Please find my summary for the pre-assignment tasks in this memo. The assignment was to read three chapters of Robert M. Grant’s “Contemporary strategy analysis”, read two articles and answer the mentioned questions: Mini-case: Robin Hood. Does Robin Hood require a new strategy? What should Robin Hood’s strategy be? Why? To start with, let’s give a bit of a background for Robin Hood and his band of Merrymen. The organizational structure of the Merrymen is a typical top-down management, with Robin Hood as the leader and a few lieutenants reporting to him working in intelligence, discipline, finances and provisioning.
The growing organization and Robin Hood’s personal vendetta are the basis for many of the problems the Merrymen are facing. Merrymen’s strategy is simple: take from the rich and give to the poor, which differentiates the group from its major competition who does the opposite, making Robin Hood’s “customers” love the product they have to offer. Therefore one could say that Merrymen’s competitive approach is based on differentiation. What has made them successful so far? It has all started with Robin Hood’s unique leadership skills, Robin is a very strong and appealing leader.
The organization would not have been born without him. What makes Merrymen succeed today is their vast resources (they have scale) and talent (unique expertise in robbing people). Another factor is quick knowledge transfer for the new recruits, transferring the robbing skills to newly joined members and getting them to be productive quickly after onboarding. Their image/brand is such an attractive one that they are not facing major challenges in recruiting new people. Word of mouth carries the message quickly and there are lots of potential new comers joining the Merrymen.
The work force is low cost, all they pretty much need is food and shelter. One of the major weaknesses is Robin’s personal grudge with the sheriff. It is a key risk for the leader potentially not being able to see the big picture and focus on what is good for the whole organization. Even though this seemed to be the starting point for the organization to be formed the goals for the organization are now much bigger and the strategy must evolve accordingly. It is not uncommon that the strength of an organization is also their weakness. In order to build scale, Merrymen had to change their recruitment strategy.
Merrymen used to be quite picky in selecting the candidates but now they are welcoming almost anyone to join. This has led to several challenges, one of them being that they are exceeding the resources for food that the nearby forest provides leading them to spend lots of time and energy in risky ventures looking for food and having to use their finances to purchase food. The second issue is the change in recruitment policy which has led to a decline in discipline and vigilance. Naturally the space is becoming an issue as well as the group expands continuously.
The financials are hit also because of looting becoming more challenging. The merchants who previously traveled the woods are now avoiding them, keeping the Merrymen from looting their goods leading Robin Hood wondering what can their new funding strategy be, could it be taxation? Should they take a huge risk and try to free King Richard, risking the fact that they might go against not just one sheriff and his men but also Prince John and his army? Recommendations for the Merrymen I would not recommend Merrymen to do major changes to the current strategy, such as freeing King Richard or trying to kill the sheriff.
Merrymen should continue building on their strengths and the focus should be in executing better and starting with changing their recruitment and training policies. They shouldn’t recruit just anyone but focus in acquiring talent. If food is an issue they should recruit skilled farmers and start building a self-sufficient ecosystem to the woods, as it used to be. Their organization has also grown rapidly and seems that a re-org would be needed. They will need more structure and better management to their org to bring back the discipline and to ensure successful execution.
They should introduce more specialized teams with their own leaders (such as farmers, special ops, archers etc. ) and focus more on better training and knowledge sharing inside the more specialized teams. Their financials are going down and that has to be fixed by saving money (potentially letting some of the Merrymen go? ) and going where the money is i. e looting further away from the forests, creating new “sites” for the Merrymen in different woods might be a good idea to ensure continuous cash flow. To manage the external threats they must invest into spying what the sheriff is up to and where the next raids might be happening.
To conclude: don’t change the strategy, keep calm and improve the execution. Case Study: Husky Injection Molding Systems. Why has Husky enjoyed greater profit margins than its competitors? Is Husky’s profitability currently threatened? The primary reason for Husky’s success is the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) industry niche and focusing to it at the right time, exactly when soft drink makers started to use plastic bottles and here Husky had the first mover advantage. Husky was clearly a differentiator and innovator in this market.
Husky provided its customers with the complete and comprehensive manufacturing solutions by producing both products and services. The products were innovative, long lasting and efficient. Husky also provided its customers a worldwide professional service to ensure the customers get the best out of the products. Husky managed to make competitors entry to the market very challenging for a long time because of their high performing products and excellent service. Now the challenges faced are the shortage of resin and new entries coming to compete in the market.
The shortage of PET resin has led to decreasing demand for injection molding systems hurting Husky’s business. This is likely a temporary situation as resin makers are increasing their capacity. It’s also good to note that all companies in the same business are facing this same challenge. The main challenge is the new competitors trying to make an entry to the PET preform business. These are low-cost competitors who apparently are able to modify “mainstream machines to suit the preform application” as the article says. The competitors will be an attractive option for customers who focus more in lowering costs.
The new competitors will threaten Husky’s profitability and it is clear that they need to react to it, perhaps by trying to produce different sorts of machines : both for the customers interested in low cost but at the same time keep producing the high performance machines. Producing high performance machines would be important to build the brand and would help selling the low costs machines as well, comparable situation to mobile phones business where many vendors produce high end devices to build the brand while they actually make the money from cheaper products that are sold in masses.