Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Disruption vs. Shareholder Maximization

[With our Global Strategy course this semester, I'm going to highlight a bunch of interesting business models and strategies]

I don't think I made too many friends in our Strategy class this weekend when I called the b.s. on two of the foundational principles of MBA programs: Accept all positive NPV projects and Shareholder Maximization Theory. I understand the concepts, and I understand the techniques. I'm just not convinced that it's the right guiding culture to build long-term companies. As Dr.Baliga stated this weekend, "too many times, those projects start with budget and then get wedged into strategy after the fact". I couldn't agree more.

Here is a good example from a recent article about Netflix, and how they are once again innovating to change and disrupt the market.But this time, they are not only disrupting the market with streaming video, they are potentially disrupting their current business model. I suspect that Netflix probably has positive NPV projects (today) that have values greater than their streaming projects, but are they aligned to help Netflix avoid the inevitability that all media will move online? The streaming project would eventually get funded using traditional approaches, but they would probably get started two years late and Netflix would be watching a streaming-only company pass them by.

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