Morning Advantage: What Would You Do With a Blank Check?

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but perhaps largess is the father of big thinking. That’s what Kraft’s leadership team had in mind when it set out to breathe new life into Tang. Made famous by NASA in the 1960s, the iconic powdered orange drink had by 2007 been caught in the moribund cycle of underperformance familiar to many companies trying to sustain organic growth. But rather than launch a resource-constrained innovation effort, Kraft took an arguably retro approach, drawing on its deep pockets to give leaders in key markets like Brazil a blank check — urging them to dream big and not worry about resources.

The results, as this thoughtful strategy+business article details, have been astounding. Whereas it had taken Tang 50 years to reach the $500 million revenue mark, it took only five more to become a $1 billion brand. In designating who got those big, fat checks, potential counted more to Kraft’s leaders than seniority or even experience. But just as much, they looked for people willing to take on the responsibility and not be frozen by fear at the thought of infinite possibility.

YOU CAN’T WIN IF YOU DON’T PLAY

Psyching Yourself Out of a Job ([email protected])

Buried deep in this piece exploring gender inequality is an arresting bit of research. When two Wharton professors interviewed 1,255 people about to start an elite one-year international MBA program, they found the men and women equally confident of getting good job offers in every field except that stereotypically male bastion — investment banking. Consequently, at the end, fewer women applied for these, the highest-paying jobs. Turns out, though, that the women who did apply were just as likely to get hired as the men.

THERE GOES THAT EXCUSE

The Science of Sorrow (Smithsonian)

By all accounts the 1975 remake of The Champ was mediocre at best, but its final scene is such a reliable tearjerker that it’s become the tool of choice for scientists studying the effects of sadness. Over a period of decades, it’s been used in experiments to see whether sadness prompts binge eaters to eat more (it doesn’t), whether older people are more sensitive to grief than younger people (they are), and whether people spend more money when they’re sad (they don’t). Using films to make people sad in the lab gets round all kinds of ethical constraints, since people willingly pay money to see tearjerkers and walk out of the theater with no apparent ill effects.

BONUS BITS:

Buddy, Can You Spare a Job?

A Different Way to Think About Corporate Social Responsibility (Gallup)
Why Don't More Unemployed Spaniards Get Jobs in Germany? (NPR Planet Money)
Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-Hour Rule Visualized (National Geographic)

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