Subscribe, Innovate, Disrupt: An Insider’s Guide to Business

Course Description:  

This immersive online course is designed for high school students to learn about how successful companies do business.  This course focuses on two companies, Apple and Netflix.  The lens we use on the companies is to analyze their strategies, the ways they compete and why they are successful.  The course culminates in a final project where students have to determine a strategy for “disrupting” either Apple or Netflix.

Course Objectives:

Throughout this course students will be able to:

  1. Define a company’s strategy and business model(s) using provided frameworks.
  2. Identify ways a company creates a sustainable way to compete with other organizations.
  3. Identify ways that a company can be disrupted by an incumbent (an existing company in the industry) or new entrant to an industry.
  4. Use the provided tools and concepts to analyze Apple and Netflix.
  5. Use these concepts, frameworks and tools to analyze other companies.  

Final Project:

Choose either Apple or Netflix and identify areas you think they may be vulnerable - an area in which the company could be disrupted. Is there a market that can be entered or enhanced by another company? Can another company replace it or some of its products or services?  Do not try to disrupt the entire company as that approach is likely to fail.  Try to find a specific product, service, or market to approach. Consider existing competitors as potential disruptors to either Apple or Netflix.

At the end of the course you will write a one-page memo to an executive at an Apple or Netflix competitor who might want to take on this project. You will also submit a Pecha Kucha presentation - a timed presentation format showing 20 slides, each slide for 20 seconds.

Course Outline

Unit 1: Introduction to Course

Unit Description:  

This unit introduces the course and the two companies we will analyze in Modules 2-5.  You will also learn about preliminary definitions of key business terms, especially strategy and strategic thinking.  Participants will choose either Apple or Netflix to analyze.   

Learning Objectives:

  1. Define strategy and why strategic thinking is important to organizations
  2. Explain strategy information about Apple and Netflix
  3. Choose either Apple or Netflix for a final project

Topics:

Assignment:

Produce a written statement addressing the following questions:

  1. Which company, Apple or Netflix will you analyze?
  2. Why are you interested in this company?  Do you use one or more products or services of the chosen company?  
  3. Your goal is to find ways to disrupt your chosen company.  Specify your initial ideas where you think the company might be vulnerable.
  4. Specify at least four research sources where you can find information on your chosen company.  

Unit 2: Introduction to Apple

Unit Description:

This unit introduces Apple Inc. as a company and introduces students to its products.  Participants will identify the company’s strategy, its competitors, and various aspects of its business to produce and sell products and services. Apple Inc. is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Cupertino, California.  The company designs, develops, and sells consumer electronics, software, and online services.  It is considered one of the “Big Four” technology companies, including Amazon, Google, and Facebook, and it is one of the most profitable companies in the world.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe and analyze Apple from the perspective of investors
  2. Specify in their own words Apple’s company strategy
  3. Incorporate external analysis for Apple to define its strategy

Topics:

Assignment:

At this point, you have chosen either Apple or Netflix to analyze.  Write out your answers to the following:

  1. Choose a few relevant mega-trends and relate them to the company you are analyzing.  
  2. External Analysis - When you do your analysis of the company you choose, consider its environment, especially the state of technology.
  3. Internal Analysis - When you look at Apple or Netflix, consider what they do well.
  4. Focus (A simple set of goals) - When analyzing Apple or Netflix, what is the company’s focus/ goals?
  5. Quality Implementation - How is your chosen company implementing its strategy?

Unit 3: Introduction to Netflix

Unit Description:

This unit introduces Netflix. as a company and its products.  Participants will identify the company’s strategy, its competitors, and various aspects of its business to produce and sell products and services.  Netflix, Inc. provides Internet entertainment services. The company operates in three segments: Domestic streaming, International streaming, and Domestic DVD. It offers TV series, documentaries, and feature films across various genres and languages. The company provides members the ability to receive streaming content through a host of Internet-connected screens, including TVs, digital video players, television set-top boxes, and mobile devices. It also provides DVDs-by-mail membership services. The company has approximately 139 million paid members in 190 countries. Netflix, Inc. was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in Los Gatos, California.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe and analyze Netflix from the perspective of investors
  2. Specify in their own words the company’s strategy
  3. Incorporate external analysis of a company to define a strategy
  4. Incorporate internal analysis and how to define a focus to define a strategy

Topics:

Assignment:

  1. Improve upon your analyses and start to draw some conclusions about your chosen company (Apple or Netflix).  Summarize the external pressures they are facing and by reading articles and the 10-K about the company, summarize what you think is the current strategy.
  2. Be sure to list the major risk factors for your chosen company.  Summarize these as you look for places where the company can be displaced or some of its products and services can be disrupted.  

Unit 4: Dive Deeper into Apple

Unit Description:

This unit will go deeper into the company and identify the perspectives of customers and employees.  It will help participants identify ways the company creates unique products and services.  It will also identify what it might be like to work for Apple.  Finally, participants will identify one way Apple may lose its competitive edge.  

 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe a company from the perspective of customers and employees
  2. Analyze the company’s secret sauce – its competencies
  3. Specify what is unique about Apple Inc, as compared to competitors, for their products, the ways they sell their products, and the ways they operate as a company

Topics:

Assignment:

At this point you should be well on your way to finding places to disrupt either Netflix or Apple.

  1.  For either company (choose the one for your final project) what are the core privacy issues they will confront in the future?  Do you think that another company could address these privacy issues better than the company you are analyzing?
  2. Strategies fail for all sorts of reasons.  Based on research, here is a list of common reasons. To what extent do you see evidence of these factors in the company you are analyzing?  Provide specific examples from your research.  
  1. Not sticking to decisions about strategy once they are made unless a compelling reason to change is made; Lack of measurement; Lack of strategy ownership throughout the organization; Too much focus on growth rather than profit; Confusion with business models especially when the company has multiple products and services; Too much formalization; Too little focus on strategy; Too focused on the customer; Strategy does not show evidence of external and internal analysis.

Unit 5: Dive Deeper into Netflix

Unit Description:

This unit will go deeper into the company and identify the perspectives of customers and employees.  It will help participants identify ways the company creates unique products and services.  It will also identify what it might be like to work for Netflix.  Finally, participants will identify one way Netflix may lose its competitive edge. The last part of the module focuses on business career opportunities and educational choices to obtain those careers.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe a company from the perspective of customers and employees
  2. Analyze the company’s secret sauce – its competencies
  3. What is unique about Netflix, as compared to competitors, for their products, the ways they sell their products, and the ways they operate as a company
  4. Identify the ethical challenges Netflix is facing and specify ways to address the ethical challenges
  5. Specify criteria for comparing CEOs of Apple and Netflix and analyze the CEOs

Topics:

Assignment:

Final Project presentation:

  1. 1-page memo
  2. Pecha Kucha presentation

Program and Class Policies 

Academic Requirements

  1. In order to receive a Certificate of Completion, students must receive an evaluation of  “Complete” on 70% of  assignments (3 of the 4 end-of-module assignments) and the Final Project. Coursework needs to be submitted by the end of the course.
  2. Decisions regarding program completion, Certificates of Completion, and other awards are at the discretion of the School. If you are deemed ineligible for a Certificate of Completion, you will not be entitled to any refund or compensation.
  3. Evaluation Criteria/Rubric
  1. Each unit assignment, as well as the Final Project will be assessed on a rubric of:

Technical Requirements

This online course will be conducted using the Canvas online learning management system. Students should log into Canvas regularly to complete  all course modules, assignments, and announcements. You are responsible for meeting and maintaining the minimum technical requirements for the course, including internet access and basic computer specifications necessary for using the Canvas Learning Management System.

Mobile Devices 

Your course may offer content and features that are available via a mobile device. Standard messaging, data and other fees may be charged by your carrier.  Your carrier may prohibit or restrict certain mobile features and certain mobile features may be incompatible with your carrier or mobile device. Contact your carrier with questions regarding these issues.  

Course Mentors

Students will have opportunities along their journey to engage with a mentor for questions, guidance and feedback for both their assignments throughout the course and the final project. Mentors will provide support and encouragement at predetermined moments throughout the course, using online video conferencing and digital messaging tools. Mentors will also provide advice and guidance on course assignments.

Student Code of Conduct

We may remove from the course any students whom we deem in our discretion to be disruptive to the learning environment, dangerous to other students, have acted in a manner that shows lack of dignity or respect for faculty and/or students, violated any intellectual property rights, or have engaged in academic misconduct, such as cheating or violating confidentiality. If you are removed from the course for  violations of this Code of Conduct you will not be eligible for a Certificate of Completion, refund, or any other award or compensation.

Intellectual Property

This course is for your personal and non-commercial use only.  The course may not be shared, re-sold, reproduced, re-published, modified, transferred or distributed in any way without our prior written permission.  All video, audio, text, animations, books, diagrams, images and other content that you receive or to which you have access during your course or through your use of the course, regardless of medium or format,  are protected by copyright law.  You may not download, record, screenshot, copy or reproduce course content in any way. You may not make any audio and/or video recording of any part of the course. You may not attempt to decompile, reverse engineer, scrape or datamine the course. Trademarks, logos, and service marks displayed or otherwise used in the course are registered trademarks and may not be used without prior, written permission.  You may have access to digital versions of course content. Subject to your compliance with these terms and conditions, we grant you a limited, personal, non-exclusive, revocable and non-transferable license to access course content during your program.

Terms & Conditions

The policies listed above are a subset of the Terms & Conditions for the program. You may review the complete Terms & Conditions here.

 

Meet Your Instructors

Dr. Dan Fogel, Lead Instructor

CEO, Founder SP3, Founder and Former Director: Graduate Programs in Sustainability, Wake Forest University

Betsy Schneider, Co-Instructor

Program Director, Pre-College Programs at Wake Forest University.  

Betsy Schneider is the Program Director for the Summer Immersion Program at Wake Forest University where she manages and oversees the nineteen pre-college institutes offered to high school students over the summer. She was hired in 2015 when pre-college programs at Wake Forest were fledgling and has had the opportunity to grow enrollment 500% from four initial institutes to nineteen institutes. Building and growing innovative pre-college programs allows Betsy to continue to promote educational pathways for students throughout North Carolina and around the world. Seeing young people develop their leadership and pursue goals excites and ignites her passion for educational equity and opportunity. Betsy also works with other pre-college programs offered at Wake Forest University: the College LAUNCH for Leadership Program and the Online Immersion Program. Previously, Betsy taught English as a Second Language through Teach For America for five years. Betsy received her BA from Bucknell University and MAT from the University of North Carolina: Charlotte.

The University reserves the right to modify the course as may become necessary.