The SWT Tool for Senior Business Leaders

Senior business leaders often miss seeing sweeping global trends that are about to impact their organizations. It’s time to change from the well-known and widely used SWOT analysis, and use the SWT (Strengths/Core Competencies, Weaknesses, Trends) tool.

Internal VS External Focus for Senior Business Leaders

The SWOT analysis has an internal focus. In fact, it is a great tool for middle managers, as they focus more on the day-to-day operations of the business.  Therefore, the SWOT definitely has a place in the strategic planning process.

However, the SWT is a must-have tool for senior business leaders, because it identifies the inherent Strengths and Weaknesses within the firm, while also exploring broader external Trends. These Trends go beyond the industry and/or geography that the firm currently operates in.

Components of the SWT Tool for Senior Business Leaders

Strengths and Weaknesses

An organisation has natural strengths (or core competencies) and weaknesses.  And it is important to identify and recognize them, and to learn to cope with them. The idea is not necessarily to change them.

After identifying the strengths and weaknesses, they get listed on the bottom of the OPSP, forming part of the core of the company.

Trends

This is the part of the SWT that distinguishes it from the SWOT tool.

Senior leaders should look beyond the immediate opportunities and threats that the organization faces.  Above all, they should look at major trends around the world that might impact the business and the industry it operates in, such as:

  • Changes in technology
  • Trends and changes in distribution
  • Product innovation
  • The performance of markets
  • Consumer behavior and developments
  • Social developments

Verne Harnish from Scaling Up and Gazelles encourages senior leaders to forget about the competitor down the street. With this in mind, invest time and energy in research and thoughts on the following:

  • Is there a company on the other side of the world that might put you out of business?
  • Is there new technology that could change the way companies do business? (think AI – Artificial Intelligence)
  • How is robotics changing the nature of work?
  • How is a global pandemic changing the way consumers behave?

In addition, senior leaders must also investigate the political environment, changes in legislation, labour and energy, population, education, media, etc.

SWT and the One-Page Strategic Plan

The OPSP (One-Page Strategic Plan) has 2 distinct parts:

  • Strategic thinking
    • Long-term focus
    • Generating big picture ideas
  • Execution planning
    • How to make it happen
    • Actions for the next quarter

The traditional SWOT tool is great for execution planning, which is the focus of middle management. But the SWOT tool can easily draw senior leaders into unnecessary operational issues.

Hence, senior leaders should use the SWT tool to anchor strategic thinking. It forces them to recognize their company’s strengths and weaknesses, while watching the global trends that influence their industry and ultimately their company.

CoLAB, SWT and the One-Page Strategic Plan for Senior Business Leaders

At CoLAB, we have a half-day workshop in which we facilitate the senior leadership team through the SWT of the company. It is part of our series on the One-Page Strategic Plan.  The workshop can be done as a stand-alone or as part of the series.  It can be done online or in person (if logistically possible).  If this triggers your interest, connect with us – we would like to engage with you.  Send an email to ingrid at trustcolab dot com, or book a 20-minute, obligation-free call with Barend HERE.

Our CEO, Barend Cronjé, talks more about the SWT HERE.

To get access to our Profit Improvement Framework, click HERE.

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