Discussions for Week 7

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DISCUSSION 1: Case Analysis With Discussion: The Weather Company

As Wolfe (2011) notes in Chapters 11 and 12 of his book, strategy development, communication, and execution are real-time, ongoing processes. A strategy is never “done,” as everything both internal and external to the organization is in a constant flux and change—requiring the strategy, and the playbook for the future, to be modified and improved.

A critical part of the “strategy evolution process” is to evaluate and check the assumptions and reasoning bases for strategies. Are the emerging strategies consistent with the Soulful Purpose of the organization; are they affordable; and can the appropriate skills, competencies, and capabilities be leveraged or acquired to make various parts of the strategy work? How will the competition respond, and is the organization ready for it?

This week you explore the case of The Weather Company, which, in August 2013, presented their strategic plan that the senior leadership could help the company grow from $600 million in revenue to $1 billion or more by 2016. You will evaluate the proposed strategy, based on your cumulative knowledge from this course and your MBA program.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review all required readings, including the Weekly Briefing, which provides additional guidance on how to complete the assignment.
  • Review the case analysis. You may want to scan it multiple times.
  • Identify and review all relevant readings from the MBA Capstone Program Bibliography.
  • Use the criteria below to inform your analysis:

Strategy Evaluation Elements:

  • Strategy Evaluation: Clarity of the Strategy
    • Does the strategy and associated initiatives have a “name” that evokes the strategy?
    • Is it easy to communicate what the strategy is and why it can work?
    • Is it likely that people inside the organization will understand and commit to the strategy?
  • Strategy Evaluation: Consistency of Purpose (Context Level of Analysis)
    • Based on your reading of the case, is The Weather Company’s proposed 2013 strategy consistent with its Soulful Purpose and its mission, vision, and values? How?
  • Strategy Evaluation: Feasibility and Alignment (Activities and Relationships Level of Analysis)
    • What are the primary Key Success Factors that The Weather Company needs to excel at in the future? Do they have the internal skills, competencies, and capabilities to execute their strategy? (If not, does the plan do a good job of saying how they will acquire these?)
    • Are the basic elements of the proposed strategy feasible?
      • From a teamwork and healthy organization standpoint?
      • From a financial standpoint?
      • From a measurement/metrics standpoint?
    • Does the strategy appear to be internally aligned? Do the specific action plan steps support each other? How and Why?
  • Strategy Evaluation: External Consonance and Potential Competitive Advantage
    • Is the proposed strategy consonant with the current and future needs of the external ecosystem and stakeholder needs? How and Why?
    • Does the strategy indicate any long-term strategic intent?
    • Does the proposed strategy position the company to perform activities differently than rivals do? How and why?
    • Does the proposed strategy lead to incremental change within the industry, or more fundamental change within the industry, or does it establish new positions outside the industry or in blue ocean spaces? How and why is the scope of the strategy appropriate?
    • Do you think the proposed strategy can create or preserve any advantages it may confer on the company? Which advantages, and how and why?

PREPARE a polished and integrated analysis that answers this question:

  • If you were on the board of directors at The Weather Company in 2013, would you approve the proposed strategy? Why or why not?
  • Be specific, and be sure to support your response with evidence from the case, and use appropriate concepts from the course and MBA program to make the strongest case you can.

General Guidance: Your discussion will typically be 1 to 1 ½ single-spaced pages.

Discussion 2: What Is the Strategy That Your Playbook Is Designed to Support?

Now it is time to apply lessons learned from this week’s case analysis and discussion about strategy evaluation, this week’s readings, and other resources, to help you think about how you might answer the question, what is the strategy your playbook is designed to support and how will you evaluate it?

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review all required readings, including the Weekly Briefing, which provides additional guidance on how to complete the Assignment.
  • Review this week’s case study and peer discussion and reflect and make notes on the following: What insights did you gain, and what did you learn from this week’s resources your case analysis and peer discussion that you can apply to your Strategy Playbook for your chosen organization? What conceptual and strategic differences are important between the case example and your organization (focus on the concepts analyzed this week)? What assumptions do you need to make in order to use the strategy concepts appropriately?
  • Identify and review all relevant readings from the MBA Capstone Program Bibliography. Given your chosen organization, what concepts, tools, and readings from the Program Capstone Bibliography are most relevant to helping guide how you might recommend improving the company? How and why are they relevant?
  • Locate and maintain access to publicly available information about your organization.

PREPARE a polished and synthesized entry into the discussion area, which will also be the basis for an entry into the final draft of your Strategy Playbook for Extraordinary Results. Based on all of your previous week’s work on the playbook, and based on the strategy evaluation content from this week, at minimum you should add the following to your discussion post and Strategy Playbook:

  • Explicitly identify and provide a name for the company-wide strategy you recommend for your company and then explain the essential components of the company-wide strategy you recommend for your company.
  • Evaluate the company-wide strategy that you recommend for your company.

General Guidance: Your discussion will typically be 2 single-spaced pages.

REFERENCES

Wolfe, N. (2011). The living organization: Transforming business to create extraordinary results. Irvine, CA: Quantum Leaders Publishing.

Barney, J., & Gorman Clifford, T. (2010). What I didn’t learn in business school: How strategy works in the real world. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Chapter 14, “A Tailored Presentation: Real World Strategies for Anticipating Resistance to Recommendations, Making High Impact Presentations, and Aligning

Collis, D. J., & Rukstard, M. G. (2008). Can you say what your strategy is? Harvard Business Review, 86(4), 82–90.

Hamel, G., & Prahalad, C. K. (2005). Strategic intent. Harvard Business Review, 83(7/8), 148–161.

Kanter, R.M. (2014). The Weather Company. (Harvard Business School Case No. 9-314-083). Boston, MA.

Levitt, T. (2004). Marketing myopia. Harvard Business Review, 82(7/8), 138–149.

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