Course Syllabus

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Strategic Leader

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Semester & Location:

Summer 2023 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Summer Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines:

Business, Leadership Studies, Management



Faculty Members:

Benjamin Holk Henriksen-Current students please use Canvas inbox

Time & Place:

 Classroom V10-D11


Description of Course

No matter which pathway your professional and personal journeys follow, strategic planning will enhance your competence and productivity. It is an essential skill for 21st century leaders. 


In this course we bring the art of strategic planning to life by examining several models and principles by acclaimed leaders, and by learning how to master a set of well-established techniques. We explore the concept of leadership and strategic planning in different settings, critique actual strategic plans and conduct real life strategic exercises with actual work samples. You work involves conducting your own strategic plan, and presenting your plan to the class.


The strategic disciplines include: mission, vision, stakeholder management, positioning, leadership, entrepreneurship, brand coms, sustainable competitive advantage and more. Using the bestselling book “Strategy Safari” in which Mintzberg, Ahlstrand, and Lampel identify ten schools of strategy that have emerged over the past four decades, we will discuss the concept of strategic management and planning, including “strategy” and “planning”. What makes one corporation successful when others fail? What are the past, current and future strategic trends and why?


In a Scandinavian and European context, you will study and present one of your favorite European corporate or non-profit leaders or entrepreneurs, discuss how he or she conduct, or conducted, strategic planning and what made him or her successful. Thus over the semester we will familiarize ourselves with a number of interesting strategic models and leaders from different European industries and trades, including the entertainment industry, retail business and non-profit sector. Learn from acclaimed leaders like Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, Daniel Ek, founder of Spotify, Coco Chanel, founder of the Chanel brand, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, executive chairman and former CEO the Lego Group, Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, Richard Brandson founder of Virgin and more. We will evaluate cultural differences, strengths and weaknesses, and discuss which of Henry Mintzbergs 10 schools of strategic management they belong to.


Based on the learning experience and acquired strategic skills during the first part of the semester, we will form student teams and conduct our own strategic plan for a private-, public sector-, or non-profit organization.


In order to bring more practice into the learning experience and encounter the European culture first-hand, the course integrates field studies to acclaimed organizations like Ramboll Management Group, Carlsberg breweries, Tivoli garden, Mikkeller, Amnesty International Denmark and more. Furthermore the course uses video material and cases in addition to books and articles. As noted, the course does not emphasize statistical or technological applications.

Learning Objectives

The course will enable students to:


  • Understand the art of strategic planning including mission, vision, target group, stakeholders, positioning, communication platform words (brand coms) and more.
  • Identify and analyze pros and cons of Mintzberg’s 10 schools of strategic management, including the Entrepreneurial School, the Design school, the positioning school and more.
  • Develop knowledge and skills in terms of the concept “Sustainable Competitive Advantage”.
  • Familiarize themselves with Scandinavian and European leaders and strategic planning concepts.
  • Participate in field studies to leading Scandinavian and European corporations or non-profit organizations.
  • Analyze and compare strategic planning from a cultural perspective.
  • Gain hands-on experience from conducting a strategic plan for a corporate - or nonprofit organization.



Benjamin Holk Henriksen
Master of Law from University of Copenhagen, MBA from California State University and a Certificate in Directing from UCLA. Co-owner of Holk & Lassenius and co-author and co-producer of the international leadership and marketing research project: “Holk Master-class, and ”The Mind of a Leader,” published as books and film series, including Philip Kotler, Anita Roddick, Philippe Starck, Michael Dukakis and many more. Experience as strategic planner at an advertising agency and Senior Trade Officer, and head of trade section for the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Los Angeles and Singapore. With DIS since 2013.


Readings and Videos


Henry Mintzberg, Ahlstrand, Lampel, second edition. Strategy Safari – the complete guide through the wilds of strategic management. Prentice Hall 2009.



Brief Case: Mission, Vision and Strategic Intent, Andrew Campbell and Sally Yeung.

The Institution-Based View as a Third Leg for a Strategy Tripod by Mike W. Peng, Sunny Li Sun, Brian Pinkham, and Hao Chen P. 63-72.

The application of PEST analysis based on EBRD AND IBRD METHODOLOGY, Halík, J.



Alan Maccormarck,, Harvard Business School 2001.



Holk Master-class: Mission & vision, Stakeholder management, Strategic planning, entrepreneurship.

The mind of a leader: Episode 17 Management by fear.


Additional PP lectures presented in class:

The Communication Platform (Canvas PP lecture).

Stakeholder mgt. (Canvas PP lecture).

Target group (Canvas PP lecture).

Positioning (Canvas PP lecture).


Content and Structure

The course combines discussion-based class sessions, lectures, guest lectures, teamwork, team presentations and field studies. Over the course we will learn the art and craft of strategic planning and students will present real-life strategic planning scenarios and current affairs.


The course is divided into two parts:


Part one: Strategic Planning, models and principles.

We will learn and discuss the basic strategic management models, schools and process for strategic planning. Student will study and present one of their favorite European leaders or entrepreneurs, discuss how they conduct, or conducted, strategic planning, and what made them successful. Furthermore we will compare and discuss strategic planning from a cultural perspective.


Part two: Conduct a strategic plan.

Student teams will conduct and present their own strategic plan for corporate – or nonprofit organization.


Your learning process depends on your active participation in class as well as outside the classroom. During your stay in Denmark and travels around Europe you will have a unique chance to study differences across Europe. You are strongly encouraged to bring your observations into the classroom.


Laptop Policy

As the class is meant to be interactive and hands on, laptops or electronic devices may not be used during regular class lessons. Laptops may however be used for group work activities.


Grading elements:

  • Class Participation and short presentation of a leader: 25%
  • Team presentation: 25%
  • One In-Class Test: 25%
  • One final test: 25%

**Note: To be eligible for a passing grade in this class, you must complete all of the assigned work.

Further explanation of grading elements

Class participation:

You are expected to attend all parts of the course. Unauthorized absences and lack of preparation will have a negative influence on the grade. If you have an emergency that will prevent you from attending class, you should contact me beforehand. You will be evaluated on the following areas:

  • Attendance: According to DIS policy, two consecutive unexcused absences will result in a report to the Academic Registrar. Three or more absences will have a negative effect for your academic standing at DIS, and your home university may be notified.
  • Level of preparation and involvement in class and group discussions, i.e. the ability to apply insights and learning points from readings to class room discussions.
  • Active participation in field studies and study tours.

Short presentation (hand-in assignment) of a European leader or entrepreneur:

In the beginning of each lesson 1-4 students will make a 5 min. power-point or Prezi presentation about one of his or her favoirite European leader or entrepreneur, including history, strategy and questions for the class. This could be a past or current leader or entrepreneur. The presentation may include PowerPoint (max 5 slides), video sequences etc. A 1-2 page summary including bullet points must be handed-in.

Team presentation: Part two: Conduct a strategic plan

Teams will be assigned the task of founding and conducting a strategic plan for a corporate – or nonprofit organization. The concept is like a very high-level "Shark tank" pitch and you have 100.000 US to start out with.

Steps and considerations may include:

Mission & Vision, history, traditions, philosophy and Values.

Considerations in regards to potential stakeholders (Stakeholder Analysis).

Primary and secondary target group (preferences, values, buying habits).

Positioning (incl. value propositions + ranked on a list).

Environmental scan: One of the following models - Porters Five Forces or PEST analysis.

Environmental scan: SCA: Sustainable competitive advantage.

Business model (all finances, cost, income etc.).

Organization capacity and leadership.

Brand coms in the communication platform model.

Consider making a 1 page strategic plan (business plan): Summary objective and strategy for the group.

A max 1 min corporate film for all stakeholders (A profile film, identity film, corporate film is the same).


Questions you might have to answer:

Your one year goal.

How much you need to sell/generate to break-even.

A comparison and discussion of your strategic plan from a cultural perspective.

The dominant school of strategy during the development.

Value proposition (shown in positioning maps) and/thus Unique Selling Point (USP). 


One of the other class teams will serve as your board asking critical questions.

The presentation must be turned in in order to pass the course.


In-class test and final test:

There will be an in-class test and a final test. You will be evaluated on your ability to demonstrate sufficient understanding of the course work and topics covered in class.

Late paper policy:

Late papers and presentations will be deducted a third of a grade point per day they are late. All work must be handed in in order to get a passing grade.

Academic Integrity:

DIS expects that students abide by the highest standards of intellectual honesty in all academic work. DIS assumes that all students do their own work and credit all work or thought taken from others. Academic dishonesty will result in a final course grade of “F” and can result in dismissal. The students’ home universities will be notified. DIS reserves the right to request that written student assignments be turned in electronic form for submission to plagiarism detection software. See the Academic Handbook for more information, or ask your instructor if you have questions.

Academic Regulations

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on: 


Course Summary:

Date Details Due