settings. A primary goal is to develop your competencies in organizational design, human resources management, leadership and organizational behavior in the context of a new, small firm.

For many entrepreneurs, the most pressing questions (aside from those about financing) are about how to locate and recruit talented people, and how to manage and keep them, and how to build a high-growth, long-term, sustainable firm. This course will address these questions and will provide you with a number of critical concepts and competencies that will be useful to you in both the short and long term. Throughout the course there will be a dual emphasis on thinking systematically and strategically about aspects of managing a rapidly growing organization, and on the actual implementation challenges associated with management and leadership.

The primary course material will be a series of cases illustrating both successes and failures. You will also be provided with supplementary readings and lectures that will supply concepts and frameworks. It is important that we take advantage of the experience of class members. So, where relevant, please feel free to bring your own experiences and illustrations into class discussion. Throughout the course–virtually in every session–we will consider how what we are discussing differs across settings. Students with global experiences are especially encouraged to bring this knowledge into the classroom. The employment relationship in the U.S. is different in many respects from many other countries, so it is important that as managers we appreciate these differences in how human resources might be framed differently in other cultures. If we are to meet our goal of increasing your effectiveness in leading and managing, it is important to explore how, why, and under what circumstances various approaches work. Your previous experience, both positive and negative, is a valuable source of data for this learning.

The course is organized into three main modules: Setting Direction, Building Skills & Capabilities, and Sustaining Momentum. In each module there will be a series of cases and readings. The course opens with a two-day case series that will foreshadow each of the topics covered in the course. Similarly, the course ends with a two-day capstone case-series that will allow students to apply the lessons learned.

Course Requirements

Class Participation: 50% of grade 
Course Project: 50% of grade 
Optional Case Write-ups: extra credit toward class participation 
Note: All written submissions for this course must be professionally prepared, well-researched and documented, with reasonable fonts and margins.

Course Project

For complete description, see Projects section.

Class Participation

Because this is a case-based class, each student is required to be an active participant in case discussions. Your participation grade will reflect my assessment of your total contribution to the learning environment. This includes not only the frequency of your contributions in class, but also their quality. Quality, includes, among other things: (1) sound, rigorous, and insightful diagnosis (e.g. sharpening of key issues, depth and relevance of analysis); (2) ability to draw on course materials and your own experience productively; (3) ability to advance or sharpen in-class discussion and debate, willingness to take risky or unpopular points of view, use of logic, precision, and evidence in making arguments; (4) professionalism of your conduct (attendance, punctuality, preparedness, and showing respect to all section members and their class contributions). Unexcused absences and lack of preparation will be counted heavily against your grade.

Case Write-ups

Some students may be more comfortable demonstrating their mastery of core course concepts in written rather than in oral form. To accommodate those students, there are two opportunities for students to submit written case analyses (no more than 5 pages long).

Case Write-up 1: 
Apple Computer (A) (Abridged): Corporate Strategy and Culture, HBS# 495-044 
Due before class, session 8.

Case Write-up 2: 
Wolfgang Keller at Konigsbrau-Hellas A. E. (A), HBS # 498-045 
Due before class, session 16.

Case write-ups are entirely optional and will be counted as extra credit towards class participation grades. The write-ups will be evaluated according to how well you have demonstrated your mastery of the course material. This includes the application of appropriate conceptual materials; the effective use of evidence to develop your arguments; explicit assumptions and clear logical inferences; and a coherent and integrated analysis and assessment. In addition the written work must be clear and well-organized. Case write-ups should be typed, with reasonable fonts and margins.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2003