Competitive Strategy and Implementation

At this point of our course, you have been introduced (and practiced!) some key
strategic management concepts and tools. Now is your chance to put everything
together. In this final written assignment of the course, you will conduct an analysis
of your firm and recommend a series of actionable initiatives.
In this 7-10 page double-spaced paper (not including title page/references):
1) Include an executive summary that highlights your key recommendations for
your firm (one-half page maximum) – an executive summary is NOT an
introduction; rather, it briefly states the analyses you conducted and your main
recommendations. You should write the executive summary after you have
completed the body of your paper, since you won’t know what to say until you have
completed your analyses and recommendations. To be clear, the executive summary
will appear at the beginning of your paper.
2) Introduce your firm (one page maximum). Which key industries does the firm
compete in? What are their annual sales and other interesting quantitative data?
Based on your earlier Resources/Strategic Planning assignment (Paper #3), share
some of their key advantages and distinctive competencies. Note: It is alright if you
use some information from your previous papers for this section but you need to
paraphrase rather than copy/paste.
3) Now, explore your firm’s competitive position in the marketplace. Depending on
how complex your firm is, you may have to choose one strategic business unit or
one product/service to focus on. Which of Porter’s generic strategies (Module 6)
do they use? Does your firm have a competitive advantage in the marketplace? Why,
or why not?
4) Characterize three of your firm’s main competitors. This might be especially
challenging if your firm is diverse (operating in many industries / various product
lines). Therefore, similar to 3) above, you might have to limit your analysis based on
a particular competitive category. For example, Boeing is a diversified firm. In the
aircraft manufacturing sector, they compete against Airbus, and some smaller
manufacturers such as Embraer. Boeing also competes in other sectors. Limit your
analysis to competitors in a particular sector if needed. What do your firm’s
competitors do well? What are their strengths and weaknesses relative to your
5) Examine your firm holistically (comprehensively). Provide a detailed analysis of
their financials (see below – I mean ratios, not anything more thorough). You are
welcome to utilize some of the financial information that you covered in the
Resources/Strategic Planning assignment but go into a more thorough analysis.
Compare your firm to their main competitors (pick at least three) as well as their
industry average on several financial ratios (at a minimum, cover one ratio each
from profitability, liquidity, leverage, and activity ratios). What do those ratios
measure (in non-technical jargon, please), and how is your firm doing with respect
(Ready Ratios is a good source for financial ratio information).
6) Overall, how would you characterize your firm’s performance over the past five
years? Cover the full five-year period, and reference year one of the five-year period
to the most recent year that data is fully available. Hint: Use more than one
measure of firm performance!
7) Based on your overall assessment, now is your opportunity to make strategic
recommendations for your firm. What actions do you suggest they take in the next
three to five years? Keep your recommendations at the strategic level (e.g., talk less
about subjects such as employee training and more about subjects such as business and
corporate-level strategy). This is the most important section of your paper.
Also, what do you suggest for a “blue ocean strategy” (Module 5) for your firm? Make
sure your recommendations are well thought-out, “hard hitting,” and justified. If you
do not think your firm has a promising future, it is acceptable if you make
suggestions that include retrenchment for example. In other words, you are not
expected to advocate/“cheer” for your firm. Module 6 contains a lot of information
that you can use to help formulate your recommendations.
8) Include any important conclusions about your firm.

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