The Art of Strategy During a Recession

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Can’t see the video above? Click here to watch or you can read the transcript.

In this video interview, Kurt K. Motamedi, PhD, Professor of Strategy and Leadership at the Graziadio School of Business and Management, discusses strategy, strategy execution, leadership styles (including neurotic managers and their impact), keeping employees motivated, and the shift away from economic opportunism occurring in the U.S. and worldwide.

Dr. Motamedi specializes in strategic management and organization development, design, and behavior. He has worked at and consulted for various multinational companies in diverse global industries such as technology, health care, media, and financial services, as well as with government organizations. An author of numerous publications and a frequent speaker on management topics, Dr. Motamedi has received the excellence in teaching and service award from UCLA’s Ojai Leadership and Engineering and Management programs.

On Strategy

Should Businesses Change Their Strategy During Economic Uncertainty?

What are Alternatives to Strategic Planning in an Unstable Environment?

On Execution

How Do You Link Strategy and Execution?

How is the Recession Shaping New U.S. Businesses?

How Do You Keep Employees Motivated Without the Usual Incentives?

What are Negative Management Styles?

On the New U.S. Economy

With the U.S. Economic Collapse, are Organizations Moving Away From Economic Opportunism Towards Social Enlightenment?

How is This Economic Shift Affecting the Global Marketplace?

Related in the GBR

Seven Neurotic Styles of Management by Kurt K. Motamedi, PhD

Graziadio Faculty Discuss Ethics: Are There Rules to Ethical Conduct by Linnea McCord, JD, Mark Mallinger, PhD, Kurt Motamedi, PhD, Steven M. Sommer, PhD, Ray Valadez, EdD, Ariane David, PhD

Recognizing Organizational Culture in Managing Change by Mark Mallinger, PhD, Don Goodwin, MBA, and Tetsuya O’Hara, MBA

Topic: America's Financial Crisis, Change Management, csr, Engagement, Ethics, Knowledge Management, Leadership, Management, Org Behavior, Strategy, Videos
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Terry Haney

August 31, 2009 at 3:13 PM

I feel that your subject is critical to our future but I believe that the magic of the dynamic of companies and employees was lost long ago.

Terry Haney
Pepperdine MBA ’76

Art Canales

September 1, 2009 at 9:58 AM

A good presentation on various strategies, but much more analytical than practical. He gives good data and statistics, but not much for the typical struggling small business owner. A typical business professor in his own “ivory tower” doing his business and management “group think.” Neverthless it is worthy of listening to and getting his perspective on economic and business strategies.

Steve Seager

September 1, 2009 at 4:36 PM

Interesting. And a little curious.

In the interview the learned professor says that the primary premise in strategic planning is in dealing with the future.

I believe that strategy is not just about dealing with the future. It is about making decisions on how you allocate your resources now. Today.

Strategy is the sum of the way you allocate your resources.

You may not have a formal, written out strategy, but every time you implement tactics, you define your strategy.

You end up in the market position you end up in tomorrow because of the decisions you make each day.

Anticipating and predicting is fine. However, a strategic plan should monitor changes in real time. And adapt in real time.

Otherwise, you simply do not have a strategy. You have a plan.

Now I’m a public relations guy, so what do I know. But I do know this. The businesses that get through a recession do not get there through having a long term plan.

They succeed because they adapt to the market. In real time. They take time to understand the changes. And allocate their resources accordingly.

That’s a strategy.

Kurt Motamedi

September 3, 2009 at 12:14 AM

Dear Steve,

Strategy as a concept has been badly misused in every day language. We use it quite loosely in everyday life. Strategy is a form of a plan. It has breadth, depth, and length. It involves setting well calculated goals to achieve the enterprise’s mission. What you refer to as strategy is really strategic “management.” There is a difference. Strategic management involves strategy making, designing the organization, developing functional and subordinate plans, implementing (execution), managing performance (of the firm, departments, projects, individuals, teams, etc.), rewarding, controlling outcomes at all levels, improvising and adapting the plans to the specific situations, innovating, celebrating, changing and making improvements. In most business schools the focus is on strategy and organization behavior. At Pepperdine we focus on strategic management — a wonderful field which apparently you value as well. We try to bridge the gap. Thanks for your response.

Kurt Motamedi

September 3, 2009 at 12:58 AM

Dear Art,

Thank you for your delightful response. I assure you that I do not live in ivory tower. In fact, most of our faculty at Pepperdine does not. We view ourselves as reflective practitioners and ascribe to the notion that nothing is as practical as a good theory (Kurt Lewin’s position). We value strategic thinking and a broad view of the firm’s direction as well as action taking, action learning and action research. Thinking big would help a small enterprise grow in size and prosper. Sam Walton (Wal-Mart), Tom Watkins (IBM), Andy Grove (Intel) John Chambers (Cisco), our own Earl Swift (Swift Energy), our George Graziadio, and other past and present captains of industry had great visions, were strategic thinkers, and strategic implementers (doers). As reflective practitioners, we become criticized by some of our academic friends as being too practical and not academic enough; some of our practitioner friends such as you view us as ivory tower residents. Maybe we are just where we need to be to get a balanced view of theory and practice to make effective interventions in the real world. I do value theory, research, practice, perspective, and action. Thanks for your reflective observations.

Credit Cards and Loans

September 3, 2009 at 5:39 AM

Art I couldn’t agree more. While there are some great ‘theories’ I feel that the majority is little more than that. Not truly practical for most.

Steve Seager

March 10, 2010 at 10:18 AM

Dear Kurt,

Many thanks for the reply. Your chat in the video is now much more in context for me.

I think the responses from Art and Mr ‘Credit Cards and Loans’ highlight the business reality – that is there is a very large gap between the real and perceived value of strategy.

This is what I believe Art and CC&L are referring to – the ‘ivory tower’ luxury of having ‘strategy heads’ giving great ‘theoretical’ advice that small businesses can do little with.

For example, the one thing I hear most often from clients is that “I don’t have time for strategy – I’m too busy trying to get things done!” :)

On that note, I would love to know whether you think that you can define strategy by focusing strongly on tactics. Sounds a little paradoxical, but in the context of strategic management for small businesses – a completely necessary evil, and something I strongly advocate.

Is this something you would advocate too? And how would you approach this type of problem for small businesses?




August 20, 2010 at 11:17 AM

Steven, I disagree with your premise that the professor is incorrect about strategy having to do solely with the future. Strategy IS about the future; it’s long term contingency planning. However, tactics are about allocating resources wisely now, and those are equally important.

If one devises good strategy, then tactics become the tools to execute that strategy. Unfortunately in many organizations, strategy is non-existent and tactics are little more than putting out fires.


Agents Needed

April 23, 2012 at 11:00 AM

One thing is one of the most common incentives for making use of your card is a cash-back or rebate supply. Generally, you’ll get 1-5% back on various expenses. Depending on the cards, you may get 1% back on most acquisitions, and 5% again on acquisitions made going to convenience stores, gasoline stations, grocery stores and ‘member merchants’.

Marilou Sulzbach

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