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Effective leaders understand that actions must be based on facts. Which facts are most important, however, depends on how the problem is framed.


Assignment 1

Board Brief Part A – Framing the Problem/Opportunity


Effective leaders understand that actions must be based on facts. Which facts are most important, however, depends on how the problem is framed. Failure to adequately define the problem can set in motion a series of misguided undertakings in which irrelevant data are gathered, unnecessary analyses are completed, and unsupported decisions are made. The first step in developing your Board Brief is to craft a clear statement of the problem/opportunity, and then determine which data are most critical to solving that problem. This is your opportunity to begin using the business analytics tools that will guide you throughout your Capstone Project. Instructions


For all assignments in your Capstone Project, your work will be based on the organization you identified in your Week 2 Discussion Question post. In this assignment, you will submit a 2 to 3-page paper in which you will include a brief overview of market conditions and develop a clear and well-focused problem/opportunity statement. This requires you to provide sufficient background on the competitive environment and the organization to accurately frame the problem for your Board. Your deliverables are:


1. Present a brief overview of market conditions, the competitive environment, and the strengths and weaknesses of your organization relative to your competitors. You should draw on one of the methodologies you have studied in the program (such as Jack’s 5 Step Strategy Framework, SWOT, PESTEL, or Porter’s Five Forces) to guide you, but DO NOT present a full-blown market analysis to the Board. Your Board members will already possess significant knowledge of the market and the company, so use this overview to set the stage for the rest of your brief. Distill your overview down to 2 components.


a. First, provide a general overview of market conditions, trends, and big issues. For example, you may begin with a line such as “As you know, we have experienced considerable challenges in this space over the last two years…”


b. Then, summarize the competitive environment. Open with a sentence such as “Our biggest competitor ABC has made bold steps to develop X and has made significant gains in market share in Y. This has presented us with a number of challenges…”


2. Problem/Opportunity Statement


Following your overview, identify the specific problem or opportunity that, if properly addressed, will have a significant positive impact on the success of the organization. This will include your “testable hypothesis” for which you will gather and analyze data to validate in your next assignment. To accomplish this:


a. Define a clear problem or opportunity that addresses what is important to the organization in order to meaningfully improve its competitive strength. Note: It is expected that you will refine the problem/opportunity statement you drafted for your Week 2 Discussion Question, leveraging the feedback you received from your classmates and professor.


b. Identify key data and metrics you will study that are relevant to addressing the problem/opportunity.


c. Identify stakeholders who will be involved in addressing the problem/opportunity. At this stage, you do not need to name specific people, but you must identify functions, departments, geographical areas, etc., that will be impacted. You must also explain the nature of the potential impact.


d. Include relevant information on previous experiences or findings related to this problem/opportunity. This information may be noted in an appendix if that is more appropriate for context and flow.






Assignment 2


Assignment 2: Board Brief Part B – Data Analysis




The second part of your Board Brief picks up where the last one left off. Having accurately framed the core problem/opportunity in Assignment 1, you will now turn your attention to collecting, organizing, and analyzing the data you are using to test your hypothesis. You are not yet ready to propose a specific action plan for your business. You will focus on evaluating what data you have and don’t have, and on identifying patterns, trends, and anomalies. Because you can never have complete data, your analysis must acknowledge what you know and what you don’t know. But, even with incomplete data, your actions must be reasonable given the time frame and resources you have. Those actions – your strategic plan – will be developed in Assignment 3.




For this assignment, you will build on your first assignment by including an additional 3 to 4 pages to present your analysis of the data. Your submission must include the work you did in Assignment 1 and must provide relevant and quantifiable data, models, calculations, and analysis. Use the topics below to organize this section of your Board Brief:


1. Data Sources and Reliability


a. What data were the most critical to the analysis of the problem/opportunity you identified in Assignment 1? Explain.


b. What sources did you use to gather the data?


c. How reliable and complete are the data you are using? What steps did you take to validate this?


d. What data are unknown (or unknowable) at this stage? How does this impact your analysis?


2. Data Tools and Analysis


a. Drawing from the “Types of Analysis” guide and other resources from the course, what tools and techniques have you used in your analysis? Why did you select these?


b. Applying the analysis tools to your selected data, what patterns, trends, and anomalies did you uncover?


c. How do these patterns, trends, and anomalies shed light on the problem/opportunity you identified?


d. Leveraging your work in the Discussion Questions and the guidance from our course materials, include charts, tables, and/or other visual supports to ensure that your data tells a clear story that your reader can easily understand.


3. Conclusion and Action Items


a. What does your analysis tell you about where you should focus your efforts to drive meaningful improvement?






Assignment 3


Board Brief Part C – Overview of the Strategic Plan




The third component of your Board Brief is an overview of your strategic plan. The purpose of the overview is to give Board members a preview of the key changes you will make in order to implement your plan, and to explain how these changes will impact the organization. This information enables your Board to come to the meeting better prepared and to ask more informed questions. Your overview must be clear and complete enough that it makes sense, but it should not be overly wordy.


Your instructor will review your strategic plan and will provide comments and questions where needed to help you strengthen your presentation. You will be given these questions in advance of your presentation and will be expected to address them in your delivery.




1. Building on your previous submissions, include an additional 3 to 4 pages to take the analysis work you have done in the first two assignments and turn it into an actionable plan.


2. An effective plan overview will include:


a. A clear and compelling opening statement (executive summary) explaining the strategic initiative


b. A high-level outline of your implementation plan, including costs, impact on operations, ROI projections, competitive advantage, and risks associated with the plan, along with your mitigation plans


c. A reminder of the challenges and opportunities facing the organization and how your proposed plan will address these


d. Enough information allowing Board members to prepare for the upcoming meeting and to formulate additional questions


e. A summary statement recapping why the proposed strategic initiative is necessary and the approvals being sought at the upcoming Board meeting


Formatting and Submission Requirements


NOTE: Use the Board Brief Checklist in the course shell to help guide your work. As you complete each of


the three assignments, you will add it to the previous assignment(s), so that by the end of Assignment 3, you


will have created a single document for your entire Board Brief


• Submit your work in Word


• Include a cover page containing the title of the assignment, your name, your professor’s name, and the course title and date


• Include a references page with your sources


• The cover page and the references page are not included in the required page length


• Use professional font (Times New Roman or Arial), 10-12 font size, and double-space


• Headings are used to identify main topics and subtopics


• Paragraphs are separated by a single space






Assignment 4


Board Presentation




You’ve been working hard, and you’ve have gained a lot of insight into your organization. You have:


? Formed a hypothesis about an area of opportunity to drive meaningful growth (Assignment 1)


? Collected and analyzed relevant data to validate your hypothesis (Assignment 2)


? Delivered a clear outline of your strategic plan to your Board (Assignment 3)


In completing this work, you’ve taken a close look at the internal and external environments, you’ve examined the financials and determined what is needed to accomplish your plan and what the payback should look like, and you’ve looked at the current people and structures in light of what it will take to execute your plan. Now, there’s just one item left to address – convince the Board to give you the goahead. This week, you’ll make your pitch! Remember, you will be making an “ask” in your presentation, so always answer questions in your presentation before your audience has an opportunity to raise them.




Your presentation must be well-organized, compelling, and delivered with the executive presence expected of a leader. You should make use of PowerPoint or other visual tools as part of your presentation to support your delivery. There is no required sequence or organization for your content. You must decide how you wish to begin, advance, and conclude the presentation. However, you must ensure that you address the “Board Questions” you received from your professor in your Board Brief feedback.


If there are data that are important in presenting your plan, you must reference these in your presentation, but do NOT waste your opportunity in front of the Board by delivering a “data dump.” Judiciously referencing key data to support your position is a demonstration of your depth of knowledge and your capability as a leader, but analytics alone will not win the day. Your presentation will require you to:


• Present persuasively, logically, and clearly


• Address the following required content areas:


1. Questions received in your feedback from your Board Brief


2. Plan outline and benefits


3. Data collected and analysis overview


4. Competitive and market advantage to be gained from your plan


5. Financials – addressing both costs and benefits


6. Risk and mitigation plan


7. Conclusion/recommendations


• Demonstrate your executive presence using supporting infographics and delivery to convey confidence, conviction, energy, and passion


• Dress and speak appropriately, and exhibit effective body language and mannerisms, tone, and mastery of the content…just as a great leader would


• Assume the role of a “salesperson” asking for funding and permission to proceed by leveraging data and storytelling to articulate the value, costs, and benefits to the Board


Formatting and Submission Requirements


1. Use the Zoom video tool


2. Your maximum length is 5 minutes


3. IMPORTANT: Submit only the .mp4 format version of your saved file


4. Your presentation must include PowerPoint or other visual support tools


5. Your slide deck is not to exceed 15 slides


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