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  Module 03-04, Online Discussion HBR: Stress-Test Your Strategy The 7 Questions to Ask
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Stress-Test Your Strategy.pdf
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Module 03-04, Online Discussion HBR: Stress-Test Your Strategy The 7 Questions to Ask
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This is a TurnItIn proctored INDIVIDUAL Learning Assignment and is worth 100 points
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INITIAL Posting Due Date:
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2nd and 3rd Postings – Discussion Due Date:
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In the past, students that have excelled in this Learning Assignment have done:
Best Practices – Learning Assignments
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Dear International Strategic Management Executives:
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Please read the following Harvard Business Review Article:
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Stress-Test Your Strategy The 7 Questions to Ask
by Robert Simons
November 2010
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Please, answer for your INITIAL posting and discuss the following questions:
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1. Detailed – Comprehensive Summary for THIS article.
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 How to Write a Summary of an Article
https://owlcation.com/academia/How-to-Write-a-Summary (Links to an external site.)
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2. Which are the three most CRITICAL ISSUES of THIS article? Please explain why? and analyze, and discuss in great detail …
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3. Which are the three most relevant LESSONS LEARNED of THIS article? Please explain why? and analyze, and discuss in great detail …
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4. Which are the three most important BEST PRACTICES of THIS article? Please explain why? and analyze, and discuss in great detail …
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5. How can you relate THIS article with the TOPICS COVERED in class? Please explain, analyze, and discuss in great detail …
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6. Do you see any alignment of the concepts described in THIS article with the class concepts reviewed in class? Which are those alignments and misalignments? Why? Please explain, analyze, and discuss in great detail …
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I expect high caliber reviews with top analyses and interesting insights for THIS article !!
If you have any questions, please let me know.
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Jose Rocha
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Learning Assignment Guidelines
Please read our class syllabus section:
                                9. Course Delivery – Learning Assignments Guidelines – 9.4 On-Line Discussions
to double make sure what do we have to do in these discussions.
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Grading Requisites
In order for me to grade these discussions, you have to have your INITIAL posting plus
TWO additional SOLID and well supported postings to other people’s postings and/or discussions.
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               Please do NOT attach any files for this OnLine Discussion.
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               Discussions and Posting submitted as Document ATTACHMENTS WILL NOT be GRADED. 
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Grading Rubric
This learning assignment will be graded according to the following grading rubrics :
2. Grading Rubric for On-Line Forums and Discussions.pdf
and
APA Style Rubric.pdf
located at our Canvas Learning Management System section:
Course Content: 2. Class Learning Assignments Guidelines, Grading Rubrics, and Peer Evaluation Forms
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Some Learning Tips for this Learning Assignment
                Please take a moment to read and get familiarized with the following learning concepts:
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                        How to Write a Summary of an Article
 https://owlcation.com/academia/How-to-Write-a-Summary (Links to an external site.)
.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGWO1ldEhtQ (Links to an external site.)
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How to Write a Summary
How to Write a Summary.pdf
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLdvEFtUuMM (Links to an external site.)
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Lessons Learned vs Best Practices
Tips for Turning Lessons Learned into Best Practices:
https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/tips-for-turning-lessons-learned-into-best-practices.php (Links to an external site.)
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Using APA Style and Tips in Writing
You can find several readings and support material for your writing learning assignments and APA Style use at our Canvas Learning Management System section:
Course Content: 1.2 Using APA Style and Tips in Writing
Post by Paneque, Eliane
 
Executive  Summary
In the article “Stress-Test Your Strategy,” author Robert Simons provides a method to identify the weak points in a business strategy. Simons has conducted valuable research in the past 25 years in regard to the drivers of successful strategy execution in a variety of companies and industries. Simons identifies seven questions that all executives should ask: Who is your primary customer? How do your core values prioritize shareholders, employees, and customers? What critical performance variables are you tracking? What strategic boundaries have you set? How are you generating creative tension? How committed are your employees to helping each other? What strategic uncertainties keep you awake at night? By asking these questions, businesses can identify confusion, inefficiency, and weaknesses in its business strategy and its implementation.
CRITICAL ISSUES
Businesses and organizations not understanding the weaknesses in their strategy. Like Simons mentioned, it’s important for business owners to answer those seven questions because it will keep the fundamentals of the business strategy on track.
Tracking too many variables is another critical issue from this article. Effective managers focus on those that could cause their strategy to fail because adding too many measures to scorecards drive out innovation.
Boundaries need to be set because every strategy carries the risk that an individual’s actions can push the business off course. There are two ways to control this risk: tell employees what to do or tell employees what not to do.
LESSONS LEARNED
“Focus” doesn’t mean saying yes on the thing you have to focus on, it means saying no to the hundred other good ideas. Boundaries are powered by punishment, not rewards. Organizations must be willing to discipline those who are caught stepping over the line. Following up forcefully and consistently  reinforces the important of the organization’s prohibitions. The seven questions help organizations focus on its strategy and focus on what’s important.  
Making outside market pressures felt inside your business is one of the lessons I learned while reading this article. Doing this can motivate employees to think and act like winning competitors. Simons states that the bigger our business, the more insulated people are from market pressures, and the more imperative this becomes.
To adapt successfully, business owners must constantly monitor the uncertainties that could invalidate the assumptions underpinning current strategies and continually scan the competitive environment for changes.
BEST PRACTICES
Employees first is one of the best practices in the article because when organizations treat its employees well, they’ll treat the customers well and the customer will come back and shareholders will be happy. Employees are in the front lines when it comes to consumers and they know the consumer best. Their input is important and treating them well is important in every organization.
If innovation and entrepreneurial thinking are important, companies should hire creative people and give them freedom to exercise their creativity while defining limits. This allows organizations to avoid the waste and risk that inevitable accompany undisciplined growth.
Creating cross-unit teams and matrix accountability forces employees to think outside the box by giving them a second box. When people are forced out of their routines, new perspectives and ideas are born. This approach can be pushed by assigning two bosses to each manager: a regional head and a product market head.
How can you relate THIS article with the TOPICS COVERED in class? Please explain, analyze, and discuss in great detail …
The article shows an approach to assessing strategy in different ways. Not everything works for everyone and some organizations have to use a different approach. This article , like our book, creates a path managers can follow. Although it does not give a defined solution, it shows us that what works for some may not work for others.
Do you see any alignment of the concepts described in THIS article with the class concepts reviewed in class? Which are those alignments and misalignments? Why? Please explain, analyze, and discuss in great detail …
This article aligns with what we learned in class because it emphasizes an approach all organizations should take and not every organization is the same. In class, we also learned the importance of including all employees in decision-making. This allows the employees to understand the consumers better and when employees are happy, customers are happy, and profits will follow.
Post by   Valle, Eiler Manuel
  Stress-Test Your Strategy The 7 Questions to Ask
Comprehensive Summary 
The article “Stress-Test Your Strategy The 7 Questions to Ask” was written by Robert Simons and published in the Harvard Business Review Journal in 2010. The article is  divided into seven questions which the author believes all executives should ask and master in order to keep the fundamentals of the strategy execution on track. 
The first question the article talks about is “Who is your primary customer?” The author explains that choosing a primary customer is extremely important as it will determine what resources must be allocated to meet the customer’s needs. The author uses the example of McDonald and the strategy of expansion was having in consideration that the primary customers were not the people that ate at the restaurants but the multisite real estate developers and franchise owners. The author explains that by having multiple sets of primary customers the company may not have enough resources to serve all these groups and ultimately caused confusion and less than optimal services. 
The second question is “How do your core values prioritize shareholders, employees, and customers?” The author explains that companies that execute strategy well have well defined core values to reflect the importance of their shareholders, employees, and customers.These core values must be indicative of whose interest comes first when difficult trade-offs must be made. The author explains that some companies may decide to put customers first, while others put shareholders first and others employees, that there is no right or wrong choice here, but it is extremely important choosing one and communicating it to the rest of the organization. 
The third question is “What critical performance variables are you tracking?” In this section the author explains most managers feel overwhelmed due to the numerous performance measures they must keep track of, and create a scorecard with multiple variables under the false belief that this will result in a complete scorecard. The author believes that even though technology has the ability to collect an infinite number of data managers, it must only concentrate on those that could cause the strategy to fail. Another important aspect is that adding too many measures to track limit innovation. 
The fourth question is “What strategic boundaries have you set?”In this section the author explains that all strategies have risk, and those risks intensify under the pressure of growth. The author explains there are two major ways to control risk: one is telling people what to do or not do. This assures employees will not engage in unauthorized transactions. Such an approach is very cautious especially if safety and quality are the main concern, of course this approach will not work if innovation is important. It will defeat the purpose to promote innovation and tell the employees what not to do. The authors also explain that boundaries are powered by punishment and managers must be willing to discipline and terminate employees if necessary.   
The fifth question is “How are you generating creative tension?” the author explains that in order to stimulate creativity market pressure must be felt inside the business. In order to accomplish this managers must assign stretch goals or challenge goals, the second strategy is ranking according to performance, this must be done carefully as the challenge is to prevent inside competition from becoming negative and destructive. Another strategy is setting spans of accountability that are greater than the spans of control. The author explains that in order to innovate employees must be accountable for resources larger than they control. The third strategy is allocating cost. 
The sixth question “How committed are your employees to helping each other?” Employees must work on shared goals, the author recommends that to create high levels of commitment leadership must create four attributes: pride in purpose, group identification, trust, and fairness. 
The seventh question is “What strategic uncertainties keep you awake at night?” The authors explain that all failed strategies are followed by assumptions that were false, and the only certainty is that today strategy will not work tomorrow. The author believes that managers must monitor the uncertainties that invalidate the assumptions of the current strategy, it is important to use business control systems, and select a system that is compatible with the business. 
Critical Issues 
The first critical point that I could take from the article is the fact that company must engage in an ongoing debate on issues around these seven questions understanding your customers, the data, the assumptions, the different choices, the commitment of the employees and action plans will be the only way to assure the strategy is on track,
The second critical issue I could take from the article is the importance of resources allocation, unfortunately companies have limited resources and distributing those without prioritizing a primary customer may cause confusion and less than optimal services. 
The third critical issue from the article is that by using these questions we could identify weak points in the strategy and identify confusion, inefficiency or weakness in the strategy and implementation. 
Lesson Learned 
One main lesson learned is that today’s strategy won’t work tomorrow as the article explained products become obsolete, technology is updated, customer trend changes all these may make the business model uncompetitive. Therefore uncertainties must be constantly monitored.
Second lesson learned is the importance of maintaining employees’ commitment and the four attributes the organization must follow to attain employee cooperation. This is important as employees must be motivated and be able to identify themselves as part of the group, trusting and believing fairness is put above self interest. 
The third lesson learned from the article is that by tracking a small number of variables that could cause the strategy to fail rather than a large number of variables managers have more time to focus on things that really matter, and prioritize innovation.  
Best Practice 
As best practice we could note the importance of setting boundaries and how these boundaries must align with the organization’s risk appetite or what is trying to accomplish too many controls may hinder innovation and no control may lead to unauthorized activities finding the balance is key.  
Another important best practice is to choose a business control system that must be in dependency of the type business and focused dialogues on strategic uncertainties and is able to generate new action plans. 
The third best practice is that boundaries must be powered by punishment rather than rewards. By following up forcefully and consistently word travels throughout the organization reinforcing the importance of the prohibition or boundaries. 
Related to topics covered in class 
The article relates to the topics covered in class. The article stresses the importance of continuous monitoring, analyzing, evaluating and realigning the strategy with the organization’s goals. The seven questions are intended to recognize weakness in the organization strategy,  this will help management to evaluate key aspects. The article addresses the importance of recognizing the ever changing business world and the fact that strategy applied today may not work tomorrow due to the constant changes in customer trends technology and the competitive market.
Alignment with the topics covered in class
There is alignment in the article with the topics covered in class from the resources allocation, to how to engage employees and empower them to create and be innovative. This is another topic that aligns with the topic covered in class as we know innovation is key to maintain a competitive advantage, empowering employees to innovate and lifting certain restriction that permits them to experiment is important as long as boundaries are kept to ensuring unauthorized transactions are not made.  

 

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