The most potent quadrant of the SWOT is the Opportunities quadrant.  Yet the word Options is even more potent.  At HCG we help our clients think about Strengths, Weaknesses, OPTIONS and Threats.

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An over-reliance on traditional production planning in some corporations and businesses make them ‘option blind’.  In time, they become less relevant and less opportunistic.

When businesses pay their employees to tinker and incur small financial losses in the process, someone will inevitably stumble upon something rather significant!

〉Coke started as Pharmaceutical.

〉Nokia as a Paper Mill and Rubber Shoe Maker.

〉Dupont went from Explosives to Teflon Frypans.

〉3M was a failed Quarry Mining Business.

〉Avon as door-to-door Book Sales.

〉Apple made circuit boards for Home Computer Builders.

In term of your strategy, consider:

  1. Ranking everything you do by optionality – i.e. how well does this activity lead to new things.
  2. Selecting open-ended rather than closed-ended payoffs.  Apple could have built supercomputers, but they chose phones and now… underwater watches!  And for more open-ended options, Apple added cellular to the iWatch, so surfers can take calls between sets!
  3. Investing in great people who can create great open-ended options.
  4. Looking closely at the Weaknesses and Threats in your SWOT to minimize your downside risks. Be mindful of the worst-case scenarios, while letting the best-case scenarios take care of themselves; instead of focussing only on the best-case scenarios while hoping any worst-case scenarios will automatically take care of themselves. The later is more likely to be a recipe for failure.

What questions arise when thinking about options?