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The Strategic Goals Grid, an Alternative Framework to SWOT Analysis

One of the most popular Strategic Planning tool among executives is the SWOT analysis (or SWOT matrix).  However, sometimes assessing the organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats is not enough to set the direction for the planning process or to implement Business Transformation.

An alternative framework to SWOT analysis is the Strategic Goals Grid (SGG).  The SGG gives planners a different perspective to view the organization, the direction it has taken, the course that the collective wisdom of the organization wants to take, and to set goals.  SGG is an extremely effective overall Organizational Analysis tool for senior leaders responsible for Planning, Strategy Development, Transformation, Growth, and Profitability.

SGG is a 2×2 matrix, fashioned by examining the “Yes” and “No” answers to 2 critical questions:

  • Do you want something?
  • Do you have it?

The combination of the “Yes” and “No” answers to these questions define 4 basic categories for goals and objectives:

  1. ACHIEVE – if you want something you do not have, your goal is to obtain it.
  2. PRESERVE – if you want something you already have, your aim is to keep it.
  3. AVOID – if there is something you do not want and do not have, your goal is to avoid it.
  4. ELIMINATE – if there is something you do not want but have, your goal is to get rid of it.

These 4 categories of goals—ACHIEVE, PRESERVE, AVOID, and ELIMINATE—constitute the Strategic Goals Grid when drawn on a 2×2 grid.

The Strategic Goals Grid can be used to facilitate discussions and to record and communicate the results of such discussions.  Individuals can complete the grid separately and then compare, discuss, and integrate their individual efforts into a consolidated matrix.

SGG can be employed for kick-starting the Strategic Planning process in 3 progressive steps:

  1. Visualize and Document
  2. Coalesce
  3. Synthesize and Align

Let us dig a little deeper into the individual framework steps.

Visualize and Document

The 1st step in formulating the Strategic Goals Grid is an individual exercise, which takes about 15 minutes to accomplish.  The step entails taking input from all relevant participants of the Strategy Development workshop.  The activity requires from the participants to write their responses on individual copies of the Strategic Goals Grid.  The participants record their input regarding the critical questions of what to ACHIEVE, PRESERVE, AVOID, and ELIMINATE.

The question, “What do we want to eliminate?” is very effective in triggering group discussions on any issues that exist across the organization.  The question, “What do we want to avoid?” focuses the group’s discussion to anticipated issues and/or threats to the organization.

Coalesce

The 2nd step is a group activity, where the strategy development group engages in an exercise in which individual responses gathered during the first step are shared with the participants.  The individual responses are projected on a large screen and recorded on a computer.  Using one quadrant at a time, the group evaluates the list and repeats this process for all quadrants.  The list of individual responses becomes the collective wish list or the collective wisdom accrued over a period based on realities faced on-ground.

Synthesize and Align

The 3rd step is also a group exercise that entails rationalizing the responses gathered in the previous steps through discussion and analysis.  The list is carefully scrutinized and trimmed considering the objectives for the future.  These objectives are aligned with the priorities and values embodied by the organization.  The list of individual responses are refined and a consensus is developed on the finalized list.

Interested in learning more about the Strategic Goals Grid, its utilization, benefits compared to SWOT Analysis, and how to populate the grid? You can download an editable PowerPoint on the Strategic Goals Grid (SGG) here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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