Sobey School invites community input for upcoming Strategic Planning process

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The Sobey School of Business has adapted the Blue Ocean Strategy process for developing its Strategic Plan (2020-2025) and is inviting the community to participate.

In their classic book, Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne coined the terms ’red ocean’ and ‘blue ocean’ to describe the market universe.

Red oceans are all the industries in existence today – the known market space. In red oceans, industry boundaries are defined and accepted, and the competitive rules of the game are known.

Here, companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of existing demand. As the market space gets crowded, profits and growth are reduced. Products become commodities, leading to cutthroat or ‘bloody’ competition. Hence the term red oceans.

Blue oceans, in contrast, denote all the industries not in existence today – the unknown market space, untainted by competition. In blue oceans, demand is created rather than fought over. There is ample opportunity for growth that is both profitable and rapid.

In blue oceans, competition is irrelevant because the rules of the game are waiting to be set. A blue ocean is an analogy to describe the wider, deeper potential to be found in unexplored market space. A blue ocean is vast, deep, and powerful in terms of profitable growth.

The SSB (under the leadership of Dr. Harjeet Bhabra) has adapted the Blue Ocean Strategy process for our use. In our sector, higher education, market boundaries are quite firm and the structure of the industry is extremely well-defined. However, there is ample opportunity for growth and we have the potential to create new demand. The Blue Ocean process outlines principles and tools that we can use to create and capture market share.

Two of those tools are the strategy canvas and the four actions framework. The Sobey School will be using both of these methods as the basis of our consultations.

Strategy Canvas is a diagnostic tool and action framework that graphically captures the current strategic landscape and the future prospects for an organization. It:

•        Depicts the factors that organizations within the sector  invest in and compete on

•        Illustrates the strategic profile of competitors by identifying the factors in which they invest. 

•        Reveals an organization's relative performance across the factors of competition

 Faculty, staff, students and community members are invited to develop Strategy Canvases on the topics of research, teaching & learning and community engagement.

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 These sessions will be held in the Private Dining Room in the Loyola Building of Saint Mary’s University (Loyola 298). The sessions will bring together participants with different perspectives to build strategy canvasses for the Sobey School that will help us better understand the factors of competition and the strategic landscape.

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 The Four Actions Framework allows us to focus attention on those factors which should be adjusted to improve performance. Using this method, the groups will create ERRC grids that will:

•        Depict the factors that organizations within the sector  invest in and compete on

•        Contrast the current performance on the factors with the desired performance 

•        Surface the strategic actions necessary to move the organization to a more favourable position

Some of the strengths of this approach are that it helps us recognize that resources constraints exist and trade-offs may be necessary. It confronts the range of assumptions that we are making about the nature and importance of the factors of competition. It pushes us to pursue differentiation.

 Faculty, staff, students and community members are invited to participate in using the Four Actions Framework on the topics of research, teaching & learning and community engagement.

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 These sessions will also be held in the Private Dining Room in the Loyola Building of Saint Mary’s University (Loyola 298).

Participants are invited to attend both of the Strategy Canvas and the Four Actions Framework sessions but can also choose to attend one or the other.

The sessions are designed to be extremely engaging and productive. The output of the sessions will be analyzed and the synthesis will inform the strategy of the School to be shared at a Town Hall on January 10th, 2020 at 10:00 AM in the Scotiabank Theatre (Sobey Building).

To participate in the strategy consultations, please register at:

https://smuniversity.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_dbNCyY0iPe5Go61