13nd School of Thought on Strategic Management: The Case School

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13nd School of Thought on Strategic Management: The Case School
Bernhard Keim, Business Consultant, Germany

Every company is looking and seeking for opportunities. Whoever is entitled to do this in an organization: before you start to consider and implement any strategy, the case and what it means to the organization must be clear:
- What makes us believe that this might be a good opportunity?
- On what assumptions are our convictions based?
- What happens if we are right, what if wrong?
- What does it need to succeed? Where are the obstacles to overcome?
- Last, but not least: How will the customers react on the new solutions we want to provide for them? How will they acknowledge...?
- And: are we the right kind of organization to deliver such solution? Can we deliver it better than anyone else? Why?
The world outside the organization is not static. It is changing all the time. How do we perceive change and how do we catch opportunities?
Get all arguments clear before your start anything and be aware that you might be wrong.
Whatsoever: you have to built up your case before you follow up.

Looking and Seeking Opportunities for the Organization
Victor Manuel Meneses Torres, Consultant, Mexico
You say that in an organization somebody is entitled to look and seek for opportunities. I don't think there should be a person or an area specifically to do this. The planning executive is unable to know everything, so he might miss an opportunity or a threat: This is a work for the specialists.
The planning office must identify those specialists and where they are (they could be managers or technicians inside the organization, or academics, consultants or scientists outside) and encourage them to keep their eyes on the facts and trends that could become into opportunities or threats and put these items on the directory agenda to take decisions and for strategy making. Your questions must be answered every time by the specialists as well.

Every Organization Has Been Built on Opportunities
Bernhard Keim, Business Consultant, Germany
Taking care of new opportunities is the foremost objective of the board. They are entitled to do so. They have to do it if they claim to act as entrepreneurs and not as administrators.
An enterprise needs an administration, but it is not an administration. It is a business.
Building up a structure that is aware of opportunities is part of the board's duties. Albeit it is never a single person's job to find these opportunities. Every company needs its intelligence unit for this.

Looking and Seeking Opportunities for the Organization
Tito Rafael Hidalgo Barcia, Strategy Consultant, Ecuador
I must add that institutions are made by people, and also made for specific needs or wants of the people.
Within an institution, people from the bottom to the top all have something to share (information). Putting all that info together we can take actions toward present or future challenges and set goals.
However, if we do not follow a set of criteria or rubric to organize, analyse the information, set goals and do follow ups on the results, we might find ourselves heading the wrong way doing the right things.

Opportunity is a Relative Issue
Dilip Khanal, CEO, Nepal
Mr. Keim, you have floated a pertinent issue for discussion. To answer the question you raised, we should go back to the basic business an organization is in. The opportunity, although a subjective issue, is related to more positive scenario for the organization. And one single person can not be responsible for this.
However, there should be a specific person to push the issue. It could be anyone from the owner to strategic consultant, depending upon the nature and size of the organization. In my opinion, during start up, it is very difficult to have a clear picture about all the issues you raised. The more you are involved, the more clear your picture will be. Therefore, the responsible person has to move with his/her conviction and perception about what's right and wrong for the organization.
As s/he moves ahead, reviews are necessary to answer the questions.

Holistic Approach to Change or Opportunities
Dr Vijay Phate, Director, India
I practice Holistic Management which focuses on the appropriate fitness at structural, process, technology, people and environment level.
Due to the dynamic nature of change, organizations need to keep adapting (assimilate or accommodate). Accordingly, the core team behind the problem solving, decision making, implementing solutions, evaluating them and correcting shortcomings should keep in mind "what business we are in', what are the norms, present and future growth prospects, what is required to stay in business, etc.'
Strategic management helps in getting a competitive advantage, however the priority should be given to CSR and sustainable development. Ups and downs keep coming, but appropriate application of ethics and values help in the long run. Diversification, mergers and acquisitions in related areas contribute in organization's brand building and up scaling.
All success stories indicate "No risk, no gain", so become a learning organization and assure your success. Open for discussion.

Opportunity in Strategic Management
Dr. N.V.S.Raju, Professor, India
My basic doubt is:
- Should we take an opportunity as and when it comes? Or
- Should we wait till the opportunity comes?
- Should we raise the opportunity to come?
- Should we take risk to convert a situation or a threat into an opportunity?

Seizing Opportunities - Dare to Be Bold!
Owambo, Manager, Kenya
I believe no organization should have exclusive people who are in charge of sighting and capitalizing on opportunities. With an ever changing market, most of us are influenced differently by the environment, perceive situations differently and react to those situations differently. This applies to opportunities as well. So for any progressive organization a holistic approach towards incorporating all these reactions and perceptions will be key to seize opportunities.
The anxiety on whether the organization is ready, right or not may not arise if all stakeholders are not involved. Sometimes there is over-reliance on specialists who may not know the company well enough and also it could be time-consuming to engage in opportunities in a timely way.
So I say go for it - now! The greatest organizations were formed out of fear and panic, even if they say looking backward that it was conscious risk taking. Shouldn't we all be more bold?

Opportunities Exist Constantly Via Acceptance for 'Change.'
Bill Boynton, Teacher, United States
Opportunities are endless if organizations can look for and address a change mentality, mission statement, and "Vision" that focus on learning and growing that float on opportunities.
A shared vision, where everyone within the organization can understand and hopefully align their place within this opportunity framework.
We all need to know where we are going. This results in excitement about change.
Learning and growing together encompasses opportunities in abundance, and creates enthusiasm and excitement for what may be possible.
All of this can help create a positive organizational culture, where relationships for common purpose are molded together for continuous win/win scenarios.
Without change we can't move forward, and those who look for and initiate change create "opportunities" for the change that is inevitable, and in many cases is already upon us..

Identifying and Strategising Opportunities
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa
In my opinion:
1. Businesses do not and are not capable of identifying opportunities - people do.
2. Every person in a business should be looking for opportunities for both themselves and the business. The responsibility for investigating opportunities falls to the R&D section of the business; and
3. The quickest way to stifle those who identify opportunities is the "write a memo" route. Every employee has a responsibility to the business to identify opportunities. The responsibility for assessing the ideas and opportunities initially falls to management, which should be trained to carry out this initial evaluation.

You Have to Change if You Want to Prevail
Bernhard Keim, Business Consultant, Germany
@Andrew Blaine: Indeed only people can change make happen and the company is their vehicle. A company itself is blind, deaf and mute. People provide eyes, ears and a tongue to it, but the organization they serve determines and limits what they see, hear and say by large.
The company acts as a filter. It must have its rules and its structure as a self limiting factor.

On the one hand this is necessary to establish itself. On the other hand it impedes the change necessary to prevail.
Why? An organization is a system. Self-similarity is a characteristic feature of every system. New things have to adapt to this system. If they can't, the system will try to offload the new, however rewarding it might be. The system works like an immune system.

The problem starts where the management board sees itself just as guardian for this immune system. If change is needed it must act as immune suppressive drug. Otherwise it will lose the connection to the market, its possibilities and customers.

Opportunity is Perceived Differently by Different People
Dilip Khanal, CEO, Nepal
May be the following example helps the discussion:
A medicine company front line staff brought the information that the pill they were selling was received well among its users, but with only one complaint that the pill was difficult to swallow. She reported this to her boss, but without any action.
She then shared this in the company portal dedicated for sharing information beyond hierarchy. Some directors having business sense felt the opportunity in this information and instructed the R&D department to do research on a pill that would be easier to swallow. The company then introduced such pill in the market and left behind many competitors for some time.
The information brought in was the same. But, turning it into an opportunity was perceived differently by people in different positions within the organization.

A Company is Simply a Vehicle
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa
@Bernhard Keim: I disagree. I see a company, as with a business, simply as a vehicle. Management, Directors and Stakeholders are responsible for governance, determination, implementation and modification of policy which effectively determines the ethics, ethos and behaviour of the company and its employees/members. This may sound semantic but, I believe it is essential to the health of a business/company.

If Things Were That Simple, the World Would Be a Different Place
Bernhard Keim, Business Consultant, Germany
@Andrew Blaine: What you recommend is a command and control style of management. But as a company is a social system that is embedded and linked to other social systems (= the environment), you'd better be aware of the interactions that take place between them, as you can control them only partially.
Yes, you can influence and steer behavior, but you cannot force people to understand, to believe or to see things the way you see them: you have to convince them. If you can't, you have to get rid of those employees whose particular attitude threatens operations. But don't forget: they are human beings who you can train, but not machines you can program.

Tear the Hurdles Down
Bernhard Keim, Business Consultant, Germany
@Dilip Khanal: I think this is a very good example of a hidden opportunity and I call it my "Hurdle Theory". There are many hurdles in business, but there are sometimes even more for its customers. Take the hurdles away and you start be more reachable for your customers. As you are easier to reach, you will sell more.
It is a part of strategy and strategic analysis to identify these obstacles for your customers you might not even be aware of. Tear them down.

Decision Making and Management
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa
@Bernhard Keim: I disagree with your view. I do not recommend a hierarchical management system where management disposes and workers implement. However, it is the function of management to manage, which involves making and implementing decisions. It is the function of the staff to carry out the decisions made by management. If management choose not to take advantage of the skills, knowledge and experience of all staff in considering their decision, so be it, but they will be less effective.
To me there is little correlation between what I said and your suggestion that I support the Command and control management system?


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