John R. Wells

Professor of Management Practice

John Wells is a Professor of Management Practice in the Strategy Unit at Harvard Business School where he teaches the first year core course in strategy and his own second year elective course on strategic innovation and change. He also teaches in several executive education programs.

Dr. Wells graduated from Oxford University with first class honors in Physics, focusing on nuclear and solid state. Following training as a cost and management accountant at Unilever, he attended Harvard Business School, where he was a George F. Baker Scholar and graduated as Valedictorian of the MBA Class of 1979. After two years at Boston Consulting Group, he joined Harvard Business School's Faculty to teach Industry and Competitor Analysis and Business Policy. In 1982 he was awarded a Dean's Doctoral Fellowship; he received his doctorate in 1984 after completing his thesis "In Search of Synergy", which quantified the impact of synergy on corporate profitability. The same year he was appointed Assistant Professor in the Business Policy Faculty, conducting research on the dynamics of competition and the application of artificial intelligence techniques to business problems. 

In 1986, Dr. Wells became Chief Executive of Monitor Company Europe Ltd., a subsidiary of the firm he helped create with Michael Porter and Mark Fuller. He built the European practice and directed strategy studies for numerous firms and national governments. During this time he also co-founded Datapaq, a digital data acquisition company serving the automotive and packaging industries that continues to be the leader in its field.

Dr. Wells joined PepsiCo in 1994, initially as CFO of the European snacks division. He was then appointed CEO of Wedel, a PepsiCo affiliate and Poland's number one chocolate, biscuits, confectionery and snacks producer. In 1997 he was appointed CFO of Frito-Lay International, based in Dallas, Texas, with responsibility for all international snack operations. 

In 1998, Dr. Wells joined the board of Thomson Travel Group, the UK's largest holiday company, responsible for the Group's strategy, mergers and acquisitions and e-commerce development. 

Dr. Wells invests in and advises a number of start-ups, and in early 2002, joined Archie Norman, the ex-Chairman of ASDA in the UK, in a $1.3 billion management buy-in of Energis, the UK's third largest telecommunications service provider. Energis was later sold to Cable and Wireless Plc. 

In the summer of 2002, he rejoined the Harvard Business School Faculty as the James M. Collins Fund Senior Lecturer in Strategy. In August 2003, he was appointed Professor of Management Practice. 

In 2008 Dr. Wells became the president of IMD, International Institute for Management Development, in Switzerland before returning to Harvard Business School as a Professor of Management Practice in 2011.

Dr. Wells’ current research addresses how companies overcome inertia and increase their strategic responsiveness.  He is examining strategic, structural and human factors that impede change and how they might be overcome. Some of his research is explained in his recent book, Strategic IQ: Creating Smarter Corporations, published in June 2012. John has also written over 50 case studies on strategy and change. He is currently examining the role of responsible leadership in business and society, the impact of social networking on strategic change and the importance of relevant learning.

Dr. Wells has worked and lived in Poland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the USA. His business responsibilities and research have taken him to all corners of the world.

Books

  1. Strategic IQ: Creating Smarter Corporations

    In today's world, only the smartest survive. The competitive landscape is littered with graves of well-known firms whose revenues, profits and stock prices rose for decades until they suddenly imploded.
    In fast-changing business environments, firms must adapt their strategies and innovate to remain at the top. But many successful firms fail to do so. Instead, they succumb to inertia, hesitate, or stick blindly to their old strategies, until it is too late. The ability to adapt to change is a measure of intelligence; so why do firms demonstrate such low Strategic IQ? What causes inertia and why is it so deadly? How can leaders help their firms to act more intelligently?
    This book identifies the key sources of inertia—strategic, structural and human—and provides practical advice on how they can be overcome to create smarter corporations. It is both a wake-up call for successful firms and a lifeline for firms struggling to succeed.
    To successful firms—beware! You may already be dead!
    To struggling firms—have hope! It is possible to pass powerful competitors by raising your strategic, structural and human IQ.

    Keywords: Organizational Change and Adaptation; Change Management; Competition; Business Growth and Maturation; Adaptation; Corporate Strategy; Decision Making; Innovation and Invention;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R. Strategic IQ: Creating Smarter Corporations. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2012.

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. Babcock International Plc

    In 2013, Babcock International Plc (Babcock) was the largest engineering services provider in the UK with sales of over £3 billion. Under the leadership of CEO Peter Rogers, Babcock had grown revenues and profits nearly tenfold over the previous decade as it benefited from increased public sector outsourcing. In 2012, for the UK's Ministry of Defense (MOD), Babcock trained over 50,000 troops, maintained the nuclear submarine fleet, provided engineering support for military vehicles, and managed numerous facilities at military bases. On the civil side, the company decommissioned aging nuclear plants, maintained the Metropolitan Police auto fleet and other emergency services fleets, and was the UK's leading trainer of engineering apprentices.
    Babcock's leadership team believed that continued pressure on public spending would provide opportunities for double digit growth in the UK for at least five years. However, this might not come from Babcock's primary customer, the Ministry of Defense. What other national and local government agencies might the firm target? On the civil side, the resurgence of the salience of nuclear power generation in the mid 2000s had appeared to be good news for Babcock with its long-standing nuclear expertise, but the April 2011 Fukushima nuclear leak in Japan had shed doubt on future construction, while the fracking of shale deposits to extract natural gas promised a much lower cost supply of abundant energy. Nevertheless, decommissioning nuclear power stations promised steady and growing work. What other opportunities might Babcock pursue in the UK? Meanwhile, analysts were pushing for more international expansion but efforts at building business in South Africa, Canada, and Australia had been slow, with only 16% of revenues coming from outside the UK in 2013, a figure little changed since 2005. What would drive Babcock's long term future growth?
    Growth itself also posed challenges. Babcock relied heavily on informal processes to extract synergies across its portfolio. Would this continue to be effective as the scope of operations continued to expand? Meanwhile, analysts were concerned about succession. Rogers and many of the leadership team were approaching retirement. Where would the next generation of Babcock leaders come from?

    Keywords: strategic change; strategy and leadership; diversification; United Kingdom; military; nuclear power; nuclear; Engineering and construction; conglomerates; Strategic Planning; Competitive Strategy; Global Strategy; Corporate Strategy; Construction Industry; Energy Industry; United Kingdom;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Galen Danskin. "Babcock International Plc." Harvard Business School Case 714-496, March 2014.
  2. Inditex: 2012

    In the 11 years since its public offering, Inditex and its flagship brand, Zara, had expanded into 86 countries, achieved $21.6 billion in revenue, and become the largest specialty apparel retailer in the world. In marked contrast to the general malaise of the Bolsa de Madrid, Inditex's share price tripled from 2008 to 2012 and traded at 25 times expected 2013 earnings, a 15% premium over Swedish rival, H&M. From 1,080 stores in 2000, it had expanded to 6,009 locations while sales and operating profits grew 25% p.a over this period. It had also established online stores across 23 different markets, with plans for launches in Russia and Canada during 2013, and it managed eight different brands. CEO Pablo Isla remained confident of future success and anticipated store expansion would continue growing at 8%-10% per year for the next three to five years. How could Inditex best maintain its strong growth and fend off competition?

    Keywords: strategy; fashion; Fashion Industry; Strategy; Strategic Planning; Competitive Strategy; Fashion Industry; Spain;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Galen Danskin. "Inditex: 2012." Harvard Business School Case 713-539, June 2013. (Revised March 2014.)
  3. Inditex: 2000

    In 2000, Inditex was one of the largest specialty apparel retailers in the world, with $2.4 billion in sales from 1,080 stores across 33 countries. Zara, Inditex's main brand, produced popular designer items at a fraction of design-house prices and could push an item from design to display in less than two weeks. This left most other fashion retailers, who took between 9-12 months for this process, far behind. However, Inditex was still only one-sixth the size of the world's largest specialty retailer, US-based Gap, and two-thirds the size of its Swedish rival, H&M. Amancio Ortega, Inditex's notoriously private Chairman and founder, was committed to challenging these industry leaders. This expansion required more capital and, in July 2000, the company announced it would IPO in 2001. There was also the question of a new management team to take the company forward. Ortega was approaching retirement as was the CEO, José Maria Castellano. The first attempt to find a younger CEO had failed. Hopefully, an IPO would attract a new management team that could maintain Inditex's rapid expansion.

    Keywords: fashion; Fashion Industry; succession; IPO; Competition; Initial Public Offering; Multinational Firms and Management; Management Succession; Growth and Development Strategy; Apparel and Accessories Industry; Retail Industry;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Galen Danskin. "Inditex: 2000." Harvard Business School Case 713-538, June 2013. (Revised March 2014.)
  4. Hennes & Mauritz, 2012

    In 2012, Hennes & Maurtiz (H&M) was the second-largest specialty apparel retailer in the world. Sales for fiscal 2012 were $18.1 billion and operating profits were $3.3 billion. H&M operated 2,776 stores, 93% of them outside its home base of Sweden. Over the past decade, H&M had passed Gap in sales, but the company had failed to keep up with Inditex's growth and its Spanish rival had larger sales and greater profitability than H&M. H&M had also lagged behind Inditex in supply pipeline speed, brand diversification, online retail presence, and expansion into China. Meanwhile, the world's leading hypermarket chains, including Wal-Mart and Tesco, were making significant headway in apparel and challenge H&M's basic clothing segment.
    In 2012, CEO Karl-Johan Persson, grandson of the company's founder Erling Persson, promised increased expansion into underdeveloped markets, a stronger push to online retailing, and the launch of a major new retail brand. Whether Persson's plans were enough to catch up with Inditex remained to be seen.

    Keywords: fashion; Fashion Industry; strategic decision making; strategy; Strategy; Supply Chain; Competitive Strategy; Corporate Strategy; Fashion Industry; Europe; Sweden;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Galen Danskin. "Hennes & Mauritz, 2012." Harvard Business School Case 713-512, June 2013. (Revised March 2014.)
  5. Hennes & Mauritz, 2000

    In 2000, Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) was the second-largest and most global player in the fashion retail business. It operated 682 stores, 80% of them outside its home country of Sweden, and achieved revenues of $3.0 billion and operating profits of $375 million. In 1999, when H&M announced plans to enter the U.S., sales had grown 20% per year and operating profits, 30%, for a decade. After the August announcement of U.S. expansion plans, its share price hit a record $35 (a P/E of over 90). But the new millennium brought challenges and uncertainty. In March 2000, the first nonfamily CEO, Fabian Mansson, resigned after only two years at the helm and the company issued a profits warning. In September 2000, H&M's share price closed at $18.68, a fall of nearly 50% from the prior year. Meanwhile Gap, the world's leading fashion retailer with revenues of $13.7 billion, was adding 600 stores a year and expanding into Europe from its U.S. base. Rolf Erikson, Masson's replacement, impressed few analysts and questions lingered about H&M's ability to maintain its rate of expansion. What did new CEO Rolf Erikson need to do to avert the threat from Gap and restore the company's fortunes?

    Keywords: strategy; strategy alignment; strategic planning; fashion; Fashion Industry; Risk Management; Competition; Problems and Challenges; Management Teams; Globalized Firms and Management; Expansion; Distribution Channels; Retail Industry; Fashion Industry; Sweden;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Galen Danskin. "Hennes & Mauritz, 2000." Harvard Business School Case 713-509, June 2013. (Revised March 2014.)
  6. Gap, Inc., 2012

    Between 2000 and 2012, Gap, Inc. (Gap) ceded its world leadership position in specialty fashion retailing to Inditex of Spain and H&M of Sweden. These two companies, each less than a quarter of Gap's size in 2000, were now setting the pace in the global mass fashion market, and Gap appeared to be falling ever further behind. In the intervening twelve years, three CEOs had struggled to turn around the fading brand. While several temporary profit boosts appeared to herald a recovery, a sustained rally remained elusive.
    Mickey Drexler, Gap's CEO since 1983, who had been responsible for Gap's rise to global prominence, was fired in 2002 after two years of double digit, same-store sales declines and a 75% drop in the stock price. His successor, Paul Pressler, appeared to have engineered a remarkable recovery, but was fired in 2007 after disappointing sales and another slump in profits. His replacement, Glenn Murphy, fresh from a successful turnaround at a Canadian drug-store chain, promised tighter price controls, lower administrative costs, and a leaner, more aggressive Gap, but sales continued to decline over his tenure. After four years of troubles, Murphy brought in former J. Crew President, Tracy Gardner, to consult with the Gap brand and Murphy began a bold program to close one fifth of Gap's North American store base. In 2012, sales had lifted 8%, same-store sales were strongly positive for all of Gap's domestic sub-brands, and the company's share price had lifted nearly 50% from the prior year. After 12 years of poor performance, had Glenn Murphy finally discovered the answers to Gap's problems?

    Keywords: strategic change; strategy; fashion; Fashion Industry; multinational; Brands; competition; Competition; Multinational Firms and Management; Performance Improvement; Management Teams; Brands and Branding; Change Management; Retail Industry; Fashion Industry; Apparel and Accessories Industry; Sweden; Spain; United States;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Galen Danskin. "Gap, Inc., 2012." Harvard Business School Case 713-511, May 2013. (Revised March 2014.)
  7. Gap, Inc., 2000

    From humble beginnings as a Levi jeans store, by 2000 Gap, Inc. had grown to become the world's leading specialist clothing retailer. Its CEO, Millard S. Drexler, the "merchant prince," was credited with transforming Gap into a global empire, leading the company through eighteen years of 21% p.a. growth to reach sales of $13.6 billion in 2000. Gap had expanded to 2,848 stores under its three brands: Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy, and controlled 6% of U.S. apparel sales. Drexel had also pushed Gap through a global expansion program, and international accounted for 12.5% of total sales in 2000.
    But as Gap entered the new millennium, dark clouds were building on the horizon. While sales in 2000 were up nearly 18% over the previous year, operating profits fell by 20%, only the second profit fall since 1984. Gap found itself plagued with concerns about fashion misses, logistics failures, the departure of senior managers, and increased foreign competition. New fast-fashion competition in the form of Inditex, H&M, and Club Monaco threatened Gap's market share both domestically and abroad.
    Drexler remained confident of recovery and promised to fix infrastructure problems and recent fashion misses while expanding the high-growth GapBody and BabyGap concepts. Would these changes be enough to keep Gap competitive in a new retail era?

    Keywords: strategic change; strategy; fashion; Fashion Industry; competitive strategy; Risk and Uncertainty; Competition; Performance Consistency; Problems and Challenges; Globalized Firms and Management; Business Growth and Maturation; Strategy; Retail Industry; Fashion Industry; Apparel and Accessories Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Galen Danskin. "Gap, Inc., 2000." Harvard Business School Case 713-508, May 2013. (Revised March 2014.)
  8. Benetton Group S.p.A., 2012

    On May 31, 2012, after 36 years on the Milan Stock Exchange, Benetton was officially delisted and taken private by Edizione, the Benetton family's holding company. Since 2000, Benetton shareholders had seen its market value fall from $4.3 billion to $720 million at the end of 2011. At $2.6 billion, Benetton's sales in 2011 were virtually the same as they were in 2000, but Inditex from Spain, Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) from Sweden and Fast Retailing from Japan had all grown several times larger over the same period. What happened to this global retail giant?
    Under the direction of four different CEOs since 2000, Benetton had attempted to move from being an Italian supplier of knitwear with licensed small retailers throughout the world to a vertically integrated global player by tightening management over its supply chain and rolling out directly operated superstores. These moves helped Benetton gain more control over its operations, but they also ate into its profitability. In 2012, Benetton found itself competing with fashion giants who could respond faster to market trends and deliver comparable clothes at half the cost. With Benetton under private ownership, would Harvard Business School graduate Alessandro Benetton be able to make the changes required to return the company to its former strength?

    Keywords: strategy; privatization; fashion; Fashion Industry; retail; Privatization; Family Ownership; Performance Improvement; Problems and Challenges; Management Teams; Globalized Firms and Management; Change Management; Restructuring; Competitive Strategy; Retail Industry; Fashion Industry; Apparel and Accessories Industry; Italy;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Galen Danskin. "Benetton Group S.p.A., 2012." Harvard Business School Case 713-513, May 2013. (Revised March 2014.)
  9. Benetton Group S.p.A., 2000

    In 2000, Benetton was one of the leading mass fashion competitors in the world with approximately $1.9 billion in sales across 5,500 stores in 120 countries. But the company's fortunes seemed to be on the wane. Operating profits had fallen 9% from the prior year to $299 million. Having almost matched global leader, Gap Inc.'s revenues in 1985, Benetton was now only one seventh of Gap's size. Moreover, Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) of Sweden had passed Benetton in 1996 and now claimed more than double the sales of Benetton. Inditex of Spain and Fast Retailing of Japan had also passed Benetton in revenues by 2000. To make things worse, Inditex and H&M had announced in 2000 that they intended to enter Italy, Benetton's heartland.
    Chairman and co-founder Luciano Benetton was determined to fight back and toward this end had just launched a major new retail strategy to expand the size of Benetton's current stores, invest in large superstores and build greater control of the supply chain. The company also had high hopes for its new drive into sports equipment and apparel. Would this be enough to halt the rise of its mass fashion competitors?

    Keywords: strategy; fashion; Fashion Industry; strategic change; strategic management; Globalized Firms and Management; Marketing Strategy; Competitive Advantage; Performance Consistency; Management Teams; Strategy; Fashion Industry; Apparel and Accessories Industry; Retail Industry; Italy;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Galen Danskin. "Benetton Group S.p.A., 2000." Harvard Business School Case 713-510, May 2013. (Revised March 2014.)
  10. CarMax: Disrupting the Used Car Market

    In 2012, CarMax was the leading retailer of secondhand cars in the United States and a fast-growing competitor in the used car auction market. After its founding in 1993 by Circuit City's management, CarMax had grown rapidly. The company had been profitable since 2000 and independent from its parent company since 2002. While Circuit City went bankrupt in 2009 under pressure from Best Buy and challenging economic conditions, CarMax flourished and expanded through the economic crisis. Fiscal 2012 revenue reached $10.5 billion and net income, a record $413 million. However, CarMax still only accounted for less than 3% of the fragmented secondhand car market. Additionally, it was keen to avoid the fate of its parent and to stay ahead of copycat competitors. What should CarMax do to grow its market position and continue its success in used car retailing and auctioning?

    Keywords: Product Positioning; Business Growth and Maturation; Competitive Advantage; Auctions; Insolvency and Bankruptcy; Growth and Development Strategy; Service Industry; Auto Industry; Retail Industry;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., Hong Luo, and Galen Danskin. "CarMax: Disrupting the Used Car Market". Harvard Business School Case 713-467, January 2013. (Revised December 2013.)
  11. Troubles at Tesco, 2012

    It was October 3rd, 2012 and all was not well at Tesco, the UK's largest supermarket chain with revenues of £64.5 billion ($104 billion). CEO Philip Clarke unveiled the first half-year profits drop in almost 20 years and, in the UK, the majors Asda and Sainsbury were closing the market share gap while niche players like hard discounter Aldi, with prices as much as 20% below Tesco's, and premium-grocer Waitrose were both growing fast. What did Clarke need to do to restore confidence and get Tesco back on track?

    Keywords: retailing; United Kingdom; strategy; Strategic Planning; Strategy; Retail Industry; United Kingdom;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Galen Danskin. "Troubles at Tesco, 2012." Harvard Business School Case 713-452, October 2012. (Revised October 2012.)
  12. J Sainsbury Plc, Road to Recovery

    In 2012, J Sainsbury Plc (Sainsbury's), the number three supermarket chain in the UK with £22.3 billion in sales, appeared to have put the troubles of the past behind it. For over 70 years, Sainsbury's had been the UK's largest grocer, but Tesco had overtaken it in 1995 and then Asda knocked it into third position in 2003. When Justin King took over as CEO in 2004, UK sales were flat and UK profits languished at 40% below their 1999 levels. He cut prices and restored sales growth, and from 2007 onwards, Sainsbury's had outperformed Tesco on same-store sales growth. What did King need to do to sustain Sainsbury's revival?

    Keywords: United Kingdom; retailing; food; Tesco; Sainsbury; Strategy; Competitive Strategy; Global Strategy; Retail Industry; United Kingdom;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Galen Danskin. "J Sainsbury Plc, Road to Recovery." Harvard Business School Case 713-453, October 2012. (Revised October 2012.)
  13. The Fall of Circuit City Stores, Inc.

    On January 16, 2009, after a dismal holiday season, Circuit City was forced into liquidation. Unable to meet creditors' demands, and with no acquirer in sight, Circuit City began the process of liquidating its remaining 567 U.S. stores. Circuit City had been the leader in consumer electronics retailing for nearly twenty years when its profits peaked in 2000. What led to its dramatic decline? Why did three CEOs fail to turn it around? Were these problems present before the 2000 peak?

    Keywords: Strategic Planning; Competitive Strategy; Leadership; Consumer Products Industry; Electronics Industry; North America;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Galen Danskin. "The Fall of Circuit City Stores, Inc." Harvard Business School Case 713-402, September 2012. (Revised November 2012.)
  14. The Rise of Circuit City Stores, Inc.

    In fiscal 2000, Circuit City was at the top of its game. The world's leading consumer electronics retailer had delivered record sales and profits for the first year of the new millennium. It was a fitting moment for Richard Sharpe, the CEO of the last 14 years, to step down. Over his tenure, revenues had increased 18 times and operating profits 13 times. In June 2000, Alan McCollough succeeded him as CEO. A 12-year veteran of Circuit City, McCollough expressed confidence in the future, citing trends such as the digitization of televisions, music players, and cameras. But challenges loomed from the increasingly aggressive discount sector. Was Circuit City as strategically strong as its financial results suggested? Would it be able to maintain momentum and retain its leadership?

    Keywords: Change Management; Strategic Planning; Competition; Retail Industry; Consumer Products Industry; Electronics Industry; North America;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Galen Danskin. "The Rise of Circuit City Stores, Inc. ." Harvard Business School Case 713-401, June 2012. (Revised November 2012.)
  15. Best Buy in Crisis

    In June 2012, Best Buy was in crisis. In 1996, Best Buy overtook Circuit City as the world's leader in consumer electronics retailing; however, 18 years later, Best Buy now found this position threatened. With $51 billion in revenues, it was still the biggest CE retailer, but sales were flat and profits had collapsed. Meanwhile, Amazon's sales in Best Buy's categories were growing at more than 50% p.a. and its total sales, at $48 billion, were approaching those of Best Buy. As Wal-Mart cherry-picked popular items for steep discounts and Amazon encouraged consumers to compare prices using smart phones, Best Buy was becoming a showroom for lower cost retail models. International expansion was struggling and domestic sales of digital televisions were cooling. Although the popularity of mobile devices suggested easy growth, many devices were sold by telephone service providers, creating increased retail competition. To add to Best Buy's problems, on April 10, 2012, CEO Brian Dunn resigned after an investigation into his personal conduct. On June 7, 2012, Dick Schulze, the firm's founder, who had navigated the company through many strategic changes since 1966, also decided to leave and "explore all available options" for his 20.1% stake in the company. Best Buy had seen off many competitive challenges in the past. Would it be able to fend off these challengers and maintain its position?

    Keywords: Change Management; Decision Choices and Conditions; Forecasting and Prediction; Competitive Strategy; Ethics; Management Teams; Consumer Products Industry; Electronics Industry; Retail Industry;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Galen Danskin. "Best Buy in Crisis ." Harvard Business School Case 713-403, June 2012. (Revised March 2014.)
  16. The Allstate Corporation (TN)

    Teaching Note for 708485.

    Keywords: Corporate Strategy; Profit; Insurance; Performance Improvement; Adaptation; Problems and Challenges; Insurance Industry; Financial Services Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R. "The Allstate Corporation (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 712-433, September 2011.
  17. How to Crack a Strategy Case

    Addresses a common concern among strategy students: "How should I tackle this case?" Describes a process for diagnosing a strategic situation, then generating, evaluating, and choosing among strategic options.

    Keywords: Decisions; Management Practices and Processes; Situation or Environment; Strategy; Valuation;

    Citation:

    Bradley, Stephen P., David J. Collis, Kevin P. Coyne, Andrei Hagiu, Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, Jan W. Rivkin, and John R. Wells. "How to Crack a Strategy Case." Harvard Business School Background Note 707-549, March 2007. (Revised February 2009.)
  18. Strategy: Building and Sustaining Competitive Advantage

    It's great to have a blockbuster quarter or a revolutionary product or service, but true business excellence demands sustainability. Maintaining your competitive advantage requires a strategy that makes your business unique and carries you forward as the world around you changes. What makes a winning, sustainable strategy? Strategy: Building and Sustaining Competitive Advantage is a multimedia resource developed by ten faculty members in the Strategy Department at Harvard Business School. Included in this resource are faculty presentation, animated frameworks, print- and video-based case studies, and workbooks to help business leaders formulate action plans specific to their own companies.

    Keywords: Competitive Advantage;

    Citation:

    Anand, Bharat N., Stephen P. Bradley, Pankaj Ghemawat, Tarun Khanna, Cynthia A. Montgomery, Michael E. Porter, Jan W. Rivkin, Michael G. Rukstad, John R. Wells, and David B. Yoffie. "Strategy: Building and Sustaining Competitive Advantage." Harvard Business School Class Lecture 705-509, June 2005. (Revised September 2008.)
  19. The Allstate Corporation

    In 2007, Allstate was the number two property and casualty insurer in the USA and had enjoyed five years of rapid profit improvement. The question facing CEO Thomas J. Wilson was how to maintain the momentum. This case tracks the evolution of Allstate's strategy over 20 years, examining the logic behind the strategic changes, and the challenges of implementing them. It identifies sources of inertia from within the organization and from without and summarizes the strategic issues facing Allstate in early 2007.

    Keywords: Change Management; Financial Institutions; Insurance; Profit; Growth and Development Strategy; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Financial Services Industry;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R. "The Allstate Corporation." Harvard Business School Case 708-485, January 2008. (Revised July 2008.)
  20. The Progressive Corporation

    For decades, Progressive has proven to be one of the most innovative players in the US auto insurance industry, but can it maintain its lead? Progressive has moved up to the number three position in the industry in 2006, but competitors are finally waking up to the threat the company poses. Can they make it to the number one slot? If so, how? What advice would you give CEO Glenn Renwick?

    Keywords: Competitive Advantage; Competitive Strategy; Innovation and Invention; Insurance Industry; Auto Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., Marina Lutova, and Ilan Sender. "The Progressive Corporation." Harvard Business School Case 707-433, August 2006. (Revised July 2008.)
  21. The Rise of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. 1962-1987

    It is 1988 and David Glass has just taken over as CEO from the legendary Sam Walton at Wal-Mart. Meanwhile, Joe Antonini has just taken the CEO position at Wal-Mart's arch rival, Kmart. Although Wal-Mart is still well behind Kmart, it appears to be in great shape and is catching up fast. Glass seems committed to continuing with "business as usual." Is this enough? What might Kmart do to stop him?

    Keywords: Competition; Business Growth and Maturation; Management Succession; Growth and Development Strategy; Retail Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Travis Haglock. "The Rise of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. 1962-1987." Harvard Business School Case 707-439, September 2006. (Revised July 2008.)
  22. Whole Foods Market, Inc. (TN)

    Teaching Note for [705476].

    Citation:

    Wells, John R. "Whole Foods Market, Inc. (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 708-505, April 2008.
  23. Wild Oats Market, Inc. (TN)

    Teaching Note for [707438].

    Citation:

    Wells, John R. "Wild Oats Market, Inc. (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 708-506, April 2008.
  24. Whole Foods Market, Inc.

    Can a short-sleeved, sandal-wearing, college dropout create a company manifesting love, joy, and happiness? Chainsaw John Mackey did. This CEO took a five-month sabbatical to hike the Appalachian Trail. More credentials: Sales-per-square foot of $690 and rising. Hiring by means of teams and a vote requiring a two-thirds majority. A single store in Austin, Texas in 1980; 144 stores in 2004. A seven-year streak near the top of Fortune's list of best companies to work for in America. Team-based hiring with a two-thirds majority required. Incentives based on the bottom line. Morale surveys. No salary higher than eight times the average salary. So how did John Mackey come to be christened Chainsaw John Mackey?

    Keywords: Management Style; Motivation and Incentives; Food; Management Practices and Processes; Groups and Teams; Success; Leadership Style; Management Teams; Business Growth and Maturation; Emerging Markets; Retail Industry; Food and Beverage Industry; Consumer Products Industry;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Travis Haglock. "Whole Foods Market, Inc." Harvard Business School Case 705-476, June 2005. (Revised April 2008.)
  25. Wild Oats Markets, Inc.

    Ever since ex-Ben and Jerry's CEO Perry Odak took over as CEO of Wild Oats in 2001, he has been trying to turn the company around. After some apparent false starts, profits now seem to be on the rise in 2005 and 2006. Has he finally done it?

    Keywords: Competitive Strategy; Management Succession; Profit; Retail Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Travis Haglock. "Wild Oats Markets, Inc." Harvard Business School Case 707-438, September 2006. (Revised April 2008.)
  26. The Rise of Kmart Corporation 1962-1987

    Tracks the development of the Kmart discount store chain from its inception in 1961 to its peak in 1990 and examines the contribution of each Kmart chief executive to the chain's success. In, parallel, compares the performance of Wal-Mart over the same period along a number of financial and strategic dimensions.

    Keywords: History; Strategic Planning; Leadership; Competitive Strategy; Performance Evaluation; Retail Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Travis Haglock. "The Rise of Kmart Corporation 1962-1987." Harvard Business School Case 706-403, July 2005. (Revised April 2008.)
  27. The Progressive Corporation (TN)

    Teaching Note for [707433].

    Citation:

    Wells, John R. "The Progressive Corporation (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 708-457, April 2008.
  28. The Rise of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. 1962-1978 (TN)

    Teaching Note for [707439].

    Citation:

    Wells, John R. "The Rise of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. 1962-1978 (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 708-459, April 2008.
  29. The Rise of Kmart Corporation 1962-1987 (TN)

    Teaching Note for [706403].

    Keywords: Retail Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R. "The Rise of Kmart Corporation 1962-1987 (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 708-460, April 2008.
  30. Providian Financial Corporation

    On October 3, 2005, Washington Mutual acquired Providian Financial Corporation, the ninth-largest credit card issuer in the U.S., for $6.5 billion. At the time, Providian had approximately 10 million customer relationships and a balance of $18.6 billion. For some observers, the transaction was merely the end of another chapter in the history of the fast consolidating credit card market. For Providian CEO Joseph Saunders, it was vindication of four years' hard work in turning around a company that many thought was close to bankruptcy.

    Keywords: Mergers and Acquisitions; Restructuring; Customer Relationship Management; Insolvency and Bankruptcy; Credit Cards; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Financial Services Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R. "Providian Financial Corporation." Harvard Business School Case 707-446, September 2006. (Revised January 2008.)
  31. Bally Total Fitness

    A modest health and tennis club in 1962, Bally Total Fitness had grown to become one of the major firms in the $14 billion U.S. health club industry in 2004. Throughout its history, Bally had faced its share of challenges as it rose to become a leading health club operator. The last couple of years had proven particularly difficult, however: Bally's stock price had collapsed, it restated earnings in 2003 to the chagrin of stockholders, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating the company's accounting procedures. Also, Bally faced significant competition from the likes of privately owned 24 Hour Fitness, which had $1 billion in sales in 2003. In 2004, under the direction of CEO Paul Toback, the company streamlined advertising efforts--targeting undertapped segments of the population--cut costs, and modified the firm's internal controls. Management's focus remained on increasing membership and maximizing revenue per member. Would Toback's efforts get the company's price back up, inspire stockholder confidence in Bally, and resist a rumored takeover, enabling Bally to remain a major player in the industry?

    Keywords: Accounting; Advertising; Trends; Cost Management; Profit; Growth and Development; Leadership Style; Five Forces Framework; Private Ownership; Opportunities; Motivation and Incentives; Competitive Strategy; Health Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Elizabeth Raabe. "Bally Total Fitness." Harvard Business School Case 706-450, November 2005. (Revised January 2008.)
  32. Best Buy Co.,Inc.: Competing on the Edge

    While Circuit City struggles, Best Buy has overtaken it to become the premier consumer electronics retailer in the United States. What has driven its success? How can it be sustained?

    Keywords: Competition; System; Organizational Structure; Retail Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Travis Haglock. "Best Buy Co.,Inc.: Competing on the Edge." Harvard Business School Case 706-417, August 2005. (Revised October 2007.)
  33. Lamoiyan Corporation of the Philippines: Challenging Multinational Giants (TN)

    Teaching note to 704405.

    Keywords: Competitive Strategy; Multinational Firms and Management; Growth and Development Strategy; Going Public; Product Development; Trade; Consumer Products Industry; Philippines;

    Citation:

    Coughlan, Peter J., Jordan I. Siegel, and John R. Wells. "Lamoiyan Corporation of the Philippines: Challenging Multinational Giants (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 707-554, March 2007.
  34. Update: The Music Industry in 2006

    The global recorded music industry was undergoing a major transition in 2006. Sales had been declining for a decade, and consumers were buying music in new formats and through different distribution channels. CD sales still accounted for the majority of revenues, but sales of music in digital formats (downloads, videos, ringtones) were growing significantly and accounting for approximately 10% of the industry's revenues in 2006. Many considered digital the future of the music business but the format posed both opportunities and challenges. While it had revitalized the singles market, for instance, digital had also facilitated rampant piracy. The music industry was retaliating, launching lawsuits against illegitimate peer-to-peer operators such as groups caught downloading illegally. Whether this would be enough to stop the trend was a matter of much debate. Meanwhile, the industry continued to consolidate. In 2004, Sony Music and BMG, the third- and fifth-largest record firms at the time, merged to form Sony BMG. Surprisingly, in 2006 the European Union's Court of First Instance annulled the merger--which the European Commission had approved two years earlier--after a group of independent music labels complained about the merger's effect on competition. While Sony and BMG were defending the merger in court, EMI Group plc wondered if its desired takeover of Warner Music Group--which it had been pursuing since 2000--would ever happen. If it did, how much business would the new entity have in the rapidly changing environment? All wondered how the industry would evolve.

    Keywords: History; Arts; Music Entertainment; Intellectual Property; Market Timing; Performance Evaluation; Trends; Music Industry;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Elizabeth Raabe. "Update: The Music Industry in 2006." Harvard Business School Case 707-531, February 2007.
  35. Ice-Fili (Abridged)

    Designed as an overview of all aspects of the strategy process: industry analysis, positioning, dynamics and sustainability, and scope issues of corporate strategy, including vertical integration, horizontal diversification, and location issues. Ice-Fili is the largest ice cream producer in Russia in 2002, but is facing strong competition from Nestle despite its success over other multinational competitors. Contains detailed exhibits, allowing deeper analyses. A rewritten version of an earlier case.

    Keywords: Product Positioning; Geographic Location; Competition; Vertical Integration; Corporate Strategy; Retail Industry; Food and Beverage Industry; Russia;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., Pai-Ling Yin, and Michael G. Rukstad. "Ice-Fili (Abridged)." Harvard Business School Case 705-441, November 2004. (Revised January 2007.)
  36. The NFL

    From 10-cent tickets to $17 billion television contracts, examines how a game became a multibillion dollar industry. Looks at the birth and growth of the NFL, how the NFL responded to competitive challenges, how the NFL maximized revenues, revenue sharing, the salary cap, and a financial comparison of the NFL with MLB, NBA, etc. The NFL from start to finish.

    Keywords: Business Growth and Maturation; Groups and Teams; Sports; Corporate Finance; Sports Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Travis Haglock. "The NFL." Harvard Business School Case 706-412, August 2005. (Revised September 2006.)
  37. Riding with the Blackhorse (A)

    Colonel Moore reflects on his command of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and its preparation of the United States Army for 21st century adversaries. During his command, Colonel Moore had transformed the regiment from a unit focused on providing conventional force-on-force training as the world-class Opposing Force (OPFOR) to an organization that was preparing to deploy to Iraq to fight the insurgency. He also transformed the very nature of training at the Army's premier Nation Training Center from standard force-on-force conventional battles between two well-equipped adversaries to more complex training scenarios that better reflect the changing nature of warfare that the United States Army was experiencing on battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan. As Colonel Moore left his command, he could not help but wonder if the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment would successfully meet the challenge of combat operations in Iraq. When the Army tapped the 11th Armored Cavalry regiment for combat duty in Iraq, Colonel Moore could not help but reflect on the changes he made to the OPFOR. Could the Blackhorse adapt successfully to fighting the insurgency in Iraq? Would the National Guard successfully replace the vaunted Blackhorse Regiment as the OPFOR? Was the OPFOR successfully preparing units for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan? Only time would tell.

    Keywords: Transformation; Competency and Skills; Training; Strategic Planning; Adaptation; Alignment; Public Administration Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., Sean Hazlett, and Niladri Mukhopadhyay. "Riding with the Blackhorse (A)." Harvard Business School Case 706-484, June 2006.
  38. JCDecaux

    Describes how JCDecaux, the second largest global outdoor advertising company, became the world leader in street furniture advertising in a fast consolidating business environment. Also explains why, in the late 1990s, JCDecaux diversified its activities into billboards and transport outdoor advertising in reaction to competitor attacks. Places students in the position of Jean-Francois Decaux and his brother Jean-Charles Decaux, the sons of the founder and JC Decaux's co-CEOs who, in late 2004, explore ways to continue the success of the 73% family-owned business.

    Keywords: Advertising; Global Strategy; Leadership Style; Family Ownership; Strategic Planning; Competitive Strategy; Diversification; Advertising Industry;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Vincent Dessain. "JCDecaux." Harvard Business School Case 705-458, February 2005. (Revised June 2006.)
  39. Pharmaceutical Industry in 2005, The

    The entire pharmaceutical industry faced uncertain times in 2005. Many of the industry's most pressing issues--patent expirations, new drug pipeline development, price pressures, regulatory issues, and political pressures--were long standing. Fundamentally new technologies were changing the way drugs were discovered, developed, and tested, allowing smaller, specialized competitors to enter the industry, compete in new ways, and grow to challenge the majors. Some observers were even questioning whether the blockbuster model on which the industry was based could continue. Blockbuster drugs, with sales of more than $1 billion a year, were becoming increasingly difficult and costly to develop. In this context, and with stock prices depressed, the industry majors were reflecting on their strategies.

    Keywords: Strategy; Research and Development; Framework; Change; Competition; Technological Innovation; Pharmaceutical Industry;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Elizabeth Raabe. "Pharmaceutical Industry in 2005, The." Harvard Business School Case 706-423, October 2005.
  40. Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots (A)

    What happens when an MBA buys a football team and hires a bunch of MBAs and a coach with an economics degree to run it? In this case, a historic three Super Bowls in five years. The end run Bob Kraft (HBS '65) used to acquire the New England Patriots. Why Kraft ignored the advice of friends and hired Bill Belichick, a man with a losing record as a head coach. The strategies. The principles. The techniques. How the Patriots not only achieved success but sustained it.

    Keywords: Strategy; Management Style; Motivation and Incentives; Leading Change; Management Practices and Processes; Leadership Style; Sports; Management Teams; Sports Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Travis Haglock. "Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots (A)." Harvard Business School Case 706-413, August 2005. (Revised October 2005.)
  41. Bill Belichick and the Cleveland Browns

    Genius? That is not what they were calling Bill Belichick in Cleveland. Why? Four losing seasons in five years. Fans hurled trash and insults. The media resented him. Ownership abandoned him. Players quit on him. Very different from the three Super Bowls in five years Belichick would win with the New England Patriots a few years later. Different players? Different ownership? Different management styles? Different strategies? Different coach? Find out. What happened when the Browns hired a man who began studying football strategy at the age of six? A man with a degree in economics who almost became an MBA candidate before accepting a job in football that paid $25 a week. A man who was long recognized as one of the best assistant coaches in the NFL. Learn how Belichick managed the players, the coaches, the owner, the media, etc.

    Keywords: Business History; Leadership Style; Leading Change; Management Practices and Processes; Management Style; Sports; Sports Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Travis Haglock. "Bill Belichick and the Cleveland Browns." Harvard Business School Case 706-415, August 2005.
  42. Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots (B)

    Keywords: Sports; Sports Industry;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Travis Haglock. "Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 706-414, August 2005.
  43. 24 Hour Fitness

    In late December 2004, Mark S. Mastrov, CEO of 24 Hour Fitness, reflected on how far the company had come in 20 years. From its humble beginnings in San Leandro, California, in 1983, 24 Hour Fitness had grown to become the largest privately owned health club chain in the world. In 2003, the company operated 305 clubs in 16 of the U.S. states and 21 in overseas locations. It had three million members, 16,000 employees, and generated $1 billion in revenues. Going into 2005, Mastrov faced many opportunities. Should the business focus on domestic market expansion or devote more resources to international expansion? If he decided to expand into the Northeast, how should the company enter against entrenched competition such as Bally Total Fitness? Would a major acquisition make sense or would it threaten the company's culture? And how should he fund such an acquisition?

    Keywords: Global Strategy; Competitive Advantage; Competitive Strategy; Mergers and Acquisitions; Capital Structure; Health Industry;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R., and Elizabeth Raabe. "24 Hour Fitness." Harvard Business School Case 706-404, July 2005.
  44. Health Club Industry in 2004, The (TN)

    Teaching Note to (2-705-445) and (2-705-451).

    Keywords: Health Industry;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R. "Health Club Industry in 2004, The (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 705-453, January 2005.
  45. Strategic Agility: Managing Continuous Change

    Keywords: Change Management;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R. "Strategic Agility: Managing Continuous Change." Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing Class Lecture, 2005. Electronic. (Faculty Lecture: HBSP Product Number 9-827-4C.)
  46. Alusaf Hillside Project

    The aluminum industry has suffered from long periods of depressed prices and profits interspersed with relatively short-lived price and profit peaks. The case investigates why, this has occured, focusing on the decision Alusaf must make on whether to invest in a major new facility in the face of depressed aluminum prices. Courseware provides cost data on all the facilities in the industry to develop a supply curve. It also provides a supply and demand model that allows students to investigate: the drivers of average industry profitability and relative profitability of individual players in it; the impact of changes in demand over the economic cycle on the price of metal; the impact of different elasticities of demand on price and profitability; the impact of oligopolistic pricing on industry profitability; the impact of adding capacity on industry profitability; and the ability of a firm to preempt the aluminum market. A rewritten version of an earlier case.

    Keywords: Decision Making; Business Cycles; Financial Crisis; Metals and Minerals; Financial Strategy; Investment; Price; Profit; Demand and Consumers; Industry Structures;

    Citation:

    Corts, Kenneth S., and John R. Wells. "Alusaf Hillside Project." Harvard Business School Case 704-458, December 2003.
  47. Ice-Fili (TN)

    Teaching Note to (703-516).

    Citation:

    Rukstad, Michael G., and John R. Wells. "Ice-Fili (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 704-437, December 2003.
  48. Energis (A)

    Describes the history of Energis, one of the United Kingdom's major alternative telecommunications network service providers (altnets). Tracks the company from its birth as a diversification move by the National Grid, the U.K.'s leading electricity distributor, through its dramatic growth, buoyed partly by the Internet boom, to its ultimate collapse. Illustrates the impact of major exogenous regulatory, technological, and demand shocks on an organization and highlights how these can be exaggerated by endogenous factors such as strategy, organizational structure, and systems.

    Keywords: History; Change Management; Business Exit or Shutdown; Business Growth and Maturation; Organizational Structure; Industry Structures; Telecommunications Industry; United Kingdom;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R. "Energis (A)." Harvard Business School Case 703-505, April 2003.
  49. Energis (A) (TN)

    Teaching Note for (9-703-505).

    Keywords: History; Demand and Consumers; Strategy; Distribution; System Shocks; Service Delivery; Organizational Structure; Telecommunications Industry; United Kingdom;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R. "Energis (A) (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 703-506, April 2003.
  50. Major Home Appliance Industry in 1984 (Revised)

    Analyzes the major home appliance industry in the U.S. in 1984 and gives a profile of the key competitors. May be used with Major Home Appliance Industry in 1988 and Maytag in 1984.

    Keywords: Competition; Consumer Products Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Wells, John R. "Major Home Appliance Industry in 1984 (Revised)." Harvard Business School Background Note 386-115, November 1985. (Revised December 1994.)
  51. Fiber-Optics Industry in 1978 (A) (Condensed)

    Keywords: Telecommunications Industry;

    Citation:

    Ghemawat, Pankaj, and John R. Wells. "Fiber-Optics Industry in 1978 (A) (Condensed)." Harvard Business School Case 387-025, November 1986.
  52. Corn Sweetener Industry

    Citation:

    Porter, Michael E., and John R. Wells. "Corn Sweetener Industry." Harvard Business School Background Note 386-154, March 1986. (Revised June 1986.)
  53. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp.: Commercial Roofing Division (A)

    Keywords: Competitive Strategy; Change Management; Construction Industry;

    Citation:

    Porter, Michael E., and John R. Wells. "Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp.: Commercial Roofing Division (A)." Harvard Business School Case 383-040, September 1982. (Revised August 1985.)
  54. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp.: Commercial Roofing Division (B)

    Keywords: Manufacturing Industry;

    Citation:

    Porter, Michael E., and John R. Wells. "Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp.: Commercial Roofing Division (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 383-041, September 1982. (Revised September 1983.)
  55. Fiber-Optics Industry (C)

    Keywords: Telecommunications Industry;

    Citation:

    Porter, Michael E., and John R. Wells. "Fiber-Optics Industry (C)." Harvard Business School Case 383-043, October 1982.
  56. Fiber-Optics Industry (D)

    Keywords: Communications Industry; Electronics Industry;

    Citation:

    Porter, Michael E., and John R. Wells. "Fiber-Optics Industry (D)." Harvard Business School Supplement 383-044, October 1982.
  57. Fiber-Optics Industry (E)

    Keywords: Communications Industry; Electronics Industry;

    Citation:

    Porter, Michael E., and John R. Wells. "Fiber-Optics Industry (E)." Harvard Business School Supplement 383-045, October 1982.
  58. Fiber-Optics Industry (F)

    Keywords: Communications Industry; Electronics Industry;

    Citation:

    Porter, Michael E., and John R. Wells. "Fiber-Optics Industry (F)." Harvard Business School Supplement 383-046, October 1982.