Wednesday, April 20, 2016

How did Ben & Jerry’s Survived with their own Strategic Science of Running a Business:

I do like Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and now I know the secret behind such yummy flavors and its inspiration. Reading through the case I was intrigued by the fact that how quality was maintained by keeping it the top priority and this definitely reflects in all Ben & Jerry’s ice creams. As the article ‘Bringing Science to The Art of Strategy’ brings to light the important aspect, I will discuss these seven steps using Ben & Jerry’s as my test case.
The first step talks about making a choice rather than a strict decision. Ben & Jerry’s had a choice to outsource their production or continue to produce it in-house especially using dairy products from Vermont. Ben & Jerry’s decided to maintain their quality rather than to maximize their profit via bulk production. Such a control allowed Ben & Jerry’s to test and try new flavors and due to such a reputation, the consumers considered it quality worthy. In step 2, expand your opportunities, create strategic opportunities which are tangible to achieve. In Ben & Jerry’s case, the company’s choice to stick with in-house production allowed them to strategize and add the new flavor of ice cream and introduce them quickly to the market. They were also able to add competitive flavor like frozen yogurt and bulk ice creams in competition to other supreme ice cream makers in the market. The third step provides guidance on how to be objective about the strategic goal. As mentioned in the article ‘Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?’, one of the three important principles is to define specific objectives. The author describes it as the most critical activity without which the employees and managers area lost if they do not have clearly defined the set of rules and goals for them to act upon. Ben & Jerry’s defined its strategic specific goals e.g. ‘scoop shops’ which delivered the high-quality environment in sophisticated shops and very well maintained controls on service delivery. To ensure the similar experience of Ben & Jerry’s in all ‘scoop shops’, the company had the annual program for training the franchise owner on how to maintain the level of the quality image in minds of Ben & Jerry’s customers. Step 4, identify the possibilities that may hold true in case if the company wants to implement a choice (a strategy). The barriers assumed and emerged due to that particular choice will help to eliminate those barriers and understand better the possibility to implement a strategy. In the case of Ben & Jerry’s, the barriers to choice for quality control meant stricter financial choices. Such as conservative debt-to-equity policy and not issuing dividends in order to meet the demand for quality control via reinvestment into business. In step 5, designing the barrier testing field. Ben & Jerry’s were stringent in keeping the quality and hence Ben came up with new flavors about 1.5 and 2.5 times more to the competition. He was notoriously known for rigorous test and improve the flavors before sending the ice cream into production.  Step 6 and 7, are about the process accomplishment. Since Ben took the time to approve the new flavors, these processes added more quality emphasis on how the test is conducted and then a choice was made based on the initial hypothesis and results achieved.

As described by David and Michael in ‘Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?’, a good team, human factors and basic revenue/profit increasing strategies does not give definitive goals for staff to help company grow. A good goal oriented company strategy need to be implemented to go beyond the baseline agendas. Specific objective goals, the scope in which those goals will be consider achievable and the rule of thumb to gain a competitive advantage should be the mantra of the overall strategy design. A strategy thought in terms of these implementable and approachable gains are well directed and well-articulated for employees to follow in given and clear sense of direction to achieve defined high level company goals.

1) 'Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?', by David J. Collis and Michael G. Rukstad
2) 'Bringing Science to The Art of Strategy', by A.G. Lafley, Roger L. Martin, Jan W. Rivkin, and Nicolaj Siggelkow.
3) 'Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream Inc.: A Period of Transition', by David J. Collis.

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