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Response Comments – After posting your initial response to the question, begin making comments to your peers. A minimum of two comments made on two different days must be posted in the discussion for a passing grade.  The comments must be early enough before the end of the week to allow for replies. 

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Response Comments – After posting your initial response to the question, begin making comments to your peers. A minimum of two comments made on two different days must be posted in the discussion for a passing grade.  The comments must be early enough before the end of the week to allow for replies. 

Eric Kotlyar (Student 1)
Class,
I have spent nearly eight years in the Air Force. I have spent my entire career working avionics on the B-52 up here in Minot, ND, and spent 9 months deployed in Qatar between 2017-2018 in response to the ISIS threat, and 9 months in Guam between 2019-2020, as part of our continuous bomber presence in the region and in response to Iran shooting missiles into Iraq. This information is relevant because our mission changed from long 6-12 month deployments to quick bomber task forces that are much shorter in duration, but just as effective. I’ve also seen the Air Force change from operations pre-Covid, to Covid ops, and then post Covid ops. The Air Force’s competitive advantage is its adaptability, which is what allows it to constantly change and adapt to whatever the current mission requires. The main reason for this is the Air Force’s business model, and the ability to relay the mission and provide a purpose for the airmen.
The business model is crucial to any successful business. Many companies identify their business model early in their start up, but never update it later on, thus creating confusion as the company grows (Rich, 2014, pg 39). In the Air Force, the business model changes at the macro and micro levels nearly every year. As manning requirements change, the Air Force updates the business model to meet the demand. The Air Force reviews many career fields and combines or eliminates them every year. My current career field is being merged with two other career fields to reflect what the civilian sector model, a section for Airframe & Powerplant, Avionics, and general. At the micro level, changes are made to fit mission requirements and to overcome and shortfalls as a result of transitioning airmen, separations, or many other reasons. My previous position was replaced with a civilian because the major complaint we had was a lack of continuity and constant turnover. The business model adapted and now there is a civilian in that position.
With the merger, many people have to learn two entire new career fields but receive the same pay. Some complain that they will be doing three jobs at once but only receive the compensation for one. It is up to managers and supervisors to instill purpose into the airmen (Rimm, 2013, pg 21). In this example, telling the airmen the manning has tripled and they will be able to focus more on their job, and less on factors outside of their work, will help them focus on their work. Providing the benefits of learning all three career fields, such as the removal of the shred and allowing them to move bases more often, or reminding them about the FAA certification and how their job certifications translate to the civilian world. Turning something that can be perceived as a negative event into something positive requires tact and skill from managers and supervisors. Providing a purpose for a deployment, such as defeating ISIS, is easy. Having a clear mission makes providing a purpose easy.
A clear mission statement is one item every successful business has. Companies try to make their mission statement as obvious for everyone to see since the mission statement highlights the overall purpose of the company (Dyer et al., 2019, pg. 7). A mission statement is important for not only the employees, but prospective clients, future employees, and anyone conducting any research into the company. The Air Force’s mission statement is “to fly, fight and win – airpower anytime, anywhere. Whether full time, part time, in or out of uniform, everyone who serves plays a critical role in helping us achieve mission success,” (U.S. Air Force, 2019). The mission statement highlights the overall purpose of the Air Force, which is to provide air power at a moments notice, anywhere in the world. Understanding the mission statement can help managers and supervisors instill a more personalized purpose that helps meet the needs of Airmen while meeting the overall mission statement of the Air Force.
Overall, the Air Force uses its advantages well. At the Air Force level, each idea is thoroughly researched before being implemented. Merging careers and opening bases for Airmen is a way the Air Force used its business model and manning to its advantage. One aspect the Air Force can improve on is instilling purpose to newer Airmen. Airmen join the Air Force various reasons and it is important to cater to their needs while fulfilling the overall needs of the Air Force. Finding the proper balance between personal needs and Air Force needs can help with retainability and morale.
 
Sources:
Dyer, J. H., Godfrey, P., Jensen, R., & Bryce, D. (2019). Strategic Management: Concepts and Cases (3rd Edition). Wiley Global Education US. https://mbsdirect.vitalsource.com/books/9781119563143 (Links to an external site.)
Rich, H. (2014). Elevate: The Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking. Wiley Professional Development (P&T). https://mbsdirect.vitalsource.com/books/9781118653241 (Links to an external site.)
Rimm, A. (2013). Joy of Strategy. Taylor & Francis. https://mbsdirect.vitalsource.com/books/9781937134570 (Links to an external site.)
U.S. Air Force. (2019). U.S. Air Force – Mission. Airforce.com. https://www.airforce.com/mission

Humberto Viramontes (Student 2)

Using each of the three readings (citing and referencing each one), compare and contrast common themes and viewpoints each one has about sustainable competitive advantage.
The three readings from the module 1 assignment provided a very thorough description of competitive advantage.  The most striking item I saw in the Horwarth reading is how important differentiation is to have a competitive advantage.  That 93% of the top 20 performers out of 200 companies had differentiation as one of their core values (Horwarth, p.84).  From the Dyer reading, a successful competitive advantage results in constantly outperforming competitors which can be measured by above-average profits (Dyer, p.3).  ME Porter in his article, What is Strategy? discusses competitive advantage as ‘cost advantage arises from performing particular activities more efficiently than competitors (Porter, p.62).  All of this material makes lots of sense to me as I used to be a small business owner.  
Using an organization where you have worked, what might come of their sustainable competitive advantages be? Are they using those advantages well or not?  
17 years ago, I (along with my brother, wife, and nephew) owned and operated a small restaurant and a small rustic furniture store when I was stationed in North Dakota.  As a family-operated restaurant, I can clearly correlate all three points I have singled out from the reading.  
Differentiation – we did have a competitive advantage in the small town of Minot in that we were the only authentic Mexican restaurant, and it was made from scratch and fresh every day.  The competitors were a local chain and Taco Bell.  We had them beat.  
Above-average profits due to competitive advantage – in the beginning, we did outperform our competitors and had high revenues.  We lost our competitive advantage in that we did not have the corporate backing to sustain a high turnover rate of employees and maintain consistency in our food.  The other two corporate restaurants could keep their prices stable no matter how much employee fluctuation happened from month to month.  
Being more efficient than your competitors –  family restaurants can grow to be successful companies and some do it because they are able to efficiently produce food without the high costs associated with labor.  A business that employs only family members, does not have to have insurance, pay income taxes, or be restricted by most child-labor laws.  For our restaurant, labor was our biggest expenditure which kept us from being efficient.
We had two sustainable competitive advantages, authentic food and is run by a family.  Authentic food was what made us different and set us apart from Taco Bell.  Unfortunately, Minot, North Dakota in 2005 was not as ready for food diversity as we thought when we developed our business plan.  As time passed, more and more customers asked for food that was not on our menu because it wasn’t Mexican.  We had to add items such as Nachos, Chimichangas and smothered burritos to cater to most of our customers.  We kept authentic dishes but it was very difficult to keep producing fresh food from scratch with a high turnover of employees.  We eventually lost that competitive advantage as we had to raise prices to keep the doors open.  The second competitive advantage was being a family-operated restaurant.  We also lost this advantage as family members lost sight of why we opened it which was for us all to eventually become wealthy!  Short-sightedness set in that running a small business is lots of hard work without much returns, in the beginning, the profits come in once it gets stable and fluctuations in revenue can be easily overcome.  Family members were happy and glad when times were ‘fat’ but quarreled when times were ‘lean.’  This created distrust and eventually family members left the restaurant and had to be replaced with paid employees which led to us losing that competitive advantage.  
For us to have used our competitive advantages well we would have capital set aside to keep quality employees to keep consistency in our authentic food through hard times and realize that authentic meant something entirely different to someone who had never left North Dakota.  And, for us to keep the family competitive advantage we needed to be disciplined in understanding that sacrifice, in the beginning, would result in success in the long term. 
References
Dyer, J., Godfrey, P., Jensen, R., & Bryce, D. (2019). Strategic Management: Concepts and 
Cases, Third Ed. John Wiley & Sons Publishing.
Horwarth, R. (2014). Elevate: The three disciplines of advanced strategic thinking. John Wiley 
&Sons Publishing. 
Porter, M.E. (1996). What is strategy? Harvard Business Review, November-December Ed.
The assignment Response Comments – After posting your initial response to the question, begin making comments to your peers. A minimum of two comments made on two different d has been handled previously by writers from Wridemy.

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