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This assignment relay on Oman Cement Company in Sultanate of Oman. The Assignment should be Focus: Challenges facing directors, senior managers and entrepreneurs in guiding the long-term development of their organisations and this requires the ability to distinguish strategic thinking from operational issues.developing competitive strategies to meet the aims and objectives of the organisation and to meet the challenges presented by its competitive environment and in the light of the new digital and use appropriate tools and frameworksdraw upon current research to generate meaningful analysis and from this critically evaluate a range of strategic options is crucial to the development of strategy, and the development of this ability is central to the unit >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 1. conduct appropriate analysis of the strategic condition and position of an organisation. 2. use appropriate tools and frameworks to identify the potential strategic options available to an organisation. 3. conduct appropriate evaluation procedures to establish the suitability, feasibility and acceptability of potential options. 4. formulate strategies which ensure a fit between internal resources and external conditions for the achievement of long-term viability and competitive advantage. Key words: 1. Basic concepts and language of strategy 2. Business strategy 3. External environment 4. Internal environment 5. Strategic options 6. Evaluation of strategic options tools and frameworks of strategy to perform a meaningful analysis to generate coherent strategic options and choice. Select and apply a range of strategy tools, concepts and frameworks appropriate to analyse unstructured problems presented by the external and internal business environment. Enquiry: Businesses operate in dynamic and competitive environments that require managers to develop the skills necessary in order to understand issues that are likely to be complex and unstructured. In addition, the need to differentiate requires the skilful design of strategy. This unit aims to extend your ability in active enquiry in order to develop your understanding of the tools and frameworks of strategy which are designed to enable you to make judgements about current and future scenarios and from this to develop realistic strategic options and justify your choice of action. Contextual understanding: This unit aims to develop your ability to analyse complex situations, evaluate the success of company’s strategies and to make recommendations about the strategic options. In order to do this successfully you need to be able to apply both strategic thinking in order to assess the future impact of external developments. The ability to assess future scenarios and from these create realistic strategic options is a skill that managers will need to develop as markets and industries become ever more dynamic Collaboration: The strategy process is fundamentally a collaborative one from which idea generation and analysis can be both interpretative and rigorous. This is an approach that is fundamental to the ‘strategy conversation’. In this unit you will work with colleagues in order to analyse evaluate and create. This process will be an essential part of the structured learning sessions and also as part of the assignment preparation. Enterprise: Enterprise in this context is taken to mean developing the ability to critically analyse complex and often unstructured issues and through this analysis develop the ability to evaluate current strategies and generate and evaluate potential future strategies appropriate for the needs of the firm. The Task: Is to produce a management report providing strategic solutions for an issue that you have identified and defined drawn from your own organisation or strategic business unit. The solution(s) should be based on thorough analysis and should involve critical evaluation of a range of potential solutions. The emphasis must aim to achieve competitive advantage. The choice of the final strategic decision should be justified and evidenced. The solutions must not be descriptive of what the organisation is actually doing but analytical and proposing what it could and should do. This may be different to the actual decisions made by your organisation Which approach you take depends on the circumstances of your organisation. Need to:  Adequately evaluate a range of strategic scenarios based on your analysis in order to develop some strategic options and to recommend and a preferred strategic option.  Show some independence of thought in evaluating the usefulness of theory in practice applied to a live consultancy project or a simulated task of running a business, monitoring performance and adjusting decisions in the light of the success or failure in a competitive environment.  Research, select and use a limited range of appropriate methods to develop a preferred strategic option and show the ability to justify the choice based on your analysis. *** Words count = 4000 words. *** In-Text Citations and References using Harvard style. *** References should be at least 23 references. *** I’ve uploaded attachments related to this assignment.


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It’s a dirty little secret: Most
executives cannot articulate
the objective, scope, and
advantage of their business in
a simple statement. If they
can’t, neither can anyone else.
Can You Say What
Your Strategy Is?
by David J. Collis and Michael G. Rukstad
Reprint R0804E
It’s a dirty little secret: Most executives cannot articulate the objective,
scope, and advantage of their business in a simple statement. If they
can’t, neither can anyone else.
Can You Say What
Your Strategy Is?
by David J. Collis and Michael G. Rukstad
Can you summarize your company’s strategy
in 35 words or less? If so, would your colleagues put it the same way?
It is our experience that very few executives
can honestly answer these simple questions in
the affirmative. And the companies that those
executives work for are often the most
successful in their industry. One is Edward
Jones, a St. Louis–based brokerage firm with
which one of us has been involved for more
than 10 years. The fourth-largest brokerage in
the United States, Jones has quadrupled its
market share during the past two decades, has
consistently outperformed its rivals in terms
of ROI through bull and bear markets, and
has been a fixture on Fortune’s list of the top
companies to work for. It’s a safe bet that
just about every one of its 37,000 employees
could express the company’s succinct strategy
statement: Jones aims to “grow to 17,000 financial advisers by 2012 [from about 10,000
today] by offering trusted and convenient
face-to-face financial advice to conservative
individual investors who delegate their finanharvard business review • april 2008
cial decisions, through a national network of
one-financial-adviser offices.”
Conversely, companies that don’t have a
simple and clear statement of strategy are
likely to fall into the sorry category of those
that have failed to execute their strategy or,
worse, those that never even had one. In an
astonishing number of organizations, executives, frontline employees, and all those in
between are frustrated because no clear
strategy exists for the company or its lines
of business. The kinds of complaints that
abound in such firms include:
• “I try for months to get an initiative off
the ground, and then it is shut down because
‘it doesn’t fit the strategy.’ Why didn’t anyone
tell me that at the beginning?”
• “I don’t know whether I should be pursuing this market opportunity. I get mixed signals from the powers that be.”
• “Why are we bidding on this customer’s
business again? We lost it last year, and I
thought we agreed then not to waste our time
chasing the contract!”
page 1
Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?
David J. Collis ([email protected]) is an
adjunct professor in the strategy unit
of Harvard Business School in Boston
and the author of several books on
corporate strategy. He has studied and
consulted to Edward Jones, the brokerage that is the main example in this
article, and has taught in the firm’s
management-development program.
Michael G. Rukstad was a senior
research fellow at Harvard Business
School, where he taught for many
years until his untimely death in 2006.
harvard business review • april 2008
• “Should I cut the price for this customer?
I don’t know if we would be better off winning the deal at a lower price or just losing
the business.”
Leaders of firms are mystified when what
they thought was a beautifully crafted strategy
is never implemented. They assume that
the initiatives described in the voluminous
documentation that emerges from an annual
budget or a strategic-planning process will
ensure competitive success. They fail to appreciate the necessity of having a simple,
clear, succinct strategy statement that everyone can internalize and use as a guiding light
for making difficult choices.
Think of a major business as a mound of
10,000 iron filings, each one representing an
employee. If you scoop up that many filings
and drop them onto a piece of paper, they’ll
be pointing in every direction. It will be a big
mess: 10,000 smart people working hard and
making what they think are the right decisions for the company—but with the net
result of confusion. Engineers in the R&D
department are creating a product with “must
have” features for which (as the marketing
group could have told them) customers will
not pay; the sales force is selling customers on
quick turnaround times and customized offerings even though the manufacturing group
has just invested in equipment designed for
long production runs; and so on.
If you pass a magnet over those filings,
what happens? They line up. Similarly, a
well-understood statement of strategy aligns
behavior within the business. It allows everyone in the organization to make individual
choices that reinforce one another, rendering those 10,000 employees exponentially
more effective.
What goes into a good statement of strategy? Michael Porter’s seminal article “What Is
Strategy?” (HBR November–December 1996)
lays out the characteristics of strategy in a
conceptual fashion, conveying the essence of
strategic choices and distinguishing them
from the relentless but competitively fruitless
search for operational efficiency. However, we
have found in our work both with executives
and with students that Porter’s article does
not answer the more basic question of how to
describe a particular firm’s strategy.
It is a dirty little secret that most executives
don’t actually know what all the elements of
a strategy statement are, which makes it
impossible for them to develop one. With a
clear definition, though, two things happen:
First, formulation becomes infinitely easier
because executives know what they are trying
to create. Second, implementation becomes
much simpler because the strategy’s essence
can be readily communicated and easily internalized by everyone in the organization.
Elements of a Strategy Statement
The late Mike Rukstad, who contributed enormously to this article, identified three critical
components of a good strategy statement—
objective, scope, and advantage—and rightly
believed that executives should be forced to
be crystal clear about them. These elements
are a simple yet sufficient list for any strategy
(whether business or military) that addresses
competitive interaction over unbounded terrain.
Any strategy statement must begin with a
definition of the ends that the strategy is designed to achieve. “If you don’t know where
you are going, any road will get you there” is
the appropriate maxim here. If a nation has
an unclear sense of what it seeks to achieve
from a military campaign, how can it have a
hope of attaining its goal? The definition of
the objective should include not only an end
point but also a time frame for reaching it. A
strategy to get U.S. troops out of Iraq at some
distant point in the future would be very different from a strategy to bring them home
within two years.
Since most firms compete in a more or less
unbounded landscape, it is also crucial to
define the scope, or domain, of the business:
the part of the landscape in which the firm
will operate. What are the boundaries beyond
which it will not venture? If you are planning
to enter the restaurant business, will you
provide sit-down or quick service? A casual or
an upscale atmosphere? What type of food
will you offer—French or Mexican? What geographic area will you serve—the Midwest or
the East Coast?
Alone, these two aspects of strategy are
insufficient. You could go into business tomorrow with the goal of becoming the world’s
largest hamburger chain within 10 years. But
will anyone invest in your company if you
have not explained how you are going to
reach your objective? Your competitive advantage is the essence of your strategy: What
page 2
Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?
your business will do differently from or better
than others defines the all-important means by
which you will achieve your stated objective.
That advantage has complementary external
and internal components: a value proposition
that explains why the targeted customer
should buy your product above all the alternatives, and a description of how internal activities must be aligned so that only your firm
can deliver that value proposition.
Defining the objective, scope, and advantage
requires trade-offs, which Porter identified as
fundamental to strategy. If a firm chooses to
pursue growth or size, it must accept that
profitability will take a back seat. If it chooses
to serve institutional clients, it may ignore
retail customers. If the value proposition is
lower prices, the company will not be able
to compete on, for example, fashion or fit.
Finally, if the advantage comes from scale
economies, the firm will not be able to accommodate idiosyncratic customer needs. Such
trade-offs are what distinguish individual
companies strategically.
Defining the Objective
The first element of a strategy statement is
the one that most companies have in some
A Hierarchy of Company Statements
Organizational direction comes in several forms. The mission statement is your
loftiest guiding light—and your least specific. As you work your way down the
hierarchy, the statements become more concrete, practical, and ultimately
unique. No other company will have the same strategy statement, which defines
your competitive advantage, or balanced scorecard, which tracks how you implement your particular strategy.
Why we exist
What we believe in
and how we will behave
What we want to be
What our competitive
game plan will be
How we will monitor
and implement that plan
harvard business review • april 2008
of a Strategy
SCOPE = Domain
form or other. Unfortunately, the form is
usually wrong. Companies tend to confuse
their statement of values or their mission with
their strategic objective. A strategic objective
is not, for example, the platitude of “maximizing shareholder wealth by exceeding customer
expectations for _______ [insert product or
service here] and providing opportunities for
our employees to lead fulfilling lives while
respecting the environment and the communities in which we operate.” Rather, it is the
single precise objective that will drive the
business over the next five years or so. (See
the exhibit “A Hierarchy of Company Statements.”) Many companies do have—and all
firms should have—statements of their ultimate
purpose and the ethical values under which
they will operate, but neither of these is the
strategic objective.
The mission statement spells out the underlying motivation for being in business in
the first place—the contribution to society
that the firm aspires to make. (An insurance
company, for example, might define its
mission as providing financial security to
consumers.) Such statements, however, are
not useful as strategic goals to drive today’s
business decisions. Similarly, it is good and
proper that firms be clear with employees
about ethical values. But principles such as
respecting individual differences and sustaining the environment are not strategic. They
govern how employees should behave (“doing
things right”); they do not guide what the
firm should do (“the right thing to do”).
Firms in the same business often have the
same mission. (Don’t all insurance companies
aspire to provide financial security to their
customers?) They may also have the same
values. They might even share a vision: an
indeterminate future goal such as being the
“recognized leader in the insurance field.”
However, it is unlikely that even two companies in the same business will have the same
strategic objective. Indeed, if your firm’s strategy can be applied to any other firm, you
don’t have a very good one.
It is always easy to claim that maximizing
shareholder value is the company’s objective.
In some sense all strategies are designed to
do this. However, the question to ask when
creating an actionable strategic statement is,
Which objective is most likely to maximize
shareholder value over the next several years?
page 3
Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?
(Growth? Achieving a certain market share?
Becoming the market leader?) The strategic
objective should be specific, measurable, and
time bound. It should also be a single goal.
It is not sufficient to say, “We seek to grow
profitably.” Which matters more—growth or
profitability? A salesperson needs to know the
answer when she’s deciding how aggressive
to be on price. There could well be a host of
subordinate goals that follow from the strategic
objective, and these might serve as metrics on
a balanced scorecard that monitors progress
for which individuals will be held accountable. Yet the ultimate objective that will drive
the operation of the business over the next
several years should always be clear.
The choice of objective has a profound
impact on a firm. When Boeing shifted its
primary goal from being the largest player
in the aircraft industry to being the most profitable, it had to restructure the entire organization, from sales to manufacturing. For
example, the company dropped its policy of
competing with Airbus to the last cent on
every deal and abandoned its commitment
to maintain a manufacturing capacity that
could deliver more than half a peak year’s
demand for planes.
Another company, after years of seeking to
maximize profits at the expense of growth,
issued a corporate mandate to generate at
least 10% organic growth per year. The
change in strategy forced the firm to switch its
focus from shrinking to serve only its profitable core customers and competing on the
basis of cost or efficiency to differentiating
its products, which led to a host of new product features and services that appealed to a
wider set of customers.
At Edward Jones, discussion among the
partners about the firm’s objective ignited a
passionate exchange. One said, “Our ultimate
objective has to be maximizing profit per
partner.” Another responded, “Not all financial advisers are partners—so if we maximize
revenue per partner, we are ignoring the
other 30,000-plus people who make the
business work!” Another added, “Our ultimate
customer is the client. We cannot just worry
about partner profits. In fact, we should start
by maximizing value for the customer and
let the profits flow to us from there!” And so
on. This intense debate not only drove alignment with the objective of healthy growth
harvard business review • april 2008
in the number of financial advisers but also
ensured that every implication of that choice
was fully explored. Setting an ambitious
growth target at each point in its 85-year
history, Edward Jones has continually increased
its scale and market presence. Striving to
achieve such growth has increased long-term
profit per adviser and led the firm to its unique
configuration: Its only profit center is the
individual financial adviser. Other activities,
even investment banking, serve as support
functions and are not held accountable for
generating profit.
Defining the Scope
A firm’s scope encompasses three dimensions:
customer or offering, geographic location,
and vertical integration. Clearly defined
boundaries in those areas should make it
obvious to managers which activities they
should concentrate on and, more important,
which they should not do.
The three dimensions may vary in relevance. For Edward Jones, the most important
is the customer. The firm is configured to
meet the needs of one very specific type of
client. Unlike just about every other brokerage
in the business, Jones does not define its
archetypal customer by net worth or income.
Nor does it use demographics, profession,
or spending habits. Rather, the definition is
psychographic: The company’s customers are
long-term investors who have a conservative
investment philosophy and are uncomfortable making serious financial decisions without the support of a trusted adviser. In the
terminology of the business, Jones targets
the “delegator,” not the “validator” or the
The scope of an enterprise does not prescribe exactly what should be done within
the specified bounds. In fact, it encourages
experimentation and initiative. But to ensure
that the borders are clear to all employees,
the scope should specify where the firm or
business will not go. That will prevent managers from spending long hours on projects that
get turned down by higher-ups because they
do not fit the strategy.
For example, clarity about who the customer is and who it is not has kept Edward
Jones from pursuing day traders. Even at the
height of the internet bubble, the company
chose not to introduce online trading (it is
page 4
Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?
still not available to Jones customers). Unlike
the many brokerages that committed hundreds
of millions of dollars and endless executive
hours to debates over whether to introduce
online trading (and if so, how to price and
position it in a way that did not cannibalize
or conflict with traditional offerings), Jones
wasted no money or time on that decision
because it had set clear boundaries.
Similarly, Jones is not vertically integrated
into proprietary mutual funds, so as not to
violate the independence of its financial advisers and undermine clients’ trust. Nor will
the company offer penny stocks, shares from
IPOs, commodities, or options—investment
products that it believes are too risky for the
conservative clients it chooses to serve. And it
does not have metropolitan offices in business
districts, because they would not allow for the
convenient, face-to-face interactions in casual
settings that the firm seeks to provide. Knowing not to extend its scope in these directions
has allowed the firm to focus on doing what it
does well and reap the benefits of simplicity,
standardization, and deep experience.
Defining the Advantage
Wal-Mart’s Value Proposition
Wal-Mart’s value proposition can be summed up as “everyday low prices for a broad
range of goods that are always in stock in convenient geographic locations.” It is
those aspects of the customer experience that the company overdelivers relative to
competitors. Underperformance on other dimensions, such as ambience and sales
help, is a strategic choice that generates cost savings, which fuel the company’s
price advantage.
If the local mom-and-pop hardware store has survived, it also has a value proposition: convenience, proprietors who have known you for years, free coffee and
doughnuts on Saturday mornings, and so on.
Sears falls in the middle on many criteria. As a result, customers lack a lot of compelling reasons to shop there, which goes a long way toward explaining why the
company is struggling to remain profitable.
purchase criteria*
Mom & pop
Low prices
Selection across
Rural convenience
Reliable prices
Merchandise quality
Selection within
Sales help
Delivery on criteria
* in approximate order of
importance to Wal-Mart’s
target customer group
Source: Jan Rivkin, Harvard Business School
harvard business review • april 2008
Given that a sustainable competitive advantage is the essence of strategy, it should be
no surprise that advantage is the most critical
aspect of a strategy statement. Clarity about
what makes the firm distinctive is what most
helps employees understand how they can
contribute to successful execution of its strategy.
As mentioned above, the complete definition of a firm’s competitive advantage consists
of two parts. The first is a statement of the
customer value proposition. Any strategy
statement that cannot e …
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