15 High-profile examples taught in business schools

Real examples of success and failure of real business sharks will help aspiring entrepreneurs to choose the right strategy and option for developing their business.

If you went to business school, you probably looked at examples of doing business in large companies. Real stories help students better understand successful and unsuccessful strategies. There are classic examples, including Apple's decision to change its name and Ryanair's victory over more powerful competitors.

1. Why Apple changed its name

Example: Apple Inc.

The main conclusion: sometimes it is impossible to defeat a competitor head on without changing yourself.

What happened: Apple changed its name from Apple Computers to Apple Inc. in 2007. The move reflected a fundamental shift in priorities from iconic Macs to groundbreaking iPod and iPhone electronics, which now account for more than half of the US company's profits. The transformation of the company took place on time and extremely successfully.

2. How Lululemon maintained its reputation as a cult company

Example: management, culture and change at Lululemon.

The main conclusion: instead of enmity, find an opportunity to unite the founders of the company.

What Happened: In mid-2008, the management of the company passed from founder Denis Wilson to new president Christina Day. At the same time, Wilson expressed concern about the threat to tradition and the value of the firm in connection with the new leadership. Meanwhile, Day has inherited a host of problems, including poor results for chain cafes, a failed real estate strategy, and poor communication between company divisions. Using her experience and a new strategy, she did everything to expand the presence of Starbucks in the world. Moreover, she convinced the founders of the company to take management courses at Harvard and Stanford in order to better understand the need for change. For 4 years, the value of the company has grown from $350 million to $10.59 billion.

3. How Cisco Became Competitive Again

Example: Cisco Systems - developing a human capital strategy.

Key takeaway: In-house nurtured talent can help you get through tough times.

What happened: Cisco grew extremely fast during the hi-tech bubble, buying 70 firms during this time and doubling the number of corporate employees. After the bubble burst, Cisco had to change its development strategy and, instead of growing rapidly, focus on nurturing its own talents. For the most promising specialists, the company created the Cisco University. Within three years, the situation in the corporation changed dramatically, which allowed it to once again become a market leader.

4. How USA Today Became Profitable Again

Example: Developing a New Strategy at USA Today

Key takeaway: Sometimes old leaders can't run a company successfully in a new environment.

What Happened: When the paper's circulation plummeted, USA Today President Tom Curley decided to integrate the various divisions of the company, including websites, TV channels, and print media, and make better use of news content. At the same time, many of the old leaders in his team opposed the new strategy. As a result, Curly had to replace five of the seven senior managers.

5. How Dreyer survived the disaster

Example: Dreyer ice cream chain

Key takeaway: Don't try to mislead employees.

What happened: Numerous problems, including high raw material costs, falling sales, and termination of contract with Ben & Jerry's forced the company to undergo an urgent restructuring. During the meeting, managers personally met with each employee and discussed the upcoming action plan, as well as carefully listened to their advice. The strategy of trust, openness and faith in its own employees helped the company to become profitable again within two years.

6. How Microsoft decided to compete with Google

Example: Microsoft search engine

Main conclusion: there are no miracle methods, it is necessary to involve the whole company and all of its resources.

What happened: 10 years after its founding, Google was able to become the leading search engine on the Internet. Microsoft was in third place, behind even Yahoo!. But the company mobilized and decided to radically change the situation by creating in 2009 the Bing! search engine, which was able to seriously challenge the market leader.

7. How Ryanair outperformed larger competitors

Example: Ryanair is fighting for the skies of Europe

Key takeaway: a resource-constrained company can mobilize and beat richer competitors.

What Happened: In 1986, the two Ryan brothers announced the creation of a new company that would not be afraid to challenge industry giants such as British Airways and Aer Lingus on the London-Dublin route. By offering tickets at record low prices, Ryanair was able to attract passengers who used to travel by train or ferry.

8. Ethical issues are perceived differently in the world

Example: Merck Sharp & Dohme Argentina Inc.

Key takeaway: ethical decisions are not always easy.

What happened: The new president of Merck's Argentine subsidiary was tasked with making the company modern and professional. After a while, he had an ethical dilemma. One of the candidates for a prestigious place in the trainee program was the son of a high-ranking official in the Argentine Ministry of Health. The president was given an unequivocal message: if the student was hired by the company, Merck's drugs would be included in the government's distribution program, which would certainly boost sales. It was a real conflict between Mosker's desire to reform the company and the reality of doing business in a developing country.

9. Why Cirque du Soleil decided to forego comfort

Example: Cirque du Soleil – new building leads to new partnership

Main takeaway: sometimes you have to let go of old partners in order to grow

What Happened: Cirque du Soleil had a mutually beneficial relationship with the MGM Mirage Casino. The casino has made significant investments in a purpose-built building for the unique circus performances. But emerging opportunities in Asia and the Middle East have prompted Cirque du Soleil President Daniel Lamarr to begin negotiations for new partnerships.

10. Why Airborne Express lost the competition

Example: Airborne Express

Main takeaway: Specialization can provide an advantage, but only for a short time.

What Happened: Airborne Express, a small competitor to FedEx and UPS, was able to achieve significant results despite its size. The success is due to the long strike of UPS employees, which Airborne Express skillfully took advantage of. The new company decided to become highly specialized, offering services at low prices only in large cities. However, this strategy was not successful, and the company was eventually acquired by DHL.

11. How poor communication almost destroyed a manager

Example: Eric Peterson

Main conclusion: sometimes it is difficult to overcome bureaucratic barriers

What Happened: A recent business school graduate was appointed director of a regional subsidiary of a major telephone company in the late 1980s. The Peterson-led firm began a massive mobile service development effort in Vermont and New Hampshire. However, the new project was behind schedule, and Peterson suggested that management reconsider the dates. But he was unable to contact his superiors quickly and in a timely manner, which eventually led to numerous problems.

12. How William Avery became a legend

Example: Crown Cork & Seal in 1989

Key Takeaway: Don't be afraid to think for yourself

What Happened: William Avery became president of Crown in 1989 as new competitors entered the market and the metal division was becoming more more profitable. The first thing Avery did was to start developing a long-term development strategy for the company, which included buying competitors and mastering the production of new packages. Success was not long in coming: today the company produces one in five cans/bottles for soft drinks worldwide.

13. Why Cisco decided to play big

Example: New acquisitions by Cisco

Key takeaway: Companies need different things at different times

What Happened: Around 2006, Cisco decided to abandon its strategy of acquiring small, innovative start-ups, focusing only on rare acquisitions by big players. The old strategy was optimal against the backdrop of the rapid development of the Internet. But the situation on the market has changed, which means that new business models have become necessary.

14. How Lincoln Electric Succeeded with an Unusual Strategy

Example: Lincoln Electric Co

Key Finding: Keep It Simple

What Happened: This is one of the classic examples of American business. The largest manufacturer of arc welding products has not been unionized since 1975 and does not offer additional bonuses to employees. At the same time, Lincoln Electric guarantees every employee a lifetime job and the opportunity to become a shareholder of the company. The amount of salary directly depends on the level of profit of the company. Such unusual methods still do not prevent Lincoln Electric from remaining a competitive and profitable company. Lincoln's strategy makes a strong case for the importance of motivating employees.

15. Why Nucor Steel decided to take the risk

Example: Nucor at a crossroads

Key takeaway: Investment determines the size of a new project

What Happened: In 1986, Nucor president Kenes Iverson faced a tough decision whether or not to accept a new steel casting technology. The technology would allow the company to gain many benefits, including significant cost savings. But its implementation requires significant investments, and the technology has not yet been approved by regulatory authorities. In the end, Nucor decided to build the first plant in 1989 using the new technology. Since then, the company has remained the largest steelmaker in the United States.