O'Reilly logo
live online training icon Live Online training

Competing with Business Strategy


Tools for success in dynamic environments

Dr. Sharon Mertz

Strategy is not a new concept, but over the past several decades, business strategy has become increasingly critical to business success, due to a rapidly accelerating competitive environment, globalization, and new technologies. Companies and individuals need to adapt their strategies to address competitive challenges and shifting industry conditions and must be prepared to react both offensively and defensively in order to maintain their advantage and careers in the industry environment.

Join expert Sharon Mertz to learn what actions your company can take to proactively maintain and grow its competitive position. You'll also explore effective reactive strategies to meet quickly shifting markets and discover the importance of a rapid defensive response to combat attacks from rivals.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

By the end of this live online course, you’ll understand:

  • How offensive and defensive strategies can assist companies in redirecting market moves to obtain greater competitive advantage or react to immediate threats from rivals in a defensive position
  • Actions companies can take to leverage their internal competencies or take advantage of external events to leverage their position in the industry
  • How competitive strategies can focus on and gain advantage from market movements
  • How to evaluate forward positions in the market to identify new opportunities and build an innovative model for growth and profitability

And you’ll be able to:

  • Identify which actions and reactions will be most effective in responding to competitive threats
  • Articulate the steps needed to determine how businesses can most effectively locate and expand upon new market opportunities
  • Understand how to apply competitive strategies to specific industry environments

This training course is for you because...

  • You're an individual contributor who needs to understand how your company’s strategic moves in the marketplace may impact your role and contribution within the organization.
  • You're a director with broader managerial responsibilities, and you need to develop creative reactions within your area of coverage that align with your company’s offensive and defensive moves against rivals.
  • You're involved in strategic planning and need additional insights on how your company can identify and take advantage of new market opportunities.


  • Familiarity with business strategy at an introductory level, such as by having attended Understanding business strategy (live online training course with Sharon Mertz)
  • Prior experience with planning (such strategic planning, business planning, or long-range projections)

Recommended preparation:

About your instructor

  • Sharon Mertz is a consultant, research analyst, and graduate business instructor focused on evaluating and setting strategy for businesses in both domestic and international environments in high-tech markets and other industry sectors. Throughout her career she has been providing analysis and guidance to executives, technology development organizations, and graduate business professionals. She held an international assignment at IBM based in Paris, France, as practice leader for IBM's strategic consulting organization responsible for projects and staff in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Dr. Mertz also held management roles at KPMG, Hewlett Packard, Bull Worldwide Information Systems, and Digital Equipment, serving CIOs and information technology leaders. She is an accomplished keynote speaker and has addressed audiences at both commercial and academic conferences internationally. Dr. Mertz is an instructor at the Harvard Division of Continuing Education, where she instructs industry executives and professionals in topics such as strategic management, leadership, and technology within multinational corporate environments. As a consultant and principal at Red Salt Advisory, she also provides advisory services for boards of directors, strategic planning organizations, and corporate research functions.


The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing

Identifying the most advantageous business strategy in the context of the company’s strategic focus (20 minutes)

  • Lecture: The impact of higher-level strategic choices; how they drive decisions on generic strategies, market and competitive implications, and downstream execution decisions
  • Hands-on exercise: Identify which type of generic strategy your company follows and how the firm may neutralize challenges

Aligning business strategies with functional strategies; assessing whether strategies are sustainable within phases of the industry lifecycle (30 minutes)

  • Lecture: The impact of business strategies on functional strategies; methods of testing the fitness of a strategy; characteristics of good strategy and bad strategy
  • Hands-on exercise: Recognize actions of strategy development that either support or compromise successful strategy execution
  • Break (10 minutes)

Offensive and defensive strategies; responses to competitive positions (25 minutes)

  • Lecture: Offensive and defensive strategies companies use to gain advantage over rivals or defend against potential market erosion; potential responses to attacking and containing competitive threats
  • Hands-on exercise: Identify the most effective competitive responses using various scenarios

Methods for enhancing the company’s market position through operational expansion (25 minutes)

  • Lecture: Horizontal and vertical expansion, outsourcing targeted activities, and creating new opportunity through strategic alliances
  • Hands-on exercise: Determine the alternatives that could create value in your current situation
  • Break (10 minutes)

Volatile environments: How firms can leverage opportunity (20 minutes)

  • Lecture: The characteristics of dynamic contexts; ways companies can take advantage of industry shifts
  • Hands-on exercises: Determine scenarios in which your company achieves the greatest benefit in dynamic environments

Reshaping the markets: How new market creation can drive strategic advantage (30 minutes)

  • Lecture: New market identification and creation; how firms can expand their opportunities through alternative views of strategy development
  • Hands-on exercises: Determine how your company could benefit from high- or low-end disruption in a dynamic environment

Wrap-up and Q&A (10 minutes)