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Research Brief: The research brief, titled "How to Succeed in School Turnaround: Strategies That Characterize Successful Turnaround Schools in Massachusetts' summarizes key findings from both parts of the technical report" the implementation study (Part 1) and the impact study (Part 2). The brief highlights those strategies described by successful schools as "essential" to the school's turnaround efforts and ability to sustain improvements.


Today is "turnaround" day, the first major legislative deadline of the session and signifies the movement of bills from their originating chamber to the opposite body. Non-exempt bills which have not been worked out of committee, debated and passed on the floor of the chamber from which they originated will not move forward in the legislative process after turnaround day. Both the House and Senate spent two full days hearing and debating bills before concluding on Thursday evening in advance of the turnaround deadline.

The course will include some brand-new cases (e.g., Netflix, Etsy, Panera, Blackberry, and the Seattle Seahawks), with the CEO protagonists present in class, in order to give students first-hand exposure to turnaround challenges. We will look at a range of organizations, including small and large companies, family-owned ventures, private and public firms, and US and international companies.

The course will be organized around five key dimensions of turnarounds: financial, strategic, organizational, cultural, and leadership. The course opens and closes with critical lessons and devotes an equal number of cases to each of the dimensions.

Leadership: The opening and closing of the course will be devoted to analyzing leadership skills fundamental to planning and executing successful turnarounds. We will examine, among others, the importance of personal and organizational resilience, the management of critical thinking (logos), emotions (pathos), and relationships (ethos), and the challenges involved in professionalizing a leadership team in a crisis.

Strategy: The strategic dimension of a turnaround involves defining a new direction for the organization. The course will feature strategic challenges turnaround leaders often face, such as managing complexity and strategic dualities, addressing marketing myopia, examining core capabilities that have morphed into rigidities, and reining in disorganized innovation efforts.

Finance: The financial dimension is central to most turnarounds. The course will present situations where leaders must make critical decisions regarding the management of cash flow, the convenience of keeping or divesting assets, and the possibility of restructuring debt, among others.

Organization: The organizational dimension of a turnaround encompasses three mutually-reinforcing elements: structure, processes, and people. The course will focus on fundamental organizational challenges such as streamlining the organization, simplifying structure, and redesigning core processes while sustaining morale, retaining key talent, and energizing people.

Through case discussions and intimate interactions with guests, you will get an authentic view of what it is like to manage a turnaround. Guest speakers from last year and/or those tentatively scheduled for the Fall 2022 class are:

Students will work individually or in teams of two. You will choose a turnaround and examine it applying the tools and principles from the course. In the write-up, I expect that you will explain what you did (brief description of turnaround, why you chose it, which tools from the course were used, etc.) and what you learned (general principles around turnarounds, applying the tools, etc.). A detailed summary of the outline for this paper will be provided at the start of the term.

If you are a designated a Reviewer for a fast turnaround proposal, you will be given a list of proposals to review. You will at first see only the title and abstract for each proposal, and you will have to indicate whether or not you feel you can provide an unbiased review of each one. In cases where you do not believe you can provide a fair review, you must briefly explain the reason for your response (and, optionally, also explain why you can give a fair review) .

If the student has already been involved in the distributed review process on multiple occasions through FT or elsewhere, it is still expected that you will perform all of the duties listed above at some level in order to help students improve both their own proposals and the reviewing of those of others. For questions about any of this, please contact the Gemini FT staff at at

What if I submit after the deadline?Immediately after each proposal deadline, the proposal handling software takes the submissions and begins the process of assigning reviewers. Proposals that are received after this process has started