The Four Forces of Change

In today’s fast paced and competitive business environment, you must learn how to frequently change your view and attitudes to meet the challenges of an ever-changing market place. Tomorrow’s leaders are intellectually flexible, open to change, and willing to take action in the face of uncertainty.

Be aware of these four forces of change and use them to your advantage:

1. Increasing compression of time and space: Technology is allowing for faster and faster delivery, and people’s expectations are keeping pace. Globalization has raised expectations for both international and local businesses.

2. Increasing complexity: Disruptive technology, a market saturated in seemingly identical products and increasingly sophisticated systems is making the marketplace more complex and difficult to navigate.

3. Increasing transparency and accountability: Digital communication, legislation and grassroots movements are all forcing businesses to be more transparent and accountable about how they do business and how it will impact the customer as well as the environment.

4. Rising expectations: What used to be luxuries are now considered necessities. Likewise, things that are considered luxuries today won’t be considered luxuries tomorrow.

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The SWOT Analysis

As an entrepreneur, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in several business ventures over the years; some successful, some at break-even and others total flops.

One of my B-school buddies and I were brainstorming a few business plan ideas the other day and we both agreed on the importance of the S.W.O.T analysis as an invaluable tool in determining the viability of a venture before proceeding.

S.W.O.T stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats. Strengths and Weaknesses focus on the internal aspects of running a company and look mainly at the past and present. Opportunities and threats focus on external factors, such as the economy, competition, distribution channels, market segments etc., and look toward what your company might do in the future.

Ideally the SWOT is used to create inputs that can be used to generate possible strategies. A broad range of perspectives should be included in the process. And the following questions should be answered many times:

1. How can we use each Strength?

2. How can we stop each Weakness?

3. How can we exploit each Opportunity?

4. How can we defend against each Threat?

This type of analysis allows to you to develop a clear and concise picture of your present situation as well as the future possibilities. In fact, lately I’ve been inclined to develop a SWOT framework that I could use to evaluate my own personal life.