The Grey Chronicles

2009.April.17

Business Policy: A Reflection, Part III



This is a continuation of yesterday’s post. When I took the course in Business Policy in 2006, the lecturer required us for a case analysis plus a course synthesis, instead of a final examinations. The synthesis included a critique of the course content, an exposition on the personal impact of the course, a critique of the individually-assigned topic presentation and the various case analyses presented. This last part excerpts my critique on the Case Analyses.


Case Analysis

Although the text presented a definitive preparation guide to the individually assigned Case Analysis, most of the oral presentation focused more, about 90% of some colleagues’ presentations, on the corporate profile (mission and vision, history, product and services, objectives, values and culture) of the firm, which are readily available on the internet, rather than on the analysis of the firm’s corporate strategy! One report offered a one-slide recommendation after a series of corporate facts and profile! Prior to each oral case presentation, I made it a point to preview the corporate website of each individual firm before coming to class, and lo, I recognize some of the sentences used in the presentation were exactly the same as the web contents. A peek on the “comprehensive” written case analysis of some colleagues turned out to be a bunch of downloaded snippets from the internet, printed contents and graphics of the corporate websites, and presented in some near-logical arrangement notwithstanding the given guide.

Some did not even have the civility of acknowledging the source of their information, which were indisputably glaring that some sentences even used the first-person—we, our—meaning the information were collected from the firm’s corporate website and copy-pasted to the supposedly case analysis. Others did not even bother with the firm’s historical financial data, except to show certain ROI, sales, or net income for the current year or quarter. How can a recommendation be viable when based on a single fiscal year or one quarter?

While the IBM written case analysis consisted of 10 pages corporate profile and 40 pages of analysis; the IBM oral presentation consisted of 20 slides on corporate profile to introduce the firm and the case plus 120 multiple slides of analysis, or a 15-85% profile-to-analysis ratio. One colleague even have the audacity to point out that the IBM oral presentation consisted of more words, to get back at my previous comment, when in fact the graphical presentation aimed more to explain, if these were not obviously stated, the trend and projected situations faced by IBM leading to the short-term and long-term recommendations based on these facts. Only IBM case presented an analysis of its Mission Statement; and proposed Mission and Vision statements, as well.

While most of the oral presentations included a semblance of the External Factor Evaluation [EFE], Internal Factor Evaluation [IFE], and Competitive Profile [CP] matrices, their construction where based on individual biases, as most colleagues claimed outright when asked, and not based on factual data, which IBM case analysis tried to do. Thus, the CPM weighted scores were unwittingly biased toward the firm of the case analysis. Only three cases offered a Problem Statement per se: Wal-Mart, Whirlpool and IBM. Others have been coaxed to announce the problem only after being asked. How can the case be analyzed without an objective?

Although the TOWS, or some elementary attempt on SWOT factors, were employed, the proposed strategies totally disregarded the outcome of the TOWS Matrix. Considering the fact that the course deals with strategic management, only IBM case presented the strategies it previously employed and recommended strategies which IBM might pursue based on that knowledge. Only the IBM case analysis presented the matching stage of the strategy-formulation framework. Nobody else bothered doing so, thus some of the recommendations were impractical or inconsistent with the firm’s or the industry’s environment, or unquestionably not really addressing the supposed problem. Thus, the scenario presented by the TOWS matrix became moot, if not useless.

Given that we each had months [see notes] to prepare for our case analysis, it is unfortunate that some did not even start their own research but a week prior to their oral presentation, thus some oral presentations were lacking in substantial analyses and focused more on the corporate profile whereby some slides were non-essential to the case itself in addition to the lack of a problem statement. The research on IBM and its competitors started last July after the completion of the oral presentation on Chapter 9: Strategy Evaluation. The research took almost two (2) months to completely read and understand all the IBM and competitors’s corporate facts then gather industry data, and another month of preparing the actual presentation slides and drafting, editing and finalizing the comprehensive written case analysis. I can definitely claim now that I know IBM in terms of corporate strategic viewpoint, although to a much lesser degree compared to my knowledge of GSPI’s corporate strategy.


Notes:

Case Analyses: The lecturer required us to apply the recently learned business strategy concepts to prominent corporations such as Wal-Mart, Nike, Whirlpool, IBM, etc. I was assigned to do a case analysis on IBM. Although I was tempted to write a critique for each of the other eight case analyses, I opted a generalized synthesis because the case analyses presented by most of my colleagues were similar in focus as well as delivery.

The case analyses topics were assigned to each one of us during the first month of the semester. As one semester averaged about four months, we each had about three months to prepare for the case analyses presentation. The fourth month was to be devoted for the analyses, preparation of the presentation as well as the required written case analysis.

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