Case: Leadership, Culture, and Transition at lululemon
Key takeaway: Figure out how to bring the founders into a strategy rather than alienating them.
What happened? In mid-2008 new CEO Christine Day took over from founder Dennis "Chip" Wilson. The decision came as the company wanted to expand and become more corporate. At the same time, Wilson was concerned about maintaining the culture and values of the company.
Day faced entrenched problems like outperforming stores, a poor real estate strategy, and barriers between various parts of the company. She used her experience from helping expand Starbucks worldwide to align the whole company with a strategic plan. She even convinced the founders to attend advanced management programs at Harvard and Stanford so they could better understand how the company must change. Worth around $350 million at the start of her tenure, Lululemon is now a $10.59 billion dollar company.
T hanks to Dr. Jennifer Chatman, the Paul J. Cortese Distinguished Professor of Management Chair at UC Berkeley's Haas Management of Organizations Group for her suggestion
Like all prediction methodologies, business forecasting is a calculated guess based on analysis of existing data using extrapolation models. Students who enroll in an MBA program learn numerous methods for critical assessment, including interpretation of data models. This experience enables them to look to the future of a business and accurately predict market trends. You need to know today where your customers will be when your product hits the market six months later.
Every groundbreaking product or service rises out of a failure of the market to meet certain needs, and every transformative change in business stems from some company or organization doing things differently. In fact, Greek historian Polybius noted a hundred years or so before the Common Era “that [the] surest and indeed the only method of learning how to bear bravely the vicissitudes of fortune is to recall the calamities of others.” The ability to glean insights from marketing case studies is a critical skill for MBA graduates.
Case study analysis provides students with a unique opportunity to see the historical context of a company’s specific marketing design. They can see all the factors and discussions that influenced a company’s decision. They can examine the state of the market when this decision was considered. Finally, they can make their own assessment of the success — or failure — of that business decision and even contrast their own assessment with the historical record of the market’s reaction to this decision.
Case study analysis can provide students with historical insight. For instance, philanthropic action can lead to short-term productivity gains within an organization but at the cost of lingering debt, which may trouble a company for a long time — a realization that only hindsight can provide. As businesses reach a critical threshold where they must decide to expand or diversify, they can examine case studies of companies that grew, diversified, or tried to do both. Case studies can provide insight into the pros and cons of actions a company is about to take.
As specific regional markets become both more globalized and more culturally aware, savvy businesses must consider how to market their products in ways that will result in customer engagement. A case study of Tesco’s expansion into the Korean market reveals that the British home shopping company’s success stemmed from creating a visible brand within the Korean market that was uniquely Korean (of the 23,000 staff hired during this expansion, only four were from the United Kingdom). Customer brand loyalty exploded, and within a few years, Tesco was the market leader in this space.
On a smaller scale, the Florida sandwich chain Firehouse Subs reinvigorated its presence within the communities around its stores by adopting an aggressive advertising campaign. Case study analysis of Firehouse Subs’ focus reveals that the company’s bold decision to spend more money on marketing resulted in greater brand awareness and a significant increase in sales year over year.
Even though the market may appear senseless and liable to short-term fluctuations, such dramatic changes do not happen in a vacuum. Careful analysis of market trends, patterns in big data models, and the persistent availability of materials and products within pipelines will provide valuable insight for business modeling. The future is not set until it actually arrives, and most modeling comes with a caveat that the conclusions are educated guesses. Case study analysis provides arguments to support these educated guesses — lending an air of prescience to critical data assessment skills.
A Master of Business Administration degree program provides students with integrated study across multiple areas of focus in business administration, but a critical part of the skill set that students gain begins with knowing how to read the future by examining the past.
At Southeastern Oklahoma State University, the Marketing Management class is taught by Dr. Lawrence Silver, who spent over 20 years building a successful business before joining the faculty at SOSU. An advocate for personal development, Dr. Silver provides students with a peer-driven, real-world approach to Marketing Management case study. This approach helps MBA students build the skills that give them a competitive advantage in the marketplace and prepare them for success in business.
Learn more about SOSU’s online MBA programs.
tutor2u: Tesco in Korea — A Classic Case Study in International Expansion
The New York Times: Spending More on Ads To Overcome a Slump
Southeastern Oklahoma State University: Dr. Lawrence Silver
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