What Knowledge is Useful? > Industries and Context
Audio Clip—Milt Brown on BBR Reports
But for many years, the Harvard Business School had published annual reports of the operating results of department stores and specialty stores. And, subsequently, of what were known in the old days as five and ten cent stores, which was a separate group.
These were annual studies, which recorded the results of operations, and became sort of gauges, or milestones, or thermometers as to how the industry was doing. And if you were an operator of a large department store you could say, “Well, I wonder if my payroll charges are—my costs are out of line.” And you could look at this and see what the averages were, or what the quartiles were of operations of stores in your category.
And early on Mac said to me, “You’ve got to go write one of these.” And so I was assigned to do it, and I was scared to death, and finally completed the first one I wrote, which was on department and specialty stores. And I turned the manuscript into one of the most famous professors at the school, who was head of research at that time, who was “Doc” Copeland, so-called, Melvin Copeland. And he said to me, I don’t know, a day or so later, “Well,” he said, “I see you laid an egg.” And anyway, it proved to be acceptable. I don’t think any more than that.