Having sat through many organization’s strategic planning session witnessing nearly the same amount of SWOT analyses, I’ve come to the concusion that they rarely create value. It’s not that they NEVER are useful, it’s just that they typically get a team looking inward and backward as opposed to outward and forward. Further, SWOT can be disembodied of purpose. This can result in not creating much in terms of outcomes.

Often, something much simplier is need to get the team moving forward. Something that takes into account Strenthgs, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats but is much lighter weight. Enter Situation-Target, Plan (STP). Simplity put, it takes a look at where you want to go (Target). Where you are today (Situation) and what you need to do to get there (Plan). Let me breifly detail each step.

Start with the Target. What is it that you want your company to achieve? Examples include things like “We want to open and office in Boston” or “We want to increase the strength of our brand.” Think of these as goals. For many small business these are as complex as we want…or need.

Next take a look at where you are today. That is, what is our Situation. If you are looking at the Target of opening an office in Boston, it would be good to look at things like location, financial position, hiring ability and current bandwidth to take this on.

Finally, start connecting the Situation and the Target with a plan. It’s useful here to define Who, What and When at medium granularity.

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