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Ditch the ‘SWOT’ concept and learn to love ‘OTSW’

Business people waste a lot of time doing ‘SWOT’ analyses. All sorts of irrelevant things get listed as ‘strengths’. ‘Weaknesses’ become lists of things you can’t (or don’t do).  You’ll get better results with an OTSW approach to business planning and action planning.

Focus on the ‘opportunity’ you want to pursue, then identify your (internal) strengths that bring this opportunity closer. Identify the external threats (i.e. things outside your control) and your (internal) weaknesses that inhibit your progress. This analysis will give the best basis for action planning.

A ‘strength’ is only a ‘strength’ (in my view) if it helps bring an opportunity closer; otherwise it is just an academic fact. Likewise, a ‘weakness’ is only relevant if it is inhibiting progress towards an opportunity. I’m not fluent in many languages (some people even question my command of English!). That’s a fact – but it isn’t a ‘weakness’ in pursuing my activities.

I’ve run planning sessions where people list all sorts of (supposed) weaknesses which are merely lists of things that they don’t or can’t do.

Ditch SWOT immediately and fall in love with OTSW.  It’ll be a big weakness if you don’t.

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‘From bellman to twitter – the lessons for today’

William Shakespeare, a master of the spoken and written word never read a ‘proper’ newspaper; they didn’t exist in any great form when he was alive. Important announcements, messages and warnings would be proclaimed by the town crier / bellman. These were clear, succinct and to the point  – and the Bellman’s proclamation (shout) would be, typically, half a minute long.  The bellman’s posted notice would be on a single page and written so the ‘common man (assuming he could read) would understand it .  No ‘flashing’ powerpoint images (or even ‘non flashing’ ones); just concise verbal and spoken clarity.

Jump forward a few hundred years (and a few trillion powerpoint slides) and we come to twitter. Expert tweeters among you will know the skill in getting your point across in 140 characters or less. We live in a world on newspaper, tv and media communications but we can learn a lot from the ‘bellman and twitter’ demands for clarity and brevity. We also live in a world of powerpoint and have enjoyed its usefulness and endured its ghastliness. If I had £1 for every powerpoint presentation I have slept though, I would be very rich as well as being very rested.

‘From Bellman to Twitter – the lessons for today’ happens to be the title of my latest set of speeches and workshops. What a lucky coincidence. You can find out more at http://www.williamfreeman.co.uk  Look at the ‘training’ page – and, while you are there, take a look at the other pages too. Oyez!

Networking: ‘If they’re not interested, move on’. WRONG, WRONG WRONG

This is a common view of how to do productive ‘face to face networking’. This approach advocates that you only spend time talking to people who are interested in what you have to offer.  I disagree strongly (as is obvious from title of this blog entry).  I can see where advocates of this approach are ‘coming from’ but, in my opinion, they are confusing networking with face to face selling.

The strength of networking is about building contacts one at a time. The purpose of networking is to establish these contacts and build a conversational rapport with them.  For the sake of argument, let’s say that  you have 50 contacts.  If each of these has 50 contacts then you are in a network of 2500 contacts.  The purpose of networking and sharing information about what you ‘do’, means that your value story can be spread across this network.

I’m a networking junkie and always have been (even before the word was used in this context). This is partly due to my dislike (and some fear) of hard nosed face to face selling.  Most of my business has come from networking with the vast majority coming from second level contacts – i.e not my direct contacts.  If I had taken a hard nosed sales view in building my contacts I would have seriously curtailed my business income.

So even though you might not want to buy from me, I’m still very happy to talk to you.

Try me. Better still, try one of my books.