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Matt Cohen
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Matt Cohen received his MBA from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College. He is also a contributing writer to MAD Magazine. You can read more of his posts at Unexpected Experts, his site dedicated to finding business insights from pop-culture sources.

Entries by Matt Cohen

What Do Customers Really Think of Your Brand? Find Out With Perceptual Mapping

(3) Comments | Posted October 29, 2013 | 11:47 AM

Perceptual mapping is a technique that allows you to visualize the positioning of different brands in the market. Using perceptual maps, you can quickly compare yourself to competitors and make strategic decisions about whether or not you need to reposition your brand.

There are a several ways to create a...

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to Negotiations

(2) Comments | Posted March 6, 2012 | 7:42 PM

The art of negotiations is traditionally taught using fictional scenarios called case studies. My favorite case studies come from pop culture: just because they're entertaining doesn't mean that they can't also be informative. For example, The Dark Knight shows how knowing your BATNA can help you to negotiate like Batman and...

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Toy Theory -- Part II: More Business Tips From Classic Toys

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2012 | 2:20 PM

Toy Fair -- the game and toy industry's annual expo -- is here once again, so I thought I'd take another look at what businesses can learn from classic toys. As you may know, the economic discipline known as game theory is an approach to studying competitive strategies. If games...

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Scary Business Plans

(0) Comments | Posted October 12, 2011 | 5:29 PM

In order to get into the Halloween spirit, I'd like to search for the business tips lurking in the shadows of three of my favorite spooky movies: Sweeney Todd, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Little Shop of Horrors. As I was re-watching them, I noticed two recurring themes:
...

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Design by Committee Is Dangerous: How Too Much Input Can Kill Any Good Idea

(5) Comments | Posted October 4, 2011 | 6:41 PM

If you ever work as part of a committee, team, or task force, you may want to circulate the following case study:

According to the masthead, the artists and writers for MAD Magazine are collectively known as "The Usual Gang of Idiots." In the interest of full disclosure,...

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Muppets and Manufacturing

(0) Comments | Posted September 14, 2011 | 5:37 PM

Jim Henson is generally considered to be a genius, but manufacturing is not frequently cited as one of his core competencies. Before we explore what Henson and his colleagues knew about production lines, let's take a quick quiz to test your Muppet knowledge. Name the following four characters:

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Entrepreneurs Reveal the Secrets of Market Research (and Ice Cream)

(0) Comments | Posted August 15, 2011 | 5:59 PM

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (better known the guys behind Ben & Jerry's) have written a traditional business book. It's called Ben & Jerry's Double Dip: How to Run a Values Led Business and Make Money Too. As you'd expect, it delivers expert advice on socially responsible business practices... but...

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Playing Games At Work: A Look At 5 Video Games With Corporate Settings

(2) Comments | Posted July 6, 2011 | 2:59 PM

I work at a company that develops mobile apps and other digital content. We recently released an iPhone game called "Office Riot," and, as the name suggests, it has a workplace theme. Compared with the number of games that take place on spaceships or in military outposts, there are very...

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Is Your Strategy Mature? A Simple Test Reveals the Answer

(5) Comments | Posted May 31, 2011 | 6:38 PM

There's a simple test you can use to determine the strength of your strategy, and it's based on a classic psychology experiment.

When he was a psychology professor at Stanford University, Walter Mischel developed the marshmallow experiment. If you don't remember studying Mischel's famous behavioral experiment in your...

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The Myth of 'Throwing Money at the Problem'

(23) Comments | Posted May 4, 2011 | 1:26 AM

If there's one thing we know for certain, it's that we can't fix what's wrong with education in America simply by throwing money at the problem. That's what people keep saying anyway. It sounds like it makes sense, right? "Throwing money" doesn't sound like a good course of action. It...

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Funny Business: The Strange But True Connection Between Pixar, MAD Magazine, and Product Development

(0) Comments | Posted April 13, 2011 | 5:36 AM

As my bio points out, I am a contributing writer for MAD Magazine. I sometimes worry about admitting that in public, but I have discovered that people are very interested in that part of my background. Nobody ever says, "Oh, you were an MBA? Can you explain conjoint analysis?" In...

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How to Negotiate Like Batman

(4) Comments | Posted April 5, 2011 | 3:25 PM

Negotiation can be a dramatic form of conflict resolution, which is one of the reasons why there are excellent negotiations case studies in movies, TV shows, and even some very unexpected books. There's a particularly great lesson in how to prepare for a negotiation about an hour into...

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The Best-Drawn Supply Chain You'll Ever See: A Look at How an Industry Evolves

(0) Comments | Posted March 28, 2011 | 6:09 PM

When drawing supply chains, most people don't bother with more than a fast doodle with boxes representing the different parts of the industry and a little stick figure representing the end customer. There's no reason that they should spend any more time than that (and besides, most MBA types lack...

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Four Market Research Mistakes to Avoid

(6) Comments | Posted March 21, 2011 | 6:41 PM

Somebody in my family was recently sent a direct-mail survey from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). The survey's purpose, according to the accompanying letter from NRSC Chairman Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), is to help Republicans in the Senate "fight for the interests and issues that matter to our grassroots...

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A Strategy You Can Hum: Why People Fall Into the Trap of Ignoring Strategic Principles

(0) Comments | Posted March 14, 2011 | 10:35 AM

Stephen Sondheim wrote a beautiful song that provides a great lesson in how to think strategically. (It's kind of like Schoolhouse Rock for business majors.) In addition to its many artistic merits, the song also provides an answer to the question of why otherwise intelligent leaders sometime chose near-sighted strategies...

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Rethinking Project Management: Can High Quality Be Cheap?

(0) Comments | Posted March 6, 2011 | 10:51 PM

There's a saying in project management that says you can have anything you want and it can be fast, cheap, and good... but you have to pick just two of those standards. In other words:

  • Your project can be done fast and well, but it will cost a lot.

  • ...

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Influencing Consumer Behavior: How to Train Your Customers

(0) Comments | Posted February 24, 2011 | 4:08 PM

Donald Norman's book The Design of Everyday Things is an entertaining and enlightening guide to making products more usable. The book is full of anecdotes and case studies about things that ought to be easy to use, but aren't. For example, Norman famously opens the book with a closer look...

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Finding Negotiation Strategies... In A Children's Book?

(1) Comments | Posted February 20, 2011 | 11:36 PM

Negotiations are a form of conflict resolution, which makes them inherently dramatic. It therefore comes as no surprise that movies and TV shows are full of excellent (albeit fictional) case studies on negotiations. I've spotted a great lesson on understanding your BATNA in a Batman movie.* The Hitchhiker's...

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Toy Theory: What Toys Can Teach Us About Business

(0) Comments | Posted February 6, 2011 | 10:56 PM

Toy Fair -- the game and toy industry's annual expo -- starts on Sunday, so I thought it might interesting to take a look at game theory. I confess that I was mildly disappointed when I first learned that game theory had nothing to do with Othello, Trivial Pursuit, or...

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Harry Potter And The Entrepreneurs: 7 Marketing Tips

(3) Comments | Posted February 4, 2011 | 1:28 AM

In the opening chapters of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling creates a picture of a floundering wizard economy. Businesses are shutting down -- either because their owners have been killed or because customers are afraid to shop anymore. The only retailer that seems to be thriving in...

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