News

Case Rip Cord Goes under the Knife

Structural Holes, a reading note for Power and Influence: “I use the term ‘structural hole’ for the separation between nonredundant contacts. Nonredundant contacts are connected by a structural hole. A structural hole is a relationship of nonredundancy between two contacts.” [Alex Mandl, OF]

Strategic Deal-making at Millennium Pharmaceuticals: “In the words of Jim Rubin, the Monsanto executive who negotiated this deal with [Steven] Holtzman, ‘[He’s] very good at figuring out what the other side’s needs are. So when I asked for the sun, the moon, and the stars, he said, “Okay, they need a lot of light during the day and a little bit at night.”‘”

Royal Ahold NV: What a great name for a company. This Dutch grocery store is taking over the Giants of the industries. And they think they’re helping the local communities. What a bunch of Royal Aholds. (Aargh. Sorry.)

International Profit Associates: After presenting the wonderful things the company does and demonstrating how their seven Ss are all perfectly aligned, page 15 of the case contains some dirt: “All three of the founders had criminal records.” The first manufactured ingredients for speed, the second stole Hummel figurines, and the third was a disbarred lawyer caught misappropriating funds from a deceased client.
Hummels? Oh, sure, they’re cute, but who wants to go in business with a porcelain doll smuggler? Can you hear him after the Scooby Doo team caught up with him, “And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids”?

Of the three, one left the firm within a year. Another took ill and was forced out by the third for failure to persevere. See if you can guess-which of the three is doing quite well right now?

Shouldice Hospital Limited: Doctor Earle Shouldice discovers at his Toronto hospital that hernia patients recover more quickly when they’re allowed ambulation privileges after surgery. “Ambulation”? Why do doctors always have to use fancy words? Can’t they just say “movement” like everybody else? I mean, call it “stool” all you want, but it still smells stinky.

Regardless, back to the case: “The patients were transported later in the day to a medical fraternity where they were cared for by medical students for two or three days.” Wouldn’t every man who just had his groin repaired recover faster if he had to get up, put on a toga, and grab some free beers for the sorority chicks that just came over? No wonder people were lining up to get cut open at Shouldice.
In class, a video follows a patient’s stay at the Shouldice Hospital. During his operation, the reporter asks the surgeon, “This is your 30,000th operation. Does that make you better, or bored?” After a brief pause, she says, “Sorry, that’s a bad question to ask in front of [the patient], isn’t it?”

The Administrator of Shouldice was scheduled to come to class, but got held up at the Toronto airport due to weather. The class spoke with him by teleconference instead, and he displayed typical Canadian humo[u]r. When asked about his travails, he reported, “I quite enjoy resting for half a day in the airport.” A student asked him why Shouldice Hospital was so popular, “What’s the magic?” He replied, tongue in cheek, “Me, really.” Go Team Canada. Uncle Jordy will pay $1000 (Canadian) so you can cut open my groin any day.

Please send comments on your cases to Uncle.Jordy@mba2002.hbs.edu.

February 11, 2002
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