Jun 3, 2008

My strategy on "Strategy"

Points that I presented to 2008 batch PGSEM students as part of their induction programme on June 1st 2008. My presentation was an overview of "Strategic Management" course which is a core course in Quarter 1.

Disclaimer
Based on my experiences as a 2007 student

Strategy
- Given a firm’s strengths and limitations under certain market conditions and external environmental factors, what should be its objectives in order to build a competitive position in the industry?

What’s this course all about?
- Provides a foundation for subsequent courses on marketing, finance and operations
- Covers many analytical frameworks to identify a problem and evaluate alternate solutions
- Emphasize on holistic thinking when taking important decisions
- Identify and analyze the impact of
- external factors such as Govt policies, market conditions and industry dynamics
- internal factors such as strengths of the firm, capabilities and weaknesses

Frameworks
- SWOT
- Porter’s five forces model
- Generic strategies
- Resource based view
- OCA (objectives, criteria, alternatives)
- Miles and Snow typology

Methodology
- Case based approach of learning
- Typically 2 cases per week with additional articles/theory as readings
- Cases from different industries and firms across the globe – Coca-Cola, Dell, Southwest Airlines, Zara Fashions, Samsung Electronics, Google, Walmart etc
- Become friends with Michael Porter
- 3P strategy (Preparation, participation and postmortem)

Case preparation
- Read the case - don't ponder too much on the facts, don't get judgmental in the first read (45 min - 1 hr)
- Read it again - this time, give importance to case facts. Do not ignore exhibits. Make notes if needed (1 hr)
- Go over the assigned readings/theory (1-2 hrs)
- Read the case again with conceptual knowledge. Make notes based on your analysis (1 hr)

Class participation
- If (any of the previous 4 steps not completed) then exit;
- Participate effectively but don’t get into arguments
- Even if you are doubtful about your analysis, put forth your viewpoints
- Professor or your classmates would either oppose/defend your argument
- Do not disrupt the flow of the discussion by bringing in irrelevant points to the table

Postmortem
- Participate in after-class discussions (typically happens over email)
- Analyze the current trends and latest strategic decisions of the firm
- Has the firm’s strategy you understood from the case undergone any drastic changes?

Term paper/project
- Analysis of an industry
- Evolutionary and revolutionary changes
- Key players and their growth patterns
- Contemporary challenges
- Your recommendations to face these challenges
- Make use of the frameworks/concepts to conduct an effective analysis

End term exam
- Open book
- Case analysis
- Clearly articulate your analysis/viewpoints
- Ample time given, so take some time to read the case carefully
- Don’t jump to conclusions

What did I do right?
- Spent good amount of time every week in case preparations
- Participated in class discussions
- Selected a different industry for analysis as part of term paper, very good learning experience
- Was able to articulate my case analysis clearly in end term

Where did I miss out?
- Not much efforts in postmortem
- Didn’t dive deep into theory (“text book”)
- Didn’t enforce the 4-step preparation process for all cases

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