Aligning Process with Strategy

Business success requires a close alignment between a firm’s strategy and the processes it uses in its day-to-day work. Connecting operations and strategy generally leads to improved profitability and increased market share. A deep understanding of the challenges an operational process can face, how to evaluate the cost to the organization of those challenges, and therefore how to select the best available options for addressing challenges, is necessary when your expanding responsibilities include operations functions. You need to know how to respond when supply doesn't match demand, when there is a shortage of labor or materials, or when faced with a new competitor.

To ensure the success of strategic initiatives and avoid the costs of an inefficient operation, you'll need to understand and manage key operational implications of your decisions, such as:

  • What are the operations scale, source, and scope alignments you need so that your firm’s strategic plan and your operations processes work synergistically?
  • How do you adjust operational choices as your firm’s strategy evolves?
  • How can you prepare to support changes in strategy?
  • What data is necessary to identify improvements for existing processes and to evaluate new strategic opportunities?
  • How can managers in non-operations roles evaluate and manage the implications of their new strategies on the operations function?

In Leading Business Strategy through Operational Excellence, Duke MBA faculty will share findings from their research to demonstrate how to plan and control business  processes, the processes required to make and deliver the goods and/or services they offer, how to use and manage the data needed to evaluate these processes, what you can learn from experienced operations professionals, and how to use graphics to represent these processes.

You’ll explore fundamental concepts about performance metrics, system bottlenecks, quality approaches, queuing analysis, and about managing inventory, working capital, and the supply chain. You’ll gain experience with aligning capacity and demand, sourcing materials, managing waste, and assessing the cost of a change in source, as well as determining how wide or narrow the activities of operations can or need to be to achieve the organization's objectives.

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Who Should Attend?

  • Executives, and other leaders, who need to connect operational decisions with the overall company strategy and to the bottom line, whether or not they are directly involved with operations.
  • Professionals whose job scope is expanding to include operations decisions, and those who must assess the impact of operations on strategic initiatives.
  • Operations professionals whose increased responsibilities include providing input to their firm’s strategy.
  • Managers in both operations and non-operations roles who anticipate an increase in job scope in the near future: 

o  Strategy/business development executives

o  R & D, innovation, and new product development leaders

o  Senior marketing managers

o  Senior finance and accounting managers

o  Procurement, sourcing, or purchasing leaders

o  Demand and inventory managers

o  Cost manufacturing engineers

More about this program

Leveraging Operations to Achieve Business Goals

A thorough understanding of your organization’s operations processes and capabilities is essential in directing your organization effectively. Knowing whether production capacity and inventory can withstand a shortage of a raw material or an increase in demand resulting from a strategic initiative, is critical for both short and long term planning. Determining whether you can implement a new product innovation within the optimal market introduction window requires you to comprehend the opportunities and constraints of your production processes. If you’re a business leader who needs to align operations with your business objectives, this program will enable you to identify issues within your current processes, learn ways to optimize them with your organization’s strategic priorities in mind, and help you become more confident in making changes to improve performance and profitability.


Discussion Topics

Process Analysis

  • Introduction to Process Analysis (I & II)
  • Lean, Six Sigma, and Quality
  • Queuing Analysis

Management of Supply Chain Components

  • Inventory Management (I & II)
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Working Capital Management

Strategic Alignment

  • Operations Alignment
  • Expanding Capacity
  • Specialization and Growth
  • Outsourcing, Dual Sourcing, and Offshoring

Program Objectives

At the conclusion of this program, you will be able to:

  • Analyze and manage the processes required to provide goods and services to your customers
  • Identify the most effective continuous improvement approaches for your firm’s operational decisions
  • Understand the impact of uncertainty on decisions related to resource acquisition and evaluate when extra capacity for specific resources is beneficial
  • Evaluate existing processes and alternatives that can make for more efficient and effective inventory decisions
  • Select operations options that help your firm manage financial constraints and meet financial objectives in addition to improving operations metrics.
  • Understand the causes of the bullwhip effect and strategies to mitigate, or dampen, the effect
  • Understand the benefits of alignment in operations and how to achieve and adjust alignment over time
  • Determine the best way to align operational scale with your firm’s strategy in order to meet growth goals
  • Evaluate and develop an effective sourcing strategy
  • Conduct a cost/benefit analysis of changing the scope of operational activities

These three program days are filled with stimulating activities to demonstrate queuing theory, engaging games to illustrate concepts such as constraints and the bullwhip effect, and challenging case studies about capacity expansion, specialization, and strategy alignment. These will be coupled with faculty research presentations and group discussions, all to give you insights into how to align operations and strategic objectives in your organization. You’ll leave with a strong foundation in operations management, e.g., understanding the issues and challenges your operations processes are likely to face, what the key methods for evaluating options to address these challenges are, and how to optimize your operational activities to align most effectively with your firm’s strategy. Ultimately, you’ll have a much broader view of your organization from which to contribute and increase value to your stakeholders.


Sample Schedule

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1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Introductions (Program and Students)
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Introduction to Process Analysis I
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM


Day 1

7:00 AM - 8:30 AM

Process Analysis II
8:30 AM - 10:30 AM

Lean, Six Sigma, and Quality
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

Queuing Analysis
1:30 PM - 3:30 PM

Inventory Managment I
3:30 PM - 5:30 PM

Optional Campus Tour
5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Day 2

7:00 AM - 8:30 AM

Inventory Management II
8:30 AM - 10:30 AM

Supply Chain & Working Capital Management
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM

12:30-1:30 PM

Operations Alignment
1:30 PM - 3:30 PM

Expanding Capacity
3:30 PM - 5:30 PM

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Day 3

7:00 AM - 8:30 AM

Specialization and Growth
8:30 AM - 10:30 AM

Outsourcing, Dual Sourcing, and Offshoring
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM


Leading Business Strategy through Operational Excellence



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Kevin Shang

Kevin Shang

Kevin Shang is a Professor of Operations Management at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University. Professor Shang received his M.B.A. from the University of California, Riverside in 1998 and Ph.D. from University of California, Irvine in 2002.

Professor Shang's area of expertise is supply chain management and inventory control. His research focuses on developing simple and effective inventory policies for supply chain systems. Prof. Shang also conducts research on the interface of operations and finance and renewable energy systems. His research has appeared in several leading management journals, including Management Science, Manufacturing and Service Operations Management, and Operations Research.

Fernando Bernstein

Fernando Bernstein

Fernando Bernstein is Professor of Operations Management at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University. He obtained a Ph.D. in Operations Management from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University and joined Duke University in July 2000.

Prof. Bernstein’s research interests include supply chain management, production planning and inventory control, applications of game theory for production and distribution systems, and revenue management. He has published papers in leading journals like Operations Research, Management Science, and Manufacturing and Service Operations Management. He also serves as Associate Editor for these three journals.

Robert Swinnery

Robert Swinney

Robert Swinney is an Associate Professor in the Operations Management area of the Duke University Fuqua School of Business. Prior to joining Fuqua, he received a B.S. in Astronomy from the California Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in Operations Management from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Professor Swinney’s research addresses multi-player problems in supply chain management with a focus on the impact of customer behavior on operational decisions, social responsibility and disruption risk in supply chains, and the operations of start-up firms; his papers have been published in Management Science, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, and Marketing Science.

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Certificate Requirements: Attendance to the Duke Leadership Program and three electives within a three year period. More