Analyze a company’s strategic position and conduct SWOT analysis.
Analyze a company’s financial performance and determine a modified strategy.
Analysis and interpretation of financial statements (n.d.).
Henderson, R. M., Conkling, J., & Roberts, S. (2007). MIT Sloan Management.
Rehman, A. (2014, March 24). Accounting for Management.com Cost-Volume-Profit Relationship (CVP Analysis).
Sterman, J. (2014). Eclipsing the competition: The Solar PV industry simulation. Forio.
Sveiby, K-E. (2010). Methods for measuring intangible assets.
Module 1 – Home
Modular Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this module, the student will be able to satisfy the following outcomes:
Determine possible changes to a company’s strategy using a strategic review.
Analyze a company’s performance and use appropriate theories to develop a pricing and product strategy. Discuss the Open System Theory.
An important tip for success in this final course is to read everything carefully.
READ THE SYLLABUS – It will give you a good Course Overview of what you will be doing in the Case and SLP assignments and in the TDs. Also, by knowing what the Course Outcomes are, you will have a better understanding of your end goals and what you need to do to get there. Review the Course Requirements, in particular the description of the Case Assignment (Case Study).
SCAN THROUGH THE COURSE – You will get a better idea of what you will be doing and how the various assignments integrate knowledge. Look for ways you can optimize your research of your chosen organization. Pay attention to the Module Outcomes: they provide the goals of the assignments.
REVIEW YOUR PREVIOUS KNOWLEDGE – You may need to go back to earlier courses to review analytical tools and models (such as calculating key financial ratios, economic theory concerning supply-and-demand, models of marketing mix, product life cycle, etc.). In addition, there are many sites on the Internet that can serve to refresh your memory. You will be expected to draw upon your knowledge of Organizational Behavior, Marketing, Information Systems, Strategy, Economics, Finance, Accounting, Production/Operations, and Statistics.
DEMONSTRATE YOUR ABILITY to do the kind of analysis that employers expect when they hire MBAs. Think of these assignments not so much as “homework” assignments, but as a sample of the type of work MBAs are asked to do in private business every day. See your audience not as a professor and the outcome as a grade, but the audience as top management and the outcome a promotion. This should give you a better idea of the quality of analysis we are looking for in this class. In other words, the quality of your work should equal the quality of the final product you would give to your employer as a newly hired MBA.
USE CRITICAL THINKING when doing the assignments for the Case (and also the SLP). Demonstrate good Critical Thinking (Precision, Breadth, Depth, and Clarity); use good grammar and spelling; and cite your sources appropriately. If you need more information on critical thinking (definition, process, outcomes)
FORMATTING – Review the Well-Written Paper guide that is embedded within this course. This guide was compiled as a reminder that the writing standards for graduate level work are well beyond any that you may have become familiar with in most undergraduate programs. To this extent, the aforementioned guide provides useful information concerning key and critical writing requirements, including the use of Times New Roman 12 point font, proper use of APA Style, double spacing of papers, appropriate use of section headings, and proofreading for syntax, spelling, and punctuation errors.
USE OF SECTION HEADINGS – I require (and insist upon) the use of section headings in all papers. For instance, in this particular assignment, you might use a separate section heading for each of the major requirements, and then fill in the white space with your response(s). Minimally, each major requirement of the assignment should constitute a major section of your paper (other major sections should include the Introduction, Conclusion, and References sections). Restated, each major section of your papers must include section headings – which must be clearly set apart from the rest of the text constituting the body of the paper (i.e., use italicized, bolded, or underlined font).
APPLICATION OF THE THEORY – You need to bring in the business theory you have learned throughout the program, and clearly show how it applies to the Case and/or SLP. Application of theory is not only important in this course, it is critical. Throughout the MBA program, you will be required to demonstrate that: 1) You have read the theory; 2) You understand the theory; and 3) You are able to apply it appropriately to the organization at issue. Application of business and organization theory is central to the MBA process.
RESPONSIVENESS TO REQUIREMENTS – Respond clearly, directly, and fully to all requirements (this is the “Precision” criterion upon which your work is in large part graded). This is the only means by which I can be assured that you have read, understood, and (most importantly) can apply the theory. It is always best that you respond to the requirements in succession.
LENGTH REQUIREMENTS – It is critical that you adhere fully to minimum length requirements, and if possible, exceed them. However, meeting length requirements by no means “guarantees” an A-level paper.
PROOFREAD – Graduate-level papers require advanced critical analysis. In addition, the MBA program requires that business students write formally and expertly. Therefore, careful proofreading is required. A poorly formatted paper and/or syntax and spelling errors will distract the reader from what you are trying to convey. As stated above, treat each assignment as if you are presenting a project to the CEO of your company.
Module 1 – Background
OVERVIEW OF CASES
The Integrative Case Project (which you learn more about in the Case) focuses mainly on using Organizational Diagnosis (OD) models to analyze Whole Foods Market. For purposes of the Case studies, you will assume the role of a consultant for the Excellent Consulting Group. You will need to study Whole Foods Market and prepare reports for your boss, Art Epance, who is the Senior Project Manager at the Excellent Consulting Group. Essentially, the ABC Company has determined that it will require an outside review of Whole Foods Market to assist the company in determining how to proceed relative to integrating Whole Foods Market into ABC Company.
Each Case will be a separate analysis task in which you will prepare a report. The details of these assignments are explained in the Case assignments in each module.
The four cases in this course include the following:
Case 1 – Strategic Review of Whole Foods Market.
Case 2 – An analysis of Organizational Diagnostic models and identifying a model to use for diagnosing Whole Foods Market.
Case 3 – Diagnosing the Inputs and fit with the strategy of Whole Foods Market, as well as the Outputs and Performance of Whole Foods Market.
Case 4- Analyzing critical feedback loops and the opportunities for organizational learning at Whole Foods Market.
The SLP for this course involves participating in a simulation exercise. Unlike cases, which are static, simulations are interactive and you can see the results of your decisions. Additionally, you can repeat the simulation to improve the quality of your decisions.
GENERAL SLP SCENARIO:
The 4-module SLP sequence for BUS599 requires that you run a simulation over an 18-year period, and that you analyze the outcome of the decisions you make at each decision point.
In this course, we will be using the MIT Solar Power Pricing Simulation.
The Industry Evolution Management Flight Simulator portrays the growth and competition of firms as an industry evolves. Playing the role of chief executive for one of the firms in the industry, you make key decisions involving pricing, investment and marketing in order to succeed in the marketplace.
This version of the simulator has been customized to portray the solar power industry, specifically SunPower and other manufacturers of photovoltaic panels (PVs). While historically the cost of electricity from PV panels has limited them to niche applications, there is massive potential for growth in the market if solar power could become a viable alternative to traditional sources of electricity.
In the simulator, your job is to maximize SunPower’s cumulative profit over a period of eighteen years. To do this, you make pricing and investment decisions each simulated time period.
As a young company with a new innovation, you will start the game with a technology that you hope stays proprietary. In theory you can reap the benefits of technological advancements from the rest of the industry while spreading your advancements to them.
In addition, you (or your administrator) have the option of setting several other competitive and market scenarios, including the sources and rates of learning, the strength of knowledge spillovers, entry of new competitors, and external incentives that help to drive consumers towards using solar power.
You will receive periodic reports including your income statement and industry data. You need to select your strategies based on those reports, your understanding of the underlying industry structure, and your best judgment about how your competitor and customers may respond.
Though the model has been carefully calibrated and tested, it is not designed to predict the future or exactly match the history and special circumstances of SunPower. Rather, it is used to illustrate competitive dynamics important not only in the photovoltaic panel industry but in other contexts you may face. Instead of merely “beating the game,” focus on understanding the underlying industry structure so you can develop robust, successful strategies.
*** Source: Sterman, J. (2014). Eclipsing the competition: The Solar PV industry simulation. Forio.
GET FAMILIAR WITH THE SIMULATION
Familiarize yourself with the simulation. This will require that you get an in-depth understanding of the terminology used in the simulation, as well as the pricing and cost structure of the product. As you begin this simulation (Year 1), your market share is only 2.40%. Your role with the company is to expand your company’s market share over the multi-year period of operations – while recognizing the highest possible cumulative profit. To do this, you must make favorable pricing decisions, and you must ensure that you are improving your product while simultaneously lowering unit costs. Product improvements are determined by the % of revenue allocated to process improvement (i.e., technological advancement = lower unit costs).
Be sure to review the SunPower case study, as it will provide you with background and context for the simulation:
Then, visit the simulation here:
At the landing page, click on “Play as an INDIVIDUAL.” Then, choose a Screen ID and click “Submit.”
Explore the interface and get familiar with it and the information it provides. The menu on the left-hand side shows these options:
NEED TO BRUSH UP ON CVP ANALYSIS?
You were introduced to this method in your previous courses, but this link will provide a refresher.
Rehman, A. (2014, March 24). Accounting for Management.com Cost-Volume-Profit Relationship (CVP Analysis).
Should you need to brush up on financial analysis, the following presentation provides a very good overview of financial statement analysis:
Optional Reading and Resources
Remember that in preparing the assignments for this module (as those that follow), you must demonstrate that you know how to use the appropriate business tools for such an analysis. This will require you to integrate learning from courses throughout the MBA program.
Other Useful Resources
You may access some useful Internet and other resources relating to such matters as financial ratios and processes for measurement of organizational resources (both tangible and intangible) through the following links:
Module 1 – Case
THE EXCELLENT CONSULTING GROUP
Communication from Art Epance:
Welcome to this project. ABC Company and Whole Foods Market expect us to provide them with top-notch advice on how to integrate Whole Foods into ABC Company. I will be working on analyzing ABC Company. You will be working on analyzing Whole Foods Market. Review as much information as you can on the Whole Foods Market website, particularly that in the “Investor Relations” section. At a minimum, review the following materials in preparation for your report/analysis:
Reuters Company Profile: Whole Foods Market.
Case study: https://pnphillip.asp.radford.edu/whole%20Foods%20Case.pdf (be sure that you do not rely on this document as your primary source of information, but be sure that you have synthesized information from multiple sources).
Thompson, A. (2015, Sep. 16). Whole Foods Market’s generic & intensive growth strategies. Retrieved from https://panmore.com/whole-foods-market-generic-strategy-intensive-growth-strategies (again, do not rely on this document as a primary source of information, but be sure that you have synthesized information from multiple sources).
Whole Foods Market website:
Whole Foods Market (about the company) Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods Market – Annual Stakeholders Report, 2011.
Review Case Analysis since it is so important in this final course. The purpose of a Case is to show that you have thought critically about the subject matter that you are learning and to make an argument for a Claim about the specific situation in the Case Assignment. Stephen Toulmin has developed an Argument Methodology that is very useful in Making a Case. To review Case Analysis and Toulmin’s Argument Methodology, go to Making a Case page.
First, you need to do a strategic analysis of Whole Foods Market. The executives want us to provide an independent, objective view of Whole Foods Market’s current strategic position, including full information of Whole Foods Market’s mission, vision and values. They want to identify its current set of strategic goals, and a critical assessment of the competition and the competitive environment (remote and operating environments). Also, they want to see the opportunities and threats Whole Foods is presently facing, and they need a general idea of the company’s strengths and weaknesses. Whole Foods Market and ABC Company want to know if we think they should make any strategic changes or continue with the status quo. Synthesize everything you have learned, provide a final recommendation, and justify your reasoning.
Keys to the Assignment:
1. Do diligent research on Whole Foods Market. I have included links to various websites above.
2. As an MBA, you must perform additional research to find information on competition and general trends for opportunities and threats. For the competitive analysis, identify a minimum of three of the top competitive companies and their best-selling services or products – and justify why each is a viable competitor.
3. Your report should be thorough, and follow closely the outline that I have given you. The final section is the most important one. Use excellent logic and sharp argumentation skills to make your case.
The report must be 5-7 pages minimum and no more than 10 pages.
Your paper will be evaluated on the following seven points:
Precision – Does the paper address the question(s) or task(s)?
Breadth – Is the full breadth of the subject, that is, the Keys to the Assignment, addressed?
Depth – Does the paper address the topic in sufficient depth and include the background reading and other background resources as references?
Critical thinking – Is the subject thought about critically, that is, accurately, logically, relevantly, and precisely?
Clarity – Is the writing clear and are the concepts articulated properly? Are paraphrasing and synthesis of concepts the primary means of responding to the questions or are points conveyed through excessive use of quotations?
Organization – Is the paper well written? Are the grammar, spelling, and vocabulary appropriate for graduate-level work? Are headings included in all papers longer than two pages?
Referencing (citations and references) – Does the paper include citations and quotation marks where appropriate? Are the references from the background readings and assignment present and properly cited? Are all the references listed in the bibliography present and referred to via citation?
TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS
Optimize your research time: Get an overview of the Case Assignments so you know what information you will be looking for when you do research. As you do research for Case 1, you can also be finding information and data for the other cases, too. Continue this strategy as you do research for the next case and the next, etc. The more information you have about the chosen company, the better you will get to know it. The better you get to know it, the better your analysis will be.
You may use a simple diagram to highlight important factors. However, do not use the diagram in lieu of valuable analysis (or to take up valuable writing space). It should be in addition to your 5-7 pages of analysis.
Just because you have written the minimum five pages does not mean that you have adequately covered the topic. Err on the side of writing more rather than less.
Choose the data you use carefully. Is it relevant and important?
Include a reference page, in addition to the 5-10 pages of analysis described above.
Include section headings within the paper.
Cite and reference all sources that you use in your work, including those that you paraphrase. This means include citations and quotation marks for direct quotes of more than five words, and citations for that information which you have “borrowed” or paraphrased from other sources.
Follow guidelines for well-written papers.
INTERNET RESEARCH TIPS
Search for articles in the business and trade press that give an independent view of the company; you do not want to depend solely on corporate information. Check the financial websites such as Yahoo Finance, MSN Money, Morningstar, Dunn & Bradstreet, and Standard and Poor’s, as well as IBISWorld for reports by industry and financial analysts. Wiki’s and blogs are good ways to get an “inside” look and helpful for evaluating corporate culture/climate.
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