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Microsoft competing on talent

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Presents some good guidelines for preparing cases in general. This information will help you prepare your group case to present to the class as well. Section 2 Describes specific questions that must be addressed in the course of your group presentation. Section 1 GUIDE TO CASE ANALYSIS Preparing a Case for Class Discussion If this is your first experience with the case method, you may have to reorient your study habits. Unlike lecture courses where you can get by without preparing intensively for each class and where you have latitude to work assigned readings and reviews of lecture notes into your schedule, a case assignment requires conscientious preparation before class. You will not get much out of hearing the class discuss a case you havent read, and you certainly wont be able to contribute anything yourself to the discussion. What you have got to do to get ready for class discussion of a case is to study the case, reflect carefully on the situation presented, and develop some reasoned thoughts. Your goal in preparing the case should be to end up with what you think is a sound, well-supported analysis of the situation and a sound, defensible set of recommendations about which managerial actions need to be taken.

To prepare a case for class discussion, we suggest the following approach Read the case through rather quickly for familiarity. The initial reading should give you the general flavor of the situation and indicate which issue or issues are involved. If your instructor has provided you with study questions for the case, now is the time to read them carefully. Read the case a second time. On this reading, try to gain full command of the facts. Begin to develop some tentative answers to the study questions your instructor has provided. If your instructor has elected not to give you assignment questions, then start forming your own picture of the overall situation being described. Study all the exhibits carefully. Often, there is an important story in the numbers contained in the exhibits. Expect the information in the case exhibits to be crucial enough to materially affect your diagnosis of the situation. Decide what the strategic issues are. Until you have identified the strategic issues and/or problems in the case, you dont know what to analyze, which tools and analytical techniques are called for, or otherwise how to proceed. At times the strategic issues are clear, either being stated in the case or else obvious from reading the case. At other times you will have to dig them out from all the information given.

Check out conflicting opinions and make some judgments about the validity of all the data and information provided. Many times cases report views and contradictory opinions (after all, people dont always agree on things, and different people see the same things in different ways). Forcing you to evaluate the data and information presented in the case helps you develop your powers of inference and judgment. Asking you to resolve conflicting information comes with the territory because a great many managerial situations entail opposing points of view, conflicting trends, and sketchy information. Support your diagnosis and opinions with reasons and evidence. The most important things to prepare for are your answers to the question Why For instance, if after studying the case you are of the opinion that the companys managers are doing a poor job, then it is your answer to Why that establishes just how good your analysis of the situation is. Prepare answers that include all the evidence you can muster to support your diagnosis. Develop an appropriate action plan and set of recommendations.

Diagnosis divorced from corrective action is sterile. The test of a manager is always to convert sound analysis into sound actions that will produce the desired results. Hence, the final and most telling step in preparing a case is to develop an action agenda for management that lays out a set of specific recommendations on what to do. It is recommended that you develop at least three alternative sets of action plans and select the most appropriate one from them. Bear in mind that proposing realistic, workable solutions is far preferable to casually tossing out off-the-top-of-your-head suggestions. Be prepared to argue why the recommendation(s) that you have selected is more attractive than other courses of action that are possible. As long as you are conscientious in preparing your analysis and recommendations, and have ample reasons, evidence, and arguments to support your views, you shouldnt fret unduly about whether what youve prepared is the right answer to the case. In case analysis there is rarely just one right approach or set of recommendations. Managing companies and devising and implementing strategies are not such exact sciences that there exists a single provably correct analysis and action plan for each strategic situation.

Of course, some analyses and action plans are better than others but, in truth, theres nearly always more than one good way to analyze a situation and more than one good plan of action. So, if you have carefully prepared the case, dont lose confidence in the correctness of your work and judgment. The above is adapted from Strategic Management, 11th Edition, by A. A. Thompson A.J. Strickland. Continue to next page Section 2 Specific case questions and information to be discussed for the group presentation are arranged by case below. These questions should be considered in conjunction with the above information presented in section 1 and general information on how to make good presentations as described in the handout on effective oral and written communication. In addition, each case is at least somewhat related to the chapter(s) from the text assigned for the day a case is to be presented. So, please refer to at least some of the relevant and key chapter info in the presentation. The length of the case presentations should likely be around 45 minutes. Howard Schultz Starbucks Coffee Company In the early 1980s how did Howard Schultz view the market for specialty coffees What were the important factors shaping this perspective In 1987 Starbucks had six stores and a roasting plant.

At the end of the twentieth century Starbucks had 3300 locations in 17 countries. What were the critical drivers of Starbucks success What is the source of their competitive advantage Is it sustainable What should the company do to enhance its position in the market Microsoft Competing on Talent Bill Gates believes that Microsofts ability to attract, motivate, and retain superior people is its source of competitive advantage. Do you agree or disagree Why How effective are Microsofts human resource policies and practices Have the informal processes of the 1980s been appropriately adapted to the companys growth during the 1990s What do you think of Ballmers recent changes to Microsofts human resource policies and practices Why did he make these changes As of mid-1999 does Microsoft have a problem Is the rising senior management turnover a problem Is it inevitable Is it manageable What recommendations would you make to Ballmer and Gates Southwest Airlines Using Human Resources for Competitive Advantage What are the key elements of Southwest Airlines history.

Why are these elements important to understanding Southwest What is Southwests business strategy How would you describe Southwests organizational culture How does Southwest maintain this culture Be specific and provide examples. In what ways does the organizational culture of Southwest provide it with a competitive advantage On what dimensions of performance competitiveness is SWA successful Why What will happen to the organizational culture when Herb Kelleher is no longer affiliated with Southwest Why Can Southwests competitive advantage be imitated Why or Why not Strategic Inflection TiVo in 2005 What are TiVos competitive advantages Disadvantage Where does TiVo fit in the home entertainment production chain Are there network effects in DVRs Does it matter Given the three options presented at the end of the case, if you could only choose one, which one would it be WHY The Ready-To-Eat Breakfast Cereal Industry in 1994 (A) 1.Why has RTE breakfast cereal been such as profitable What changes have led to current industry crisis 2. Why have private labels been able to enter this industry successfully How do the cost structures of private label and branded cereal manufacturers differ 3. What does General Mills hope to accomplish with its 1994 reduction in trade promotions and prices 4. What are the risks associated with these actions How do you expect General Mills competitors to respond

 What should General Mills do Accounting Fraud at WorldCom What pressures lead executives and managers to cook the books What are the boundaries between earnings management/smoothing and fraudulent reporting Why were the actions taken by WorldCom executives not detected earlier What processes or systems should be in place to more quickly detect or prevent the types of actions that occurred at WorldCom Were the external auditors and board of directors blameworthy Why or Why not Betty Vinson Victim or villain Should criminal fraud charges have been brought against her How should employees react when ordered to do something they do not believe in or fell comfortable doing Timberland and Community Involvement What do you think of Timberlands approach to community involvement Why does top management not deem this to be philanthropy What are the benefits to the company from its approach to community involvement.

What concerns do you have about this approach What is your assessment of the Timberland – City Year alliance What are the benefits to each of the partners from the alliance What concerns do you have for each partner concerning the alliance and what recommendations would you make to each What can be learned more generally from the above alliance in terms of effective partnering between corporations and nonprofit organizations What can we learn about in terms of how corporations might think about and engage in community service/involvement Hitting the Wall Nike and International Management Practices Does Jeff Ballinger have a convincing argument about Nike Does Nike have a convincing response (be sure to describe the points) How well has Nike handled the publicity surrounding its labor practices Could or should the company have done anything differently Explain What is a fair wage in Vietnam How should Nike think about it Innovation at 3M Corporation (A) How has 3Ms innovation evolved since the company was founded Why does 3M need to regain its historic closeness to the customer How does the Lead User research process differ from and complement other traditional market research methods Has the Medical-Surgical team applied the Lead User research process successfully Why or why not What should the Medical-Surgical team recommend to Dunlop The three new product concepts or a new business strategy What are the risks to the new Lead User research process at 3M What are the risks to the Medical-Surgical business unit

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