Strategy in Practice
Technology, competition and user expectations are transforming the global telecommunications, media, and technology industry (TMT). New technologies are enabling novel means of delivering services and threatening traditional business models both within and outside traditional TMT markets. It is now easier and cheaper than ever for an entrepreneurial team (whether at a startup or an established company) to develop and mass distribute innovative new products and services. Yet, it is more difficult than ever to build a large scale sustainable business around these innovations. The strategic choices regarding how an innovation is introduced into the market and the nature of the innovator’s role in relation to the rest of the ecosystem matter.
The Strategy in Practice core course and the follow-on TMT elective courses are fundamentally about strategy and general management but we will draw from a variety of disciplines including public policy, law, marketing, economics, finance, and engineering to identify the key issues, analyze the potential options and understand the consequences of management decisions. We will examine both successful and not so successful situations to understand the opportunities and challenges in creating viable businesses in the 21st century economy.
- Those who have or seek product management or similar operational roles and want to identify and articulate their objectives to others (especially upper management) effectively.
- Anyone who would like to view industries and markets through the eyes of the general manager/CEO (whether at a start-up or an industry giant), not just aspiring CEOs but anyone in any function who wants to understand why and how strategic choices influence a variety of decisions.
- Those pursing careers in services firms (management consulting, investment banking, investment management, private equity, venture capital, corporate & intellectual property law) who encounter clients from a variety of industries and markets and are required to identify and assess various strategic options quickly.
- Those who are new to the Telecom/Media/Technology industry and seek a comprehensive overview.
- Anyone who would like to apply a strategic filter when choosing employers by critiquing and handicapping their strategies.
- Anyone who would like to demonstrate the skill MBA recruiters have the most difficult time finding: strategic thinking (full survey results).
- Deconstruct any industry or market into essential functions, technologies, and business practices: How does the industry or market operate? Why does it operate in this way?
- Understand the objectives and incentives of key participants and the nature of the relationships among these participants.
- Identify potential catalysts for changes to existing functions and practices: How are business models changing? How are the economics of production and distribution of products and services changing? How are major investments evaluated and how do they shape the overall strategy?
- Determine how to choose suitable partners and identify the most effective method of engaging these partners both from technical and business practice perspectives.
- Understand how to apply the scientific method in the context of business strategy and subject to varying degrees of uncertainty.
- Identify and evaluate market entry strategies for new products and services.
- Learn how to translate strategic objectives to product functionality.
- Predict and articulate how product functionality impacts the strategic position of a company.
- Understand the perspectives on various industry participants and be able to anticipate how they are likely to behave under various circumstances.
- Identify and evaluate strategic options (and their consequences) for key participants.
- Formulate a strategy to undermine established companies.
No prior coursework in strategy is necessary (or even desirable). You are actually better off not taking business school strategy courses as you will need to unlearn some of the misconceptions and bad habits (superficial analysis, improper use of scientific method) pervasive in traditional strategy courses. See Frequently Asked Questions for more details on why business school strategy courses are a poor use of your time.
Prior exposure to accounting and microeconomics (at the level of an introductory college course) is helpful, but not required.
For accounting, Understanding Financial Reports is sufficient.
For microeconomics, the most relevant concepts are (we will do a brief overview in Strategy in Practice and as needed in subsequent courses):
- Supply and demand curves, elasticities of supply and demand
- Fixed vs. variable costs, average vs. marginal costs, short run vs. long run costs, learning curve
- Economic vs. accounting costs, sunk costs, opportunity costs, foreclosure costs
- Economies of scale and scope
- Externalities, network externalities, network effects
- Market power: monopoly and monopsony
- Price discrimination, bundling, tying
- Net present value
Strategy in Practice is a required prerequisite for all TMT courses.
Schedule & Delivery Format
The primary delivery format is traditional classroom instruction. Each class session is 5 to 7.5 hours depending on the dates scheduled.
Courses comprise three to nine sessions depending on the course content and the weekly schedule. Weekend courses are held on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, usually from 11 am to 6:30 pm. Weeknight courses are held Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday evenings, usually from 4 to 9:30 pm.
Class sessions will not be recorded. Students who miss a class session are welcome to attend a makeup session (if available) or the same session in a subsequent offering of the course.
Note the following recent research regarding passive vs. active note taking: To Remember a Lecture Better, Take Notes by Hand
Class preparation is essential to get the most out of the course. Most class sessions will include short tutorials or primers, whether related to technologies of interest, regulations, economic/financial terminology, or other concepts relevant to the discussion.
Students are also expected to complete a group or individual project with guidance from the instructor to apply concepts and methodologies from the class to a specific context.
Classes are usually held in Silicon Valley (Sunnyvale/Santa Clara/Mountain View area). Additional locations such as San Francisco (South of Market area), Redwood City/Menlo Park, Berkeley/Emeryville/Oakland, and Pleasanton/Dublin are possible (Contact us if you are interested in these or other locations).