Rethinking SWOT: Opportunity is Everywhere
While considering strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT), listing opportunities can be both energizing and frustrating. Here’s why.
There is much to be said for “blue sky thinking.” Stretch goals, aiming high and considering what is possible can be uplifting and inspirational. Approaching the discussion of “opportunities” in that spirit has its place. The fundamental question is this: Are we basing our near-term planning on chasing opportunities we are not yet equipped to pursue?
Frequently, lists of opportunities created during SWOT analysis show a confusing and convoluted combination of items. Many of these items have been on the list for years. This begs the question: If they haven’t been accomplished by now, yet they remain top of mind opportunities, what is in the way? This can lead to a useful and needed discussion of obstacles, those nagging, consistent problems inside the business that are keeping us from accomplishing everything we could. Once identified (this requires some open, honest and at times, uncomfortable conversation) these obstacles emerge as raw material from which meaningful planning objectives are created.
To maximize outcomes from articulating opportunities, consider an approach that prioritizes the practical (what we can and should do now), while simultaneously listing items that point the way to a bigger, better future for the enterprise.
With these “near-term” and “long term” opportunities identified and in place, objectives for the near term can be established. Those “long term,” more ambitious opportunities can be addressed only when the organization is aligned and prepared to accomplish them. The process of achieving organizational readiness rolls up into future focused objectives.
By compartmentalizing the “opportunities” exercise, meaningful results can come very quickly. The satisfaction that results from achieving organizational objectives helps build momentum going forward, setting the stage for sustained success.
To find out more about how structured planning can improve your business results, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.