SWOT is a solid framework for strategic planning. The concept is pretty simple and has been around since the 1960s. The idea behind it is that, to achieve operational excellence and drive the right strategy, you should assess your organization’s internal Strengths and Weaknesses and its external Opportunities and Threats (SWOT).
I like the SWOT analysis framework a lot. However, if you’re like me, you may have found that the actual usable outputs from a SWOT analysis have not been as effective as you had hoped. The “data” ends up being bullet points. The “insights” don’t reveal the root cause. The process generates a lot of opinions but it can feel harder than it should be to align the team on concrete action steps based on a SWOT analysis.
It’s time to solve these problems. It’s time for an evolution of the SWOT. What might this look like?
After working with several hundred companies around the world, I have developed two powerful tools that you can deploy immediately to take your SWOT Analysis to a whole new level.
I call them the Entropy Survey and the Top-Level OKRs Strategy Survey. Here’s a high-level summary of what you can achieve with them and how they relate to SWOT:
- Use the Entropy Survey to better assess your company’s internal strengths (S) and weaknesses (W).
- Use the Top-Level OKRs Strategy Survey to better assess its external opportunities (O) and threats (T).
These two tools each complement the other. Using them provides three big advantages when compared to a traditional SWOT analysis:
- It allows for better and faster data gathering.
- It provides powerful mental models for your team to visualize its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
- It identifies the root cause of problems so that you and your team can drive continuous improvement against the right (and evolving) business strategy.
If you’d like to learn more, watch these two videos below. If you like this way of approaching a SWOT analysis, register and take both tools for a free test drive. You will experience how much more effective a SWOT analysis can be.
Assessing Internal Strengths and Weaknesses
Assessing External Opportunities and Threats
If you like this way of thinking about SWOT, register to test drive both tools for free here.
There are 5 steps to follow when designing and implementing a new organizational structure:
Step 1. Map Key Process Cycles
Step 2. Map Functions
Step 3. Clarify & Adopt Structure
Step 4. Place People
Step 5. Plan & Execute Roll Out
I’m happy to announce that my new book Designed to Scale is now available on Audible and iTunes.
Before you buy, I’d like you to know that this is a VERY hard book to listen to as audio only. There are core concepts and visual images that require reading and reflection. If you prefer audio books, make sure to download the Audiobook Images PDF that is included with the audiobook to guide your listening. I’ve also been recording short videos on key concepts from the book that you can find links to here.
No structure is perfect. No new hire is perfect. There are always trade offs. Be more conscious of those trade-offs upfront so that you can make the best decisions possible and stack your new structure with the right talent.
The Structure Map is a powerful thinking tool to deploy the 6 Rules of Structure and identify any current structural breakdowns occurring in your business, to design the right new scalable growth structure, and to have easier and more pointed structural conversations with your team.
What is the right organizational structure for the current and emerging lifecycle stage of your core business and any business units? Using the Organizational Physics Strategy Map as a guide, this video shows that:
- A Pilot It stage initiative requires very limited structure.
- A Nail It stage initiative benefits from a functional structure.
- A Scale It stage initiative requires an evolving structure (based on the functions defined in the Nail It stage).
- A Milk It stage structure requires making a break or escape from the legacy structure.
Additional Resources Referenced in this Video:
Buy the book Organizational Physics (best book for understanding lifecycle strategy)
Take the Top-Level OKRs Strategy Survey
Buy the book Designed to Scale
Design controls behavior. If you want new business behaviors, change the the organizational structure The 6 Rules of Structure provide visibility into key underlying polarities at work within every business. A key idea is to not treat polarities as problems to be solved. Polarities (e.g., short-range vs. long-range, efficiency vs. effectiveness, control vs. autonomy) must be harnessed to create the right amount of tension in the business for sustained strategic execution.
Buy the book Designed to Scale on Amazon.
There are 6 Rules of Structure to follow when designing a scalable business structure. They are:
1. If the strategy or lifecycle stage changes, change the structure.
2. Don’t allow short-range functions to control long-range ones.
3. Don’t allow efficiency functions to control effectiveness ones.
4. Don’t allow centralized control to overpower decentralized autonomy.
5. Put people into roles where they can focus and thrive.
6. Process brings structure alive.
The three design elements of organizational structure are: Functions, Location, and Authority. Use these three building blocks to avoid some common pitfalls and design the right new structure for your business stage and strategy.
Buy the book Designed to Scale: How to Structure Your Business for Exponential Growth.
I’ve recently made available a powerful new tool for setting strategy. It’s called the Top-Level OKRs Strategy Survey. It relies on lifecycle theory to help you quickly align a Leadership Team on the right top-level objectives and key results (OKRs).
If you are planning to do a strategy refresh, I highly recommend this approach. I suggest that you launch this tool 3 to 4 weeks prior to your strategic planning offsite and use the data as inputs for setting the right strategy. You can find out everything you need to know here.
Take the tool for a free 30-day test drive and let me know how it is working out for you. I guarantee it will help you set the right next-stage strategy, one based on the actual lifecycle stage of each business unit. It will also create improved strategic clarity, alignment, and buy-in across your entire company.
To your success,
Imagine if you could listen to a recording from last year of you and your co-founder discussing the state of your business and your plans for the coming year. What would the conversation have sounded like a year ago? What were you thinking then? What were your blind spots that you recognize now? And how would it compare to a recording from this year?
The reason I’m asking is that this recent episode of the Fort with Chris Powers does just that. Chris and his business partner Jaxon Baxter conduct a real-time year-in-review live. It’s really rare to capture something like this and it is worth listening to.
I collaborated with Chris and Jason last year to deploy Organizational Physics in their real estate management company, Fort Capital. For Capital is scaling like gangbusters and Chris and Jason are two of the most savvy and values-driven entrepreneurs you’ll meet. Their no-holds-barred conversation is a great real-world example of the power of:
- Getting a fresh perspective on the business
- Designing the structure from first principles (not around people)
- Recognizing the 4 Quadrants of structure and the risks of assigning conflicting accountabilities across quadrants
- The importance of designing the business flywheel and making prioritization decisions based on the spokes that need the greatest focus
- How to use the organizational structure to avoid execution bottlenecks
- How to use machine learning to streamline the top of the sales funnel
- How to scale dramatically without adding more people
- The real rapport between Chris and Jason—two smart individuals who have complementary PSIU styles.
I didn’t know that Chris and Jason were going to discuss Organizational Physics and it was fun and humbling for me to hear them speak about their experience and new perspectives in their own words. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.
There have been a lot of exciting developments in private space travel this month. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson, through their respective companies, are all making consistent and visible progress towards developing space-based private enterprise. I’m sure that much of the social media world is rolling their eyes at “billionaires and their toys,” but regardless, it is amazing to witness what humans can accomplish over time when they have the commitment, vision, and resources to make it possible. Blue Origin’s motto, Gradatim Ferociter, meaning “step by step ferociously,” captures the spirit very well.
The picture above captures the spirit of progressive innovation. The image on the left is the Wright Brother’s flight at Kitty Hawk. The image on the right is Neil Armstrong’s moon walk. Without looking up the dates, if you had to guess, how much time would you say it took humanity to go from the first “airplane” flight to putting a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth?
Just 66 years! Totally bonkers, right? It leaves me wondering what the next 66 years will hold for humanity. In some areas we’ve made mind-boggling innovations and progress and in other areas, we seem stuck in the dark ages.
So my question to you, as a visionary entrepreneur yourself, is this: What’s your rocket? What’s the vision of your company and how will its success help to up-level the whole? And critically—because vision without execution is just a dream—are you currently organized to ensure that your business accomplishes its mission and without compromising its core values? And even more critically, as the leader, how are you thinking about the organizational design challenge as your company scales up?
To get a sense for what I mean, and how to think about this challenge, I’d like you to imagine that you are in the shoes (spaceboots?) of an Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, or Richard Branson and you are attempting to launch and scale a space-based company. Now, this analogy may seem very far removed from your own business today, but just humor me. The challenges faced by every expansion-stage entrepreneur are fundamentally the same, regardless of the vision or business model. And the mindset used to solve these challenges successfully is also the same.
It’s launch day. Out on the tarmac the rocket sits, gleaming in the morning sun, pointed towards the heavens, with its payload ready to blast into orbit. As the founder and CEO of Rockets R Us, you’ve got a lot riding on this. It’s your company’s inaugural commercial launch and you await the event with nervous anticipation. As the countdown clock commences, you can’t help but reflect on what it took to reach this point. The launch coordinator announces over your headset, […]