Lynda M. Applegate

Sarofim-Rock Professor of Business Administration

Lynda M. Applegate is the Sarofim-Rock Professor of Business Administration at HBS and serves as the Faculty Chair of the HBS Business Owner Portfolio of executive programs, which includes the Owner President Management and Key Executive programs and its newly-launched Global Immersions for Business Owners. Since joining the HBS faculty over 25 years ago, Lynda has held a variety of leadership positions, including serving as the head of the Entrepreneurial Management Unit, Cohort Chair of the MBA program, and head of Field Based Learning. Between 1995 and 2003, she served as Co-Chair of the Harvard Policy Group on Networked Government Services and she also served on the Harvard University Provost’s Technology Advisory Council. Prior to joining the HBS faculty, Lynda was on the faculty of the University of Michigan, University of Washington and University of Arizona. In addition to her academic positions, Lynda also launched a series of entrepreneurial ventures and held a variety of leadership positions in the health care industry during the 1970s.

 Lynda’s current research and recent publications focus on the challenges of building new ventures and leading radical business innovation in the face of significant industry, technological, capital market, and regulatory turbulence. A second stream of research examines emerging governance models to support inter-firm collaborative innovation. She is the Series Editor for the Core Readings in Entrepreneurship series, published by Harvard Business Publishing. In addition, she is the author of over 40 articles, books, and book chapters, and over 350 published case studies, online learning DVDs, and course materials.

 Lynda is the recipient of numerous HBS awards for her research, teaching, and service to the school. Most recently, she was awarded the Robert F. Greenhill award for her outstanding contributions to HBS. She has also received Harvard Business School’s Berol Award for Research Excellence and its Apgar Award for Innovation in Teaching. In addition, she has also won numerous “Best Paper” awards for her academic research on 21st century business models and on executive team decision-making and collaboration when developing and launching strategic innovations.

 Lynda is an active international consultant and has served on the board of directors of both public and venture-backed companies. She is an advisor and advisory board member for entrepreneurs launching new ventures and for senior executives launching innovation in established companies. She has served on the Board of Trustees of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council and as a member of the Industry Advisory Board for NASDAQ and the GAO’s Executive Council for Information Management and Technology. Lynda has also served as a policy advisor on a Blue-Ribbon Panel to define a National Research Agenda on the development of the Network Economy and as a member of a roundtable panel for President Clinton's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection.

  1. Don't Just Survive - Thrive: Leading Innovations in Good Times and Bad

    Battered by contracting markets and frozen credit, many businesses today are fighting for survival. Indeed, the current global financial crisis provides a mandate for restructuring. But survival is not the end goal. In fact, cost cutting and restructuring are simply the first steps in repositioning and leading a company and industry through the crisis and in defining how business will be conducted in the future. This paper describes how IBM managed to, not just survive the crisis it faced in the early 1990s, but to reposition the company to lead the industry. The powerful lesson from the IBM story is that innovation is not a side business to running the real business. Innovation is the business. Breakthrough innovations that change people's lives and the very structure and power dynamics of industries can't be managed as "silos," tucked away in corporate, university, or government research labs, in incubators, or within venture capital funded entrepreneurial start-ups. Access to the marketplace is needed to help speed commercialization and adoption. Emerging opportunities must be nurtured and the transition to high growth must be managed. Once breakthrough innovations catch hold, growth must be funded and managed to exploit the full value of the opportunity. And finally, incremental innovations must ensure that businesses that have passed through the high growth stage can continue to deliver the resources, capabilities, and platforms needed to fuel the emerging opportunities of the future. This business lifecycle view of innovation requires new leadership and organizational models and new approaches to managing risk and uncertainty.
  2. Pursuing Opportunities and Pivoting to Growth

  3. National Instruments

    This case explores the use of social media to support product design, customer support, marketing and HR activities at National Instruments (NI). Based in Austin, Texas, with over $1 billion in 2011 sales, NI designs, produces, and sells software and hardware platforms that simplify development of its customers' measurement and control systems. Its customers, ranging from individuals (professors and their students) to large corporations, consist primarily of scientists and engineers—a pedigree shared by most NI employees. Since dedicating a full-time position to formalizing the use of social media tools in 2006, NI has infused social capabilities into its internal and customer-facing business processes, strengthening relationships and value delivered.