A strong business strategy has the power to drive organizational growth and empower employees to achieve your company’s loftiest goals. For any business strategy to be effective, it must be both carefully formulated and well-executed.

Strategy formulation is the ongoing organizational process of using available knowledge to document a business's intended direction. The process enables teams to align on a common vision, combat cognitive biases in the boardroom, and track organizational progress using measurable key performance indicators.

Just as important is strategy execution, which is the implementation of a strategic plan to reach organizational goals. It’s made up of the daily structures, systems, and operational goals that set your team up for success.

As a business owner, manager, or employee, taking a business strategy course is an effective way to hone your strategic skills and make a positive impact on your organization.

With so many options out there, how do you select the right course for your specific needs? Here are two categories of factors to consider when selecting a business strategy course: your logistical requirements and strategy focus.

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Logistical Requirements

It’s important to find a course that fits your needs. To start, take inventory of your budget, free time, transportation options, and schedule. Then, consider how each option could work with your current situation and what components could lead to a positive learning experience.

Some factors and questions to consider include:

  • Time commitment
    • How much time will I spend on the course material on a daily and weekly basis?
  • Cost
  • Course format
    • Is this course in-person or online?
    • If it’s in-person, do I have the transportation and childcare options to attend?
    • If it’s online, is the course content streamed live, or can I learn on my own schedule?
  • Active and Social Components
    • Do I learn best when I’m actively participating in the material?
    • If so, does this course provide opportunities to engage with the content?
    • Is it important to network and build relationships with my classmates?
    • If so, does this course’s platform allow me to interact with peers?

Taking a business strategy course is an investment in your skills and career, and understanding your personal requirements is an essential first step. The better the course’s structure, cost, and timing align with your lifestyle, the more likely you are to engage with, retain, and benefit from its content.

Related: Should You Take an Online Class? 9 Things to Consider

Strategy Focus

Once you’ve determined your personal requirements, consider what type of strategy course will most benefit you and your organization.

Reflect on your business strategy experience, your organization’s goals, and any strategy frameworks or concepts you’d like to learn about. What will be most useful to you? Remember to choose a course that will interest and engage you so that you can apply your new knowledge to the challenges your organization faces.

Here are four types of business strategy courses to consider when making your selection.

The Foundational Primer

If you’re new to business strategy or need a refresher, there are many 101-style courses that can provide a solid foundation. From introducing key terms, formulas, and equations to explaining basic economic principles that can shape your company's strategy, an introductory course is a great option to bolster the fundamentals.

For example, Nicholas Grecco, an educator and healthcare administrator, took the online course Economics for Managers as part of the Credential of Readiness (CORe) program.

“The course made me think more carefully about how I could create a competitive cost structure and make appropriate plans before entering the market,” Grecco says. “Having a better business vocabulary and understanding the underlying concepts has really helped me contribute more productively to conversations and decisions.”

The Process Deep Dive

Another option is a course that focuses solely on one aspect of the strategy process. These courses provide a deep dive into goal setting, formulation, or execution, making them a practical choice for professionals with enough experience to know which phase of the process they need to improve.

For example, your business may be included in the 90 percent of those that fail to reach their strategic goals due to poor execution. Even the best strategic plan needs a team that understands the nuances of strategy implementation. You may recognize this and decide to take a strategy execution course to provide that expertise to your organization.

The Framework Analysis

For professionals who want to reimagine an existing business strategy or diversify their foundational knowledge, taking a course on a specific framework could be a good fit.

One such course is Disruptive Strategy, taught by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen. The course thoroughly explains the disruptive innovation framework, a term coined by Christensen, and prompts learners to apply strategic concepts to their own industries and companies.

“From the moment I started Disruptive Strategy, I knew there were theories and methodologies that I could apply to my organization,” says Colin Meagle, CEO of Continuum Group. “From a macro scale, it helps me understand where the different elements of the group sit in their respective markets and how they interact, grow, compete, disrupt, and really nail the job to be done for our customers.”

Related: 4 Strategy Frameworks & Tools You Can Use Right Now

The Goal-Oriented Guide

If you’re a professional with a strategic goal already in mind, consider taking a course that covers how to formulate and execute a strategy to reach it. The topics of these courses can include sustainability, global business, and more.

For instance, marketing professional Mayank Dubey took the online course Sustainable Business Strategy to be a more effective member of his company’s strategy formulation team.

“I wanted to learn more about how businesses can improve themselves, how to cross the S curve, and how to create a business model that can yield better results,” Dubey says.

In addition to learning about the process behind corporate sustainability strategy, Dubey credits the course for providing him with a new perspective and life purpose.

“The course has completely changed me,” he says. “I feel like a new person—with a new thought process driven by purpose—committed to doing the right thing. I have a purpose today that’s in line with my values. I’ve joined forums and groups and met people who share my thought process.”

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Building Your Strategic Toolkit

Formulating and executing a business strategy can be a daunting process, but investing in your skills by taking a strategy course can pay off in the form of career and organizational growth. By considering your program requirements and professional focus, you can select a course that helps build your strategic skillset.

Are you interested in bolstering your strategy skills? Explore our online strategy courses to learn how to formulate and execute a successful strategy for your organization.

Catherine Cote

About the Author

Catherine Cote is a marketing coordinator at Harvard Business School Online. Prior to joining HBS Online, she worked at an early-stage SaaS startup where she found her passion for writing content, and at a digital consulting agency, where she specialized in SEO. Catherine holds a B.A. from Holy Cross, where she studied psychology, education, and Mandarin Chinese. When not at work, you can find her hiking, performing or watching theatre, or hunting for the best burger in Boston.