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Strategy Dynamics Course - Class 3 – Resource accumulation

This Class explains the principle that resources accumulate (fill up) and deplete (drain away) over time – customers are won and lost, staff hired and fired, products launched and dropped, cash generated and invested. This behaviour has a deeply fundamental impact on organizations’ performance over time.

The class describes the 'stock-and-flow' framework that captures, numerically, how resources accumulate – exactly as we already do for cash with the Balance Sheet and Cash-Flow statements. It explains the relationship between performance measures, which relate to whole periods of time and quantities of resource, which are measured at points in time, typically start or end of a reporting period.

We give practical examples of how this mechanism works, in manufacturing, business services, airlines and Facebook, and make the case that we should "account" for customers, staff and other resources, just as we do for cash. The class also explains why resource-accumulation makes it impossible to use statistical methods to find reliable explanations for performance (though they do have a role to play in part in the strategy dynamics method, covered in class 4).

Although the framework is a vital part of a wider strategy analysis, it can be very powerful when used on its own, as shown with examples from pharmaceuticals and Coca-Cola.

Key issues addressed

  • The inescapable and critical behaviour of resources – how they build up and drain away over time
  • Understanding the math of how resource flow-rates determine resource levels
  • How accumulating resources devalue correlation analysis

Lecture segments associated with this class are:

Class 3.0 - Summary. Resources accumulate - (31 min)
The basic principles of how resources change over time, driven by the flows of resource into and out of the stock during each period – and how the numbers work, with examples.
Class 3.1 - Getting it right! - (15 min)
The stock-and-flow behaviour of resources is so critical that this segment explains exactly how the analysis should be done.
Class 3.2 - Accounting for resources, and cash - (14 min)
How the flows of resources, such as customers or staff, can be reported in a flow-statement in the same way we do for cash.
Class 3.3 - Supply resources and flows - (14 min)
Goes into more detail on how to work out resource changes on the supply-side of the business – people, capacity, products.
This course is supported by a series of worksheets provided in both PDF format and as Sysdea online models.
In the summary class the following Sysdea models a
  • Bank account:
  • IT support company B:
  • Facebook A: user growth and churn.
  • Ryanair B: customers gains and losses
In class 3.2 a Sysdea model of a manufacturing company is used, looking at price impact on profuit and customer aquisitions.
  • Manufacturing company B:

free access for teachers - login or register Additional materials are available to registered teachers as well as free access to the complete course. Login here or register here for more information.

Other resources and links


Sterman, J. (2000) Business Dynamics, Irwin/McGraw-Hill, New York.   Amazon UK   Amazon Canada

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