In architecture, a capstone is the final building block of a structure. It is the crowning achievement. It is also symbolic of the entire project, enterprise, or vision coming together as greater then the sum of its parts. Similarly, Oregon Advanced Strategy is a comprehensive capstone strategy class wherein students learn to apply the Advanced Strategy business values: environmental stewardship, corporate citizenship, product/service excellence, new media marketing methods, and financial strength into any organization. To achieve this goal, students will integrate their core MBA training with deep understanding of cutting edge sustainability issues, coupled with strong leadership and creativity (see flow chart below). While the skills acquired here will find use at any level of an organization, these concepts and strategies resonate best within the C-Suite and the Boardroom. In short we are we are grooming the next generation of effective CEOs.
Current corporate culture often wrongly focuses on operating efficiency and short-term results in lieu of making the difficult but critical decisions that lead to competitive strategy. Correspondingly, sustainability and social responsibility becomes the province of programs operating in silos, focused on disjointed initiatives decoupled from the main strategy of the organization. And finally, all too often leaders fail to understand that delivering high customer value is a necessary precursor to healthy financial return. Advanced strategy avoids these pitfalls by taking a long-term view of real value creation for all material stakeholders. This capstone will compel students to take a systems-thinking approach in setting and meeting these long-term goals. This requires creativity and bold out-of-the-box thinking (Blue Oceans, Radical Transformation, Business Model Reinvention), while simultaneously laying out practical, achievable roadmaps for truly sustainable success.
In their December 2012 article featured in the Harvard Business Review, Tom Kelley and David Kelley explore, “Is the world really divided into “creatives” and “noncreatives?" Maybe not, but many people still deem themselves unimaginative. The authors, both leaders at the design and innovation consulting firm IDEO, have discovered that “teaching” creativity is really a matter of helping people find the courage to tap into the “creative confidence” they already possess.” This class is all about developing that courage. Make no mistake: Strategy is a creative process.
Pooling collective knowledge and capitalizing on each other’s insights, students will “bolt their ideas and class-discussed concepts to the ground,” effectively operationalizing Advanced Strategy concepts within an organization. This hands-on process will culminate in students’ final projects, which will:
Demonstrate a firm understanding of the systems approach required to embed the Advanced Strategy macro values into a firm’s DNA
Result in inimitable strategies designed to create long-term shareholder value while emphasizing authenticity, accountability and transparency.
Building the strategy from this foundation should give the firm a sustainable competitive advantage over its rivals. This is not green messaging aimed at a limited audience of “Cultural Creatives”. Advanced Strategy’s purpose is for mainstream businesses to win in the broader marketplace.