What Knowledge is Useful? > Industries and Context
Audio clip of Robert Buzzell on BBR
McNair, practically the first week I was here, got me involved in doing some work in the area where he worked, so he got me involved in a thing that we did in those days: the annual operating results at food chains. We used to do it at the School every year, in a thing called the “Bureau of Business Research” on the roof of Baker. . . .
It was run by Anita Hersum, and they did this operating annual result study. We have gotten rid of all that now, long ago, but we did in effect what trade associations now do: collect annual operating data, gross margins, advertising expense. We did it for department stores and we did it for food chains.
I did the one for the year 1961. I promptly recommended that we stop doing this, because it was repetitive and not very creative work. And looking back, that took a lot of balls. Professor McNair had started this thing, had supervised it himself, or had gotten others doing it. Then he got me into it, and, “Here is this young squirt, and I get him into this, and the first thing he does is recommend we go out of business!”