Your reflection will be based on the assigned readings of the weeks. Reflections must meet the following criteria: – 250-350 word count – Describe your “take-away” from the assigned reading. This may relate to personal insights gained, parallels to past management experiences, or parallels to observations of past management you have experienced in other organizations. how it has affected your thought process, development, and professional disposition. This statement should be an opportunity for you to reflect on your personal learning process—challenges, moments of discovery, life experiences, readings, and interactions.LO1 Learn how to assess how well a company’s current strategy is
LO2 Understand why a company’s resources and capabilities are
central to its strategic approach and how to evaluate their potential
for giving the company a competitive edge over rivals.
LO3 Grasp how a company’s value chain activities can affect the
company’s cost structure and customer value proposition.
LO4 Learn how to evaluate a company’s competitive strength relative to
key rivals.
LO5 Understand how a comprehensive evaluation of a company’s
external and internal situations can assist managers in making
critical decisions about their next strategic moves.
Evaluating a Firm’s Internal Situation
Question 1
How well is the firm’s strategy working?
Question 2
What are the firm’s competitively important
resources and capabilities?
Question 3
Are the firm’s cost structure and customer
value proposition competitive?
Question 4
Is the firm competitively stronger or weaker
than key rivals?
Question 5
What strategic issues and problems merit
front-burner managerial attention?
Question 1: How Well Is the Company’s
Strategy Working?
• The two best indicators of how well a firm’s
strategy is working are:
 Whether the firm is recording gains in financial
strength and profitability.
 Whether the firm’s competitive strength and market
standing is improving.
Other Strategy Performance Indicators
• Trends in the firm’s sales and earnings growth.
• Trends in the firm’s stock price.
• The firm’s overall financial strength.
• The firm’s customer retention rate.
• The rate at which new customers are acquired.
• Changes in the firm’s image and reputation with
• Evidence of improvement in internal processes such
as defect rate, order fulfillment, delivery times, days
of inventory, and employee productivity
Question 2: What Are the Company’s
Competitively Important Resources
and Capabilities?
• A company’s strategy and business model:
 Must be well-matched to its collection of resources and
 Requires a tight fit with a company’s internal situation.
 Is strengthened when exploiting resources that are
competitively valuable, rare, hard to copy, and not
easily trumped to rivals’ equivalent substitute resources
A resource is a competitive asset that is owned
or controlled by a firm; a capability is the
capacity of a firm to competently perform some
internal activity. Capabilities are developed and
enabled through the deployment of a firm’s
Resource and Capability Analysis
• Analyzing the resources and capabilities of a
company is a two-step process:
1. Identify the company’s most competitively important
resources and capabilities
2. Apply the four tests of competitive power to ascertain
which resources and capabilities can support a
sustainable competitive advantage over rival firms.
Resource and capability analysis is a powerful
tool for sizing up a company’s competitive assets
and determining if the assets can support a
sustainable competitive advantage over market
Identifying Competitively Important
Resources and Capabilities
• Common types of valuable resources and
competitive capabilities include:
 Skills or specialized expertise in a competitively

important capability
Valuable physical assets
Valuable human assets or intellectual capital
Valuable organizational assets
Valuable intangible assets
Competitively valuable alliances or cooperative
Common Types of Tangible and Intangible Resources
Tangible Resources
State-of-the-art manufacturing plants and equipment,
efficient distribution facilities, attractive real estate
locations, or ownership of valuable natural resource
Cash and cash equivalents, marketable securities, and
other financial assets such as a company’s credit rating
and borrowing capacity
Patents, copyrights, superior production technology, and
technologies that enable activities
Information and communication systems (servers,
workstations, etc.), proven quality control systems, and
strong network of distributors or retail dealers
Common Types of Tangible and Intangible Resources
Intangible Resources
Human assets and
intellectual capital
An experienced and capable workforce, talented
employees in key areas, collective learning
embedded in the organization, or proven
managerial know-how.
Brand, image, and
reputational assets
Brand names, trademarks, product or company
image, buyer loyalty, and reputation for quality,
superior service.
Alliances or joint ventures that provide access to
technologies, specialized know-how, or
geographic markets, and trust established with
various partners
Company culture
The norms of behavior, business principles, and
ingrained beliefs within the company.
Determining the Competitive Power of a
Company’s Resources and Capabilities
Is the resource or capability
competitively valuable?
Is the resource or capability rare—
is it something rivals lack?
Is the resource or capability
inimitable or hard to copy?
Is the resource or capability non-substitutable
or is it vulnerable to substitution from
different types of resources and capabilities?
A core competence is a proficiently performed
internal activity that is central to a company’s
strategy and competitiveness.
A core competence that is performed with a
very high level of proficiency is referred to as
a distinctive competence.
Companies that lack a stand-alone resource that
is competitively powerful may nonetheless
develop a competitive advantage through
resource bundles that enable the superior
performance of important cross-functional
Rather than try to match resources possessed by
a rival firm, a firm may develop entirely different
resources that substitute for the strengths of the
The Importance of Dynamic Capabilities
in Sustaining Competitive Advantage
• Management’s organization-building
challenge has two elements:
1. Attending to ongoing recalibration of existing
capabilities and resources
2. Casting a watchful eye for opportunities to develop
totally new capabilities for delivering better customer
value and/or outcompeting rivals.
A dynamic capability is the ability to modify,
deepen, or reconfigure the company’s existing
resources and capabilities in response to its
changing environment or market opportunities.
Are Company Resources and Capabilities
Sufficient to Allow It to Seize Market
Opportunities and Nullify External Threats?
• SWOT represents the first letter in:
 Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats
• A well-conceived strategy is:
 Matched to the firm’s resource strengths and
 Aimed at capturing the firm’s best market opportunities
and defending against external threats to its well-being
SWOT analysis is a simple but powerful tool for
sizing up a firm’s internal strengths and
competitive deficiencies, its market opportunities,
and the external threats to its future well-being.
The Value of a SWOT Analysis
• The value of a SWOT analysis is in:
1. Drawing conclusions from the SWOT listings
about the firm’s overall situation.
2. Translating these conclusions into strategic
actions to better match the firm’s strategy to its
strengths and market opportunities, correcting
problematic weaknesses, and defending against
worrisome external threats.
Identifying a Company’s Internal Strengths
• A firm’s strengths determine whether its
competitive power in the marketplace will be
impressively strong or disappointingly weak.
• A firm that is well endowed with strengths
stemming from potent resources and core
competencies normally has considerable
competitive power.
Factors to Consider When Identifying a Company’s Strengths,
Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats
Potential Internal Strengths and Competitive Capabilities
• Core competencies in ____ .
• A strong financial condition; ample financial resources to grow the business.
• Strong brand name image/company reputation.
• Economies of scale and/or learning and experience curve advantages over
• Proprietary technology/superior technological skills/important patents.
• Cost advantages over rivals.
• Product innovation capabilities.
• Proven capabilities in improving production processes.
• Good supply chain management capabilities.
• Good customer service capabilities.
• Better product quality relative to rivals.
• Wide geographic coverage and/or strong global distribution capability.
• Alliances/joint ventures with other firms that provide access to valuable
technology, competencies, and/or attractive geographic markets.
Factors to Consider When Identifying a Company’s Strengths,
Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats
Potential Internal Weaknesses and Competitive Deficiencies
• No clear strategic direction.
• No well-developed or proven core competencies.
• A weak balance sheet; burdened with too much debt.
• Higher overall unit costs relative to key competitors.
• A product/service with features and attributes inferior to those of rivals.
• Too narrow a product line relative to rivals.
• Weak brand image or reputation.
• Weaker dealer network than key rivals.
• Behind on product quality, R&D, and/or technological know-how.
• Lack of management depth.
• Short on financial resources to grow the business and pursue promising
Factors to Consider When Identifying a Company’s Strengths,
Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats
Potential Market Opportunities
• Serving additional customer groups or market segments.
• Expanding into new geographic markets.
• Expanding the firm’s product line to meet a broader range of customer
• Utilizing existing company skills or technological know-how to enter new
product lines or new businesses.
• Falling trade barriers in attractive foreign markets.
• Acquiring rival firms or companies with attractive technological expertise
or capabilities.
Factors to Consider When Identifying a Company’s Strengths,
Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats
Potential External Threats to a Company’s Future Prospects
• Increasing intensity of competition among industry rivals—may squeeze
profit margins.
• Slowdowns in market growth.
• Likely entry of potent new competitors.
• Growing bargaining power of customers or suppliers.
• A shift in buyer needs and tastes away from the industry’s product.
• Adverse demographic changes that threaten to curtail demand for the
industry’s product.
• Vulnerability to unfavorable industry driving forces.
• Restrictive trade policies on the part of foreign governments.
• Costly new regulatory requirements.
Question 3: Are The Company’s Cost
Structure And Customer Value
Proposition Competitive?
• Why are cost structure and value important?
 A company must be both cost effective in delivering
value and in achieving a superior mix of differentiating
features to maintain the competitive edge of its
customer value proposition over those of its rivals,
especially in industries where price competition is a
dominant feature.
• Useful analytical tools:
 Value chain analysis
 Benchmarking
A company’s value chain identifies the primary
activities that create customer value and related
support activities.
A Representative Company Value Chain
A Representative Company Value Chain
Concepts &
Connections 4.1
Benchmarking: A Tool for Assessing
Whether a Company’s Value Chain
Activities Are Competitive
• Entails comparing how different firms perform
various value chain maintenance and then
making cross-company comparisons of the
costs and effectiveness of these activities:
 How materials are purchased
 How inventories are managed
 How products are assembled
 How customer orders are filled and shipped
 How maintenance is performed
Benchmarking is a potent tool for learning which
companies are best at performing particular
activities and then using their techniques (or “best
practices”) to improve the cost and effectiveness
of a company’s own internal activities.
Representative Value Chain for an Entire Industry
The Value Chain System
for an Entire Industry
• The value chains of forward channel partners
are relevant because
1. The costs and margins of the activities of distributors
and retail dealers are part of the price the consumer
ultimately pays and can dramatically affect the
company’s customer value proposition.
2. Accurately assessing the competitiveness of a firm’s
cost structure and value proposition helps its
managers understand an industry’s entire value chain
system, not just the firm’s own internal value chain.
Strategic Options for Remedying
a Cost or Value Disadvantage
• There are three main areas of a firm’s overall
value chain where cost differences with
rivals can occur:
 A firm’s own internal activities
 Value chain activities performed by suppliers
 Value chain activities performed by forward channel
Improving Internally Performed
Value Chain Activities
1. Implement the use of best practices throughout the firm
2. Eliminate cost-producing activities by revamping value chain
3. Relocate high-cost internal activities to lower-cost areas
4. Outsource internal activities to vendors or contractors to
perform them more cheaply than in-house.
5. Invest in productivity-enhancing, cost-saving technology
6. Find ways around activities or items where costs are high
7. Redesign products and/or components to economize on
manufacturing or assembly costs
8. Reduce costs in supplier or forward portions of value chain
system to make up for higher internal costs
Improving Supplier-Related
Value Chain Activities
• Remedying Supplier-Related Cost Disadvantages
 Pressure suppliers for lower prices
 Switch to lower-priced substitutes
 Collaborate closely with suppliers to identify mutual cost-saving
 Integrate backward into business of high-cost suppliers
• Enhancing the Customer Value Proposition
 Selecting and retain best-quality performing suppliers
 Provide quality-based incentives to suppliers
 Integrate suppliers into the product design process
Improving Value Chain Activities
of Forward Channel Allies
• Combat forward channel cost disadvantages by:
 Pressuring dealer-distributors and other forward channel allies to
reduce their costs and markups
 Working with forward channel allies to identify win-win
opportunities to reduce costs
 Changing to a more economical distribution strategy or integrate
forward into company-owned retail outlets
• Improve the customer value proposition by
 Engaging in cooperative advertising and promotions
 Providing training programs for dealers, distributors, or retailers to
improve the purchasing experience or customer service
 Creating and enforcing operating standards for resellers or
franchisees to ensure consistent store operations
How Value Chain Activities Relate
to Resources and Capabilities
• A company’s value-creating activities are
enabled by its specific resources and
 Resources and capabilities that are both valuable
and rare provide a company with the necessary
preconditions for competitive advantage.
 When these assets are deployed in the form of a
value-creating activity, that potential is realized.
Question 4: What Is the Company’s
Competitive Strength Relative
to Key Rivals?
• Determining a firm’s overall competitive
position requires answering two questions:
1. How does the company rank relative to competitors
on each of the important factors that determine
market success?
2. Does the company have a net competitive advantage
or disadvantage versus its major competitors?
Steps in a Competitive Strength Assessment
Step 1
List the industry’s key success factors and other measures
of competitive strength or weakness (6 to 10 measures).
Step 2
Assign a weight to each measure of competitive strength based
on its importance in shaping competitive success. (The sum of
the weights for each measure must add up to 1.0.).
Step 3
Calculate strength ratings by scoring each competitor on each
strength measure (use a scale where 1 is weak and 10 is strong)
and multiplying the assigned rating by the assigned weight.
Step 4
Sum the weighted strength ratings on each factor to get an overall
measure of competitive strength for each company being rated.
Step 5
Use the overall strength ratings to draw conclusions about the size
and extent of the firm’s net competitive advantage or disadvantage
and to take specific note of areas of strength and weakness.
Illustration of a Competitive Strength Assessment
Interpreting the Competitive
Strength Assessments
• Show how a firm compares against its rivals,
factor by factor or capability by capability.
• Indicate whether a firm is at net competitive
advantage or disadvantage against each rival.
• Provide guidelines for designing wise
offensive and defensive strategies.
• Point to competitive weaknesses of the firm
that will require defensive moves to correct.
Question 5: What Strategic Issues
and Problems Must Be Addressed
by Management?
• The final and most important analytical step
is to zero in on exactly what strategic issues
company managers need to address.
 The results of industry and competitive analyses
pinpoint precisely the agenda items (“worry list”) that
management must attend to when engaged in
strategy making to improve the company’s
performance and business outlook.

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