Readings and Watchings

Whether you are considering MBA pathway study, embarked on it and smashing it …. Or at an impasse and struggling to remember why you began, the readings and resources below should form the basis of re-booting your inspiration. These are YouTube videos, Podcasts, case studies, interviews and annual reports which could just seal the deal in terms of confirming that you’ll make the plunge into MBA pathway study, or give you the push you need to draw on them in the assignments or dissertation that you are plugging away at!


YouTube channel from Dr Mils Hills - 'The Academic Pirate' | Podcasts from Dr Mils Hills: 'The Academic Pirate Podcast'

Let's start with a really interesting insight into how the McDonald's supply-chain works. A great beginning to your business reading!
'McDonald's Supply Chain Secrets'

Right Away and All at Once: How We Saved Continental, by Greg Brenneman [who did it]!

A classic case from the 1998 Harvard Business Review: a great summary of how Continental Airlines became doomed to failure and the amazing efforts of Mr Brenneman and his team in turning it around. You may be inspired to consider the implications for assignments or dissertations dealing with change, corporate communication, e-strategy, human resources …. And more.

A really readable and inspiring story beautifully told. Here are some excerpts:

I have never seen the team that managed a company into a crisis get it back on track. Oh, I’m sure it has happened some time in the history of business, but I can’t believe it has happened very often. Instead, managers who have gotten a company into a mess are usually mired in a puddle of overbrained solutions. They can’t see any way out either. In fact, they have many ways of saying, “If the solution were simple, we would have already thought of it.” On top of that, they usually have trouble accepting responsibility for and reversing the poor decisions they made in the past. It’s an ego thing. And there’s one more problem with existing management teams sticking around for a turnaround. […]

But we knew we couldn’t listen to everything the customers in seat 9C had to say. If you ask customers what they really want, they will write you an epistle a foot thick. If you ask them what they want and will pay extra for, you will get a single sheet of paper with requests. That’s where our focus was, and it’s a good rule for any turnaround. […]

Once Continental had a flight schedule that could be operated on time, we made an offer to our employees. For every month we finished in the top five out of ten airlines in on-time performance as measured by the DOT, we would give each employee $65. Incentives were now aligned; when the customers won, the employees did, too. Within months, we were regularly finishing first.


Reinventing Customer Service, by Matthew Dixon

From a late 2018 issue of the Harvard Business Review, this case explores one of my favourite companies, the wireless provider T-Mobile USA and one of my key interests, customer service. For those of you who have encountered my passion for T-Mobile and its visionary and genuinely revolutionary CEO and President John Legere, this case study sums up how tackling established problems in unconventional ways can have massive benefits for a business’s competitive advantage.

A couple of quotes sum up the power of the decisions that T-Mobile have taken:

But walk into a T-Mobile contact center. The service department looks more like the sort of knowledge-work environment you’d expect to see in other parts of the company. Reps sit together in shared spaces called pods, collaborate openly, and are trained and encouraged to solve customer issues as they see fit. Most remarkably, these teams manage a specific pool of customer accounts, just as a small business would. Unshackled from legacy metrics like handle time, they instead think about the best way to solve each caller’s problem and, ultimately, how best to improve customer retention, share of wallet, and loyalty. Customers know how to reach their dedicated teams, and they never have to go through a call tree. Once connected, they find reps who actually know them and can reliably help.

The T-Mobile model is paying huge dividends for the company: In the three years since launch, T-Mobile’s overall cost to serve is down 13%, its Net Promoter Score (a measure of customer loyalty) is up by more than half, and its customer churn rate has dipped to an all-time low. Employees are happier too; attrition and absenteeism have plummeted.

T-Mobile are now also in a position to create a new income stream by offering consultancy to other companies on how to overhaul their approach to call centre design, management and philosophy. Amazing!

OK – enough with the reading already, what else have you got?

Quite right. So, now some high energy inspiration from T-Mobile USA

You should definitely find just over 25 minutes of time to view this CNBC documentary on T-Mobile’s CEO and President John Legere. It’s on YouTube at: As the programme notes put it, “T-Mobile CEO John Legere is taking the tech world by storm. But he doesn’t just want to change the rules, he wants a whole new game”.

Again, loads of ideas that one can reference and pop into an assignment, or explore in a dissertation: how could some of his proven successes translate into entirely different industries? Into the public sector?

Cirque du Soleil is an astonishing success – sold to investors for $1.5 billion, having been established in Canada and touring for the first time in 1987. But how did it go from a very small, start-up and up-start production to being bought by a venture capital company? Not least by employing an approach which has come to be known as a ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’. In other words, they have avoided directly competing with others in a similar way by stripping out costly aspects of the business and adding-in things which add real value to the customer experience. You can learn about Blue Ocean Strategy in a very short YouTube video here - – and the story of the amazing sale of the business here:

There are so many insights of use to assignments or dissertations on strategic management and leadership, human resources, corporate communications, finance ….. and more! Really interesting.

And finally ….

Ferriss, T (2008) Smash fear, learn anything, TED Talks,

Griffin, R, (2012) When Pirates Meet Advanced Analytics, Harvard Business Review - HBR Blog Network,

McChrystal, S (2011), Listen, learn ... then lead, TED Talks,