10th MBA class - almost there!

Great start on my 10th class in the MBA in Global Management program; this class is really interesting and the concepts we started to discuss this week are very useful to any business leader. I find it very surprising sometimes that strategy is something all business people talk about but not everyone understands it well. There seems to be a lot of confusion between strategy and tactic, and about what is strategic planning and what is just strategy implementation. I liked the textbook's approach to the concept, and liked very much all discussions we had in the discussion questions' threads.

From the readings, I liked the comparison in on the differences between the 20th Century and the 21st Century approach to business; it is very enlightening on one side and a confirmation of what we see every day on the other. It is also shows the important changes in organizations and the way of doing business with the new paradigms of globalization and light-speed communication. Nowadays things change very quickly, as we have seen in the last few months, and the challenge for leaders is to embrace change and lead organizations to successfully face it. In fact, chapter 10 is great on the skills a good leader needs to manage strategic change in businesses, by taking in consideration the organizational culture.

A great discussion we had in class was about social responsibility; no doubt, a hot topic today given the tough times we face. Amongst the new trends for components of corporate mission, I learned about the sensitivity of customer wishes and concerns for quality, and the discussion also showed the importance of incorporating social responsibility too. Social responsibility includes economic, legal, ethical and discretionary responsibilities. Also interesting the arguments by Milton Friedman against CSR; for me it is a view with myopia; in the long term, a business that acts without social responsibility is going against stockholders interests anyway, and wealth maximization would work only on the short run.

The second week had a nice simulation provided by the university; it was a complete planning exercise starting with information gathering to build a SWOT analysis. It was the first time I used a tool that allowed matching the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and select strategies that could be used to address weaknesses and threats and explore opportunities and strengths. In the real life, I think it is possible to create an Excel model that can do the same; listing Ss, Ws, Os and Ts in a table and strategies in another, and then attributing a weight on each strategy in how it relates to each of the letters, it is possible to make a strategy selection using a mathematical model. Very interesting.

The discussion questions were also excellent; the discussions helped to consolidate the topics of industry analysis and the global environment. A firm needs to pay attention to the environment and to its internal strengths and weaknesses in order to be able to have a good strategic plan; industry analysis is something a firm cannot neglect. Regarding the global environment, companies today need to scan it constantly since a mesh of relationships with customers and suppliers is so globalized that national borders lose meaning in the economic context. A firm, even if it operates only “locally” or “within borders”, needs to include global environmental scanning to have good strategic planning.

The week was also intense in the learning team, with the research for the strategic adaptability paper. Strategic Adaptability is a very interesting matter; I liked the comparison my team did with Charles Darwin theory of evolution: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”