USING S.W.O.T TO DRIVE CHANGE.
If you were to interview job applicants by asking them how much they tolerate change, everyone would claim to be change oriented. This is because everybody knows that admitting otherwise would definitely not get them short listed.
In essence there are no true change agents. Social scientists are fond of referring to people who do not resist change as the enlightened. This means that their ability to drive change is not in born but has been developed through awareness. A number of experiences both good and bad, in business have refined such people to see things clearly and hence embrace change initiatives as vehicles that bring about results and get them where they want to be.
An analysis of the organization’s strength, weakness opportunities and threats (S.W.O.T ) is the starting point in making people become conscious of change. Every organization operates in an environment that is made up of clients, competitors and partners. It’s strengths and weakness revolve around these key factors. Implementing change in organization should always be linked to the organizations goals. Managers should first answer the question, what do we want to achieve? Always, the need for change arises due to a shift in organizational goals. To set viable goals managers must first (as a rule) access, the organizations strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and strengths.
The word analysis might be a little bit misleading because in actual fact, there is no analysis involved. Everyone in the organization can point out the threats facing the organization. For example: The entrant of new competitor is a threat to an organization’s market share. Likewise the organization’s strengthens weaknesses and opportunities are detectable without necessarily having to use flow charts and financial statements.
In order to see the S.W.O.Ts more clearly, managers are advised to breakdown the company into segments. That way they can easily detect the units that are weaker than the others, those that can be eliminated without negatively impacting the organization and above all, those whose importance is key to holding the organization together.
Managers must understand the product or service process of their company from start to finish. They should also know the major elements of the process. The best way to do this is to involve their subordinates. They know more about the process than the managers. As the manager do not assume that you know, ask. Get the details and map them down, always incorporating the factors in the environment in which the organization in operating.
Every organizing has got something it can do better than the competitors in the industry. But not all companies know what it is that they can do better. However, in most cases, competition in the industry will give clues as to what your organization’s strengths are. Managers with keen eyes should take advantage of the strengths and capitalize on them. To break down a rock, you have to pound repeatedly, every time taking a chip off the big stone.
All change initiatives should revolve around what the organization can do better. The people in an organization are also motivated when they know that they are the best in what they do. Resistance to change can be minimized if change is introduced with an aim to strengthen this position.
Everyone wants to work for an organization that shows the potential to grow and expand. In fact, people love being part of a legacy and so when they see an opportunity to leave a mark, they seize and build on it. Allowing people across the organization to participate in the change programme is a sure way of getting them to own the change initiatives.
Analyzing an organizations strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and strengths does give an indication of the change intended. If a manager knows what the strengths of his company are, he must build on them to stay ahead of the competition. Like wise weaknesses are calls to reform and to take substantive measures in order to reverse a potentially fatal situation.
Some situations emanating from newly identified strengths or weaknesses require that managers go back to the drawing board, re-strategizing and re-drawing plans to cater for the new challenges. Re-planning is a radical step that stirs emotions and hurts people’s egos. That’s why change is resisted.
However, if S.W.O.T is organization wide; that is to say that staff and line manager should be included in the process, then change can be introduced in bits and the resistance will be minimal since almost everyone will have been sensitized on the need to own the process.
Change should not be introduced just for the sake of it. It must be driven by the need to rectify a situation. S.W.O.T on the other hand is a management tool used to identify the problem and mark areas that will be targeted for change.
In summary, managers should bear in mind that what looks obvious is not always the best for the organization. The main reason why change is resisted is because it’s future impact is not clearly understood. Making people understand involves making things look obvious. Therefore, S.W.O.T analysis should be used as a feedback tool. It helps managers (who are the change introducers). To see the organization from the subordinates (who are the implementers) point of view. It also cushions the entire organization from any sudden and negative effects that change might have on its operations.