Conversation with Wharton’s Howard Kunreuther: The Business of Insurance

Working Capital Conversation: Leading thinkers, practitioners and experts discuss the ideas that drive global business.

Many of us spent our recent Memorial Day weekend not only welcoming summer and paying respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, but also we kept an eye on Texas and Oklahoma.

You surely know: Devastating tornadoes and storms caused widespread damage and terrible flooding: At least 14 people died, and more are missing; Houston officials declared an emergency at the highest level of its four-tiered emergency management system; schools and businesses were closed or delayed.

The human toll is terrible and occupies our thoughts and prayers. For survivors – residents and businesses – their next set of prayers just may be to answer the question: Will my insurance cover this? And how will my rates skyrocket now?

51UXuJQ91DL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Insurance and risk management are central to business and personal well-being – They’re also a very hard to understand. How should risk be measured and analyzed? Given that natural disasters – from Florida to New York to Texas and beyond – regularly and unexpectedly create massive business and personal loss, how can individuals and organizations, private and governmental, make better decisions regarding risk? Indeed, what should the public-private relationship in insurance look like?

Few think about the mechanics, consequences and business of insurance more than Howard Kunreuther. He is Professor of Decision Sciences and Business and Public Policy at the Wharton School, as well as co-director of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center. He has served as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council and written numerous papers and books – including the landmark “Insurance and Behavioral Economics: Improving Decisions in the Most Misunderstood Industry” – on his long-standing interest in ways that society can better manage low-probability, high-consequence events related to technological and natural hazards.


Conversation with MIT’s Donald Sull: ‘Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World’

Working Capital Conversation: Leading thinkers, practitioners and experts discuss the ideas that drive global business.

It’s one of the oldest rules in business, if not life: Keep It Simple, Stupid. So why is it so hard to do?

We are, it seems, overwhelmed by complexity – especially in business. Contracts. Fine Print. Procedures. It’s no surprise that nearly every company seems to have it’s own BPU – Business Prevention Unit.

41LKmOCdmgL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_So what if you actually want to get something done. Not just in business, but in your life? What if you want to cut through the morass and red tape… and simplify. How does that get done?

Donald Sull believes he has an answer. Sull is a Senior Lecturer in the Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management group at the MIT Sloan School of Management. With his co-author, Sull has studied companies and people who make simplicity work.

Turns out, these people don’t live in some magical world, where everything is easy. They create frameworks that simplify the things that are meant to be hard.

And now those frameworks themselves have been simplified for the rest of us in Sull’s book “Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World.”

Conversation with Harvard’s David Yoffie, MIT’s Michael Cusumano: ‘Strategy Rules’ from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs

y450-293Working Capital Conversations: Leading thinkers, practitioners and experts discuss the ideas that drive global business.

You know the old game: If you could have dinner with three people from history, whom would you choose?

We won’t cover all the options, but you’ll agree, you could do a lot worse than Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Andy Grove. These technology CEO icons just may have more influence on how we live our lives – how we work, communicate, think, exercise, shop, read, listen to music and even put our kids to bed – than any group you could name (ok, let’s hold the Beatles aside).

Of course, getting these three together was nearly impossible even when they were all alive. But don’t worry, because two leading business school professors, researchers and thinkers have done the next best thing.

It’s hardly an exaggeration that Harvard Business School Professor David Yoffie and MIT Sloan School of Management Professor Michael Cusumano collectively may know more about Gates, Jobs and Grove than anyone else on the planet. They have written books and cases studies, sat on boards, interviewed hundreds of employees, consultants and colleagues. They know or knew all three. And they now have taken that collective knowledge and deep insight and answered the question many of us would ask if we could eat just one meal with Grove, Gates and Jobs: “What should I do to be successful in business?”

Their new book is Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs.”