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University of Alberta

SMO 641
Business Strategy
Winter, 2015
Section B-1 (2:00-4:50pm)
Section X50 (6:30-9:30pm)
Location: Thursdays room 3-5


Marvin Washington
BUS 4-30F

Office hours: Before class and by appointment

Strategic Management is intended to be a challenging and exciting capstone course for
the MBA curriculum. The material in this course is designed to keep your interest
and attention. In my mind, the glamour of strategizing and managing an organization
down the road of success makes the course exciting to take and fun to teach. I hope
this course will be the best you have ever had and that it will be instrumental in
helping to make you more successful in your career and much wiser about the secrets
of successful management.
The primary objective of this course is to introduce you to the analysis and
formulation of strategic problems and decisions facing managers and leaders. This
class will focus on both the making and execution of business strategy. The diagnosis
of business problems is only a small component of a successful competitive strategy.
Making a particular strategy work, for a specific firm in a particular market, is a
critical and underemphasized element of strategic management. You will be
encouraged and challenged to work through the implementation of any prospective
strategies. To this end, we will analyze cases pertaining to strategic management
issues and discuss a variety of readings on the topic of strategic management
Another objective of this course is to provide you with a final capstone experience to
your MBA career. As such, you will, working in a group environment, analyze a live

organizational strategic case. By live, I mean that a company has volunteered their
organization as a living laboratory complete with history, objectives, problems and
potential solutions. Your job will be to understand their desire, analyze their situation,
and recommend a strategic course of action. To help you with this activity, there will
be a group of co-facilitators who will discuss specific issues of strategic management
(implementation, globalization, finance, marketing, etc.) and act as mentors for your

The last major object of this course is to improve your teamwork skills and your
written and oral communication skills. Contemporary managers are valued not only
for their skills at technical analysis and problem solving, but also for their ability to
communicate their solutions, persuade others of the viability of their insights and
construct creative solutions in a group context. After completing your MBA in general,
and this class in particular, you should be able to think critically in new and
unfamiliar circumstances through the application of conceptual and theoretical
understandings of core business fundamentals. You should also be able to apply
relevant qualitative and quantitative techniques to problem solving.

Successful Organizational Transformation: The five critical
elements. Washington, Hacker & Hacker, 2011. Business
Expert Press.
Course packet of cases to be purchased directly from HBS


There will also be readings from Harvard Business Review.

However, as you get an electronic version of this material for
free, I will not include these articles in your course packet, but
will provide the reference to the articles in the week that they
are assigned. If you want to purchase the pack of readings so
that you can download them here is the link from HBS (there
will be a fee


Understanding Business Strategy: Concepts Plus (3rd edition). Ireland,
Hoskisson, Hitt. 2012 South-Western Publishing.

The Alberta MBA Program curriculum is based on the following set of learning goals:
Business Fundamentals
Teamwork and Leadership Skills
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Communication Skills
Ethical Awareness
Quantitative and Information Processing Skills
Global Awareness

Live Case
Written Report
Final presentation
Evaluation of your team members
Individual exam
Current Event
Class contribution
Reflection paper





Case Analysis
Your exam will be an assessment of your understanding of international strategy. You
will find an international company (company not founded in Canada or the US) and
discuss which city in Canada they would be most successful if they expanded and
which city would they be least successful if they expanded. There can be a maximum
of 3 people in the group. 1000 words maximum (state the # of words on the paper,
references do not count against word count..appendices do), due March 1 9pm
via email to washing@ualberta.ca.
This assignment seeks to achieve the business fundamentals, teamwork and
leadership skills critical thinking and problem solving and the Global Awareness
learning goals.
Current Event
On February 11 or February 25, you will have the opportunity to present your
knowledge about various concepts in the class as they relate to popular media. The
presentation could be about Business Strategy principles found in newspapers (Wall
Street Journal), websites (MSN.com), or business popular press magazines (Business
Week). The assignment will be a 4-6 minute presentation. This is an individual
This assignment seeks to achieve the business fundamentals, critical thinking and
problem solving skills, and communication skills learning goals.

Live Case Project

Individuals (with strong guidelines from the instructor) will work in a group of 5 or 6
members. The project will vary by the company, but all of the companies were told
that their project has to be strategic in nature, has to be integrative across multiple
functional areas (finance, operations, marketing, human relations, etc.) and should be
able to be completed in 10-12 weeks. The teams (and the companies) should expect 3
meetings with their respective organization during the semester. We will have a formal
check-in at least 2 times during the semester where you will get a chance to discuss
aspects of your project in class.
A formal scope document (detailing the deliverables of the project) is due no later than
February 4.

The project report should be no more than 35 pages of text (double-spaced), not
including the appendices. Note all projects must follow research ethics board
guidelines found at

This assignment seeks to achieve the business fundamentals, teamwork and

leadership skills, critical thinking and problem solving, communication skills, ethical
awareness and quantitative and information processing learning goals.
Live Case Report
In addition to the final report, each group with make a formal presentation based
upon their project. The presentation should be 20 minutes long and allow for 5
minutes of questions (25 minutes in total). The presentation should cover the key
elements of the project: the main problem / issue, the analysis, the recommendation,
and the implementation. In addition, the presentation needs to follow a story line
and be creative. Slides and handouts are encouraged (however, be mindful that more
technology does not always lead to a better presentation). The report will be due either
March 31 or April 7
Class Contribution
True learning can only be achieved if each student is actively participating. To
stimulate participation, class contribution will count toward the final grade. As such,
attendance is important as it is your chance to ask questions, learn from the other
students, and integrate the material in the course. I expect that the material will be
read prior to coming to class.
This assignment seeks to achieve the communication skills and critical thinking and
problem solving learning goals.
Evaluation of your Team Members
40% of your grade is determined based on working in a group setting. Thus, each
group member will anonymously evaluate themselves and their group members
performance throughout the semester. Specifically, you will be given $10,000 times
the number of members in your group (if there are 5 members you will have $50,000
to work with). You will be asked to split the money based upon the contribution each
team member made to the group (including yourself). In addition to the monetary
amount, you are also asked to provide a rationale. This will be due April 7 11:59pm
via email to washing@ualberta.ca.
This assignment seeks to achieve the teamwork and leadership skills learning goals.

Reflection Paper
This course is a capstone class, integrating concepts from all of your business courses.
This assignment, 3 pages maximum, gives you a chance to reflect on the learning you
have gained from the class discussion, lectures and assignments.
You are to write, in detail, 3 learnings that you have gained from this class about
strategic management. One of the learnings has to deal with the live case. This is
due March 31 11:59pm. This assignment will be uploaded via ulearn.
This assignment seeks to achieve the critical thinking and problem solving and
communication skills learning goals.
All written assignments should be typed or word-processed, double-spaced, pages
numbers on the bottom, with reasonable fonts and margins (11-12 point, 1), and
stapled in the top left corner. No need for any sort of folders or binders around your
papers, and do keep a back-up copy.

Evaluation will be completed and expressed in raw marks throughout the course. Grades
(using the letter grading system) will be assigned only to the final distribution of mark totals for
the course. Grades will be assigned based on a combination of absolute achievement and
relative performance in this class and remain unofficial until approved by Faculty Council or
its designate (i.e. Associate Dean). Grades below C+ are failures at the Master's level and are
given when there are significant problems with that student's performance in the class. A
passing grade (C+) in this course is 70%. Grading Rubrics for each assignment will be made
available on ulearn. The historical average in the class has been a B+. Approximately 40% of
students in the class receive an A or A+ and approximately 15% of students in the class receive
Attendance in this course is very important. Missing a class has consequences for completing
assignments and preparing for exams. Students who arrive late or are absent from class are
responsible for getting materials and information about the class activities from their
classmates. "Those who choose not to attend must assume whatever risks are involved"
(University of Alberta Calendar, Section 23.3)
Disruptive Behaviour
As per the Code of Student Behaviour, students who are disruptive may be asked to leave. To
ensure a positive learning environment for all, please make sure that your actions do not
disrupt the instructor or other students in the class.
(See the UofA Code of Student Behaviour at
Arrive on time and prepared for class. Chronically arriving late is distracting.
Turn off your cell phone or place ringer on silent. Texting is not permitted during class.
Listen to the instructor during lectures and other students during discussions. Refrain
from off-task conversations that disrupt the learning of yourself and others.
Recording of Lectures
Audio or video recording of lectures, labs, seminars or any other teaching environment by
students is allowed only with the prior consent of the instructor or as a part of an approved
accommodation plan. Recorded material is to be used solely for personal study, and is not to be
used or distributed for any other purpose without prior written consent from the instructor.
Students who require accommodations in this course due to a disability affecting mobility,
vision, learning, or mental or physical health are advised to discuss their needs with
Specialized Support and Disability Services, 2-800 Students Union Building, 780-492-3381
(phone) or 780-492-7269 (TTY).
Final Note

The course outline acts as an agreement between the student and the instructor regarding the
details of the course. Circumstances might develop, during a term, where a change to the
course outline, as set out in 23.4(2)a, makes sense to all concerned. Such changes shall only
occur with fair warning or general class consent. Policy about course outlines can be found in
Section 23.4(2) of the University Calendar.

Academic Integrity and Honesty

The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity
and honesty. Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding
academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect. Students
are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of
Student Behaviour (online at www.ualberta.ca/secretariat/appeals.htm) and avoid any
behaviour which could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism,
misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence. Academic dishonesty is
a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University. (GFC
29 SEP 2003)
30.3.2(1) Plagiarism
No Student shall submit the words, ideas, images or data of another person as the
Students own in any academic writing, essay, thesis, project, assignment,
presentation or poster in a course or program of study.
30.3.2(2) Cheating
30.3.2(2)a No Student shall in the course of an examination or other similar activity,
obtain or attempt to obtain information from another Student or other
unauthorized source, give or attempt to give information to another Student, or
use, attempt to use or possess for the purposes of use any unauthorized material.
30.3.2(2)b No Student shall represent or attempt to represent him or herself as
another or have or attempt to have himself or herself represented by another in the
taking of an examination, preparation of a paper or other similar activity. See also
misrepresentation in 30.3.6(4).
30.3.2(2)c No Student shall represent anothers substantial editorial or compositional
assistance on an assignment as the Students own work.
30.3.2(2)d No Student shall submit in any course or program of study, without the
written approval of the course Instructor, all or a substantial portion of any
academic writing, essay, thesis, research report, project, assignment, presentation
or poster for which credit has previously been obtained by the Student or which
has been or is being submitted by the Student in another course or program of
study in the University or elsewhere.
30.3.2(2)e No Student shall submit in any course or program of study any academic
writing, essay, thesis, report, project, assignment, presentation or poster
containing a statement of fact known by the Student to be false or a reference to a
source the Student knows to contain fabricated claims (unless acknowledged by
the Student), or a fabricated reference to a source.
30.3.6(4) Misrepresentation of Facts
No Student shall misrepresent pertinent facts to any member of the University
community for the purpose of obtaining academic or other advantage. See also
30.3.2(2) b, c, d and e.
The Truth In Education (T*I*E) project is a campus wide educational campaign on Academic Honesty.
an Offence
This programParticipation
was created to letinpeople
know the limits and consequences of inappropriate academic
are helpful
tips for
and Students.
Please take
to visitdirectly
the website
or knowingly
another person in the commission of any offence under this Code.
Amendments to the Code of Student Behaviour occur throughout the year. For the most recent version
of the Code, visit the University Governance website at


Criteria for Written Work

Below is the generic template that I use for evaluating written assignments
(reflection paper, individual exam, current event presentation, group project)
and for presentations.
1) Data
a) Are the facts clearly and correctly presented?
2) Theory
a) Are concepts used from the course to examine the situation?
b) Are the concepts used correctly?
c) Is the terminology used correctly?
3) Creativity
a) Did the concepts correctly explain the situation?
b) Could a different concept have been used have been more relevant?
c) How novel or insightful was the analysis?
d) How are issues of implementation dealt with if recommendations are
4) Written work
a) How clear was the writing?
b) Are there grammatical mistakes?
c) Did the paper comply with page-limits?
5) Presentation
a) Is multi-media used effectively?
i) Slides spelled correctly.
ii) No technological glitches.
iii) Slides easy to read.
b) Did the presentation appear polished?
i) How are transitions handled?
ii) Proper spoken grammar, tone, and speed.


iii) Appropriate "eye contact".

iv) Did the presentation comply with time-limits?


January 7
Kim, W. Chan; Mauborgne, Rene. 2004. Blue Ocean Strategy. Harvard
Business Review, 82 (10): 76-84
Collis, David J.; Rukstad, Michael G.. 2008. Can you say what your strategy is?
Harvard Business Review, 86 (4): 82-90
Martin, Roger L. 2014 The Big Lie of Strategic Planning. Harvard Business
Review, 92 (1/2): 78-84
Kaplan, Robert S. & Norton, David P. 2008 Mastering the Management System.
Harvard Business Review, 86 (1): 62-77
Understanding Business Strategy Chapter 2
Live Project Discussion
Ethics discussion
Class Discussion
o Robin Hood (will be handed out in class)

January 14
Understanding Business Strategy chapter 7 & 9
Sonnenfeld, Jeffrey, Kusin, Melanie & Walton, Elise. 2013. What CEOs really think
of their boards. Harvard Business Review, 91 (4) 98-106.
Garvin, David A. & Levesque, Lynne C. 2008. The multi-unit enterprise. Harvard
Business Review, 86 (6): 106-117
Nolop, Bruce. 2007. Rules to acquire by. Harvard Business Review, 85(9): 129-139
Aiello, Robert J. & Watkins, Michael D. 2000. The fine art of friendly acquisition
Harvard Business Review, 78 (6): 100-107
Bower, Joseph L. 2001. Not all M&As are alike and that matters. Harvard Business
Review, 79 (3): 92-101
Library presentation: Secondary research for your live projects
Live project selection


Understanding Business Strategy chapters 3 & 4
Porter, Michael. The five competitive forces that shape strategy. Harvard
Business Review, 86 (1): 78-93
Ulrich, Dave & Smallwood, Norm. 2004. Capitalizing on Capabilities. Harvard
Business Review, 82 (6) 119-127



Understanding Business Strategy chapter 5 and 6
Christensen, C. M., Raynor, M., & Verlinden, M. 2001. Skate to where the
Money will be. Harvard Business Review. 79 (10): 72-81
Greenwald, Bruce; Kahn, Judd. 2005. All strategy is local. Harvard Business
Review, 83 (9): 94-104
Class Discussion
o A.1. Steak Sauce: Lawrys Defense


Guest Facilitator - Barry Scholnick
February 11 Current Event Presentations
February 18 NO CLASS Reading Week
February 25 Current Event Presentations


Understanding Business Strategy chapter 8
Porter, Michael E.; Kramer, Mark R. 2006. Strategy and society. Harvard
Business Review, 84 (12): 78-92
Bradach, Jeffrey L.; Tierney, Thomas J.; Stone, Nan. 2008. Delivering on the
promise of non-profits. Harvard Business Review, 86 (12,): 88-97
Rangan, V. Kasturi. 2004. Lofty missions, down-to-earth plans. Harvard
Business Review, 82 (3): 112-119
Class Discussion
o Newfoundland Center for Arts


Case Discussion
o Botswana: A Diamond in the rough
March 17
Understanding Business Strategy Chapter 1
Successful Organizational Transformation. Pgs. 1-41


Kotter, John P. 2001. What leaders really do. Harvard Business Review, 79 (11):
Hamm, John. 2006. The five messages leaders must manage. Harvard Business
Review, 84 (5): 114-123
Case Discussion
o Lululemon case


Successful Organizational Transformation. Pgs. 43-88
Case Discussion
o Lululemon revisited

March 31


April 7