What if obstacles really can’t be overcome

SWOT 2.0

The power of SWOT 2.0

The innovation of SWOT 2.0 lies on the one hand in a more logical structure and on the other hand in the extension from ‘just’ an analysis to an analysis plus objectives and an action plan. After a SWOT 2.0 session you can get started quickly and focused. In addition, a SWOT 2.0 session ends in a much more positive atmosphere. Enough energy to get to work quickly: SWOT 2.0 facilitates this explicitly and consciously.

It starts with setting the right tone and a good demarcation (Focus) about the goal of a SWOT 2.0 session. By getting the team aligned in advance in the Focus phase, there is a goal-oriented working atmosphere throughout the session. The difference is that the focus phase forces you to think about this right from the start. Making explicit decisions in the Focus phase leads to a session where the end will be positive, full of energy and enthusiasm.

SWOT2.0 has been applied more than 25 times and not once have we had to take steps back because insurmountable obstacles revealed themselves. Theoretically it could happen. As a change manager, I am involved in getting groups of people moving and working together better. And that is precisely where SWOT 2.0 supports you very well.

Objectives are realistic

In all SWOT 2.0 sessions to date, the objectives appear to be realistic and achievable. Often more specific obstacles emerge, related to the objectives, than is the case with the original SWOT analysis. These obstacles are not blocking, so there is no need to take a step back. After a short inventory, it appears that the cause of this lies in the Potential phase. Opportunities and strengths are recorded there. Where opportunities often fail to account for limiting and unattainable obstacles, strengths do. The combination of these 2 steps only results in realistic objectives.

For example, if you run a university, wild ideas can come out of the opportunity phase, often through a brainstorming style. However, linked to the next step, the strengths, you find out that if you have ‘a local and social role in the educational field’ as a strength, there are also limitations. You do not have to explicitly look at the weaknesses and threats for this. Objectives are often set realistically.

Only obstacles related to objectives

SWOT analysis teams go wild on weaknesses and threats. The result is two full sheets of negative open doors and generalities. That in no way helps to motivate a team, and even worse: putting the organization in action mode certainly doesn’t work at all. The analysis is also not much sharper in this way.

By relating obstacles to the formulated objectives, only the obstacles that could stand in the way of achieving the objectives become visible. The general weaknesses and threats, which lead to nothing but demotivation, are left behind. With SWOT 2.0, it is concrete points that help to draw up the action plan. Immediately after the step of determining the Obstacles, the action plan is drawn up by the SWOT 2.0 team, so that something can be done with it immediately.

Obstacles that cannot be overcome

What could be the solution if obstacles prove to be blocking? Although this will not happen often, there is a possibility that it will be the case. Obstacles that cannot be resolved and addressed in an action plan: how do you deal with them? The risks of an obstacle occurring must also be taken into account. Blocking obstacles are often accompanied by risks that have a very small chance of occurring.

Actually, the solution is simple and obvious. You take a step back and see if you can adjust the objectives so that the blocking obstacles are avoided.

Objectives must be realistic and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Timely). If not, it’s good to take that step back. Much will also depend on the facilitator of the session. The drawing up of SMART objectives is of course included. A kind of golden rule when formulating goals.

The power of the Potential phase and SMART objectives

The steps in the Potential phase in combination with drawing up SMART objectives form the basis for a realistic elaboration of a SWOT 2.0 session. As a result, there will often be no blocking Obstacles. It is mainly the Strengths in the Potential phase that provides realism when setting goals. Objectives that do not fit at all combined with the strength that you have as an organization are not Realistic and Achievable (SMART). A good facilitator keeps the team on track if this turns out to be too much of a dream and lacks a sense of reality.

For example, SWOT 2.0 corrects itself in the course of the Potential phase (Strengths) and the Goals phase (SMART) in such a way that no blocking obstacles appear.

Conclusion: a step back is usually not necessary

In recent years, while testing SWOT 2.0, I never encountered any obstacles that forced me to go back to goal adjustment. The companies that have independently applied the SWOT 2.0 have also not needed this step back. The conclusion is therefore: it can happen, it is not a problem and it has not happened until now.

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