Shitake mushrooms just got real – was exactly my thoughts throughout this week, as the ¿training wheels¿ (as Peter put it) had finally been lifted. I feel as though all the teams in our class have been thrown in the deep end and left with no choice but to swim (or pedal haw haw) to the top of the leader board.
Strategy was the name of the game for this week and after both lectures and readings, it¿s never sounded so elusive to implement successfully. As Management majors we are all considered to immerse ourselves in strategic thinking, taking into account the environment surrounding us among many other factors. When I hear the word strategy I automatically picture a chessboard and a great amount of focus both players need to out-do the other. The same instance can be applied to firms however, with numerous competitors as their opponents. Ideally we must be critical of our ideas just as much as our actions before choosing a strategy to go on. In Magretta (2002) ¿business models¿ were much more than a template any company could base itself on. The fact was that the strategic planning which moulds a business model, offered companies extraordinary value in terms of market capitalization, i.e. Dell¿s ¿direct-to-customers¿ model (Magretta, 2002).
Now reflecting on the thought that business models are used to add value (both in financial and customer-based) to a business, I figured the same can be said about individuals. Living in a world of market capitalism, we as students must continuously aim to better ourselves in each aspect of our lives in order to attain what is at the end of this long and arduous tunnel. Today we can no longer get through on ¿good grades¿ alone, as employers search for extra value individuals hold beyond the academic realm, i.e. ability to lead, charisma, etc. Therefore, it is absolutely paramount that I develop an effective business model for myself to become as attractive to potential employers as possible. Like the business models described in Magretta (2002) I will need to create a USP (unique selling point) in order to compete amongst other graduates and job-seekers. At the moment my overall strategy is solely focused on completing my BCOM degree by the end of this semester, aiming for the best grades to finish off on. However, it has been stressed by many lecturers (especially Joe Beer) that this strategy simply does not pay off, as graduates from the business school time and time again fail to land an industry-level job.
So taking into account of this reading, competitive advantage can also be reflected at an individual level. For starters, due to the fact I¿m aiming to secure a marketing role after my studies, I will need to develop my marketing research skills further as this is something I found I lacked in last semester. Because I¿ve had this goal in mind for quite some time, I made sure to build my interpersonal skills last year by working as a door-to-door salesman. Knowing that it was something hardly anyone would choose to work under, I saw it as an opportunity to develop my marketing skills, as I was literally marketing a service to people in the privacy of their own homes. At the end of that job I managed to take away a lot about my personal attributes, strengths and weaknesses and found a whole different dimension of my capabilities when put under pressure. Learning from this I believe I can add more value to my own ¿business model¿ by continuing to hone other important skills, alongside of my degree. By strategically planning ahead, I can put myself on a more favourable platform to base myself on.
Kim & Mauborgne (2004) opened up a new perspective on how strategy in business works. The underlying assumption was that there are two types of oceans: red oceans, which were most common with competitive rivalry for market share; and blue oceans, which created its own market space and demand (Kim & Mauborgnee, 2004). I found this highly relevant to MikesBikes but more specifically the perceptual map, where we decide on which market segments to target. Should we compete on margin alone? Should we create a highly-differentiated market totally different from our competitors? Questions like these pose as the main obstacle of implementing an effective strategy, which is why like I stated before it seems even more elusive to think about. Either way what I got from this reading is that competing in a ¿blue ocean¿ or in this regard an ¿untapped market¿, certifies success or is greater than firms competing in an existing and competitively fierce market. But knowing that our team somewhere along the way can have the opportunity to ¿strike oil¿, by that I mean successfully create a blue ocean, is definitely something to bear in mind.
Kim, W. C., & Mauborgnee, R. (2004). Blue Ocean Strategy. Harvard Business Review, 76-84.
Magretta, J. (2002). Why Business Models Matter. Harvard Business Review, 86-92.