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What does it take to succeed in business? Critical Business Skills for Success is a comprehensive guide to the five disciplines--strategy, operations, finance and accounting, organizational behavior, and marketing--that everyone needs to master in today's marketplace.

The Great Courses
1 Season, 60 Episodes
April 8, 2015
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Critical Business Skills for Success Full Episode Guide

  • Research is undoubtedly essential for making responsible, effective marketing decisions. Professor Hamilton concludes his course with a lecture on the importance of marketing research methods whose data is often expressed in helpful qualitative terms: customer observations, focus groups, ethnographies, and projective techniques.

  • Dig into the unique opportunities--and challenges--of social media and word-of-mouth communications. From Facebook pages to viral videos, you'll learn how to navigate today's marketing innovations and tap into their power, reach, and low cost. You'll also learn how to dodge common errors other companies make.

  • Add to your "marketing toolkit" some of the principles and strategies of an effective communications plan, with a look at some successful (and unsuccessful) ad campaigns, including the California Milk Processor Board's famous "Got Milk" campaign. Also, get tips on how to command consumers' attentions without turning them off.

  • One of the most important decisions anyone in marketing will make is how to price your product and service. Here, Professor Hamilton reveals the information marketers use to settle on prices; how customers evaluate prices; and how price discrimination, price skimming, and price wars work.

  • What defines a brand? What rules should you follow when building your brand? How do brands create value for customers? With the insights and answers in this lecture, you'll learn how to create a brand that will connect you with consumers--and defend you from the competition.

  • Begin exploring the tactics involving in reaching marketing goals with a look at how to design products and services to provide the best possible customer experience. Along the way, you'll learn six rules for effectively managing customer experiences (including getting bad experiences out of the way and empowering employees).

  • Look at some other sources of value that companies can get out of their transactions and start thinking more broadly about the sources of value a company should seek. The specific focus of this illuminating lecture is on three additional kinds of customer-related value: loyalty value, information value, and communication value.

  • You've mastered segmentation, targeting, and positioning. Now learn how to grow and increase your sales using the 2x2 Ansoff matrix--one of the most powerful ideas in marketing. In the process, you'll learn piercing insights into the interactions between customers (current and new), product development, diversification, and more.

  • Many products fail because marketers fail to communicate their true value. Here, Professor Hamilton takes you step-by-step through the positioning process, designed to create and communicate value. Case studies you'll learn from include Volvo in the 1980s, the emergence of DVRs, and a Washington, D.C. bike-sharing program.

  • One of the core tenets of successful marketing is understanding your customer. But often times, you aren't the customer you're marketing to. What can you do instead? Find out in this introductory lecture on "Marketing 101", which also explores four types of value consumers seek: functional, monetary, social, and psychological.

  • Because the average worker changes jobs between seven and 10 times, workplace relevance and career success depends on lifelong learning and professional development. Finish out this course with a pointed, inspirational discussion on the barriers toward lifelong learning in an organization--and how to finally overcome them for good.

  • The one unavoidable part of an organization: change. After investigating the three essential ingredients of organizational change, focus on the kind of practical steps you can take to achieve change in your organization. Among them: how to make it about problem solving and how to cultivate a sense of urgency and speed.

  • Learn why ethical standards and policies are so important within an organization; the specific steps involved in ethical decision making; and the Bathsheba Syndrome, which helps explain why successful people do wrongful things at work.

  • Much of one's success in an organization depends on how well one manages conflict with others. Professor Longenecker guides you through two primary types of conflict and three levels where they occur. Then, he offers ways to avoid or better handle conflict using a powerful management model involving cooperation and assertiveness.

  • Why is power such a potent aspect of business? What do we mean by "power" in an organizational setting, and what are some of its work-related sources? How can you cultivate personal power within your organization? What strategies can you use to upwardly manage a relationship with your boss?

  • You've known about teamwork since elementary school. Now, learn how to foster it in an organizational setting. First, find out what happens when organizations don't cooperate. Then, learn how people with conflicting interests can work together.

  • Motivation and performance improvement are two of the most researched subjects in the field of organizational behavior. Using an in-depth study of 60 high-performance organizations across a range of industries, discover what goes into a highly motivated organization and how the "performance equation" provides fascinating insights into improving workplace performance.

  • Cultivate stronger communication skills with this engaging lecture that covers three burning communication needs in an organization and introduces you to six critically important lessons every effective communicator should follow.

  • What does it take to cultivate great working relationships? The answer: emotional intelligence. Learn how developing emotional intelligence can have a powerful impact on your ability to work well with others. Along the way, you'll learn about different types of workplace relationships, including strained working relationships and non-working relationships.

  • Professor Longenecker explains the most important things he's learned about leadership. Among these: the definition of effective leadership; the critical role of competency and character; and six leadership schools of thought.

  • Start taking control of your professional organizational behavior with this introductory lecture on how to achieve lasting results. You'll explore how to use the S.T.O.P. ("sit, think, organize, perform") method to improve job satisfaction, reduce stress, and enhance your professional performance.

  • All investors should know how to make value-creating decisions. Round out your introduction to accounting and finance with a recap of the fundamental tools of the trade. By applying these tools to specific examples involving major companies, you'll cement your ability to make smart and savvy investment decisions.

  • Explore the world of trade-offs and learn why issuing debt instead of equity can actually increase the value of a firm; why you should always consider the Weighted Average Cost of Capital of your investments; and how convertible bonds attempt to capture the best of both debt and equity.

  • What are some alternatives to evaluating investment opportunities beyond Net Present Value? Find out with this lecture on commonly used measures, including the Internal Rate of Return (the discount rate at which the Net Present Value equals zero); and the Equity Multiple (commonly used in venture capital investments).

  • What exactly do we mean by "value"? First, learn the true meaning of value and its overarching importance in finance. Then, investigate three different approaches for evaluating investment opportunities: the payback method; the book rate of return method; and the powerful investment decision-making tool known as Net Present Value.

  • In this lecture on the trade-off between risk and return, Professor Sussman introduces you to several important financial models businesses use every day. These include the Nobel Prize-winning Capital Asset Pricing Model, which is a means for formally unifying an asset's expected return and risk by studying asset fluctuations.

  • Begin your focus on finance with an insightful look at the time value of money. Along with basic concepts and terminology (including risk and present/future value), you'll learn about the five types of cash flows that should be in the business student's toolkit, including lump sums, annuities, and perpetuities.

  • How does breakeven analysis, or cost-volume-profit analysis, work--and how do businesspeople make it work for them? As you'll discover in looking at both the basic breakeven model and some more advanced variations, cost-volume-profit analysis has far-reaching applications in everything from marketing hotel rooms to pricing concert tickets.

  • Common size analysis. Trend analysis. Ratio analysis. Three financial tools every seasoned businessperson should be able to use. First, learn how each of these tools is used. Then, get a closer look at five key categories of ratios to keep in mind, including liquidity ratios and market ratios.

  • What makes statements of cash flows the most important financial statements you'll encounter? Professor Sussman explains the differences between revenues, profits, and cash flows; discusses the three separate sections of a statement of cash flows; and uses two intriguing anecdotes to highlight why analyzing these statements is so important.

  • Income statements are the statements most widely cited in popular business news. First, learn how income is measured under general accounting principles. Then, explore how income statements are organized to reflect everything from revenue to operating expenses. Finally, examine four questions everyone reviewing an income statement should ask.

  • Using a balance sheet from Intel as your case study, survey the significance of specific items that typically appear on balance sheets, including current assets and intangible assets. Also learn how to read balance sheets for clues about an organization's financial stability, risk, and liquidity.

  • This introductory lecture unpacks some key concepts in accounting and finance; dispels some common myths about accounting; and gives you a helpful overview of three essential statements companies routinely prepare to communicate critical financial data to shareholders and owners.

  • Professor Goldsby introduces you to the hottest topic in modern business: risk management. How can you overcome perilous situations, or dampen their effects? What are common internal and external risks to an organization? And how will tools like the "Failure Mode and Effects Analysis" help you identify and prioritize them?

  • Among the most pervasive developments in business organization over the past few decades is supply chain management. Learn how this discipline, a higher order of operations management, uses your network of suppliers and customers to achieve maximum effectiveness and help you better leverage your company's supply chain.

  • Obliterate the assumption that all business is good business. Instead, come up with more precise numbers that show how different customers affect your business by understanding the contribution margin.

  • Why is performance measurement so important to the health of an organization? How do the four dimensions of the "Balanced Scorecard" framework (financial performance, customer assessment, internal business process, and learning and growth) work independently and together? What is the "triple-bottom-line" approach, and how does it measure sustainable business performances?

  • Ways to improve business processes are indispensable to success. Gain simple tools and methods for improving the processes that matter to your organization. Learn how to create and use powerful, yet simple tools called process maps.

  • Supply management is the one department that accounts for well over half of a company's total spend, and involves decisions that impact its long-term profitability. By examining fundamental questions about what to buy and how to select suppliers, you'll leverage effective supply management practices that can set you apart from the crowd.

  • Master the fundamentals of right-sizing your inventory through inventory management. Specifically, focus on four basic strategies used to maintain just the right amount of inventory.

  • Sales and operations (S&OP) planning integrates a company's sales forecasts with the operations plans from the purchasing, production, and logistics departments. Learn how qualitative and quantitative forecasts are used to gather and share information; how the principles of S&OP can help you better match your supply and demand; and more.

  • Turn now to service operations, the successful management of which takes into account the psychology of winning customers through great experiences. From the Service Quality Scale to the details of process improvement, find out how to seize the movement where services are increasingly dominating the 21st-century business landscape.

  • Production operations are the greatest value-adding activity in all of business. Whether you're making the product yourself or through others, explore the decisions involved in successful production operations, and get a glimpse at developments to look for in the future, including 3-D printing and reshoring.

  • What exactly is operations management, and how can you make it work to your advantage? Turn your attention to operational capabilities: the composite of processes, people, and technology that helps you execute your strategy. Observe a case study featuring both production operations and service operations.

  • Professor Roberto concludes this course with a fascinating lecture on the challenges of launching your own business. You'll learn what makes entrepreneurship different from leading a complex, large organization; how the simple "marshmallow challenge" reveals different approaches to start-up strategies; and key questions any entrepreneur must answer before starting.

  • Mergers and acquisitions are part of daily life in the business world. Why do some bad deals get done, leaving the acquirer in a trouble spot? When can a hostile takeover be the right strategy to take, and how does one work? What happens if a bidding war occurs? What are some alternatives to merging?

  • Professor Roberto explains in more detail vertical integration and its two key directions: forward and backward. Does vertical integration make economic sense? Learn about vertical integration's rationales (and risks) by digging deep into interesting stories of vertical integration involving Disney's retail stores and Zara's "fast fashion" strategy.

  • What happens when the whole is worth less than the proposed sum of the parts? You've got a diversification discount, common for many unrelated diversifiers in the United States, and one that has led to many corporate breakups. If you're going to diversify, you need to do it the smart way. Learn how here.

  • Netflix's ultimate domination of the video rental market is a classic example of disruptive innovation: a serious threat to traditional business--and often the hardest to respond to.

  • Discover the strengths--and drawbacks--of being a first mover who establishes a market position and fast followers, who can learn from first movers' mistakes. Along the way, you'll consider relevant examples from industries including video game systems and social media networks.

  • Passionate customers, tremendous profits, happy employees--the Trader Joe's grocery chain is a powerful business success story. Discover how their secret for success lies in their use of trade-offs to make it hard for imitators and to mitigate the negative effects of the industry.

  • Professor Roberto introduces you to the three paths that lead to competitive advantage and four basic competitive strategies. Then, using case studies including JC Penney, IBM, and Dell, he explains both the dangers of straddling between competitive positions.

  • Five essential forces shape any business strategy, and together, they create a framework that can help you better make key strategic choices. Central to this discussion of these five strategic forces: Apple's meteoric rise to the top of the market.

  • What do we mean when we talk about business strategy? Start thinking more smartly about strategy with this introductory lecture that covers four key facts about competition and the two drivers of profitability: industry structure and competitive advantage.

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