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At Harvard, a Masterís in Problem Solving

Jodi Kantor

The New York Times

Published: Friday, Feb. 24 2012 9:41 a.m. MST

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at a town hall meeting at Eagle Manufacturing Corporation in Shelby Township, Mich., Tuesday, Mich., Feb. 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Gerald Herbert, AP

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A few years after Mitt Romney graduated from Harvard Business School, he returned to share a simple, timeworn lesson in an unusual way.

Invited to give a presentation on balancing work and family, he began by telling students that they were like multinational corporations, recalled Clayton M. Christensen, who organized the event. You have the same question as General Electric, said Mr. Romney, then a young father and a management consultant. Your resources are your time and talent. How are you going to deploy them?

He drew a chart called a growth-share matrix with little circles to represent various pursuits: work, family, church. Investing time in work delivered tangible returns like raises and profits.

Your children dont pay any evidence of achievement for 20 years, Mr. Romney said. But if students failed to invest sufficient time and energy in their spouses and children, their families could become dogs consultant-speak for drags on the rest of the company sucking energy, time and happiness out of the students. The presentation was a hit: Mr. Romney had proved the value of family time based not on emotion but on yield.

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