Organizational Check-up

BU001978The following Rapport Leadership training process helps meeting facilitators use a SWOT analysis at a strategic planning meeting or retreat. A SWOT analysis of your organization is an important part of knowing and understanding your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats!

Purpose:

Capitalize on your organization’s greatest attributes and potential opportunities while minimizing or eliminating any weaknesses, challenges and threats. Perform a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis to identify your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Background: 

A SWOT Analysis is an element of organizational strategic planning essential in defining strategy, making decisions, and allocating resources. This powerful tool and process will allow your business to take advantage of internal strengths and external opportunities.  It ensures that you minimize, mitigate or eliminate internal weaknesses and external threats.  This collaborative process allows an executive team, department or cross-functional group, to identify and clarify key objectives, goals, and strategies. The SWOT Analysis creates team clarity and focus through a facilitated brainstorming session, and increases commitment, execution and alignment around key business initiatives.

Set up:

Prepare four flip charts labeled with Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  Share the SWOT purpose, background and link to your organization’s strategic planning objectives.

Process:

Step 1:

Explain to participants that strengths and weaknesses are typically internal to the organization, while opportunities and threats are external to the organization.  Review the following attributes which may be addressed in a SWOT Analysis:

Strengths and Weaknesses

Leadership and Management

Employees and Staff

Products and Services

Expertise

Advantages

Resources

Quality

Relationships

History

Reputation

Efficiency

Structure

Price / Costs

Capital

Flexibility / Adaptability

Brand

Technology

Location

Processes and Procedures

Opportunities and Threats

Market changes and trends

Economy

Competitors

Customers / Clients

Stakeholders

Political and Government Forces

Technology

Speed of Change

Industry forces

Legal issues

Transportation

Global factors

Tax changes

Law changes

Labor changes

Mergers

Takeovers

Strategic alliances

Distribution

Natural resources

Step 2:

Have participants break into four groups.  Have each group focus on identifying one of the following areas: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  Use the chart of questions below to help with the group brainstorming process.

Strengths

 

What is our organization best at?

What makes our business unique?

What advantages do we have?

 

Internal elements to an organization

What resources make our company strong?What do our customers perceive as a strength?

How is our expertise and quality a strength?

What are the strengths of our brand and history?

 

Weaknesses

 

What are our internal weaknesses and challenges?

What are our greatest opportunities for growth and improvement?

What keeps us from optimal performance?

What resources are missing?

What do our customers perceive as a weakness?

What is lacking within our leadership, employees, or business strategy?

Opportunities

 

What are our greatest opportunities?

 

External elements to an organization

What does the market need more of?What are our clients asking for/need?

How can we expand our core products/service offerings?

How will we use technology as an accelerator?

What economic and global trends can we capitalize on?

 

Threats

 

What are our biggest threats?

Who is our competition?  What makes them a strong competitor?

What changes in technology could threaten our business?

What changes in the market or globally could impact our business adversely?

What trends are changing the industry?

How is our customer changing?

What could negatively impact our cash flow?

Step 3:

Have each group present their part of the SWOT and then open the discussion to additions and clarifications from the group.  After all flip charts have been shared, have the entire group work to identify the top five items from each of the SWOT areas.  This creates tremendous dialogue and potential differences of opinion.  As a facilitator, allow the group to openly communicate and even disagree; through this process of productive conflict that true clarity eventually evolves.  High-trust teams openly communicate, think abundantly, listen to each others ideas, respectfully disagree and continue to work towards clarity and synergistic solutions.

Step 4:

With the condensed and prioritized SWOT list, take the time to develop key strategies and action steps.  Build and align your goals around Strengths and Opportunities, while considering how your strategies will simultaneously minimize Weaknesses and Threats. Review your current strategic plan to ensure movement in the right direction at the right time.  Make adjustments as necessary, communicate your plans to the organization, open up the process to feedback, listen to ideas, clarify roles and responsibilities and involve all team members.  As with the success of any process, the results from the SWOT Analysis come from taking action and executing . . . in other words JFDI!

Conclusion:  

The SWOT Analysis, a powerful team process, helps achieve department and organizational goals.  The speed of change requires that strategy discussions and organizational development become a regular part of ongoing operations.  Just like regular doctor check-ups, the only way to keep your organization healthy is to make strategy exercises, goal discussions and vision communication top of mind.