Operations Strategy: Managing Growth - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Operations Strategy: Managing Growth

Course Number 2166

Assistant Professor David F. Drake
Spring; Q3Q4; 3 credits
28 Sessions

Career Focus

This course is focused on understanding and overcoming the operational challenges of nurturing and managing enterprise growth. The course integrates concepts from the fields of operations, corporate strategy, finance, and organizational design. It is suitable for students with a wide range of career goals, including entrepreneurship and venture capital, general management in larger enterprises, and consulting.

Educational Objectives

Effectively designed operations can be a powerful source of growth. Consider companies like IKEA, Federal Express, Amazon, and Virgin. These companies achieved extraordinary growth through the innovative design of their operations. In this course, you will gain an understanding of how the configuration of a company's operations can shape its growth potential and will learn principles for designing operating strategies that drive profitable growth.

Course Content

The course focuses on how the design of an organization's operating strategy can either impede or enhance growth. We will explore growth challenges facing organizations across the size spectrum--from young start-ups to global conglomerates-and across a broad range of industries, including biotechnology, health care, fashion, automobiles, retail, airlines, web services, clean energy, and electronics. Conceptually, the course is rooted in the idea that organizational growth is a process. For a company to grow profitably, that process must be understood and strategically managed. The course makes extensive use of readings that provide foundational theories and concepts. These readings are used in combination with traditional case studies. The course explores the following issues:

  • Why is profitable growth so difficult to achieve and sustain over long periods of time?
  • How does the configuration of operations either impede or enhance growth prospects? How can you align your operations strategy with your growth strategy?
  • What are the different kinds of growth strategies and what are the critical operating capabilities needed to execute those?
  • How can you manage operational diversification?
  • How should you evolve your operations to adapt to industry dynamics such a new competitors, technological changes, and market disruptions?

Course Requirements

You will be required to write an HBS style case study on an organization of your choice facing a growth challenge, along with an accompanying analytical note illustrating how theories and principles discussed in the course can be applied to your case.