Foundations of Business Strategy and Strategist’s Toolkit

Massively open online courses (MOOC) are changing the field of education. As most courses are offered for free, the big question is what is the motivation for the course providers to go through all the work of creating the materials for such a course.

In this post, I will take a deep dive inside a successful implementation of a MOOC: The Foundations of Business Strategy course offered by the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. I will explore the business model of this course as well as summarize and review its contents.

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Why is Amazon battling Hachette? It’s deeper than you think

The battle between Amazon and Hachette, one of the big five book publishers in the USA, has been going on for months now. The most visible effect of the battle so far has been Amazon’s delays in shipping and removal of pre-order buttons for some Hachette titles.

Originally, the battle was portrayed as being fought over ebook prices for the most part, but recently more information has surfaced on Amazon demanding payment for various services, such as pre-order buttons, personalized recommendations, and a dedicated employee at Amazon for Hachette books.

What is going on? In order to grasp the situation, it is useful to look at what has happened in the publishing industry in the past few years, and a useful lens for exploring this is Michael Porter’s five competitive forces.

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Lego Movie, Friends, and the struggle to nurture creativity

Lego has been subject to significant criticism for perpetuating gender stereotypes since its introduction of the Lego Friends series in 2011. Furthermore, while the recent Lego Movie has received almost universal praise, most articles that examine it from a gender point of view remain critical.

In this post, I will examine how Lego Friends and Lego Movie both act as crucial parts of fulfilling Lego’s mission, to “inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow,” and how the criticism aimed against them lacks a big-picture view of how they carry out Lego’s mission.

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Sustaining innovation and disruptive innovation – case Lego

How important are various forms of innovation to a company? Gary Pisano, a professor at the Harvard Business School, recently wrote an article called In Defense of Routine Innovation on Harvard Business Review, in which he argues that the vast majority of profits come from sustaining innovation, not disruptive innovation. His examples include Intel and Microsoft, giants who have been making the majority of their profits from sustaining innovations for the past two decades.

While Pisano does point out that disruptive innovation is also needed, none of his examples really serve to bring this point home. To get a better perspective on this, it is useful to take a look at a company with a slightly longer history. The case I have in mind is Lego.

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Why is reshoring happening in the USA, but not elsewhere?

While still taking fledgling steps, reshoring seems to be bringing manufacturing and related jobs back to the USA. However, the phenomenon does not seem to be taking place in the rest of the developed world. This raises the question, why does it happen in the US? What is the difference? In this post, I will seek answers to these questions.

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On process innovation and technology disruption

Recent McKinsey reports (1, 2) have predicted a disruptive revolution in technology that will change the landscape of manufacturing. According to McKinsey, it is vital that the technology strategy of companies extends beyond product innovation into process innovation and the ways those technologies can be used to improve their supply chains and manufacturing.

In this post, I will examine the nature of process innovation, the role of technology in it, and the technologies McKinsey predicts will bring about the next disruption.

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Is the Finnish manufacturing industry at a dead end?

It is a grim time to be working in manufacturing in Finland. Then again, it’s been grim times for more than 30 years already: Finland lost around 240,000 manufacturing jobs between 1980 and 2011, of which 100,000 between 2000 and 2011, and BCG expects Finland to lose a further 42,000 manufacturing jobs by 2020, which would bring the number of remaining manufacturing jobs to around one half of the 1980 level.

In this post, I will examine the situation more closely from the framework of McKinsey’s next-shoring perspective. The next-shoring perspective stipulates that there are two main drivers for selecting manufacturing location: proximity to demand and proximity to innovation. Their relative importance can differ from field to field.

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Lean in new employee orientation – gemba orientation

The company I work for recently hired a new CFO, and I was asked to give him orientation training on his very first day. HR department had a meeting room lined up, and everything was good to go for a couple of weeks inside a small room meeting all the top management and joining the club.

Yet, I felt uneasy about what was to come. I felt that the infinite loop of figures, reports, and meetings with top management could not possible prepare anyone for the work ahead. So, I turned to the Lean principles in search of a better way, and quite soon an idea came to me. It’s all about the gemba!

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Webrooming and lessons from, Target and Gap

Webrooming is the new hype and hope of brick-and-mortar stores. The reverse of showrooming (going to a physical store and then buying the product online), webrooming stands for researching the product online and then going to a physical store to make the purchase.

In this post, I will examine how innovative retailers are taking advantage of webrooming, and what possibilities may still lie untouched.

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