This is about how to get it wrong!
4 simple ideas to keep in mind….
Not taking time to think things through
When I ask people how I should best get ready for an IronMan, they always reply “Train”. But in my working schedule, I don’t have time and if I DID train, it would surely lead to divorce and that would make every even harder (for the IronMan) …as well as decidely less nice.
I know training is not the answer here because I’ve done my SWOT and I have been thinking about my position. I am tackling first-things-first (liberating time by improving business …. THEN training)
Stubbornly sticking to the plan or just never reassessing your position
Strategic thinking is not something that happens once a year. By definition, it is about linking your current position to a mission. Since your current position is ever-changing, this means that strategic thinking and action must be a dynamic process, rather than just setting a bunch of rules to apply in any situation in the coming 1,2,3 years.
Not thinking things through before acting
I see a lot of great promises made in training rooms by people about how they are going to tackle leadership and teamwork situations. On paper it looks really good.
Then I give them a task to work on. As soon as I do, everyone forgets what they said about “taking the time to assess position” and “assigning roles based on competences” and “creatively looking for new resources”. They just start doing stuff. One of the biggest tips for strategic action I can think of simply to SLOW DOWN.
Not seeing and seizing opportunities when they are there
One of the by-products of not slowing down is that you don’t tend to see things for what they are. The more quickly we treat our situation-assessment, the more likely we are to just filter all the new information through our existing ego-filters and come to the same conclusions as usual. To be really strategic, its important to look at things from different angles and be open-minded. In this way, we are likely to see a lot more opportunities.
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The first step to doing SWOT well is asking good questions. Don’t know what questions to ask? Read this post.
SWOT is a great and simple tool for analysing your current position in order to define strategic action. In this post, I first outline the meaning of strategic action and then list 21 of my favourite SWOT questions to help you with your own SWOT analysis.
Creating strategic action starts with knowing your position
According to Sun Tzu, the Chinese military general who penned “The Art of War”, understanding your current position is the key to creating good strategy. According to Stephen R Covey in “The 7 habits of highly effective people”, if you don’t begin with the end in mind (define a clear mission) it is not possible to understand your current position and therefore not possible to put first things first and create strategic action and priority-based action. Linking these ideas to the usage of SWOT, we can say that you cannot know your strengths (for example) unless they are measured in relationship to some goal, mission or objective. When asking “How strong am I?” we must first ask “For what?”
So – if you want to use the following SWOT questions to analyse your position, start by defining your mission well. If you’ve already done that, read on and answer each of these questions, thinking of your mission statement at each moment…
- What makes you better than others (for this mission)?
- What actions do you do well?
- What are your competences? What knowledge, skills and attitude do you have that can help you?
- What do other people say you do well?
- Why should you of all people undertake this mission?
- What could you improve in order to achieve this mission?
- In what ways are you not efficient?
- What don’t you do well?
- Where are you incompetent? What knowledge, skills and attitude are you missing?
- What should you avoid doing?
- Why shouldn’t you undertake this mission?
- What real opportunities are present today?
- What is going on around you that seems to be useful?
- From which recurring tendencies can you profit and how?
- What could be done today that isn’t being done?
- What is missing on the market?
- Who can support you and how?
- What are the negative tendencies in play today?
- What obstacles do you face in your mission right now?
- Who might cause you problems in the future and how?
- What is the competition doing that might cause difficulties for you?
Not enough? Read my other post: 6 more cool SWOT questions to identify opportunities
When I do a SWOT, I like to take a little time alone to get started, but then try nonetheless to include others later on (my wife, peers, a team I am working with). Here are 2 more references to help you do a great SWOT:
- Remember the Johari window: Other people may have insights on you and your environment that you don’t.
- 10 ideas to make the best of SWOT analysis
Once the initial SWOT is done, it’s time to start thinking about actions, solutions, priorities etc…
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