A fundamental strategic planning tool used for establishing your strategic position is the “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats” assessment. We’ve broken down the elements of a SWOT Analysis in the past so today our focus is on the SWOT development process. Specifically, we will address the fact that organizations often don’t include input from enough stakeholder groups during this phase of strategy development to make the results of their SWOT Analysis valuable.
What not to do
Typically, organizations will look internally to develop their SWOT. The executives will be interviewed, the employees will be surveyed and sometimes the customers will be included in the process. The reality is that organizations depend on several other stakeholder groups to be successful. This can include suppliers, business partners, investors, and trade associations to only name a few.
What to do
A full-blown SWOT seeks the insight of all key stakeholders into the relationships and processes that are working and what can be improved upon. When you consider the amount of effort that it can take to rectify stakeholder relations in the normal course of business, it makes good sense to understand how they fit into your strategic world first.
- Who in your environment has direct impact on your ability to produce or serve your customers?
- Do you have an endorsing or regulatory relationship that must be maintained in order to go to market?
- Who in your environment has the ability to impact management policies or processes?
Assess the stakeholder impact of the groups you identify and include them in your SWOT research. Identify the budget for your approach and fine tune if needed. Finally, get this research scheduled for this summer if you do your strategic reviews in the fall. Don’t let the time squeeze of last minute execution on your SWOT weaken its role in this year’s strategy sessions.
The Bottom Line
By developing your objectives and goals around optimizing stakeholder relationships you’ll be making the most of your existing network and will save your SWOT from being a myopic internal exercise.
Does your SWOT exist in a vacuum?