UVA: Foundations of Business Strategy

UVA: Foundations of Business Strategy

Overall Course Rating:  5/10

Completion Date: April 25, 2013
Platform: Coursera

—— Lectures ——
Michael Lenox of UVA’s Darden School of Business puts together a very basic business strategy course for students who have no experience in the field at all. The lectures are clear, succinct, short, but lack depth. But I believe that was Lenox’s intention, as the course was designed for people with no background, and it is perfect for them.

Students who have no prior business knowledge will leave comfortably knowing basic tools for analysis such as Five Forces Analysis, the Competitive Life Cycle, Capabilities Analysis, and the Diversification Matrix. Lenox won’t go into great depth explaining these tools, however he does apply them to real companies such as Google, Apple, Redhook, and Disney to give students a good feel of how to actually use the tools.

—— Assignments and Exams ——
Weekly quizzes test your understanding along the way, but they are not challenging and I can’t even recall if they counted towards the final grade. There was one final assignment that accounted for most, if not all of your grade in this course.

The final assignment was for student’s to do their own analysis of a company. I myself did a brief slideshow analysis of LinkedIn. It was crude, but it was good practice to try and apply all the analysis tools to a real company.

The final assignment was probably the only worthwhile exercise. It could have been more beneficial if there was more detailed feedback on the assignment, but regardless it was good practice using the toolkit.

—— Additional Intangibles ——
Lenox’s videos used a black background, which few people probably notice, but was a lot easier on my eyes than the typical white background. It was also nice when I was watching the videos at night in a dark room.

I’m also not sure if Coursera’s graders were working properly as I was actually issued two different Statements of Accomplishment in April and then again in May. In addition, it only displays my grade as “You earned 100.0%”, which is the same as my Principles of Economics for Scientists course which experienced technical difficulties during the final grading period.

—— Conclusion ——
The lectures are easy to watch, and the assignments take very little time. This is a MOOC that requires minimal time investment from its students. The class is ideal for students with no background in business and want just a taste of the kind of (non-quantitative) business analysis that investors do.

The course just began again on Coursera on January 13, 2014. It’s not too late to join in and learn the basics of business strategy analysis!

—— Take this course if… ——

  • You want a quick and basic crash course in analyzing companies
  • You’re looking for a new way to analyze your long-term stock investments
  • You don’t want to commit a lot of time to a MOOC