Strategic Management : Assignment Structure Guidelines
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Select a business or part of a business that you are very familiar with
· Students who select a company, even if it only has one business, are likely to score poorly. The marker is looking for a very specific management agenda at the end of the assignment; this is difficult to develop for a company
· The assignment can be based on an internal department or service
Assignment Structure Guidelines
Provide background to the business or part of a business you are basing your assignment on (this is to familiarise your marker with your subject matter)
Outline specific customer needs
· Quantify, stress relative importance (weights) of customer needs
· If different customers have very varied needs it may be appropriate to focus in on one market segment with similar needs or even just on one customer
· You do not have to accept current customer needs; they change over time; your desired strategy may be to re-educate customers to a novel set of requirements you can uniquely satisfy
· You may wish to reflect on the Decision Making Unit, Decision Making Process, Influencers and Utilities
Outline your desired position (a positioning statement outlines how you intend to meet customer needs in a distinctive manner)
· Normally a positioning statement outlines how you intend to satisfy customer requirements better than competitors or for an internal service better than potential external providers
· M.E. Porter’s Generics, Need/Access/Variety; the Value Map, The Discipline of Market Leaders, Distinctive Tag Line can be used to help illustrate your desired position. Grant has chapters on cost and differentiation
Audit how well the business, or part of a business delivers its position currently
Hints – an audit:
· explains/describes what is done currently (stressing quantification), then…
· compares/contrasts against best practice/key success factors. The aim being to find gaps in performance - areas for improvement
· In auditing the business or part of a business USE ONLY ONE of the following frameworks:
§ The Strategy Canvas
§ The Business System
§ The Value Chain
§ The Activity System Map
· Assignments with two diagrams tend to score better. The current situation (i.e. current Business System) and the desired situation (i.e. future Business System)
· Detailed diagrams tend to score better, i.e. where are costs, resources, staff tied up in the Business System? What are the key activities at each stage? Where is value added ?
§ If information is not readily available provide best estimates and press on
§ The diagrams can be presented in either order: this is our current Business System, our desired Business System OR our desired Business System, then our current Business System
§ Diagrams and text should consider Fit, Consistency, Reinforcement and Optimisation of the business or part of the business being considered
§ Emphasise fit with customer requirements – from current and desired positions
A management agenda is a blueprint for action, describing in detail how you intend to move from current to desired position (A to B). How the operating model will be strengthened to attain the desired position
· This is why assignments with two diagrams tend to score better. The marker can see where you are today and where you intend to be in the future
· If you are changing a lot, overview in your first paragraph the changes to be made and then focus in on the key actions in the remainder of your agenda
· Agendas will set out milestones, resource allocation, responsibilities
· They naturally have a cost:benefit justification – why the recommendations should be accepted
· Assignments need to outline how the change is to be accomplished, it is not enough to say we will set up a committee to analyse this issue. Avoid ‘work-plans’, an agenda outlines what you will actually do.
The assignment should be at maximum 1,100 words plus diagrams and tabulations which are not part of the word count. Assignments significantly in excess of the word count will be penalised. Supporting appendix data is not wanted. Please do not explain concepts, the marker is familiar with them, just managerially apply them.
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