Spreading the word

21 February 2015

Over the past two days, I have spent over six hours in the recording studio making a short (two minute) introduction to the course BUSINESS 304 Strategic Management. I think the director, Lyn, did a remarkable job of corralling me.

There are only rough edits at the moment, but it is looking good.

The big challenge (as from getting over my English reserve) was to show why Strategic Management could be useful for a young person entering the workforce. Indeed, that is a debate we have from time-to-time in Academia:

Why teach strategy to people who will not be in a position to use it for many years?

Those who ask that question, I suspect, have a rather old fashion view of strategy–they see it as the domain to senior managers in a firm. There is quite a strong view nowadays, that strategy is the responsibility of everyone. Yet, I think there are other, often career-centric, reasons why a young person can find it useful to understand strategy.

First, when looking for a job, all firms are not created equal. Some are growing faster than others, and it is easier to get prompted in growth organisations or growing industries. On the other hand, firms in mature or declining industries often offer few opportunities for promotion. They are, by their very nature, much more stable. Even more pointedly, doing ones strategic homework on a potential employer can help avoid the situation of being hired one week, and being made redundant the next. Events like that do happen.

Having selected the firms you want to work for, strategic management can help you get a job. Understanding how the firm competes, how the dynamics of its particular industry work, and what are the changes in the environment that will affect it can impress the recruiter and help distinguish the candidate from others.

Finally, once you are in a firm, understanding a firm’s strategy can help you focus your discretionary efforts. Knowing what really matters to your boss, and to your bosses boss, can also help you get prompted.

Beyond your career, strategic management can also help you when you start to invest your hard earnt dosh (money). Whether it is in Kiwisaver or in the stock market, understanding strategy can help you evaluate the worth of the firms in which you might invest. Are they really going to deliver good returns, and will those returns take the form of capital growth or dividends (each has its advantages depending on where you are in your life).

So, I think BUSINESS 304 can offer students some real advantages as they enter the world of work. Having followed the careers of a number of 304 alumni, I can say with certain that I have seen people put these ideas into action very successfully.