TRLN Management Academy- Day Two: Introduction to Strategy and Change

October 23, 2007

Presentation by Ted Baker, Assistant Professor, Management, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship, College of Management, NCSU

“Strategy” denotes an organization’s highest level objectives and the integrated set of choices it makes and implements in attempting to meet these objectives.

Some leading perspectives on strategy:

  • Porter’s “five forces” (new entrants, buyer power, supplier power, substitutes, and rivalry) and “generic strategies” (overall cost leadership, differentiation, focus)
  • The “resource-based view
  • “Core competence”
  • “SWOT” (strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats)
  • analysis (venerable, atheoretical)
  • “Hypercompetition”

Everyone doesn’t think the same way!

What is strategic management?

  • Something that doesn’t exist without clarity of goals.
  • Strategy follows goals.
  • Without and overarching set of goals, there can not be strategy.
  • Creation of valuable, distinctive position
  • Trade offs among incompatible alternative activities
  • Driving complementaries and fit among activities
  • Deciding what not to do and what to stop doing

Constructing a Strategic Initiative

  • Three levels: values proposition, business model, business strategy
  • Value proposition is the foundation, everything based off of it
  • if you have a well founded, adaptable value proposition, you’ll be successful
  • VP: what, who, why
  • Business Model: what, who, why, how
  • Business Strategy: what, who, why, how, when, wherw

What is a Business Model?

  • Gives you a product description. If you can’t tell someone what your product is, then you have a problem.
    Tells you the main activities, what it does for the customer, the advantages and sustainability.

What is a Business Strategy?

  • tells you where and when

It became increasingly evident throughout the presentation and discussion that being able to create a concise and effective values proposition is an essential skill when proposing a new service, strategy, change or goal. The VP can be equated to the “elevator pitch” or “30 second pitch” that we hear a lot about in Hollywood and television. After spending 20 minutes trying to write a succinct and effective VP statement, I can attest that it is not easy. It is definitely a practice makes perfect and trial and error process. I suspect it gets easier the more you do it. It also became apparent that if you can write an effective VP statement, forming a strategic plan is much easier.

Is Change Good? Change is unavoidable and if managed poorly will result in failure. This failure can be attributed to many factors including: flawed vision, resistance, and a culture entrenched in the way it has always been done. Sometimes we have no choice but to change. This happens when there are outside forces driving the change. Many times this is due to technological changes, a shift in organizational priorities, or economics.

Reactions and readiness to change is varied. Sometimes reactions to change can be drastic (people leaving, or active resistance), sometimes it is more passive (acquiescence), and sometimes it is accepted. These reactions are caused by a variety of factors: fear, perception of loss or gain, personality, or trust.

As managers we need to help staff manage change. It is important to make people feel valued and heard, and to provide them with the context and information needed to understand why a change is taking place. You can force change, but the results may not be pretty and you may not feel comfortable doing it.

I have worked in corporate America and hated it. Almost everything I felt today reinforced those feelings of hatred. I though a lot of what was presented today was useful- particularly the tools and a lot of the insights into strategic management that were discussed. However, I feel like there was a level of cynicism that was seriously off the charts for me. At the end of the day I almost believed that my positive attitude and belief that hard work has its rewards, was all complete crap and meant nothing. It was a sort of painful realization, but at the same time I refuse to believe that it is all completely wrong and is not going to help me.

Something else that I found myself disagreeing with was the proposition that personalities change and are changeable. I don’t believe that. I believe that you can change or affect people’s behaviors or habits, but changing their personality….not so sure about that. I haven’t successfully seen it happen.

I didn’t totally drink the Haterade all day, I did like some parts of the day. What I found extremely valuable was value proposition and how to develop one. Learning how to pitch the “elevator speech” was a great exercise and had me thinking about large picture projects in terms of the most important and powerful elements.

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