Dialog Style Essay Question

You decided to take a break and head down to the Florida Keys. There you find yourself looking for a great place to see a sunset while having a fish sandwich in paradise. However, there’s a practitioner-scholar conference in town and sitting right next to you are three leaders of business theory who are discussing which theories are most relevant to technology in today’s business world.

Michael Porter (Porter Five Forces Model P5FM) maintains that competitive advantage is still relevant while Clayton M. Christensen argues that the “Jobs to be Done” Theory of Innovation and disruptive innovation are much more relevant. Clayton is so engaged that he slams his fist on the table stating that transformational rather than incremental change is a better way to approach strategy. Chris Laszlo is beside himself and tells both Porter and Christensen that embedded sustainability is the next big competitive advantage and that both of their theories are dated. Porter then explains that the bargaining power of customers leads to an organization towards sustainability – you know that this cannot be the case.

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The restaurant staff interrupts and asks the three if anyone else is planning to join them before they have dinner. After a short conversation, it seems like the CEO of Amazon and Facebook are also in town and will be having a fish sandwich too.

This is turning out to be one of those life-changing moments, and you can’t help yourself but to jump into the conversation. In fifteen minutes the two CEOs will join and discuss their strategy and look for new ideas, and you want to be part of this.

When the CEOs join the conversation, they ask you how can embedded sustainability help their organizations more than the sustainability web page they already created. But, to everyone’s surprise, Chris Lazlo is sitting right next to your group and states that unlike the omnipresent bolt-on approaches, embedded sustainability requires a fundamental shift. Chris challenges Amazon’s CEO as a prime example of bolt-on sustainability. The Amazon CEO strongly disagrees and then everyone looks to you for your thoughts on bolt-on versus embedded and what direction Amazon should go and still maintain a profit.

After hearing this dialog Facebook’s CEO stated that neither form of sustainability directly applied to his digital empire. You argue that it matters just as much in his firm as Amazon’s.

Sample dialog conversation:

Charlie – VP of Strategy

P5FM has been around for 30 years, and it has been the foundation for how we have achieved superior returns over the years. We need to be more competitive and create increased margins by sourcing offer less expensive products while differentiating ourselves so that we charge more to customers. No one cares about the well-being or social good.

Smart Drew – Business Strategy Consultant

Charlie, the way we used to business has changed, and you need to think differently to succeed in the digital world. Having ES does not imply organizations do not profit from being socially responsible. To remain competitive in the digital and socially responsible age, your company must change.

This is a dialog style essay question and you need to make your dialog compelling and ensure that it is well-written and supported with facts. You need to argue the position of each scholar as if you were that person and insert yourself and thoughts into the discussion with the hope of meeting two of the most influential CEOs in the world. Once the CEOs arrive you offer advice and what type of strategy they should use but note that they are not easily impressed and have a tendency to argue.


1.) Laszlo, C., & Zhexembayeva, N. (2011). Embedded Sustainability: The next big competitive advantage. Greenleaf Publishing.
2.) Both these links will help you better understand sustainability. The first is the authors (
http://www.sustainablevaluepartners.com ) and the second is a published article in (
https://www.europeanfinancialreview.com/embedded-sustainability-a-strategy-for-market-leaders/ )
3.) For a deeper understanding of the Five Forces Framework visit (
https://www.isc.hbs.edu/strategy/business-strategy/pages/the-five-forces.aspx )
4.) http://claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/

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