- An analysis of the strategic cascade of the organization.
This includes assessing the organization’s strategy and market position. Use the framework implied in Michael Porter’s (1997) article “What is Strategy.” When describing the business strategy of your organization, consider the following questions:
- What is the target market (target customer)?
- What is your organization’s value proposition (How does it deliver value that satisfies the targets wants and needs?)?
- How is your product or service positioned in the market (What specific features and attributes define the product/service and how is its value reflected in its pricing, distribution, marketing communications, etc.?)?
- How is your organization sustainably different from your competitors (What is the source of uniqueness and how sustainable is it from being diminished by competitors?)?
- Your assessment should also include a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). A SWOT analysis is a strategy planning tool that examines both internal and external environment for factors and trends that should shape planning and operations over the next five years. Environmental factors internal to the company are classified as strengths (to be leveraged) or weaknesses (to be mitigated), while external factors are classified as either opportunities (to be pursued) or threats (to be monitored and responded to).
Some primer questions for the SWOT analysis include the following:
- What advantages does your organization have?
- What do you do better than anyone else?
- What unique or lowest-cost resources can you draw upon that others cannot?
- What do people in your market see as your strengths?
- What factors mean that you “get the sale”?
- What is your organization’s unique selling proposition (USP)?
- What aspects of your product or service could you improve?
- What market segments or competitive areas should you avoid?
- What are people in your market likely to see as weaknesses?
- What factors can make you lose sales?
Useful opportunities can come from such things as the following:
- What good opportunities can you spot?
- What interesting trends are you aware of?
- Changes in technology and markets on both a broad and narrow scale
- Changes in government policy related to your field
- Changes in social patterns, population profiles, lifestyle changes, and so on
- Local events
- What obstacles do you face?
- What are your competitors doing?
- Are quality standards or specifications for your job, products, or services changing?
- Is changing technology threatening your position?
- Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems?
- Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten your business?
- A summary of the internal environment, including the organization’s values and the key elements of the organization architecture that influence worker behavior.
Include the following characteristics when analyzing the internal environment:
- Structure: This includes the ways the organization assigns formal roles and responsibilities, decision-making authority, expertise and skills, and work tasks. Think of the organization chart and how its implied structure directs the decision making, resource allocation, and workflow of the organization. Is it consistent with the strategy?
- Systems: This comprises the information flows that coordinate activities between groups and across the organization structure while helping direct worker behavior, including performance management, financial management, operating, forecasting and planning, and other regulating mechanisms. How do these systems help align workers and their actions with the strategy?
- Culture: This consists of the unwritten rules and norms that govern worker behavior and help coordinate the activities across structural boundaries. Is the organization culture an enabler or impediment to the corporate strategy? What specific behaviors embedded in the culture support the strategy? What specific behaviors block the strategy?
- A synthesis of the information evaluating the ability of the organization to implement the strategy using Kouzes and Posner’s Five Practices (e.g., modeling the way) as a framework.
- Company Culture
- Describe the values and culture of your organization.
- What are the values of your organization?
- How are they reflected in the behaviors you see at work?
- Employee Behaviors
- Describe the behaviors in your organization.
- Are these behaviors consistent with the business strategy?
- Where do they conflict with the strategy?
- What new behaviors are required to align with the strategy?
- How might you and other leaders create new behaviors to support the strategy?
- What specific actions would you implement to communicate, motivate, model the way, coach, inspire the vision, challenge the process, and encourage the heart?