“TOP” analysis: a timely successor to SWOT analysis?
May 6, 2012
SWOT is outdated.
The standing paradigm for assessing business strategies and situations is the SWOT analysis, which considers Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This model is outdated, due to the speed at which business now operates, the diversity of potential influences and influencers that now be considered, and the increasing super-complexity of consumer, competition, and climate for business.
Multidisciplinary “BLITS”, a necessity.
In addition and as a result, any new paradigm must approach and pursue the many questions of modern business with a combination of business, legal, industry, technical, and strategic knowledge, skills, and abilities in order to properly occupy the field and turn over all of the stones that need to be so turned.
SSBSS must be merged.
To date, experts, academics, practitioners, and business leaders have further duplicated and convoluted approaches to the creation and evaluation of business strategy by using many different terms to say what is essentially the same thing; or squeezing ever more diverse content into each of these different terms. We call those leading options, the “Seven Smart Business Strategy Sisters” (SSBSS), and they are:
- Business Intelligence (mostly technical and statistical methods for data mining, benchmarking, and predictive analysis);
- Competitive Intelligence (mostly the who, where, what are they doing, and how are they doing it, with regard to competitors);
- Market Intelligence (essentially, knowing the market in terms of maturity, trends, and the like);
- Knowledge Management (essentially, having a good grip on what you know and how best to use it, what you do not know, and what you need to find out including its urgency level);
- Best Practices (revolving around training, industry and regulatory standards, and the like);
- Due Diligence (being scruples in ethics and corporate social responsibility; proper and adequate target scrutiny before a merger or acquisition; and proper and adequate corporate security protocols, to guard against harms);
- Contingency Planning (is guarding against extraordinary events: in the business process, due to environmental or regulatory complication, and due to third-party or other influences).
Ten Concentric and Co-central Corners (TOP Analysis).
What we have developed, then, is an analytical tool that covers ten concentric and co-central corners, or a TOP Analysis that properly contains, correlates, and contradistinguishes as appropriate, the Terrain, the Operations, and the Players with regard to business strategy, as follows.
“T” for Terrain.
At the four principal compass points and bounding the model’s remaining 6 points, we place the 4 Ts of Terrain: to the North, South, East, and West.
“O” for Operations.
Forming a trilateral pyramid with the base down, we have the Operations; being Overseers and Operations at the base, and Outliers at the apex.
•Operations (business processes), includes marketing, manufacturing, recruiting, raising financing, restructuring, and research and development.
•Overseers (government and governance), includes general and competition laws and regulations, ethics and corporate governance, and the regulators themselves.
•Outliers (special events), includes scenarios and modeling that considers environmental, product, industry, and contingent events, whether foreseeable or remote, in the business planning and hardening process.
“P” for Players.
Forming an inverted trilateral pyramid with its base-up, and intersecting the “O” pyramid to form a star, we have the Players; being the Product at that inverted apex, and the Population and Players at the inverted base.
•Product (good or service), will also consider planning, placement, promotions and projections.
•Population (the market), which can be anywhere and anytime in the current system of “absolute competition” filled with competing products, competing markets both physical and virtual, and proprietary technologies, will also consider channels, selections, segmentation, seniority, and differentiation; along with consumer-specific choices, locations, abilities, and tastes.
•Players (the competition), will consider competitors, partners, predators, and companies standing-by).
Further Portfolio analysis, Life-cycle analysis, Anticipatory analysis, Implication analysis, and Demandanalysis, can likewise be applied to each Operations element, each Players element, and each Terrain element, respectively.
The TOP Analysis promises to be a better and significantly more comprehensive means to get the job done, in helping you adroitly navigate changing times and paradigms to further leverage your success. Oh yes, about the four “T”s: you will learn of those when we assist you in applying the analysis :–)
Ekundayo George is a sociologist and a lawyer, with experience in business law and counseling, diverse litigation, and regulatory practice. He is licensed to practice law in Ontario, Canada, as well as in New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., in the United States of America (U.S.A.). See, for example: http://www.ogalaws.com.
Mr. George is also an experienced strategic consultant; sourcing, managing, and delivering on large, high stakes, strategic projects with multiple stakeholders, large budgets, and multidisciplinary teams. See, for example: http://www.simprime-ca.com.
As an avid reader, writer and blogger Ekundayo George is a published author in Environmental Law and Policy (National Security aspects).
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