From genes to jets: MBA students analyze more than 500 cases in their two years at HBS; about a third of the cases taught in fiscal 2006 were new.

In 1996, Kari Stefánsson launched an improbable business from an unlikely spot. Based in Iceland, a rocky island of 270,000 people, deCODE Genetics planned to identify the individual genetic markers for common illnesses — such as heart disease, cancer, and asthma — that are not purely genetic but result from a complex interplay of genes and environment. To do so, Stefánsson set out to create an unrivaled database of genetic and medical information, drawing on Iceland's unique genealogical records and patient information from a countrywide medical database.

Published in February 2006, deCODE Genetics: Hunting for Genes to Develop Drugs is taught in the MBA and Executive Education programs and probes the political and ethical questions that arise when businesses use individuals' medical records.

"Stefánsson was not returning to Iceland for its rustic charms, or to escape the pressures of city life. Instead, he had realized that scale and isolation had blessed Iceland with an intriguing genetic advantage. Iceland's populace, most of whom were descended from the same small band of settlers who had moved to the island between 874 and 1000, was relatively homogeneous, and genealogy was a kind of national obsession."

deCODE Genetics: Hunting for Genes to Develop Drugs


In 2005, United Parcel Service CEO Michael Eskew asked the company's corporate strategy group to recommend process changes designed to sustain transformation at UPS over the next several years. These changes revolved around scenario planning techniques, as well as the development of the company charter, strategic planning, strategic decision-making, and strategy implementation.

Strategic Planning at United Parcel Service, taught in the spring 2006 session of the Advanced Management Program, explores the roles of the various players in the strategic planning process, focusing especially on the CEO and corporate staff, and the use of scenario planning techniques to stimulate creative thinking.

"More tactical, operationally minded members of the Management Committee questioned the worth of the exercise. They found the exercise too abstract and difficult to apply. These managers, one executive observed, tended to see the exercise as 'pipe dreams, daydreaming, and happy talk.' They had a hard time suspending disbelief long enough to free up their thinking."

Strategic Planning at United Parcel Service