Strategic IQ - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Strategic IQ

Course Number 1291

Professor of Management Practice John R. Wells
Spring; Q3; 3 credits (Intensive)
28 sessions on 14 class meeting dates

Course Overview

The focus of SIQ is on a leader’s responsibility to drive strategic innovation and change. We examine why firms so often fail to change their strategies in a timely fashion and the heavy penalty they pay for not doing so. We then identify what leaders must do to sustain superior performance. In the process, we study over 30 cases and 60 protagonists battling with the challenges of strategic change.

The capacity to adapt to a changing environment is a sign of intelligence, but some companies find it harder than others. What drives this difference in strategic intelligence and how can leaders improve their companies' Strategic IQ?

The organizing principle of the course is to examine pairs of successful companies in the same industry and discover why one suddenly failed.  The objective is to gain greater insight into what drives sustainable performance.

The course includes cases from a wide range of sectors including fashion, discount retailing, on-line retailing, health-and leisures, financial services, the military, and sports. It is organized into three modules:

Module One, Smart Strategy, examines why firms fail to see the need to change their strategy, or cannot seem to find a solution to their problems, and discusses what they can do to boost their strategic IQ.

Module Two, Smart Structure, addresses why organizational structure often gets in the way of strategic change, examines how to design formal organization to be more adaptive, and how to turbo-charge informal social networks in the service of change.

Module Three, Smart Minds, addresses personal inertia. The capacity for change in an organization is ultimately limited by the ability and willingness of its people to change. Smart Minds focuses on how to pick the right people and shape the organizational context to make people more open to change.

The course draws on the disciplines of economics, sociology, psychology, anthropology neurology and evolutionary biology.

Logistics : 1 section meets on the X schedule in Quarter 3 from 11:40 am to 1:00 PM and  1:40 to 3:00 pm for double sessions covering two case examples.  Work may be assigned during the break in  lieu of extra reading the night before.

The course finishes the week before Spring Break.

Grading: 60% class participation, 40% exam.