Case: fast-growing production company

SWOT 2.0

In recent years I have adapted the SWOT analysis more and more. This led to SWOT 2.0, a change tool with which organizations and their employees can get moving. In one of those cases, I was dealing with a medium-sized functional food manufacturing company.

Young enthusiastic company

The young family business consisted of a group of enthusiastic and energetic employees. The entire production chain worked together with farmers who grew products on an organic scale. Socially, much attention has been paid to a fair distribution of income in the chain.

Together with the management I came to the conclusion that a number of things had to be adjusted. Finances, marketing and sales were not in order. And the production and distribution, the operational process, caused too much downtime. There was no single cause, it seemed to go wrong everywhere.

After consultation, the company management turned out to have a SWOT analysis from two years earlier, but they had done little with it.

For me the right time to show that change is needed. Change that can be implemented quickly via SWOT 2.0. That appealed to the two leaders of the company, because something had to be done. A wonderful concept, a great company and a loyal group of customers. However, due to many operational issues, the company’s results fell short of expectations.

SWOT results two years ago

Before starting a SWOT 2.0 session, we first looked at the SWOT from two years ago.

  • The conclusions of the operational management are summarized.
  • The problems are insufficiently mapped out.
  • It was not clear what to do next.
  • There was no follow-up to the SWOT analysis
  • After a day and a half the enthusiasm was gone.

The insight was useful, but the SWOT participants all knew that, the deputy director concluded. The business continued as the problems grew more acute. Slowly things started to get messy and it became financially more urgent.

Explanation SWOT 2.0

Although this case was ideally suited for SWOT 2.0, it took some effort to convince the entrepreneurs. The frustration that nothing had happened with the SWOT was very great. Another SWOT-like approach; they were, understandably, not open to that at first.

Unlike the SWOT analysis, SWOT 2.0 does contain a follow-up, which means that objectives and an action plan are delivered in a short time.

With the following points and of course a personal relationship of trust, I convinced them that a SWOT 2.0 session would be the right choice for them.

  • SWOT 2.0 focuses on clear focus area.
  • The analysis is a first step, no more than that.
  • The objectives are concrete.
  • Obstacles are dealt with quickly.
  • There will be a concrete action plan.
  • Get started with the implementation the next day.

Given the company’s problems, I advised two teams to get to work. One for the operational process and one for the commercial process.

Prior to the SWOT 2.0 sessions, we defined a global design of organization and key processes. In addition, we formulated an assignment for each team.

Both board members appreciated being able to attend the SWOT 2.0 sessions. The teams of participants could be put together quickly, as there was no ambiguity about the stakeholders in the organization.

The SWOT 2.0 sessions

Both SWOT 2.0 meetings were successful. The clarity that participants received beforehand led to a fast and structured way of working.

Opportunities were put on the flipchart via a brainstorming session via yellow pages. There was mutual trust and a constructive atmosphere, which allowed teams to contribute everything. The teams quickly came up with a number of points for improvement.

Identifying the organization’s strengths, which is also necessary to seize opportunities, reinforces and clarifies what the organization could contribute. That was more than I had estimated beforehand, there was clearly an enormous drive in the company.

Formulating goals immediately afterwards brought a lot of energy into the group. Everyone has been dealing with the same frustrating things for years. Finally, concrete goals were set down on paper. It was immediately clear how the two processes could be improved.

After lunch, a number of obstacles related to the assignments the teams had prepared themselves in the morning were identified. The real breaking points were quickly found. Barriers are far from common and not comparable to the global weaknesses and threats identified in the SWOT approach.

After that, it turned out to be possible to draw up a concrete and targeted action plan. All team members were highly motivated to take the next steps. It was therefore easy to define a concrete action plan with these teams. At the end of the day, both teams had a concrete change plan in their hands. The commercial team also appointed a project team to execute the plan so that they could really start the next day.

The results

The company now has the processes well under control again. The company itself did a new SWOT 2.0 session for a new market approach. Enthusiastic customers (fans) sell their products through a multi-level marketing approach.

The company is also growing again. Both board members feel much better about their company and about their own role in it. They were personally very concerned that things would not improve in time. SWOT 2.0 has been an important tool to get the company moving quickly. It no longer just lingered in the analysis, as had happened with SWOT two years earlier. Goals and a concrete action plan were exactly what the company needed to improve itself.

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