Capstone Strategy Playbook for Exceptional Results: Meta Platforms, Inc.
Capstone Strategy Playbook for Exceptional Results:
Description of the Playbook
A playbook in sports helps the general manager, coaches, and players map out how they intend to achieve excellence, respond to challenges, and reach for their goal. Playbooks in sports identify primary intended strategies to win, details on how to execute any number of unique individual plays that support the strategy, and also include plays and alternative strategies that anticipate what opponents might do to counter, or make the playbook irrelevant.
Let’s take a look at some specific “plays” that you might see in a soccer/football, American football, or ice hockey playbook. In these examples, each play diagram reflects a way to execute a “re-direct” kind of strategy, where the offensive team sees an opening to take the play out towards the “side” of action, then back into primary scoring (goal) areas—seeking to spread out the defense.
In soccer, such a play might look like this:
In this instance, the center half back notices that a gap has opened “wide right” (1), and puts a lead pass out to the right (2). At the same time, the center sees this and moves right into the center of the defense, hoping to find a small gap where he or she could receive a pass from the right wing (3) and (shot).
A conceptually very similar play in American football, the “sweep option right,” might look like this:
Notice how each person in the offense has a task here, to help create a “gap” on the right side that the full-back could drive through if it appears (via blocking). Notice too, that the fullback has an option to pitch to the half-back if the gap is opening late—and, the quarterback has the option of faking the handoff to the fullback and going with a short slant pass to the left tight end, who is moving to support either option.
Finally, a similar “redirect strategy” play in ice hockey might look like this:
In this power play (the defense in this case has one player off-ice in the penalty box and is playing a person short), the left wing is the key. As they have the puck and appear to be driving to the net, they pass backwards and away to the left defense (1), to redirect the flow (and likely allow the center to “hide” behind the net). The left defense then rapidly passes to the right, while the left wing looks for a pass (just like the soccer variation above). When the left wing gets the puck again, however, rather than trying to beat the right defense, he or she passes to the center, who has essentially been “hiding” behind the net, and who comes out to the net to take a shot or re-direct a shot.
So, what does this have to do with business strategy you might ask? More than you might think!
For one, unless you already know the details and rules of each sport, you may have noticed that you struggled to figure out the play diagrams, and that they lacked some meaning—especially without some explanation. In business strategy it is the same, there are certain types questions and analyses hat must be asked and performed if you are going to develop a coherent “strategy playbook” for a company.
Second, the big goal in most sports and business are the same—to better your competition in a fair competition (for customer’s purchases in this case), so that you can continue on (to the playoffs in sports, in serving your mission for a business). It is rare that championship teams win without an overall strategy (“to win” is a goal—not a strategy) that takes both internal and external factors into consideration—including the acquisition and training of talent.
Third, in order to win, companies must rely on adaptive, real-time execution of skills, competencies, and capabilities to “make things happen” in ways that are consistent with, and support, the organization’s mission and purpose for existing. As such, organizations must be very knowledgeable about what they are capable of doing, what customers really want (or might want/need), and they must understand the competitive landscape very well.
Fourth, sometimes plays, actions, and strategies are “off direction” and these types of strategies are often the most complex and difficult to execute. It takes a healthy, fully functioning team to “sell” and “execute” complex strategies. Sometimes such complexity is needed, sometimes it is not.
Finally, everyone on the team—from the owners, general managers, coaches, players, and support staff—must understand the strategies, philosophies, and ambitions of the team, in order to support the organization so it can execute plays and “change on the fly.”
In this Competency, you are going to be asked to develop a “Strategy Playbook to get to Exceptional Results,” which you will create as part of your MBA Capstone experience. This strategy playbook has the same purpose as a playbook for a sports team—it is where you can put your entire MBA education to use and build a roadmap that can help your current organization, or one you hope to work with in the future, achieve exceptional results.
What kind of organization will you create your playbook for?
You will develop a strategy playbook for a publicly traded company (with more than 100 employees).
What will the playbook focus on?
You will write the playbook from the perspective of a consultant. The “plays” you will develop will be responses, based on analysis, to the core questions that any solid business strategy must ask and answer:
- What is your winning aspiration? (What to you stand for and believe deeply in?)
- Where will you play? (Who will you serve, and who will either help or compete against you?
- How will you win? (How will you create unique value?)
- Which capabilities must be in place (to win)? (What skills, competencies and capabilities do you need now, and in the future?)
- What management systems are required? (Do you have a supporting culture, structure, systems, and appropriate measures to implement a strategy?)
The final compilation of your “Strategy Playbook for Exceptional Results” will be tangible evidence that you can put your MBA education to use, and it will provide you a template for how you can help your current organization, or one you hope to work with in the future, achieve exceptional results.
How will I develop the playbook?
Your playbook will be written and developed after you have completed Competency SF005. The process for building your playbook will have you review your work from SF005 and apply the same kind analyses as applied to a company that you have chosen. You will review your prior analyses of assigned case studies, and you will then identify key insights from your analysis, and apply lessons from the case study, recommended resources, and resources you identify from the “Walden MBA Program Capstone Bibliography,” into your playbook entries.
The table below provides an overview of what you will be analyzing for your playbook:
Strategy Playbook Elements
Evaluate candidate companies to study and make your choice
Evaluate the stated mission, vision, and values, within the context-level of analysis, of your chosen organization.
Apply insights from internal strategy analysis tools and concepts towards the development of relevant portions of your strategy playbook.
Apply key insights from P.E.S.T. and stakeholder strategy analysis tools and concepts towards the development of relevant portions of a strategy playbook.
Apply key insights from competitive strategy analysis tools and concepts towards the development of relevant portions of a strategy playbook.
Apply key insights from key success factor strategy analysis tools and concepts towards the development of relevant portions of a strategy playbook.
Explicitly identify, provide a name for, explain the basics of, and evaluate a preliminary company-wide strategy that you recommend for your company.
Synthesize all prior entries into a single document,
which aligns with your identified strategy.
Write an executive summary that explains your proposed strategy and how the playbook can help you analyze it further.
Develop a Strategy Playbook Diagram or table that summaries your playbook elements.
What will be in the final draft of the playbook?
To complete Assessment SF006, you will put together all of your playbook analyses elements into a single appendix. Then, you will extract out the core, most important, and interesting elements and recommendations from those analyses, and you will write an Executive Summary, and develop a strategy playbook diagram. These will be the two primary components of the playbook—plus the analysis appendix and all your references.
So, the playbook will consist of:
- Cover page: This should include a title for your strategy (which becomes the title of your playbook), your name, and the date
- Executive Summary: A written summary, which provides the key highlights of your playbook.
- Strategy Map (or other playbook summary diagram)
- Analysis Appendix: This will be comprised of your synthesized, integrated work from your previous Playbook entries.
What purpose does the executive summary for the playbook serve?
The Executive Summary for your playbook is where you, in a single page (of single-spaced writing), explain to your audience (senior executives at the company you are studying) what you have found in your analysis that is most interesting, and what it means in terms of what you think the future goals, strategies, and initiatives for the company should be. This is very difficult writing, and it should relate directly to both your appendix information, and your strategy playbook diagram or table.
What should my strategy playbook diagram or scorecard look like?
One of the elements of the playbook is a strategy playbook summary diagram. Think of this as a visual summary of “plays,” “actions,” “goals,” “metrics,” etc.
Here are some examples to consider as guides:
- An example of a scorecard format is provided by George Joseph in “Mapping, Measurement and Alignment of Strategy Using the Balanced Scorecard: The Tata Steel Case.”
- The Strategy Playbook gives details – descriptions, types, tools, funding sources and benefits – about strategy in Our Great Region 2040.
- Our Great Region 2040. (2014). Our great region 2040 strategy playbook. Retrieved from http://www.ourregion.org/strategyplaybook.html
What will the format of the final playbook be?
- All sections should be single spaced.
- Start with a cover page, then start page numbering with the Executive Summary.
- Continue page numbering through the very end (appendix included).
- References should be included after the appendix and follow APA 6th format.
Note: Your paper should have a cover page with a title for the recommended strategy that describes the strategy, like “Maru-C” (“Encircle Caterpillar”), which was a large scale strategy that Komatsu strove for in the 1980s.
 Lafley, A. G., Martin, R., & Riel, J. (2013). A playbook for strategy: The five essential questions at the heart of any winning strategy. Rotman Magazine, Winter, 5–9.