Strategy can be thought of as "delineating a territory in which an organization seeks to be unique" and "the evolution of a central idea through continually changing circumstances". But the very nature of strategy and strategy development—regardless of whether it’s in the private, public, or nonprofit sectors—is changing dramatically. Corporations are increasingly dealing with more viable competitors and emerging market opportunities, often driven by enabling technologies, from all over the world. Demand for government responses to social issues is increasing in an era of acute resource constraints. And social sector organizations are facing a wide array of competitors for smaller, more restricted pools of contributions and other forms of capital. Everybody wants to react faster, take advantage of opportunities sooner, and vanquish competitors more definitively. The notion of rigid 5-year strategic plans is becoming obsolete.
This course simulates the real-world strategy development process from a senior management perspective. A historical overview of the field will be provided and a contemporary process for strategy formulation, along with alternative approaches, will be introduced and demonstrated throughout the course. Activities including situational and environmental analysis, internal capabilities assessment, and appropriate linkage to an organization’s vision, mission, objectives, and historical performance will all be rigorously applied. A combination of theory and practice in all relevant aspects of strategy development will be emphasized. In addition, although these processes are most often attributed to private sector operations, this course is designed to consider the similarities and differences of strategy and strategy development in government entities and nonprofits as well.
Although strategy and strategic thinking is grounded in a long history (primarily derived to achieve military objectives), corporate strategy and the field’s seminal frameworks did not really exist prior to about the mid-20th century. However, the notion of comprehensive strategy development, emanating from academia, consulting firms, and think tanks, has accelerated considerably over the past 50 years and continues to rapidly evolve. As a result, this course will emphasize “currency” with a combination of lectures, contemporary readings, cases, and simulations to illustrate key concepts.