Executive Education - Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Week 1 - Strategy for Competitive Advantage

This introductory course focuses on concepts of strategy and competitive advantage and how to achieve them. Through readings and discussion students focus on the difference between strategy and organizational effectiveness and the importance of fit among a company’s activities to realizing advantage over rivals. Students then apply these concepts in an interactive case discussion of an entrepreneurial venture trying to grow to the next level. With tools in hand and a facility in applying them to our case study, participants will prepare and present their strategy and activity maps to the group in the second class. As a group, participants will work through the implications of these statements and refine and polish these strategies to propel their organization forward. The framework of strategy and competitive advantage paves the way for the courses to come. Participants should be able to see how each component fits back into the organization’s strategy.

Week 2 - Strategic Growth

The Strategic Growth seminar focuses on identifying mechanisms to expand the uses of organizational competencies. The first portion of the seminar focuses on identifying organizational resources and capabilities that are valuable, rare, and costly to imitate. The second portion of the seminar then surveys ways to increase the value captured from these core competencies through growth. To do so, the seminar reviews: different forms of growth, motivations for growth, paths for growth, and obstacles that typically accompany growth efforts. The seminar requires active participation and includes exercises that allow participants to apply concepts to their own organizations.

Week 3 - Branding

While many talk about the importance of “branding”, it is often treated as a somewhat mysterious concept. Effective branding is more than just a visually appealing logo or name – it is a systematic understanding of thoughts, feelings and intended actions toward an organization. This module will articulate components leading to a successful branding strategy, as well as elements underpinning brand equity (e.g., brand trust, brand knowledge and brand personality). Factors related to different branding strategies such as brand extensions, umbrella branding and co-branding are also considered. The overarching goal is to provide a pragmatic understanding as to how branding can help to achieve a competitive advantage within both product and service domains.

Week 4 - Leading Innovation Success

This course explores two important steps on the path to innovation success within an organization: idea generation and idea assessment. Explore the core factors related to innovation success, including tools that enhance idea generation, a conceptual framework and analytical skills that diagnose opportunities and barriers, and implementation techniques within an organizational setting.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Break down the barriers that often stop innovative ideas from succeeding
  2. Learn how innovation can be manifested in new products, new services, and creative problem-solving
  3. Identify the three different languages for communicating the value offer and the critical importance of being able to communicate on all three levels
  4. Clearly articulate an action plan that conveys the value offer and also takes into consideration how to influence the stability surrounding the current alternative as well as reduce the fear/uncertainty associated with the new alternative

Week 5 - Strategic Systems Integration for Competitive Advantage

The strategic importance of information technology is now widely accepted. It has also become increasingly clear that the identification of strategic applications alone does not result in success for an organization. This course examines how successful business professionals use information systems to think creatively about problems, challenges and opportunities. Further, participants will find ways to gain a competitive advantage through efficient and effective implementation of IT/information systems that align with the firm’s strategies and initiatives.

Week 6 - Effective Negotiations

This course is designed to improve students’ understanding of and skills in the art of negotiation. For most managers, negotiation is a significant aspect of their day-to-day jobs, not to mention a major element of everyday life. This course is designed to give students experience in bargaining and negotiation, as well as provide a foundation in the essential knowledge bases crucial to being an effective negotiator. The emphasis of the course is on experiential learning – students will spend most of their time participating in exercises and negotiation simulations, as well as discussing negotiation-based cases involving issues that often arise in the workplace. The goal is to provide working managers with a fundamental understanding of what it takes to be an everyday effective negotiator, as well as several experiences to draw upon in future negotiation situations.

Week 7 - Creating the Architecture for Successful Teams

The success of a team is often dependent on the preparation and choices that are made BEFORE the launch of a team. This module focuses on the choices leaders must make in designing a team including the type of work the team will conduct, the resources at the team’s disposal, and the people who will comprise the team. The module will also focus on the successful “launch” of a team.

Week 8 - Leading Effective Team Processes

Teams often encounter obstacles to effective collaboration as they proceed through their day-to-day activities. These problems include, but are not limited to, breakdowns in communication, lack of participation, and dysfunctional conflict. This module focuses on identifying the problems that most frequently disrupt teams and the options for intervening to improve these dynamics.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify the characteristics of effective teams
  2. Understand the complexities of team dynamics and frequent tensions in teams
  3. Facilitate team conditions that promote collaboration
  4. Recognize personal team leadership skills, strengths, and areas of improvement