Sameer Hasija, Associate Professor of Technology and Operations Management, The Shell Fellow in Business and the Environment, Chair, Technology and Operations Management

Technology has always moved forward, of course, but it never moved as quickly as it has since the birth of the digital age. And today, its pace of change, in terms of speed, scale, complexity and scope, continues to accelerate. The technological breakthroughs that are redefining the global business ecosystem have enabled the reinvention of business models, and the birth of some previously unimaginable combinations. The investment banking industry, for example, has replaced “old-school” traders (ref 1) with new school algorithms. Michelin is experimenting with a pay-per-mile business model that would essentially allow them to serve their customers by providing them access rather than ownership, converting their customers’ capital expense into an operating expense, and providing customers with new value-added solutions derived from the data generated from real-time utilization (ref 2). Everywhere we look, we find that old rules no longer apply, and the new rules are being designed to make things faster, less expensive, and easier to acquire.
My interactions with senior business leaders from various industries and geographies has led me to believe that the vast majority of them rarely have the opportunity to reflect deeply on the nature of their business, and how it needs to evolve as the realities of the ecosystem around it are evolving. This course has been designed to help you to overcome such challenges, by giving you an opportunity to map out the evolution of your industry in the wake of today’s disruptive forces, and give you a flavour of how you can systematically start generating strategic insights about your business.

The approach that we will take for this class is a role-play based simulation to build what we call “perceptive acuity” – the ability to look more strategically at possibilities, threats and opportunities. You will be assigned a team comprising of 3-4 of your colleagues, known as Strategic Encounter Teams (SET). You will, using a series of tools and guidelines provided in class, enact the role of your firm’s adversary (either an existing one, or more interestingly a new firm). I will expose you to the latest developments in technology and business models which you can leverage (to an unrestricted limit) to “attack” your actual firms. The next step in the role-play will be where your SET team members act on behalf of your actual firm and come up with defence and counter-attack strategies. This process is re-enacted for each member of the SET team—these teams will not include any participants who may have competitive conflicts of interests with your firm.

Learning Mechanism:
This course has a multi-pronged pedagogical design. First, you get exposed to different ongoing mega developments in the business world, which you use to come up with your “attack” options. Attacking your existing business using the latest developments in the outside world forces you to look at your business from the outside, rather than the inside. Second, your SET colleagues are tasked to defend your firm—which requires them to understand your business and then leverage their non-entrenched self to potentially come up with novel defence and counter attack options. These options also benefit from the “wisdom of the crowds” effect, as your SET colleagues work on this collectively. Finally, after learning about the thought process of your SET colleagues, you get a chance to reflect on your firm, both in terms of the attack that you created and the defence that your colleagues provided—this provides you with a fresh perspective on thinking about your business strategically. My experience of running such a process with senior executives at INSEAD suggests that the learnings are quite profound. For e.g., quite often what executives thought of their strength turn out to be a peculiarly weak-spot in light of some new technological developments in the outside world.

1 ref:
2 ref: There is an IMD Case on this. Get the reference.