Case Analysis With Discussion: What Are the Core Skills, Competencies, and Capabilities of Trader Joe’s?
Wolfe (2009, p. 63) calls on leaders at all levels of an organization to “view the organization as a living system, directing the flows of energies [passions and skills] within that body of people and transforming their collective energy [relationships and shared values] and effort into the products and services brought to the marketplace [to meet the organization’s Soulful Purpose].”
As such, it is critical to analyze what skills, competencies, and capabilities an organization actually has, and how these energies can best be tapped to ward off external threats, seize on opportunities, and navigate into new “blue oceans” of value creation. Indeed, all strategic (or not strategic!) action, and all value creation by an organization, is done through the application of skills (what individual people can do [think in terms of active verbs]), competencies (what groups of individuals can do[think organization functions]), and capabilities (what supporting plant, machinery, software, and systems/processes, etc.) can do.
Indeed, in the iterative, feedback and feed-forward five-question strategy playbook framework, one of the central questions is, which capabilities must be in place (to win)? (What skills, competencies and capabilities do you need now, and in the future?) It is to this central question that we turn to this week’s case study.
To prepare for this Discussion:
- Review all required readings, including the Weekly Briefing, which provides additional guidance on how to complete the Assignment.
- Review this week’s case study. You can, and should, scan it multiple times.
- Retrieve and review the Value chain of activities template.
- Identify and review all relevant readings from the MBA Capstone Program Bibliography.
- Utilize information in the case study, and other basic industry research data you can find in (Hoover’s database would be a good place to start, as would Business Source Complete). Remember, you will have to search for information on the most relevant Trader Joe’s competitors, as well as Trader Joe’s to be able to make an appropriate relative ranking of resources.
By Day 3, post a polished skills, competencies, and capabilities analysis that responds to each of the prompts below:
- Use your best judgment, based on the information in the case and your research, and rate Trader Joe’s current profile of skills, competencies, and capabilities, as identified in the detailed value chain in the case supplemental document. Fill your rating in the table and explain your rating. Use the following scale to rate and state any assumptions you make:
- If the skill, competency, or capability is “World Class” (clearly best in industry and could be benchmark for other industries), rate the item a 10.
- If the skill, competency, or capability is “Industry Best” (clearly number 1 or 2 in the industry), rate the item an 8.
- If the skill, competency, or capability is “Industry Average,” rate the item a 5.
- If the skill, competency, or capability “Needs Improvement,” rate the item a 3.
- If the skill, competency, or capability is a “Critical Deficiency,” rate the item a 1.
- What is your average rating (which assumes that all the skills, competencies, and capabilities in the value chain were equally important)? Does this average tell you anything? What?
- What three skills, competencies, or capabilities, across all categories, do you think are strategically the most important in the industry? Why?
- Based on your responses above, does Trader Joe’s have the capabilities in place to win? To continue to win? Why?
- What should Trader Joe’s do right now to leverage its competitive strengths and mitigate or improve upon competitive weaknesses?
Be sure to integrate concepts and quotes from this week’s readings. To obtain an exemplary assessment, you must also integrate at least one resource from the Walden MBA Program Capstone Bibliography as well.
General Guidance: Your original post, due by Day 3, will contain two elements:
- Your summary response to questions 2–5 above (4 single-spaced paragraphs) that will be the body of the DQ text area
- Your completed version of the Trader Joe’s supplemental table, which you should attach to your response (make sure to rename the file and append your last name first initial to the file name)