Corporate Entrepreneurship

Corporate entrepreneurship is critical in the modern economy. Market change is rapid as competition becomes fiercer, customers more fickle, and technology a key differentiator across industries – from automobiles to media. Firms must disrupt or be disrupted.

The central tenet of this course is effective corporate entrepreneurship is based in organization design: structure, culture, and people. To foster corporate entrepreneurship, executives must condition employees to experiment and discover, establish pathways for novel ideas to take hold and flourish, and retain the ability to pivot even at the highest levels. This course teaches elements of entrepreneurial design and how to incorporate them in established firms. Culturally, entrepreneurial design includes nurturing a variety of ideas by using variance-based evaluation and encouraging productive failure while spotting and rooting out inaction. Structurally, firms must develop architectures and processes that bring together people from different functional areas so that new initiatives can blossom.

Strategy and Structure

Executives and managers face a common problem: how to craft a strategy and design an organization to execute that strategy. This is not about the day-to-day operations of the firm, but about designing the firm to achieve competitive advantage.

We start with statics. The executive must understand the competitive forces in an industry or market. But this is just the baseline. The executive must then (1) create a strategy that can succeed given the forces in its environment, and (2) design the organization so that it can execute the strategy. Next, we turn to dynamics. Changing tastes, new technologies, and fierce competition rapidly change external conditions. At least, executives must continually evaluate firm design to keep up with changing times. Ideally, firms will introduce products and other innovations that change the environment (consumer tastes, production processes, etc.) to play to the firm’s competitive advantages. We cover how organization design can position a firm to continually introduce cutting-edge changes.

Leadership in Organizations

Great leadership integrates passion and discipline. A leader must have both a vision that inspires and the ability to build an organization that can execute the vision. Many treatments of leadership focus on the former, often with respect to a leader’s character and charisma. This is important, but not enough. A great leader must also know how to design the organization so people are empowered to make the vision a reality. The fundamental roles of leadership are to clearly articulate how vision translates into business strategy, and to put into place the right processes, people, and culture to execute the strategy. This course focuses on: (1) developing behaviors and intuition essential for vision, and (2) mastering concepts of organization design critical for execution.