Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 6/5/15

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Some of the best learning happens when you read stories about real people and real companies. Read them for ideas, for lessons, and inspiration. This week’s stories and strategies from real life are Discovery, the Sky Factory, Eli Lilly, Amelie’s, and Tape App.

From McKinsey & Company: How Discovery keeps innovating

“In 1992, Adrian Gore founded Discovery with an idea for a health-insurance model that would make people healthier. The South African start-up quickly grew into a global player, with a market cap of over $8 billion and a foothold in major markets, including the United Kingdom and China. In the commentary that follows, Gore reflects on the Discovery Group’s sources of innovative energy and on the organizational efforts required to maintain that energy as the company grows. (For more on these issues, see ‘The eight essentials of innovation.’) One key, says Gore, is that rewards and risk taking go hand in hand at Discovery, which puts its money where its mouth is by making an innovation score part of each manager’s performance evaluation and by conducting an annual competition to identify creative new ideas.”

From Leigh Buchanan: This Company Put Transparency and Flat Management to the Test — and it Worked

“For a small city surrounded by corn and livestock farms, Fairfield, Iowa, is pretty groovy. It is home to art galleries, ethnic restaurants, green architecture, and the Maharishi University of Management, where twice a day students practice Transcendental Meditation. It is also home to The Sky Factory, a radical experiment in employee empowerment where everyone is treated as an equal.”

From Ely Portillo and Sarah Chaney: Can Amelie’s grow and keep its cool?

“Although some customers said they’re skeptical and experts said the company will have to tread carefully, the three partners who own Amelie’s say they’re confident they can grow the bakery without losing its soul.”

From Jeff Swiatek: Lean years behind it, Eli Lilly sees growth in new drugs

“For CEO John Lechleiter, Eli Lilly and Co.’s low point during his tenure came on his birthday in 2010. It was Aug. 17. Lilly got word that its then-promising compound to treat Alzheimer’s disease, semagacestat, had failed to work better than placebo in late-stage clinical trials”

From Patrick May: The evolution of an app

“To explore the process of bringing apps into being, this newspaper followed the creators behind Tape App, a social-networking platform that allows users to upload and contribute short clips to larger collaborative videos. From the original brainstorm in 2014 to Tape’s launch on the App Store this month, the story of its founders and the development team they chose provides a rare glimpse into the high-stakes and the ins and outs of modern-day app-making.”

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