Intraoperative Radiotherapy for Breast Cancer

Posted: 27 Jan 2012

Date Written: July 7, 2011


"This trial is going to take longer." Those were words that Michael Kaschke, CEO of Carl Zeiss AG, was not surprised to hear as he nurtured the intraoperative radiotherapy business inside his company's microsurgery unit. But he also didn't expect it to take 13 years to get to the end of an all-important clinical trial that was a critical enabler to the granting of reimbursement codes. The technology was clearly disruptive to him, but as the business confronted the challenges of improving the standard of care for women with breast cancer, he couldn't help but wonder if the greater opportunity was in vastly underserved emerging markets. But for 13 years he had been telling the team the importance of focus, and as the advanced markets of Germany, the UK, and the US started to hit high growth rates, was he now telling them something different? Was this a focus question or a strategic sequencing question?

Learning Objective: Discuss the role of the CEO in shepherding disruptive technologies through the long journey to market, highlighting the challenges of keeping the investment alive during financial difficulties,1998.

Suggested Citation

Shih, Willy, Intraoperative Radiotherapy for Breast Cancer (July 7, 2011). Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Case No. 612-003, Available at SSRN:

Willy Shih (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States


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