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In the lecture this week Peter talked about strategy and competition; about establishing your company in a segment of Porter's Generic Strategies and working within that. But how do we make the decision to choose one strategy over another? What is the 'right' choice?

In previous courses I have briefly studied the concept of a blue ocean strategy and, because I am not the entrepreneurial type, I have had difficulty devising a strategy that fits into the blue ocean of a marketplace. In Mike's Bikes it is hard to consider what the blue ocean may be when no one knows exactly what the market is going to look like until new bikes are produced. The aim is to create uncontested market space (Kim & Mauborgne, 2004) but in our game is it possible? I'm not entirely sure whether it is – but like I said earlier, I'm not exactly the next Steve Jobs. As Mauborgne says, Blue Ocean isn't just about creating a brand new market, but pushing the boundaries of an existing one; in Mike's Bikes the markets are defined for us and we work within one or a few or all segments – does this automatically place everyone in a Red Ocean? To push the boundaries I guess we'd have to create demand in areas of the market where demand didn't really exist – but is this overly risky? Will anybody push out their production to reach the outer circles of the demand map? It will be interesting to see how decisions progress and strategies adjust.

Choosing the right strategy is something I've had difficulty with since forming our team – making the decision on which strategy to follow and being confident with the decision. Fundamentally, as the Director of R&D, I have a lot of input into the choice we make; however, in practice I have had difficulty being the one making that verdict. I'm not sure yet whether this is because I am apprehensive about the responsibility that has been assigned to me, or whether I prefer to be more democratic and work as a team to make (what I think are) vital decisions. What is interesting about this is, at last week's meeting, we decided to make decisions as a team, yet on Monday we changed our mind. Now it is up to each member to determine what they need in their own area and talk to the team about whether everyone agrees. In theory this sounds like a legitimate approach – each member should be taking responsibility for their own job – but when it is put to the test is the result always better?

I'm not saying that it couldn't work, or in fact that in the long run it won't work, just that at this stage I¿m not sure how I feel about it. Perhaps this is because naturally I like to have a say in what's happening – particularly if my learning is involved. So when I have to rely on other people sometimes I get a bit worried. However, I do realise that each person can't do everything, so trust in my team members' abilities is important. I also realise that I've moved away from strategy and back into last week's issue of decision making; I'll get back on track shortly. In my team I feel comfortable raising my opinion on decisions made in areas besides my own, but at the end of the day I have to accept that R&D is my responsibility, and marketing is a team mate's responsibility and so on. It's all about having faith in team members' knowledge and commitment to the course, so once again I need to stand down if there is something I am pushing intuitively, but they know it factually. Again I am learning to reign in my control-freak tendencies.

Back on track. Decisions and strategy are undoubtedly intertwined; we make the decision to follow a particular strategy, and then make decisions based on our strategy. Perhaps this is why my journal has overlapped the two – because one cannot be achieved without the other. On Monday our team decided on a particular strategy (once again changed from what we thought the week before) and this week we have worked towards, and within, the bounds of this strategy. The question of whether this is the 'right' strategy is something I'll have to come back to as the semester goes on, because right now there's just no way of knowing which strategy is going to work best. And anyway who says that our strategy has to be strapped down and tied around a concrete pole? Flexibility is important in business and being able to adjust is something that each team should be ready to do. After all, in the real world Blue Oceans don¿t stay Blue for long.

References/Bibliography:

Kim, W. C. & Mauborgne, R. (2004). Blue ocean strategyHarvard Business Review, 82(10), 75---84

Mankins, M. C. & Steele, R. (2006). Stop making plans start making decisionsHarvard Business Review, 84(1), 76--84

4 Comments

  1. Hi Jd,

    Thank you for the opportunity to review your learning journal.I have to say I'm really impressed with this journal and actually found it really hard to fault you. Your standard of writing is excellent and flows very well. You managed to maintain a clear structure to your journal in an informal way - this also meant that it appeared alot more personal that other journals I've read. The main thing of which you have demonstrated learning is the extent to which strategy and decision making are intertwined. Even though you state in your journal that you are going off track, I found it relevant to the point you were trying to make that the two are mutually accountable to your team¿s success. This was shown in paragraph four and five.

    In terms of Daudelin¿s approach to reflective learning I think you have grasped the first two stages of articulation and analysis of the problem but you need a little bit of work on the higher stages of formulation and testing of the theory and any action you may take, as the final point. An example of where you make analyse the problem is where you mention each team member being responsible for their own area as a ¿legitimate approach¿. You go on to say that you aren¿t sure how you feel about it and recognise your natural tendency to voice your opinions, even if it relates to an area outside R&D.  When you discuss that you must trust your team member¿s ability you are starting to reach the later stages of formulation and testing of the theory, but as you (and I think correctly so) state, you will not know the outcome of this test until later in the semester. Perhaps for this week in order for you to get to this higher stage you could search for an example outside of your current team, perhaps something that relates to a past experience at school etc.?

    Similarly, you do well with the application stage of Bloom¿s taxonomy but I think you are yet to reach a point beyond the second stage of analysis. Again, an example of this is your discussion about each member¿s contribution relating explicitly to their designated area. You recognise that one person cannot do all the work and that you must trust your team member¿s. You then go further to state that in order for this approach to decision making to work you need to control your tendency to micro-manage everyone else. By recognising this you should use it as a foundation to move onto ¿synthesis¿. You have only started to do this a little bit by saying you must have ¿faith¿ in your team members but do really execute this stage you should be explicit in how you will do this. This means you will have to search for answers and methods for approaching the many questions you mention. Once you have come up with alternative approaches to managing your trust levels you will have good grounding to analyse them and reach the final stage of evaluation.

    Again, thank you for sharing your journal with us. It has really taught me to question further my current approaches/beliefs to our team. Also I have learnt that my recognising and articulating my weaknesses I could use this as a starting point to make my way through the reflection process. It sounds obvious but by reading your journal I was able to see just how well it would work.  By doing this, your reflections seem much more sincere and you are doing a great job of looking at alternative approaches on how you could improve. 

    Well done!

    Chloe

    1. Hey Chloe!

      Thank you for taking the time to review my journal - Peter's new system definitely requires a lot of extra effort, so thanks for doing that. I appreciate the advice you've given me and hopefully I can take it and make the changes I need to improve my learning process.

      Thanks again, and good luck for the rest of the semester!

      Jd

  2. Hello me! This learning journal for the week has shown how you have understood the concepts of strategy and decision making in relation to your team dynamics. I think the emphasis put on personal experience and preconceptions in the journal are a good way of demonstrating your learning process.

    In regards to Daudelin's approach I would have to agree with what Chloe has said above, you haven't moved far from the analysis stage of the process. By spending a bit more time reflecting on the problems and developing ways of addressing/improving on them your learning process would be improved. Perhaps if you spent a bit more time considering what was in the readings this may have helped you to take the next step up the learning ladder.

    Bloom's taxonomy is the same - spend more time reflecting on the issue and considering ways of improving the problem. Above I said that this could be done through the use of readings, but in addition I believe that if you propose a reflective solution for the following week and then in that journal not only reflect on what you've experienced and learnt, but also whether the idea you suggested was successful for you. This could begin the process of moving up the hierarchy of Bloom's taxonomy. 

    Lastly one more thing to improve upon is to spend a bit more time focusing on a learning experience that wasn't so similar to the previous weeks. I know this can be difficulty, especially if the same problem keeps arising, but if this is the case then you obviously have not learnt from the experience as you keep having issues with it. To avoid this happening throughout the week pay attention to how you are behaving and actively adjust it so that you no longer have the issue. This not only stops the journals from becoming monotonous, but also proves that your learning process is actually advancing.

    Thanks for letting me review your journal. I hope my advice is helpful. Have a great week!