2A: Pick a company that has either, in your view, been too unfocused or one that been so afraid to venture from its core business that it has missed clear opportunities for diversification. In a short (1-3 page) memo addressed to the CEO, and playing the role of a strategy consultant, address the issue of focus (too much, too little) and the costs or missed opportunities that you think have been a source of lost value. Advise the CEO on a better way to think about “sticking to his core or going for more.”
In assignment 2A/B, it is important not to overrun your page limit. This is an executive memo. Do not ask the CEO to indulge you; tell him/her precisely and efficiently what he or she needs to know.
As well, if it is an historical case (as it usually is), be sure to date your memo appropriately — so that I can assess whether your advice is sensible for that moment in history. The most common errors here are students who are using mental time machines to go back in time and advise leaders to anticipate future technologies such as e-commerce, future rivals such as Wal-Mart and then Amazon, or future changes in consumer tastes, before those factors could have been known.
Also common are errors that involve offering advice that is too late: if, for example, you want to tell Blockbuster to anticipate the decline in brick and mortar distribution and anticipate the value of Netflix, dating a memo much after 2000 makes little sense (the awful decision to decline a partnership took place that year).
As well, if you pick a company and issue that took place well before 2000, then make sure you know when PCs were first sold, and when e-mail become widely used, for example. Don’t tell a CEO in 1987 to get out of equities (before the crash) or start an e-commerce business, please.
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