I have been a business strategy professor for 20 years. Along the way I have been influenced by many individuals who unknowingly have impacted my teaching, research and case creation activities at Acadia University. Four professors come to mind.
Earlier in my career I actively wrote on the topic of Competitive Intelligence. I met Craig Fleisher through my involvement with the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP). Craig is a prolific writer and insightful in terms of his knowledge of management, specifically how to use many of the analytical tools of the trade. With his colleague, Babette Bensoussan, he co-authored a text focused on demystifying many of the frameworks that are taught in business schools.[i] I have become a convert to using the TOWS analysis and other frameworks after reading his explanations.
Craig’s ability to clearly lay out analytical processes reminds me of another individual. Not too long ago, Kathy Cross, a production executive with Food Network Canada (now part of Corus Entertainment) was in town to speak at the Devour Food Film Festival. During her visit she was gracious enough to help us create a video case about what individuals in her position do when television productions start to go off track. What stands out in my mind about the case is the clear set of options offered and the logic that flowed with each alternative.
Jonathan Calof is another colleague who I met in the days when I was writing about competitive intelligence. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of working with him to deliver a couple of training sessions to government. Indeed, he has built a career advising companies and governments around the world on analysis techniques and processes. This University of Ottawa management professor is an expert at gleaning information from conversations. He is also well recognized for his techniques in learning about competitors from their presence at trade shows. A personal example suggests why I have so much respect for him. I have spent much of my professional career figuring out how to use free online information sources to understand what companies are up to. I recall a conversation with Jonathan where I was conveying an information search strategy to him in great detail only to have him remind me of a simpler approach. ‘Pick up the phone and talk to an industry association representative or a government sector manager who happens to cover the area of interest.’ I was reminded that in this era of computing enable everything, there are often easier ways to get things done.
My experiences with Jonathan bring to mind a great case that we created in Western Australia with Michael Horton when he ran the operations of global information services provider in that state. Our objective was to provide students with a learning experience about how to get the attention of a key decision maker in a hyper-competitive industry. Specifically, the challenge was to figure out how to sell computing equipment and services into the natural resources industry. His ideas were a great reminder that there are many different avenues to a successful sale.
I am envious of Karl Moore. This McGill University management professor has done a wonderful job promoting that institution and his work through traditional and social media venues. Karl interviews business executives. What has caught my attention is his relationship with Montreal radio station CJAD and The Globe and Mail’s web site to share these interviews with his audience. Mention of his work also pops up in publications like The Economist and Forbes.com. He has done a great job reaching out of the ivory towers with his ideas and those of the executives and business owners that speaks with.
We have built many cases with many great communicators. One individual who fits in this category is Acadia University graduate Savior Joseph who recently took over as President of creative social agency Colour. A big part of his career success has been his natural ability to present ideas succinctly and his very clear understanding of how to use digital and social media to promoted businesses, products and services. Our case features an internal resource allocation issue that Savior and his colleagues addressed.
Deborah Hurst recently took over the role of Dean of Athabasca University’s Faculty of Business. For almost two decades she has been an important player in the development of the graduate programs of this primarily online education institution. Their online MBA is an interesting example of how to create and sustain a graduate business program that is thriving in a very challenging and crowded marketplace. From Deborah, I have learned the importance of patience and quiet perseverance.
When I connect the word patience and perseverance to the collection of cases and interviews that we have created, an example that comes to mind is the interview we conducted a few years ago with Suzanne Corkum of Sainte Famille Wines. At the time, the Nova Scotia wine industry was very nascent. This winery was one of the few in operation that was producing and selling wine. Suzanne commented that there was little in the way of industry resources to support the growth of a winery let alone many wineries. Yet jump forward a decade and the wines of this company can be found on store shelves throughout the province with those of many of regional competitors.
I am in awe of Sonia. Marathon runner. Multiple Ironman race finisher. Completed two university degrees in her forties. Works with children whose home life is usually not the greatest. Raised four children. She is my wife and I wish I had half her energy.
Conor Vibert PhD. is an innovative user and researcher of new educational technologies, a practitioner of flipped classroom teaching methods, a developer of evidence based instructional techniques, and a creator of streaming video multimedia cases available through Casenet.ca. He trains individuals to use online information sources to understand company behavior and has published a number of books on the topic. Over 600 video interviews with entrepreneurs, managers and executives around the world positions him as a unique source of knowledge of business behavior.
[i] Business and Competitive Analysis is the title of the book published by Pearson.