Analysing Godfather To Learn Advanced Competitive Strategy

Advanced Competitive Strategy is a course from the strategy domain taught by the Director of IIM Lucknow, Professor Ajit Prasad. This course while may come across as one that will be extremely complex and serious, was filled with an immense amount of fun and fervour. Strategy courses are known for being demanding and heavy, yet here is a course than entirely changed my perspective towards the subject.

Each class was engaging and filled with many small and big activities and learning. The concepts of strategy were taught with a lot of references to everyday life and pop culture. Along with this, a movie was shown in almost every class for us to draw strategy lessons from. The movies included ‘Main Azad Hoon’, ‘Rocket Singh, Salesman of the Year’, ‘All that Jazz’, ‘A documentary on Beatles’ to name a few.

The textbook for the course was the Godfather and the end term examination was an essay based on the same. The most interesting thing about the course was how concepts of strategy were applied to Godfather and used so beautifully. This book and movie have been analysed widely by both management and literary enthusiasts alike. In fact, it is said to have put Peter Drucker, the father of management himself to shame.

Here are a couple of ways that I mapped strategy to the Godfather.

1. The Corleone family, when treated as an organisation, experiences troughs and peaks which can be explained by the change in leadership from Vito to Sony to Micheal.

2. The Corleone family is like a defender on the lines of an IBM or Apple and Sollozzo, the drug dealer is like a defender on the lines of a new startup.

3. Vito’s falling ill and then the downfall of the family is closely compared to Apple’s downfall at the time of Steve Job’s illness.

4. The story is filled with complexity of plot and characters, with the political connections of the family being its core competency and sustainability being its mission.

All in all, it was fun reading the book and watching the movie to prepare for the examination and it turned out to be an equally good teacher of strategy to top off the fun. The course being the only strategy course that I picked up, was one that I thoroughly enjoyed.