The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Finkelstein Shares Lessons Learned From the ‘Why Smart Executives Fail’ Project with Rocky Leadership Fellows

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Rockefeller Leadership Fellow Danny Freeman gave a rousing introduction for Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth Professor of Management, and Associate Dean, at the Tuck School of Business. 

In a talk entitled Lessons Learned From the “Why Smart Executives Fail” Project, Professor Finkelstein pressed us to think of ways in which our emotions can steer us wrong.  He brought us into the discussion by using relevant examples of business dealings in the Upper Valley community, and by referencing situations he has come across throughout his teaching career and his study of business history. 

Naming his “four red flags” for decision-making, we were challenged to analyze the articles we’d read in preparation for the talk in light of the failings he’d named.  The Fellows broke into groups, deciding for themselves whether personal experience, self-interest, pre-judgments, and attachments had caused the downfall of both Motorola and the Snow Brand Group.  The smaller sections reported back to their colleges, with Anneliesse Sendax enumerating the dangers of hubris, others speaking to the blinding pursuit of wealth, and all gaining a deeper appreciation for the limits of experience and the value of self-evaluation.

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The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences