Consider these three ways of seeing. The first way is Value Building. Value Building for our business means seeing ways to scale it in some way, whether by growing our existing market or finding new markets so that we maximise our ROI (return on investment).
However, to stay successful, we need to see further. Before our business models reach their use by dates, we need creative ideas and to see clearly what our business will become. A second way of seeing is via Value Migration. Value Migration is a process of accelerating qualified, value-driven future ideas towards the present. Our next business iteration might be new products, new markets or migration along the value chain. For example, we might migrate backwards into manufacturing or migrate forward into retail stores. Deciding between various logical choices or next steps requires an NPV (net present value) calculation, using the expected future cash flows and required rates of return for each choice.
Beyond Value Building and Value Migration is a vast unknown horizon that we should also be looking at. This is a world of unfettered Value Exploration, beyond the confines and conditioned mindsets of a regular business. Value Exploration is the world of future options. Businesses support Value Exploration when employees are allowed, or even better, paid to tinker and incur small financial losses in the process. Let loose to ‘bootleg’, creative employees inevitably stumble on something rather significant! Coke started as a Pharmaceutical. Nokia started as a Paper Mill and Rubber Shoe Maker. Dupont went from Explosives to Teflon Frypans. 3M was once a failed Quarry Mining Business. Apple made circuit boards for Home Computer Builders. These companies believed and ensured that the past did not equal the future. Each was prepared to re-imagine their core businesses, based on the likely value of the options they were exploring.
Beyond our next horizon are only options. Options are superior to strategy. Many firms create strategic plans based on fixed mindsets, that are built on pre-approved budgets and past patterns, which is why these strategic plans rarely have any teeth. Other times, firms include their values, vision and mission in their strategy and use it as an employee behavioural change tool, which at best gives potency about day to day activities.
The most potent quadrant in a SWOT is the Opportunities quadrant; however, I prefer to use the word OPTIONS, so clients look at Strengths, Weaknesses, Options and Threats.
On a blank page, complete a traditional SWOT analysis for your firm. Note that some items you listed under Strengths are useful to consider for the Value Building in your business. Now look at the list of Opportunities – some could be good choices for Value Migration. Redo the SWOT with the word Options instead of Opportunities. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1995, he explored two options: one option was to build the biggest computer in the world and rent space on it to everyone; the other was to make the smallest computers in the world (iPods, iPhones, iWatches) and sell them to everybody.
Decide from the Options on your list, which option offers the world the best value.