Fall Reunions 2018

Saturday, October 13, 2018
10:00 – 11:15 a.m.
Aldrich 7

Virtual study group: Early October via Zoom

Karim R. Lakhani

Relive your time at HBS with a full case discussion led by Professor Karim R. Lakhani. In the spirit of continuous learning, this program includes a pre-reading assignment, study group session via Zoom video conference (optional), and interactive classroom discussion. This event requires preregistration.

Managing Radical Innovation and Assessing Early Stage Ideas at (Google) X

Kathy Hannun is a project leader at X (formerly Google [x]), Alphabet Inc.’s so-called “moonshot factory,” working to develop a carbon-neutral process for converting sea water into fuel. Hannun must prepare a recommendation for the senior leadership of X regarding the future of the project, codenamed Foghorn. Recognizing that the blueprint for projects at X is to address a huge problem with a radical solution using breakthrough technology, Hannun has to recommend if the project should proceed or be killed.

Registration Closed

Due to overwhelming interest, this event has reached capacity.

Connect with fellow classmates and other Reunion alumni to enjoy a fun, engaging and thought-provoking discussion.

The Reunion Featured Case Discussion has been an exciting alumni learning experience since it debuted in 2017. Participants have enjoyed the opportunity to connect with alumni of all ages, relive the thrill of the cold call in the Aldrich classroom, and bring back new insights to their work. In the words of one alum, "I hope that this could be rolled out to all the reunions...fantastic initiative."


Study Group Prep

In the spirit of continuous learning, alumni are required to read the case and prepare the study questions in advance of the event. Alumni may also wish to relive their student experience by participating in peer-led study-group sessions. Study groups will be held in early October via Zoom video conference. Choose your preferred date and time during registration. If you wish to volunteer to moderate your study group, indicate your interest during registration. You will receive more details about Zoom in late September.

STEP 1: Confirm that you have the required equipment*

  • Desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone with web camera
  • Microphone/headset or earbuds with microphone
  • Strong internet connection

*Although it is possible to participate in the study group via audio-only call, we highly recommend using the full capabilities of the Zoom video conference to recreate your HBS study group experience. Ensuring you have a camera and microphone will allow you to hear and see your fellow alumni.

Need more information? Check out Zoom’s system requirements here.

STEP 2: Prepare for your study-group session

STEP 3: Contribute your opinions and viewpoints

  • The groups are peer-led and most groups will have a volunteer alumni moderator to help facilitate the group discussion as needed.
  • Study groups begin promptly and are expected to last up to one hour.
  • Begin with introductions first name, class year, and one thing you want to share about yourself (location, work, family, fun fact, etc.)
  • Be sure to start the case discussion no later than 10 minutes past the hour, using the study questions as a guideline.
  • Have fun and challenge ideas. Don’t forget to mute your other electronic devices.
  • Please note, the study group may be recorded for internal purposes.

“X: The Foghorn Decision”


In February 2016, Kathy Hannun–a project leader at X, Alphabet Inc.'s so-called "moonshot factory–had to prepare a recommendation for the senior leadership of X regarding the future of Foghorn, a project she was leading to develop a carbon-neutral process for converting sea water into fuel. Recognizing the blueprint for projects at X–(1) addressing a huge problem with a (2) radical solution using (3) breakthrough technology–Hannun had to decide whether to recommend killing the project. Despite the technical feasibility of the Foghorn process, its expected cost per gallon of fuel produced was signficiantly higher than the established "kill metric"–the maximum unit cost that Hannun and colleagues had set for continuing the project. The case provides an opportunity to examine the management of radical innovation and the challenges associated with assessing early stage ideas. Topics covered include the importance of experimentation and failure as well as the management of opportunity costs in solving large problems.

Download the case and discussion questions.