In January 2011 a team of four MBA students from Harvard spent two days at CapeRay, learning about our business culture and developing an export marketing plan for us. This year it was the turn of four MBA students from the University of Cape Town who spent almost two months conducting an analysis of our company. They interviewed all the staff, members of the board, our research engineers and outside experts: two radiologists and a breast surgeon. After nearly 20 hours of in-depth interviews — all carefully transcribed — they pulled together an impressive report that was presented to CapeRay’s senior management earlier this week.
Using an appreciative enquiry approach, the team set about the task of understanding the breast imaging business and the challenges faced by CapeRay. They explored the metaphor of a well-defended castle that held the treasure, conceived as the global breast screening market. To storm the ramparts the CapeRay army placed a weapon in the hands of their soldiers, a weapon that the opposing army had never seen or used before: dual-modality imaging.
The project report was structured around four generative questions. First, they asked: How can CapeRay fully leverage its company structure? Based on the theory postulated by Handy (1995), four cultural typologies were considered: power, role, task and person. The team concluded that CapeRay possessed the traits of a power company culture that had both strengths and weaknesses. Their second question was: How can the CapeRay team support its vision? Here they emphasized the central role of communication and how important it was in an R&D environment for the CEO to keep his staff members informed.
The third question asked by the team was: What product mix will make CapeRay competitive? Utilising the analysis framework of Terry Hill from the London Business School, they considered six characteristics seen from a customer’s perspective: cost, quality, delivery, flexibility, reliability and safety. Each of these needs was then evaluated as an order winner, an order qualifier or an order dis-qualifier. They concluded that CapeRay’s dual-modality system, Aceso, had a far greater likelihood of success than Soteria, a system based on a single modality: digital X-rays.
Finally, the MBA team asked: How can CapeRay hone its strategy to ensure competitiveness? Their advice was firstly to create value, then to capture value and lastly to defend that value. Suffice it to say, this was a mutually beneficial experience for the students and our company.