MBA 599 – Strategic Management Case Project
This capstone course requires each student to construct a detailed and well-thought-out analysis of a business employing all the relevant strategic analysis tools studied in the course. This project will take the full term to complete. It is our sincere hope that you will find this project to be the most rewarding effort in your educational career.
This course is designed to help you develop strategic skills that can be used in management. The process of strategic planning is an iterative cycle of research and analysis, ending with a series of choices about what will be attempted and how it will be approached. The most tangible output is the strategic planning document. The most important output is the increased understanding that the participants acquire. Accordingly, the assessment of the final project will be heavily dependent on the quality of the strategic thinking inside that polished report. Students that focus on the expeditious completion of the steps may find that they have shortchanged the important and time-consuming exploration and thinking that is necessary to create a quality strategic case. Since not all tools can tell the planner which factors and alternatives are important to consider, the planner should pull in as much diverse information and perspectives as possible. Additionally, you should put yourselves in the competitor’s shoes and consider how the “game” will play out. Your homework and subsequent improvements are intended to become a primary basis for the exploration and questioning that drives your strategic understanding and creative ideas. In addition, it is important to test your strategic thinking and your use of analytical tools in preparation for your final project
Phase 1 – Modules 1-3 (Outline for Strategic Management Case)
- Introduction of the company (limit to a maximum of three single-spaced pages).
o Description of the firm and its products
o Company history (brief history, critical events, competitors, leadership), including strategic
elements of its history
o Vision and mission statement
o Assessment of mission and vision
- External assessment
o EFE and CPM with strategic implications
o Analysis of competitive position, opportunities, and threats
- Internal assessment
o IFE with strategic implications
o Financial ratio analysis with key conclusions and implications for strategic choice
o Overall analysis of internal capabilities and implications for your strategic decisions
Module 1: Select company and secure instructor approval. Once approved, create plan outline, insert
current mission and vision.
Module 2: Complete an EFE and CPM for your company (including analysis and conclusions) and insert
in your working draft which you will hold until you submit Phase 1 during Module 3.
Module 3: Complete an IFE and calculate financial ratios (including analysis and conclusions) for your
company and insert in your plan to submit at the end of Module 3.
Phase 2 – Modules 4-6 (includes revisions to Phase 1 based on the instructor’s feedback)
- Internal assessment (continued from Phase 1—include IFE and financial ratios)
o Current strategy (brief description of the firm’s current strategies)
o SWOT matrix with strategic implications for the company
o BCG matrix with strategic implications for the company
o Space or other matrices with strategic implications for the company
o Possible strategic alternatives
o Evaluation of current organisational structure
o Recommendation changes (if needed) to the structure, culture (including values), processes, or rewards
Module 4: Integrate instructor feedback from Phase 1.
Module 5: Develop SWOT, BCG, SPACE, and IE matrices with strategic implications for the company.
Module 6: Develop alternative strategies for your company with strengths and weaknesses of each.
Phase 3 – Modules 7-8
- Strategic analysis, choices, impact, and measurement
o Product-positioning map
o Evaluation of strategies and objectives to achieve most favourable market position
o Description of how you would implement your strategies
o Milestones (steps for each major initiative with their timelines
o Specific results you want to achieve including market, financial, and product or service goals
o Financial projection (minimum three years)
o Presentation with audio
o Executive summary
1. Company and industry background
Use your own judgment to determine the amount of background to include. Over-detailed company history is usually irrelevant and rarely improves the report. On the other hand, a history of strategic moves and competitive reactions might be very illustrative. Decide what to include based on whether that information is important to understanding the future environment and strategic choices. Market share, financial strength, brand image, and the like are always relevant strategically.
2. Address uncertainty
In your strategic analysis, make sure to state any assumptions related to your business. If you believe there is going to be high risk, describe contingency plans or alternate scenarios.
3. Discuss the things that create organisational culture and behaviour necessary to support the strategy
a. What operational and motivational processes create the culture (acting your way into a new way of thinking, identity orientation, incentives, etc.)?
b. What organisational structure fits the mission/vision, the operational approach, and the need for adaptability or stability?
c. Make sure to delineate your ethics standards including values the company lives by.
4. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and internal/external (IE) matrices
Some of you may think that the BCG and IE matrices are not relevant to your project since your organisation only reports one business segment. First, these exhibits are important to think through and are required even if they only have one product line. Second, there are often more segments in any organisation than meets the eye. The reason to break up the business into component parts is to shed some light on the strategic positioning and future potential. Ask yourself, are there segments that behave differently (different customers, competitors, growth rates, success factors, etc.)? You can be sure that Wal-Mart is looking at grocery, clothing, pharmacy, electronics, toys, garden, and automotive all separately, and possibly even separating seasonal items. For purposes of this class, approximations can be used whenever necessary to separate a subunit. Pushing the analysis down to a more detailed level forces you to recognise what you know and what you do not know. I am more concerned with strategic thinking than with
availability of detailed data. You can put estimated numbers in your plans as long as a note is added explaining the basis, reasoning, and level of uncertainty.
Your implementation strategy must show how it is aligned with your strategic objectives. The strategic-level implementation questions are mainly resource-related (where the money/people come from) and timing issues (when are initiatives expected to happen). In addition, if there is something specific mentioned in the analysis (e.g., a trend, a weakness, concerns about the competitive response) that affects implementation, then you need to include the relevant part of the implementation approach mentioned as part of the strategy. If there is not anything notable in these kinds of areas, then specific content is not required in the report.
6. Overall assessment of the strategy
As you prepare your strategies, it will be helpful to review Rumelt’s four criteria:
i. Strategy should not present inconsistent goals and policies.
ii. All of the pieces of your overall strategic approach should be aligned.
i. Strategy should examine sets of trends.
i. Strategy should include creation or maintenance of competitive advantage.