Aside: the soup du jour at IMD’s restaurant was French onion today–delicious!
ICA/E is taught by Ralf Boscheck, a crazy (in a good way) German who throws chalk at students who ask inane questions. His first lecture was essentially the complete economic history of the world in four hours–step up to the fire hose and take a drink! He’s very, well, German, very focused on economics and not concerned with “tra la la,” as he puts it. “Tra la la” translates to “fluff” or “basically every other course being taught.” He frequently refers to schools of thought by the business schools that support them. E.g., “The Chicago folks would say that capital is never an entry barrier but if you’re at Harvard, you’d better not mention it because you’d be laughed off campus.”
Each group is currently working on a detailed industry analysis and company analysis for this class; my group was assigned electricity generation for our industry. Half the group has been burning the midnight oil doing industry research for the past two weeks. I am part of the second half, which will focus on a specific company in a specifc segment of that industry, analyzing its position and making recommendations. Our section gets under way next week.
The major take-aways so far from this course have been:
- Substitutability: how easy it would be to substitute your company’s service, suppliers, distributers, customers, etc. affects the attractiveness of any market.
- How to identify and define key success factors for companies in a given market segment
- How to delineate a company’s assets, capabilities, and systems to analyze competitive advantage
Although I’m loving IMD’s focus on development of soft skills (one of its most significant differentiators from other programs), it is great to be paying attention to classic business hard skills as well. I’ve really never done this kind of analysis before and IMD provides tremendous support through digital access to millions of articles, books, reports, and other publications. Our Information Center is led by John Evans (Welsh) who, along with running a first class operation, is also an oenophile. Detailed data on the German renewable energry industry is great and all, but tips on places to buy wine around here would be for more valuable!