strategic thinking and the principle of manoeuvring
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strategic thinking and the principle of manoeuvring
In semester 1 you have been asked to consider what is ‘strategy’ and more specifically what is ‘business strategy’. We have emphasized the importance of considering time and space in strategic thinking and the principle of manoeuvring against an opponent or opponents. This assignment encourages you to apply strategic thinking to your essay. The ambition of the module team for you is to become strategically critical.
Select a company (or organization) of your choice. Investigate this company and its history and identify its key strategic moves over a defined period of time.
You may use any published case-study or build your own case from secondary data, from any source. Always state your source material through full referencing.
Tip: Don’t try to analyse a multi-national corporate like McDonald’s, Apple, Google and attempt to analyse everything that has happened everywhere and every-when. If you use such companies….. fine, but focus your analysis on ‘parts’ of the companies’ operations.
Tip: Using a small company can be as useful as analysing a large and well known multinational.
Tip: don’t just pick the company who makes your phone or computer because it’s convenient and familiar… give the choice of company some thought.
Tip: pick a case where something strategically interesting has happened, failure is as interesting as success. If you pick a case where there has been ten years of stability, what is there to analyse?
There are 5 elements to the answer, but these don not necessarily have to be answered in discreet sections, they denote only the mark weightings.
- Briefly identify the boundaries (strategic space) in which your analysis is taking place… for instance which markets, which industries, which strategic groups. (10%)
Reminder, Markets form the demand conditions a firm sells into, industries form the supply conditions they produce in.
- Briefly identify the time period, or periods in which you think something strategically interesting happened. Define those periods as phases, episodes and events and argue why they are important. (5%)
Tip: use a simple timeline chart and map out chronologically the key periods, and you can then indicate which period/periods you are analysing in-depth. Clearly state the start and end point of your analysis, gives dates
Whilst parts 1 &2 carry low weighting, if you do these well, the rest of the analysis makes sense. Without this you fall fowl of the everywhere and every-when trap.
- What were the key environmental challenges the firm was addressing? (10%)
Tip: don’t provide a complete SWOT analysis, focus on the key strategic issues, and crucially, why they are key.
Don’t struggle too much with internal factors, these are often hidden and difficult to unpick for an outsider looking in.
- Characterize their competitive strategy drawing on models and ideas of your choice. (30%)
Tip: Think both defensive and offensive,
What was their position in relation to the market, leader or follower?
Could you use military metaphor here to describe it?
Tip: Remember strategic groups and positioning.
- Using the principles of the Ansoff Matrix, identify the moves made, and the methods used for those moves in the chosen time and space. (45%)
The Ansoff matrix is not perfect, use it critically (see the worked example in the lecture).
Tip: Think Chess, nothing strategically interesting happens in one move. Think about ‘strategic manoeuvring’. What did A do, what did B do in response to A, then what did A do next…… and so on.
Methods can be not just used to take a product/service into a new market, but can also take parts of the value chain to different locations.
2500 words, excluding charts, tables, diagrams and bibliography.
Hand-in date December 20th
Provide all sources of data for your case as well as academic references.
You can use any amount of charts tables and diagrams to supplement your analysis. Leave these in the document, don’t hide them in an appendix . We give great credit for being able to present strategic analysis using charts, tables and diagrams. You are not limited to what we have taught you and what others have used before you. Create your own models if needed. One model may be used in more than one section, but present it once, give it a number, and refer back to it in later sections. Put another way, one worked example in a model can illustrate more than one point.
Building a case study
Draw on any sources of information to build you case, but remember that these must be referenced. There is a distinction between contextual information, (news reports, company reports, articles, video clips etc.) and academic literature, (the theory ideas, concepts…. Tools) you apply to analyse the case. These should be from good credible sources of information (books, journals).
Unacceptable Unsatisfactory (Refer if required) Pass Fair Good Very Good Excellent Outstanding Tutors to create assessment-task specific criteria eg 0-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69 70-79 80-89 90-100 Part 1 Define the strategic space (10%) There is no clear definition of industry, market or strategic groups defined in the chosen case. Falls fowl of the everywhere and every-when strategic analysis trap. Has some attempt to define the space but blurs boundaries between industries and markets Reasonably clear definition of industry and market space which shapes the remainder of the analysis. Demonstrates a clear understanding of the key boundaries of analysis, appreciating different geographic, psychographic and demographic dimensions Develops both a mature market and industry analysis, demonstrating critical insight into these definitions May also appreciate space as a position in a global value chain Achieves deep critical insight evident possibly offering different definitions of the competitive space and drawing on concepts not introduced in the module. Potentially new definitions of industries markets offered. Deep critical insight using a significant range of credible literature sources and with some original insights drawn. Demonstrates mastery of the complex nature of competitive space Exceptional mastery of complex and changing strategic space Part 2 Define the key time frames in the case. (5%) There is no clear definition of time periods defined in the chosen case. Falls fowl of the everywhere and every-when strategic analysis trap. Some definition of time periods but too broad and vague to make subsequent analysis meaningful Has some attempt to define the time periods but does not fully identify the key phases in a way that makes the subsequent analysis clear. Lacking use of core tools within each time period. Identifies the time periods then the analysis doesn’t fit within them Clear periods identified and models and ideas used well within each time period. Clear use of models and tools within the analysis. Advanced use of models to identify multiple, potentially overlapping time periods in different spaces. Moves away from the single linear model of strategy in a single space over time. Achieves deep critical insight evident possibly offering different definitions of the competitive space and drawing on concepts not introduced in the module. Deep critical insight using a significant range of credible literature sources and with some original insights drawn. Demonstrates mastery of the complex nature of competitive time and space Exceptional mastery of complex and changing strategic time & space context Part 3 Identify the key environmental challenges (10%) No real challenges for the named company identified. Shows no effort to research and investigate a contemporary problem (or up to the chosen end point of the analysis) Some definition of the key challenges but not presented in terms of opportunities and threats Has presented a laundry list of SWOT factors and not identified the key factors. Potentially misses the industry environment factors Has presented the key factors but not defended why they are key. Provides analysis of both narrow and broad environmental factors Has identified key factors and has provided justification and has used analysis beyond a naïve SWOT, potentially TOWS and LongPEST and 5 Forces, potentially EFAS Achieves deep critical insight evident possibly offering deep and contemporary insight into the chosen context and drawing on concepts not introduced in the module. Deep critical insight using a significant range of credible literature sources and with some original insights drawn, potentially showing a take on the challenges for the company not obtainable from secondary information Exceptional mastery of complex and changing strategic environments Part 4 Identify directions and methods (45%) No real evidence of understanding strategic manoeuvring offered. Doesn’t demonstrate understanding of strategic process, and doesn’t identify methods used to advance in directions Some basic attempt to identify key market moves, new product developments, but merely states without understanding the implications. Uses the core principles of the Ansoff matrix to plot the key directions and has some discussion of methods. Uses the Ansoff non-critically and doesn’t fit within the time periods identified in part 2. Develops an understanding of move and counter move by opponents. Shows key moves clearly in time periods and has a solid understanding of the methods and why those methods were used. Advanced analysis and presentation skills to illustrate multiple plays in multiple periods. Uses Ansoff critically potentially splitting out different dimensions and space and shows and evolving strategy. Achieves deep critical insight evident possibly offering a critique of whether moves were the right ones or not. Offers support for their contentions Deep critical insight using a significant range of credible literature sources and with some original insights drawn, potentially showing a take on the challenges for the company not obtainable from secondary information Exceptional mastery of complex and changing strategic manoeuvre methods and underpinning reasons, mistakes made and success gained, and why. Part 5 Identify the competitive strategy (30% No real evidence of understanding that strategy takes place in the context of competitors Some basic attempt to identify competitors but these are not analysed or compared from strengths and weaknesses. Competitors identified and some attempt to perform analysis such as strategic group analysis performed Develops an understanding of move and counter move by opponents. Shows key competitive responses clearly in time periods. Enters into discussion of whether leadership of follower strategy was being played out potentially drawing on generic strategies Advanced analysis and presentation skills to illustrate that each move analysed in section 4 is made in the face of opposition Achieves deep critical insight evident possibly offering a critique of whether moves were the right ones or not. Offers support for their contentions Deep critical insight using a significant range of credible literature sources and with some original insights drawn, potentially showing a take on the challenges for the company not obtainable from secondary information Exceptional mastery of complex and changing Competitive strategy evident