Syllabus (PDF)

15.928 Proseminar in Strategic Management and Consulting: Theoretical Foundations provides students with strategic frameworks and a broad exposure to business matters that affect strategic management and the consulting industry.  To fulfill that objective, the Proseminar invites distinguished executives from businesses and consulting firms.

Fifty top executives from the U.S. and abroad were interviewed to identify the major issues that they were facing in today's world.  From this survey six themes emerged as the leading subjects of strategic importance.  We have organized the Proseminar accordingly. These themes and the speakers that will be addressing them are:

Theme 1.  Restoring Credibility and Winning Stakeholders Trust
The seemingly endless disclosures of lapses in the integrity in Corporate America have shaken the confidence in businesses and their financial reports.  The major task is to enforce the principles of transparency and accountability involving every member of the corporate reporting supply chain:  company executives, boards of directors, independent auditors, information distributors, third party analysts, investors, standard setters, and market regulators.

  • Robert Eccles (Founder and President of Advisory Capital Partners, and former Professor at Harvard Business School)
  • Paul Tellier (President and CEO, Bombardier)

Theme 2.  Focus on Short-Term Efficiency - Cost Containment and Implementation
The economic downturn that we have experienced in the last year and a half has generated a concentration of attention on the bottom line and an emphasis on developing a lean and cost-efficient infrastructure, and a strong belief that execution is everything.  The challenge is to address these short-term pressures in a way that we do not compromise the future of the organization.

  • James McTaggart (Founder and CEO, Marakon Associates)
  • Jürgen Weber (Chairman of the Executive Board, Lufthansa)

Theme 3.  Largest Destruction of Shareholder Value - How Could It Happen?
As of September 30, 2002, the S&P 500 has fallen roughly 45% and NASDAQ has fallen 78% from their March 2000 highs.  Countless technology and telecommunications companies have fallen 90+% or have disappeared.  Something to the order of $7 trillion of equity value has evaporated over this period.  The big question is why did this happen and are there any lessons to be drawn to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

  • Stewart Myers (Gordon y Billard Professor, MIT Sloan)
  • Hans-Jörg Rudloff (Chairman of the Executive Committee, Barclays Capital)

Theme 4.  Structuring the Organization for Unstable Markets
The greatest concerns are to assure business continuity, stabilization of earnings in volatile markets, disaster recovery, and mechanisms to successfully face disruptive technologies.  These conditions require an organization with a continuous capacity for adaptation.  We will explore what are the critical elements of such a structure.

  • Philip Evans (Senior Vice President, Boston Consulting Group)
  • Rudi Lamprecht (Member of the Managing Board, Siemens AG)

Theme 5.  Motivating Employees in a turbulent Environment - Becoming an Employer of Choice
In these difficult economic times, it has become even more critical to attract, satisfy, and retain the top talent.

  • Gary Cowger (President, GM North America)
  • Christopher Bartlett (Thomas D. Casserly, Jr. Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School)

Theme 6.  Globalization - The Question of Fairness
Globalization has both strong supporters and detractors.  There are those that advocate globalization as a powerful means to bring more prosperity and democracy into the world.  The detractors argue that the rewards of globalization are spread unequally and inequitably both among citizens of a given country and across countries in the world community.  How can we shape the direction of globalization in a just and equitable way?

  • Philip Khoury (Dean, School of Humanities, M.I.T.)
  • Dale Laurance (President, Occidental Petroleum)

Both 15.928 and 15.929 combined account for 12 credits.  Therefore although the requirements might feel uneven, it's the combined load that truly counts.

Course Requirements

15.900 Strategic Management or equivalent
15.010/15.011 or equivalent

There are three course requirements:

Attendance & Participation.  Attendance and active participation at all Proseminar sessions are required.
Individual Memoranda.  Prior to their visit to Sloan, each speaker will be asked to submit several strategic questions or thought-provoking issues concerning their company/institution in the context of their theme for the class.  These questions and issues will be posted on Sloanspace by mid week prior to speaker's presentation.  Students will be required to submit a one-page memorandum responding to the speaker's strategic questions (to ensure consistency, the template posted on Sloanspace should be used).  Memoranda will be due in hard-copy form to the TA's on the day the speaker visits class.  They will be compiled and delivered to the speaker for their review.  Students will be required to complete a total of 8 memoranda over the course of the semester.  
Speaker Briefing.  Student teams will be formed to prepare an informational briefing for each speaker.  One team will be responsible for preparing the class for each speaker.  The briefing should take the form of an 8-10 slide PowerPoint presentation, and should detail the speaker's professional background, summarize his/her firm or institution, and describe several recent industry/global trends relating to the speaker and his/her theme.  These briefings will be posted on Sloanspace in the weekday prior to the speaker's visit to Sloan for review by the entire class.  The student team responsible for the briefing will be asked to meet with Professors Hax and Schulmeyer (on the weekday prior to the speaker's visit) to review and finalize the briefing.
The TA's will create briefings for both speakers of the 1st Theme (Rudi Lamprecht and Philip Evans), and post them on Sloanspace.   For each of the six Themes, there will be two guest speakers - one that is a senior executive of a major corporation, and one that is a leading academic or strategist in the relevant field.  The two briefings for Rudi Lamprecht and Philip Evans illustrate the different frameworks that should be used for a Corporate Executive and Conceptual Theory briefing, respectively.

Class Participation

The quality of the Proseminar will heavily depend on your full involvement and commitment to class participation.  It is imperative that you are well prepared and think in advance about questions you might want to pose to the speakers.  We realize that we will have a fairly large class but this should not dissuade you from your personal involvement in the dialogue.

Class participation includes punctuality in attendance.  We expect you to arrive, be seated, and be ready for class on time, and to stay in class for the entire session.  Arriving late is inconsiderate to fellow students as well the guest lecturers.  We ask that you use a name card for during the sessions.

Class participation also includes maintaining a professional atmosphere in class.  This means utilizing computers and technology suitably (silencing wireless devices, no web-browsing or emailing), and refraining from distracting activities during class (side conversations or games).  Please refer to the Sloan Professional Standards document for more details.


15.928 is a Pass/Fail course.  Students will be evaluated based upon the following criteria:

Participation    30%
o Individual Memoranda   40%
o Speaker Briefing   30%

The first year SMAC Track students are required to take both 15.928 and 15.929.  Therefore the course load should be viewed as a combined 12-credit course load originated from both courses. 

Attendance is mandatory.  If you must miss a session, inform the TA's prior to the class with a valid excuse.  No more than two excused absences will be allowed.