Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What Conan and NBC can teach us about corporate America

The Harvard Business Review recently featured a commentary on a valuable lesson that we can learn from the Conan/NBC situation. What can we learn? We can shape our destiny. When the conflict became public, the focus was on whether or not Conan was treated fairly. In his mind, he was not rewarded for his loyalty. However, authors Marc Effron and Miriam Ort point out that this is also an exercise in corporate responsibility.

Corporations are tasked with focusing on the bottom line. Conan was an employee on the fast track five years ago and some promises were made to him. What we need to grasp is that businesses make decisions based on the “here and now.” However, events can change the course of history. When NBC made the promise five years ago, I’m sure they thought Jay’s show would do well. They missed the mark, so what were they supposed to do?

I think there’s a business lesson that Peirce students can take away from this story, and it is tied to the mission of the Business Administration program. While we nurture our students in a safe environment, the business faculty prepares them to be leaders in any type of situation. It is important to understand one’s environment, stay competitive, and be marketable with a variety of skill sets. If we succeed in our endeavor, our students will never be limited in career or advancement opportunities. We challenge them to take control of their destiny. When one door closes, another one will open. Just knock!

There is a silver lining for Conan. An opportunity has arisen. Although he has to wait until September to go back on television, he is harvesting another opportunity and passion: live comedy in New York. So a reminder to our Business Administration students and graduates -- shape your own destiny! Use what you learn at Peirce to navigate the business world and keep opening those doors onto new opportunities.