ONE DAY IN THE SPRING OF 2001, I looked up from my desk at Harvard Business School to find a favorite MBA student from my 1999 creativity class standing in the doorway. It was Frans Johansson. I was delighted to see him because, when he’d left HBS to pursue a burning idea he had for an entrepreneurial software venture—just one semester shy of finishing his MBA—I thought he’d never return. But here he was, enrolled again to finish that degree. With his characteristically warm smile, Frans settled his lanky form into a chair and made a common request: Could I possibly advise him in an independent study project? I assumed that, as with most of my students, his project involved creating a business plan for yet another startup. But not this ...

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