Designing Competitive Organizations
Course Number 1373
Professor Robert Simons
Assistant Professor Anette Mikes
Winter; Q3Q4; 3 credits
This course will be valuable for students who plan to manage (or advise) a business that operates in highly competitive markets. Case studies include companies in fast-moving technology, financial services, health care, consumer products, publishing, and high-tech manufacturing industries.
The course focuses on answering one question: How can I design an organization that executes strategy better than competitors? This course will not teach you how to formulate strategy. Instead, taking strategy as given, you will learn the tools and techniques-and tough choices-that are essential for winning in any market.
Course Content and Organization
During the first part of the course, you will learn how to use the levers of organization design to:
- Design business units and functions to respond effectively to customers
- Install accountability systems to enhance performance
- Create influence networks to share best practices across units
- Build commitment to help others succeed
Once these techniques are mastered, you will next learn how to execute strategy effectively by prioritizing core values, managing risks, and building interactive control systems. For each topic, background articles and book chapters will be provided. During class, we will analyze case studies to test ideas, deepen your understanding, and develop action-based principles.
Throughout the course, you will have the opportunity to practice what you are learning through exercises such as writing a letter to shareholders and completing performance evaluations. In addition, on three separate occasions you will be asked to submit "one-pagers" applying course concepts to an organization of your choice (typically an organization you know or one you may want to create in the future). These summaries will form the building blocks for a short, seven-page final paper.
By the end of the course, you will know how to design an organization capable of bringing out the best in people and winning in any competitive market. Implementing these concepts will be essential to making an impact on organizations throughout your careers.