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FIVE THINGS I HAVE LEARNED

Molly Moon Management Policy & Strategy Sian Muir March 16, 2012


1. Struggle and failure can be the most valuable learning tools

In the Business Strategy Game my team was extremely successful in the practice rounds, and we
were ready to enter the graded rounds with a powerful low-cost strategy. However, we
immediately took a dive in company ratings and were unable to hit our predicted sales, profits,
and efficiencies in the first graded rounds. For this reason, we strayed from the established
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round following, we found ourselves with more problems because of the choices we had made.
These mistakes included: investing too much in corporate social responsibility initiatives,
dropping prices to drive demand, investing heavily in retailer support, all the while we lost focus
on our operating profit margins. I feel as though each situation we failed at, I came out being
able to review the reports and results to find the reasoning behind what went wrong. I know
without these failures, if instead my team maintained our practice rounds level of success, I
would not understand the relationships in the game as well as I do now. In our failure and
struggle we never reached a place of complacency, but instead found greater drive to understand
the Business Strategy Game, our strategy, and the best means to implement it.


&RUHFRPSHWHQFLHVDUHQWDOZD\VZKDWWKH\initially seem to be

Having looked at various case studies, listened to in-class speakers, and worked on the Business
Strategy Game, I have learned the importance of core competencies LQDEXVLQHVVVWUDWHJ\.
Beyond the base line importance RIKDYLQJDSURFHVVRURXWSXWRQHVEXVLQHVs is superior at,
another less emphasized importance is the reality of explicitly pinpointing the impact of a core
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visible on balance sheets and are known to the buVLQHVVFRQVXPHUV0U6KHIIHUWQRWRQO\
stressed the importance of visible core competencies but the overall importance of data in
business. In his case study the turf company thought that manufacturing their own turf set them
apart from other suppliers. However, this process was not important to consumers and was
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of the company they would have closed their operations for good. However, having taken the
timHWRLGHQWLI\ZKLFKFRUHFRPSHWHQFLHVZHUHHYLGHQWRQWKHFRPSDQ\VILQDncial documents
and to customerVJDYHWUXHLQVLJKWWR0U6KHIIHUWVWHDPDQGHVWDEOLVKHGDPHDQVIRUWKH
company to survive the impacts of the recent recession.


3. Always push to analyze a case study to one level further

When evaluating case studies each week and in minor examples throughout the chapter
readings, ,KDYHOHDUQHGWKHLPSRUWDQFHRIQRWLPPHGLDWHO\DFFHSWLQJ\RXURZQILUVW
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experiences at Anderson Windows, he pointed out that one of the main substitutes for their
windows was not the assumed competitor vinyl windows but it was products outside the
category such as granite counter tops, new shingles on the roof, or a whirlpool tub. In
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4. $JUHDWVWUDWHJ\FDQWEHrealized without precise execution and
smart people

The one thing that every aspect of the course has consistently returned to is the importance of
people in strategy formulation and implementation. Without a strong team or smart people to
properly execute a great strategy it will inevitably falter. Mr. Abdela spoke to his point that
strategy mXVWEHDOLJQHGZLWKDFRPSDQ\VFXOWXUHWREHVXFFHVVIXO Prior to this course, I
thought of culture and strategy as two key components to a business, but as factors that existed
H[FOXVLYHRIRQHDQRWKHU0U$EGHODVH[DPSOHVDERXW$QGHUVRQ:LQGRZVKLJKOLght the
importance of having everyone on the same page; everyone must have the same motivators,
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interpret the strategy in the same way and thus execute it along the same lines. However, this is
easier said than done. In his presentation, Mr. Lindahl said 6WUDWHJ\ZLOODOZD\VWDNHPRUHWLPH
DQGPRUHPRQH\WKDQ\RXH[SHFW Together Mr. Abdellas and Mr. Lindahls points highlight
the ways in which people affect a strategy more than the strategy affects those working to
implement it. Much of whaW0U6KHIIHUWGHVFULEHGDVKLVFRPSDQ\VFRUHFRPSHWHQFLHVIHOOEDFN
on the expertise of his team and their diverse skill sets. On the execution side of things, I have
learned that ideas do not automatically equate success. Much of this is evident in my WHDPV
BSG performance. For the first few rounds we had difficultly realizing the problem was not
necessarily our competitors superiority, but our inability to execute our strategy to the extent
needed to make an impact in the market. This realization makes me think RI0U/LQGDKOV
VWDWHPHQWDERXW*DQGHU0RXQWDLQ,IZHFRXOGQWEXLOGQH[WWRD:DOPDUWDQGEHVXFFHVVIXO
ZHKDGWKHZURQJVWUDWHJ\ I am hoping, since I believe my team has the adequate human
capital to get the job done, we can better execute our strategy in the rounds to come using this
new understanding surrounding the importance of precise execution.


5. How to view entrepreneurship through the Blue Ocean lens

During my study in the Chicago ACM Business, Entrepreneurship, and Society program Fall
2010, I had the opportunity to evaluate and observe the business strategies of entrepreneurial
ventures in various industries and stages of development. However, throughout this experience
I was never explicitly introduced to the Blue Ocean Strategy; even though looking back on it,
many of the businesses we studied explicitly implemented this strategy. In Management Policy
and Strategy this semester, I have not only studied this strategy in our textbook, but viewed
examples of it in our class discussions and from the examples of guest speakers. Mr. Lindahl
introduced me to the ways in which one can actually identify Blue Ocean opportunities, and the
level of dedication it takes to do so. Mr. Lindahl has done so in four industries: healthcare,
cancer research, energy, and lead replacement using tungsten. Listening to his examples of the
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of having long-term strategies. What surprised me most about this comment was his willingness
to invest in a project that was far from being profitable, just because he believed in the long-
term it would be and the early losses would pay off. Similarly, one must understand that being
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above what consumers currently expectVRPHWLPHVIRUFRQVXPHUVJRRGLVDFWXDOO\JRRG
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traction in the market.