MMS 195S

Document Sample
MMS 195S Powered By Docstoc
					MMS 195S
From Idea to Execution: Assessing and Planning for Marketplace Success
Course Syllabus, Spring 2012

Visiting Associate Professor: Lauren Whitehurst
Home: 919-419-7463/Mobile: 404-245-3962
Course site:

Course description/objectives
This course will examine how success in the marketplace relies on both good
ideas and good execution: one without the other leads to zero value creation.

Questions to be addressed include:
 What makes for a good business/organizational idea?
 How do we strategically evaluate the potential of an idea?
 Can we create and use a framework of basic components that works to
  assess most ideas?
 What are the components of execution?
 How does execution interplay with the idea evaluation process?
 How do we assess difficulty and likelihood of success?

We’ll begin with a focus on what makes for a good idea using the SWOT
framework against factors of market/customer, start-up/operating costs and
competitive landscape. After that, we’ll turn to a discussion of the
processes/factors involved in implementation planning. At this point, we will also
start our “consulting” projects with Durham-based organizations to practice/apply
evaluation/planning tools in real situations.

Students in this class will gain insight into several key areas related to business
management. The SWOT framework is an excellent foundation for evaluating
strategic business decisions whether one is working as an entrepreneur or in a
large ongoing business. An ability to plan execution and project manage is a skill
that will serve anyone interested in a business career. Your work in this class will
be both theoretical (we will examine frameworks and examples for discussion)
and “real-life” (you will have external projects that require planning work). As
such, by the end of the term, you should have gained significant insight into how
to think strategically, how to increase your chances of success on future projects
you manage and perhaps most importantly, how to best leverage your own
strengths and manage your own weaknesses for the greatest success in these
The course readings consist of both articles/book chapters explaining
frameworks and theories, as well as case examples for discussion. All materials
are available via the Harvard Business School Publishing site via a special link
just for this course (see below). Using this link will save you significant money, so
don’t try to find the materials elsewhere (the total materials cost for the course is
around $70 using this link). I would recommend you wait before buying materials
scheduled to be used post spring break until the beginning of March, as I may
cancel case readings if we need to spend more time on project work in class. I’ll
let you know whether we will stick to our scheduled readings by March 1’s class.

Please prepare for class by both reading AND thinking about the assigned
literature prior to arriving.1 Our time together, in large part, will revolve around
discussing the issues in the reading, so if you have not taken pre-class time to
consider what you think, our class won’t be very interesting. To help us with the
preparation discipline, I’d ask everyone to write a paragraph or two to our class
reading blog after each reading assignment day (see link below). This is not a
requirement, but it is a strong recommendation, as it will help you structure
thoughts and spark ideas even before we are together.

Please note that I will also “cold call” for discussion “openings” on the reading. An
opening consists of a ~5 minute introduction to the content and includes both a
short recounting of the material and some insight or questions to consider. Not
every class will begin with an opening, but you should be prepared to open every
day. In addition, don’t assume that you’re “done” if you’ve “opened”-- you may be
asked to do this more than once during the term. Note that you may “pass” a cold
call, but that’s a pretty clear sign that you did not prepare. 

We will have one simulation assignment in the class. More on this as we
approach it, but I will ask you to both do the simulation and think about what you
learned by doing it. We will discuss insights/learnings in class but there will not
be an opening for this assignment.

  Per this topic, if you have read this before coming to day one as requested in my distribution
email, you’ll know that I’ll be drawing for two pairs of tickets to Jan 12 ’s basketball game against
Virginia at 9PM at the end of that first class. The seats are in the stands across from the Cameron
Crazies section. If you want these tickets, please place a folded slip of paper with your name on it
in the bowl near me when you arrive. The drawing for the first set will only be for those who have
tread what I assigned carefully…Everyone will be in the drawing for the remaining set. 
Class format
1) Discussion: This is, in large part, a discussion-based seminar. As such, class
engagement matters significantly in your assessment. In order to be a good
discussion member, you will have to prepare your assignments ahead of time—
preparation includes a close reading of the material AND time spent in
thinking/analyzing such that you have questions, opinions and/or insights to
share. You need to be able to do more than recount the facts of the reading; you
need to be able to draw analogies, point out issues, address implications, etc. I
am looking for participants who are not afraid to state opinions, who can back up
their ideas, and who are open to lively debate. Questions are just as important as
comments—and no question is stupid.

I have a few rules about discussion procedures in class:
 Openings (see above) should not take more than about 5 minutes. As you
    prepare for class, consider how you would open a set of readings and plan for
    this amount of time.
 The “opener” should have everyone’s attention, as this sets the stage for all
    discussion. Just because you are not opening does not mean you are not
    doing something—you are actively listening. You may take notes about points
    you want to address or disagree with after the opening is finished, but we will
    allow the individual “on the spot” to fully finish before engaging in debate and
 We will be respectful of each other even if we disagree. Try to point out
    something positive about someone’s comment before you state a contrary
    opinion. Watch tone and remember we all believe in what we say, even
    though we remain open to be convinced otherwise.

2) Projects: Projects are the other major component of the seminar. Every
student in the class will be on a team of 4-6 students (exact numbers TBD)
working with a Durham-based organization on a project involving implementation
planning. Each team will have a designated student coordinator who will be in
charge of project management (he/she will also be evaluated on this dimension),
and I will serve as advisor to all the teams.

Teams will be formed based on student interest and skills (survey to be
completed once all projects introduced by the end of January). You will see that
there are dates on the syllabus when we reach project milestones. Some of
these terms may be new to you—I know this! We’ll discuss the milestones and
what’s required once we start project work but a few upfront notes here:

      You should expect to spend time throughout the term on your projects in
       addition to your reading and class preparation. We will have regular
       reporting on project progress during class starting in February, so we can
       all learn from each other. In addition, I am happy to schedule additional
       time outside of class to meet with teams as desired/needed beyond the
       weekly meetings described below.
      I highly recommend your team schedule a weekly 1-1.5 hour meeting
       outside of class that everyone has on their schedule. This will provide you
       with a regular check in point to assess progress and plan next steps. I
       have never seen a team function well that does not have meetings
       regularly and on a schedule, so again, it is not required but it is
       recommended. As you get close to the final deadlines, I would guess you
       will need more than 1 hour per week together so consider this as April
       approaches. I am happy to attend all or part of the regular weekly
       sessions as desired as long as I can fit it into my schedule. If you want me
       to attend, include me in the planning process and know that my
       involvement can only help your performance in this class. 

      To help us get comfortable with our teams, I’m inviting you all to a bowling
       “bonding” event for the first week of February (teams assigned Feb 7;
       event on Feb 8-10 TBD—see sign up sheet asking for best night going
       around in class 1). I know it sounds corny but it works. Details to come
       soon but assume 5-7P at Durham Lanes. Bowling and pizza are on me.

20% Course Engagement
   There are several dimensions to course engagement. These include:

Physical class attendance: you need to be at all classes unless you have a
University approved absence OR one approved by me PRIOR to class (text,
email or phone). I expect you in the room and in your seat, ready to go when
class starts at 10:05.

Discussion involvement: see above. If you are someone who does not like to
speak out in class, let’s talk right away. Not only is this skill required for business
success, but, if you truly do not think you can get around this issue even with my
help, you probably should not be in this class.

Mental involvement: no multi-tasking. Please turn off all wireless connections
before class begins. You may keep your phone on vibrate and if you are
expecting a call you feel you must take during class time, let me know before
class begins and sit near the door to be able to exit when the call arrives. I know
many of you use computers or other electronic devices for note taking, but these
programs do not require an Internet connection for that function.

Two additional notes on this issue: 1) I come at this from experience—I have
been in countless meetings where people do not hear each other because they
are multitasking on email etc. I admit my own culpability here. I am setting this
rule because you deserve my full attention in this class. 2) I know it is tough to
disconnect but I also know how many students I have seen toggling between
Facebook, email and their notes during class. I am also setting this rule because
both I and your fellow classmates deserve your full attention in this class. I think
you will enjoy our time together, so don’t stay in this class unless you can live by
the “no network” rule.

Openings: Most, if not all of you, will have a chance to “open” a discussion. This
is your chance to shine and I know you will not have any problem doing so IF you
prepare in advance. I won’t assign openings because 1) you should be ready for
every class, 2) you need to practice being ready to present your thoughts
whenever you are called upon, and 3) this is how they do it at Harvard Business
School. Cold call openings were one of the most important parts of my
experience there—the ability to talk in front of others and not necessarily know
you will have to do so beforehand is a skill you will value forever.

Lastly, I expect adherence to the Duke Community Standard. It seems to me that
it should go without saying that you will do your own work and that when on
teams, you will do your fair share of the work. But, just in case, consider this now

15% Midpoint Paper
Due February 16 in class
This paper will involve analyzing a HBS case in terms of the work we have done
around SWOT analysis and execution plans to date. The case will be distributed
to you by February 1. We will discuss this assignment further when I assign the
case, but a few FAQs answered now:
 The paper will not require any additional research.
 The length should not exceed 8-10 double-spaced typed pages (with less
    being fine—grade determined by quality of content, not length).

65% Final deliverables
There are three final deliverables for this class. They are all due April 24 in class

1) Team project final report (30%)
This report will summarize the research/work conducted and the project’s
recommendations/outcomes. The report components will include the team’s
original statement of scope, the work plan or a summary of work performed, the
team’s findings and recommendations. I will supply teams with an optional
template to use where relevant and this work can be formatted in word, power
point or a combination of the two.

2) Personal reflection essay (15%)
This essay will summarize your insights on what you learned personally from the
team project work in this class. You will need to consider what you learned about
yourself as an individual and as a member of a team. In addition, the essay can
include your opinions on team dynamics in general or on the topic of how ideas
and execution interplay. You have a lot of freedom with this deliverable—I
basically want to know what you got out of the work and how this will help
you/impact your choices/professional performance going forward. This essay can
be as short as 2 double-spaced pages or as long as 5 (again quality is the
determinant of grade).

3) Peer evaluation (20%)
All of you will complete a peer evaluation for your project team the last day of
class (April 24). You will score your team peers on two dimensions that will
ensure that those who were contributors are rewarded, while free riders are
identified and penalized. As you can see, your performance as a contributing
peer will carry significant weight in your final grade.

Time with me/Office hours:
 I’ll plan to be at Von der Heyden on Tuesdays/Thursdays from 11:30-1:00
   unless I let you know in class that I could not stay on a given day. Please feel
   free to stop by and see me then as desired—I enjoy meeting with you all
   about the materials.
 I can also be available later on Tues/Thurs or on other days/times by
   arrangement via email or phone (email preferred).
 I would like to meet with each of you individually in January to get to know
   you and to get a better understanding of your goals for the class (sign ups for
   15 minute slots coming around in class 1). If the times/dates on the sign up
   sheets don’t work for you, let me know and we’ll work out another time.
 I am delighted to attend group “flunches” and would hope to do at least one
   with each of you this term.
 I want this to be a good/productive and memorable experience for you—
   please don’t hesitate to approach me if we should be talking.

A last note
I welcome your feedback both on how class is going and on how I’m doing as a
teacher/leader throughout the term. I’m here first to ensure you grow
academically and emotionally, but also to learn and have fun, so if you have
thoughts on how I can enhance any/all of those goals, don’t keep them to
Class plans/assignments
Thurs, Jan 12
Introductions, Syllabus review, Expectations, Sign ups, Personal 1 pager
assignment (in class)

Tues, Jan 17

Class goal: introduce SWOT and practice applying the framework

Thurs, Jan 19
Project 1 speaker: Katie Jorgensen, Fuqua School of Business Candidate, Class
of 2013 and Potential Founder of Rent-A-Room

Preparation: review P4E site at Fuqua; teams are entering the operations phase

Tues, Jan 24
Project 2 speakers: Dan Kimberg, Founder/Executive Director and Rumin
Sarwar, Public Health Intern, Student U

Preparation: review Student U website (

Thurs, Jan 26
Project 3 speaker: Wendy Phillips, Co-Founder, Gather Digital

Preparation: review Gather Digital website (

Tues, Jan 31
Project 4 speakers: Connie Walker, General Manager and Dick Gordon, Host of
The Story, WUNC

Preparation: review WUNC and The Story websites (;

Other: Project survey (last 5 minutes of class)
Thurs, Feb 2
Reading: Tesco
Class goal: Practice SWOT analysis

Introduce project milestones/process
Team assignments
Midpoint case/paper assigned (Midpoint paper due Feb 16)

Tues, Feb 7
Reading: Execution articles (3)
Making Innovation Happen
The Diamond Framework
Work Breakdown: From Huge Job to Manageable Tasks

Class goal: Introduce execution concepts/frameworks, consider Tesco case from
execution angle

Thurs, Feb 9
Guest speaker: Dr. Erica Caveney, Senior Director Medical and Global Medical
Head Cardiovascular and Metabolic Delivery Unit, Quintiles

Teams: short project updates from all teams

Tues, Feb 14
Reading: Workopolis
Class goal: SWOT analysis

Teams 1 and 2 project status updates (workplan draft review)

Thurs, Feb 16
Reading: Workopolis
Class goal: Execution analysis

Teams 3 and 4 project status updates (workplan draft review)

Other: Midpoint papers due in class

Tues, Feb 21
Reading: KIPP
Class goal: SWOT analysis

Teams 1 and 2 project updates (final workplan due, data/research plan review)

Thurs, Feb 23
Reading: KIPP
Class goal: Execution analysis

Teams 3 and 4 project updates (final workplan due, data/research plan review)

Tues, Feb 28
Reading: UCLA Medical Center
Class goal: SWOT analysis

Teams 1 and 2 project updates (status update/plan for next 2 weeks)

Thurs, Mar 1
Reading: UCLA Medical Center
Class goal: Execution analysis

Teams 3 and 4 project updates (status update/plan for next 2 weeks)

Mar 6: NO CLASS/Spring Break

Mar 8: NO CLASS/Spring Break

Tues, Mar 13
Reading: Grameen Danone
Class goal: SWOT analysis

Teams 1 and 2 project updates (status update/storyline draft review)

Thurs, Mar 15
Reading: Grameen Danone
Class goal: Execution analysis

Teams 3 and 4 project updates (status update/storyline draft review)

Tues, Mar 20
Simulation (should be done/considered before you come to class)

Thurs, Mar 22
Guest Speaker: Jim Whitehurst, President & CEO, Red Hat

Tues, Mar 27
Reading: Lady Gaga
Class goal: SWOT analysis

Teams 1 and 2 project updates (status update in context of storyline)

Thurs, Mar 29
Reading: Lady Gaga
Class goal: Execution analysis

Teams 3 and 4 project updates (status update in context of storyline)

Tues, Apr 3
Reading: Botswana HIV
Class goal: SWOT analysis

Teams 1 and 2 project updates (status update in context of storyline)

Thurs, Apr 5
Reading: Botswana HIV
Class goal: Execution analysis

Teams 3 and 4 project updates (status update in context of storyline)

Tues, Apr 10
Reading: Stonewall Kitchen
Class goal: SWOT analysis

Teams 1 and 2 project updates (draft review of final deliverable)

Thurs, Apr 12
Reading: Stonewall Kitchen
Class goal: Execution analysis

Teams 3 and 4 project updates (draft review of final deliverable)

Tues, Apr 17
All teams update on last issues as approach final deliverables

Thurs, Apr 19
Guest speaker: Ron Nicol, Senior Vice President, Boston Consulting Group

Tues, Apr 24
Final projects/papers due (5 slide/5-10 minute summaries)
Class debrief
Peer survey

Shared By: