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  • Wawa Celebrates 50 Years of Success

    Wawa is a convenience store located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Florida. This year, Wawa celebrates its 50th anniversary. In the video below, Former CEO Howard Stoeckel just published a new book, The Wawa Way: How a Funny Name and Six Core Values Revolutionized Convenience . The name, Wawa, came from the Pennsylvania town where the headquarters is located. . How has Wawa's strategy and business model evolved over the years? How is Wawa's culture a competitive advantage ? What is servant leadership?
  • Digital Strategy

    In this video, McKinsey director Paul Willmott, discusses six critical decisions CEOs must make to address the strategic challenge posed by the digital revolution. Are you in the right industry? What technology solutions do your customers want to use? Should we attack or defend? What is the right balance of attack and defend? Should the CEO lead the digital transformation? Or, Should the CEO delegate to a chief digital officer? Or, Should the CEO delegate the digital agenda? How is digitization altering the nature of competition?
  • Taco Bell Breakfast Menu Competes with McDonald’s

    Every business plan includes a competitive analysis. When evaluating competitors, companies may identify their competitors, name their products and services, determine market share, and analyze the promotion mix. It seems that Taco Bell compared its breakfast products with those of its largest competitor, McDonald’s. Popular breakfast items offered by McDonald’s include the Egg McMuffin, biscuits, pancakes, oatmeal, and the option to substitute egg whites in breakfast sandwiches. Taco Bell offers the A.M. Crunchwrap (burrito), Cinnabon Delights, a grilled taco, and the waffle taco. “We’re just getting started with breakfast,” said Chris Brandt , Taco Bell’s chief marketing officer. “The overarching strategy here is to break up the routine. We saw out there a sea of sameness in terms of breakfast. We think we have some truly unique items. … We feel like we offer a great alternative for people to try something new.” Taco Bell has developed two ads to directly compete with McDonald’s. In the first ad, several men named Ronald McDonald say that they prefer breakfast at Taco Bell. In response, McDonald’s tweeted an image of its clown, Ronald McDonald, petting a Chihuahua with the comment, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” (The Chihuahua is Taco Bell’s retired mascot.) The second ad, below, is set to the tune Old McDonald Had a Farm and shows a man stuck in the past eating Egg McMuffins. But, after eating Taco Bell’s breakfast, he trims his hair (mullet style), changes to tighter pants, gets a smartphone, and takes down his poster. In response, McDonald’s tweeted that Mayor McCheese had declared that Ronald prefers McDonald’s. Do you think of Taco Bell as a place to get breakfast? What are the risks for Taco Bell directly attacking McDonald's? What do you think about the Twitter responses from McDonald's?
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  • Radio Shack Best Super Bowl Ad

    In the above Super Bowl advertisement, struggling retailer Radio Shack made fun of itself. Stars from the 1980s ransack a store, saying that they want their store back. The retailer made fun of itself. The stores have lagged behind other electronics retailers. At the end, the store is shown modernized and updated. What do you think? Will customers return to the new stores? Explain. What strategy would you recommend to Radio Shack's managers?
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  • BlackBerry Shifts Focus from Hardware to Software

    BlackBerry interim CEO John Chen said that the company's new strategy will focus on developing software instead of hardware. Chen was appointed interim CEO in November 2013. At one time, BlackBerry was the dominant smart-phone company. The BlackBerry phone was so popular that the company changed its name from Research in Motion to BlackBerry to reflect the popularity of the phone. Apple and Samsung now dominate the smartphone consumer market. BlackBerry has a reputation for security that comes embedded in its software. Thus, this change in strategy capitalizes on a core competency. BlackBerry, a Canadian company, will outsource its hardware production to Foxconn, a Taiwanese company. Foxconn will make BlackBerry phones for overseas markets, with an emphasis on emerging smartphone markets. BlackBerry's focus shifted from its customers to its product. Instead of thinking of what the customer wanted, the company focused on the product. BlackBerry was product oriented, not customer oriented. Why did BlackBerry's managers fail to see the impact of a changing environment on its future? Why did BlackBerry's managers lose sight of underlying customer needs and only focus on existing wants?
  • Peter McGuinness, Chief Marketing and Brand Officer of Chobani, Expands the Yogurt Market

    Peter McGuinness, Chief marketing and brand officer of Chobani, discusses the decisions Chobani managers made to expand their yogurt market.. They are increasing items on the menu , inspiring people to eat yogurt beyond breakfast, and encouraging people to use yogurt as an ingredient in recipes . Do you eat yogurt? What about Greek yogurt? What would you suggest to Chobani managers to penetrate the market (strategy to sell more yogurt to present customers)?
  • The Art of Strategy

    In this video, McKinsey principal Chris Bradley and director Angus Dawson explain how strategies are created, implemented, and executed. How has strategic thinking evolved? What's next for strategy?
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  • Google's Maps Engine Pro

    Brian McClendon, vice president of Google Maps, said that Google's new Maps Engine Pro "will be the new document type, and Google's adding it to the arsenal. Every user can and should be a cartographer." Heather Folsom, the Maps Engine Pro product manager, explained, "Anything that has an address or physical place of being is not helped by spreadsheets. Maps Engine Pro uploads that info and places it on a map. She added that companies can use public data sheets as well, such as building development plans for a growing area or an area that's being rebuilt" (Source: Seth Rosenblatt, "Google Maps charts new territory into businesses," CNET, October 21, 2013). In the video above, Pure Fix Cycles demonstrates how they're using Google Apps and Maps to manage their operations as efficiently as possible. Map pins can be based on units and maps and drawing boundaries can be annotated. Seth Rosenblatt reports, "Google hopes that businesses will use Maps Engine Pro to help them chart and plan strategies, as it can be used for plotting not just client or customer addresses, but different price regions, locations where business is weak or nonexistent, and potential new locations." Think of a business situation using a spreadsheet. Could that information be placed on a map? How could that map help employees visualize a situation and then, its progress? How can managers use Maps Engine Pro?
  • Culture Drives the Strategy at Costco

    In this video interview , Costco co-founder CEO Jim Sinega says, "Culture is not the most important thing, it is the only thing." Costco is known for its low turnover. Many employees that started with the company have stayed to become managers. Jim Sinega says that Costco's competitive advantage is "absolute pricing authority." What does that mean for the customer? What might that mean for the employees? What does Costco value? How do Costco's values shape its culture? Entrepreneur defines corporate culture as A blend of the values, beliefs, taboos, symbols, rituals and myths all companies develop over time. (Summarize this definition of culture in your own words.) How does it apply to Costco? What could other companies learn from Costco?
  • J. C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson Resigns Under Pressure

    When J. C. Penny (JCP) hired Ron Johnson as Chief Executive in June 2011, he was known as a retailing genius. Johnson was Apple's senior vice president of retail before joining J. C. Penney. He wanted to make JCP America's favorite store by offering everyday low prices and shops within a store - a collection of 100 branded shops and specialty boutiques within the store. Sephora and MNG by Mango were successful when he was hired. In an interview with Harvard Business Review , Johnson said, "In retailing, you've got to trust your intuition much more than you trust the data. You can't follow the customer. You've got to lead your customers . . . even before they know what they want." Picture from Wall Street Journal The strategy was implemented without testing. Coupons and regular sales were eliminated. Loyal, discount-minded customers left and shopped elsewhere. Sales continued to decline. Employees lost their jobs. Ron Johnson resigned April 8, 2013. Have you shopped at an Apple store? Why? Have you shopped at J. C. Penney? Why? What is the difference between Apple and JCP? Why wasn't Ron Johnson able to turnaround J.C. Penney?
  • Sales Decline at J.C. Penney

    J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson was hired in 2011 to revive the company. He had been very successful when employed at Target and then Apple. But, his plan to abolish sales and coupons at J.C. Penney has backfired. The sales outlook is bleak. Sales have declined even though advertising expenditures have increased. See graphic below from AdAge . Penney's sales and coupons were popular customer incentives that often drove seasonal traffic. Yet, Mr. Johnson did not approve researching consumer behavior before implementing the everyday low prices. Thus, the J.C. Penney core customer felt alienated. Mr. Johnson said, "We have brought back coupons for our rewards members, although we still call them gifts. And we'll offer sales each and every week, as we move forward. But we will do it differently than we did in the past. We don't need to artificially mark up prices to create the illusion of savings." Bernie Sosnick, an analyst at Gilford Securities, said, "You're getting down to a point where Penney cannot absorb many more significant losses without the damage becoming irreparable." (See ). What might customers think of Mr. Johnson's quote above? Will they understand "gifts"? How does testing fit into a strategy? What role has research played in Mr. Johnson's strategic decisions? What would you recommend?
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  • Social Media Strategy

    A study, What do Corporate Directors and Senior Managers Know About Social Media , was conducted in April 2012 by the Conference Board and the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University . The results were published last October. The study found that CEOs are regular users of social media both for personal and professional use. They actively use Twitter. But, they passively use social media, such as blogs, videos, and discussions. In other words, CEOs read blogs, watch videos, read discussion boards and rating sites. Companies appear to be relatively unsophisticated when it comes to formally gathering data from social media and incorporating them into corporate strategy, operational plans, and risk management. Directors and executives do not request this information nor rely on it for decision making. However, those who do rely on this information find it useful in pursuing corporate objectives. The findings suggest considerable opportunity for companies that develop a reliable infrastructure for capturing data from social media and distilling them into an actionable, usable form for corporate decision makers. The authors of the report recommend companies engage in the steps below. Assess your current capabilities Determine how social media fits with your strategy and business model Map your company's KPIs and risk factors to information available through social media Implement a "listening" system to capture social media data and transform it into metrics Develop formal policies and guidelines for employees, executives, and directors Consider the legal and behavioral ramifications Read the attached report. Should managers actively engage in social media? Explain. Is a company doomed if it does not use social media? Explain.
  • IKEA’s Sustainability Strategy for 2020

    People & Planet Positive is the IKEA Group's sustainability strategy for 2020. Sustainability at IKEA is based on its vision of creating a better everyday life for the many people, as well its business foundations. The report states, "We will do our utmost to be the leader in sustainable, affordable life at home by inspiring and enabling customers to fulfill their needs and dreams at home ." What evidence of sustainability is mentioned in this video? <
  • Flu and Absence Management

    The flu is increasing the level of absenteeism in workplaces across America. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) " widespread influenza activity was reported by 47 states ." Graphic from CDC at The CDC advices, "If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care." But, not all employers offer sick leave. Employee benefits the employer must provide by law include social security and workers' compensation. Thus, some employees go to work sick. Unfortunately, even more employees get the flu and call in sick. Employee absences affect an organization's finances and productivity. Washington Employers Association has developed a guide to calculate the rates and costs of absent employees. (See attached Absenteeism Calculator.) The SOHO Guidebook cites the following as notable hidden cost factors associated with absenteeism: Lost productivity of the absent employee Overtime for other employees to fill in Decreased overall productivity of those employees Costs incurred to secure temporary help Possible loss of business or dissatisfied customers Problems with employee morale Managers need absence management strategies. What should managers do about flu absence? How can flu absence be prevented?
  • ‘Tis the Season to Give Strategically

    Holidays put most people in the giving mood, and their donations support charities. Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy , researched and written by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and published by Giving USA Foundation , estimated that total charitable contributions by individuals, corporations, and foundations in 2011 were $298.42 billion. Sponsorship of charitable causes or events is a strategy used to increase product awareness and build relationships. Organizations use sponsorships to gain exposure to the event's audience and the image associated with the event or activity. Sponsorships involve investments in events or causes in order to achieve various corporate objectives. Managers select events to sponsor based on the target audience. Event marketing is a form of brand promotion that ties a brand to a meaningful athletic, entertainment, cultural, social, or other type of high-interest public activity. It provides companies with alternatives to the cluttered mass media, ability to segment on a local or regional basis, and opportunities for reaching narrow lifestyle groups whose consumption behavior can be tied to the local event. Just like corporations, individuals can think strategically about supporting charities. They can target their giving by choosing to make one big donation rather than making small donations to many individual charities. They can match what matters most to them to the mission of the charity. They can review the accomplishments of the charity. Websites reviewing and rating charities include,,, and Reviews are based on standards such as fundraising expenses, transparency, and overhead expenses. Dan Pallotta , author of Uncharitable and Charity Case , thinks that standards, such as overhead expenses, are the wrong criteria to evaluate charities. Instead program effectiveness should be determined. Pallotta says three questions should be asked. What are your goals? What is your progress towards those goals? How do you know? Which charitable causes are important to you? How do you know if the charity is effective? Can the charity give you information indicating how successful it is? How successful is the organization?
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