Management Architecture of the Late Show with David Letterman

I always think the “face” of an organization runs everything and does everything. Like in my head Elon Musk is torquing tires on Teslas and Steve Jobs polished iPods. It’s a mistake, every org takes a team. I like hearing about how things really work.

I learned how The Late Show worked from a recent interview with David Letterman.
He had a team, of course. And that team ran The Late Show. He doesn’t come up with everything and says “go do that”.

Here’s his insight into 3 subsystems of the machine, writers, advertisers, and stars:

On writers:

 I don’t know about my writers’ room. I never went to the writers’ room, so I have no idea what went on there. I stayed away: “Just call me when you’re done.”

On advertisers:

I can remember having a conversation via the sales department about Tylenol, and we had Bill O’Reilly on the show, and we were talking about something in the news, not particularly unpleasant but just something in the news. Tylenol called up and said, “You know what? We’re just going to lay out tonight. We’ll be back.”

On Hollywood guests:

Well, at some point publicists took over the talk shows. They were the people that booked the guests, and they had six or seven guests, so you had to be awfully nice to Guest A if you wanted to get to Guest B or C. I was not aware that this was going on until people started saying, “So-and-so is not going to be back on the show if you don’t be nice to so-and-so.” And I said, “What do we care?” And they’d say, “Well, because they also manage so-and-so and so-and-so’s sister, and we want those people on the show.” I realized not early into it that we were a tool for the careers of other people, which mediates what you’re going to talk about

How the Chemical Industry Joined the Fight Against Climate Change

companies including Honeywell and Chemours, a DuPont spinoff, were among the most active backers of a move away from a profitable chemical that has long been the foundation for the fast-growing air-conditioning and refrigeration business.

“They learned that without a rule change, their new products couldn’t compete,” said David Doniger, director of the Climate and Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, based in New York. “They woke up and said, ‘The science is real.’”

The rest of the story from the New York Times

Thanks for sending, Katie Doherty!

Patagonia’s Sustainability Strategy: “Don’t Buy Our Products”

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From the Harvard Business Review:

In 2005, Patagonia launched the Common Threads Recycling Program. The goal was to reduce the number of products Patagonia customers purchased through a two-fold effort.

The first part was to encourage customers to fix damaged clothing. Patagonia began publishing do-it-yourself repair guides to assist customers in repairing their clothing. To provide an alternative for customers who were unable or unwilling to repair their clothing themselves, Patagonia charged an affordable fee to have garments shipped to their repair facility.

The second aspect of the Common Threads program was to create a second-hand market for Patagonia garments that did not fit or that were no longer worn. Patagonia collaborated with eBay to develop a storefront and also created an online marketplace on its main website. Patagonia also offered to cover the shipping costs for garments that were beyond repair, which Patagonia would then break down and repurpose. To promote its Common Threads initiative, Patagonia created “Worn Wear,” a program that highlights thousands of videos and pictures from customers around the globe who treasure their worn, patched-up Patagonia garments with pride.  While most companies would encourage customers to repeat their purchases, Patagonia prides itself and its customers on waste-free purchases. Patagonia’s next step was to launch a campaign in 2011 to dissuade customers from purchasing clothing that they did not really need.

On the busiest weekend for retailers in the US, a 2011 New York Times ad from Patagonia featured a picture of one of Patagonia’s highest grossing fleece jackets below the words: “DON’T BUY THIS JACKET.” Underneath was a detailed description that defended Patagonia’s rationale based on the negative environmental impacts caused by consumerism. Despite Patagonia’s efforts, sales increased by approximately 30% in the nine months following the ad. The case concludes with the business dilemma facing Chouinard: What should Patagonia do?

https://hbr.org/product/patagonia-s-sustainability-strategy-don-t-buy-our-products/IMD790-PDF-ENG

2016 – Largest number of shareholder resolutions now concern social and environmental issues

Rethinking activist investors from the Harvard Business Review:

Ask someone to name the demands that activist hedge funds make of companies, and they’ll likely list corporate governance issues such as board changes and executive compensation, or perhaps some form of restructuring. In fact, the largest number of shareholder resolutions filed by investors — the method through which activists work — now concern social and environmental issues. This is a recent phenomenon, according to my research: The number of these resolutions has increased dramatically over the past five years. Political spending, climate change, diversity, and human rights are now some of the most frequent resolutions that investors file.

https://hbr.org/2016/07/the-fastest-growing-cause-for-shareholders-is-sustainability