In recent years I have adapted the SWOT analysis more and more. This led to mPGA, a change instrument that organizations and their employees can use to get moving. In one of those cases I was dealing with a medium-sized production company of functional food products.
Young enthusiastic company
The young family business consisted of a group of enthusiastic and energetic employees. The entire production chain worked with farmers who grew products on an organic scale. From a social point of view, close attention was paid to a fair distribution of income in the chain.
Together with the management I came to the conclusion that a number of things needed to be adjusted. Finances, marketing and sales were not in order. And the production and distribution, the operational process, resulted in too much downtime. There was not one cause, it seemed to go wrong everywhere.
After discussions, the company management appeared to have a SWOT analysis from two years earlier, but they had done little with that.
The right time for me to present mPGA and to identify the differences with SWOT. That appealed to the two leaders of the company, because something needed to be done. A wonderful concept, a nice company and a loyal group of customers. However, due to many operational problems, the company’s results fell short of expectations.
SWOT results two years ago
Before we started an mPGA session, we first looked at the SWOT from two years ago.
The conclusions of the business management are summarized.
- The problems are insufficiently identified.
- It was not clear what should be done next.
- There was no follow-up to the SWOT analysis
- After a day and a half, the enthusiasm had subsided.
The insight was useful, but the SWOT participants actually knew all that, as the Deputy Director concluded. The company continued as usual, while the problems became more pressing. Slowly things started to wring and the financial situation became more acute.
Although this case was eminently suitable for mPGA, it still took a lot of effort to convince the business owners. The frustration that nothing had happened to the SWOT was very high. Another SWOT-like approach; they were initially not open to that.
Contrary to the SWOT analysis, mPGA does contain a follow-up, which means that objectives and an action plan are delivered in a short time.
With the following arguments and a personal relationship of trust I convinced them for an mPGA session.
- mPGA works in a targeted manner.
- The analysis is a first step.
- The objectives are concrete.
- Barriers are addressed.
- There will be a concrete action plan.
- The next day to work with the implementation.
Given the company’s problems, I advised that two teams go to work. One for the operational process and one for the commercial process.
Before the mPGA sessions, we defined a global design of organization and key processes. In addition, we have formulated two assignments for each team one.
Both board members appreciated that they could attend the mPGA sessions. The teams of participants could be assembled quickly, given that there was no ambiguity about the stakeholders in the organization.
The mPGA sessions
Both mPGA meetings were successful. The clarity that participants received in advance led to a fast and structured way of working.
Because the opportunities were set through a brainstorming approach, in which the teams could contribute everything, a number of improvement areas were quickly on the board.
Naming the strength of the organization, which are also needed to seize the opportunities, strengthened and clarified what the organization could contribute. That was more than I had previously estimated.
Then formulating goals immediately afterwards, immediately brought a lot of energy to the group. Everyone had run into the same frustrating things for years. Finally, it was clear on paper how to improve the two processes.
After lunch, a number of obstacles related to the assignments that the teams themselves had set up in the morning were identified. The real breakpoints were quickly identified. Barriers are far from general and certainly not comparable to the global weaknesses and threats in the SWOT approach.
Constructing a concrete and targeted action plan also turned out to be possible after that. All team members were higly motivated to take the next steps. Therefore to define an concrete action plan was easy to do with this teams. At the end of the day, both teams had a concrete change plan in hand.
The commercial team also appointed a project team to carry out the plan, so that they really could really start the next day.
At this point, the company is well under control of the processes again. The company itself has done a new mPGA session for a new market approach. Hereby enthusiastic customers (fans) will sell their products through a multi-level marketing approach.
The company is also growing again. Both company directors feel much better about their company and themselves. They were very concerned personally that things did would not improve in time.
mPGA has been an important verhicle of getting the company moving fast. It was no longer only lingering in the analysis, as had happened two years earlier with SWOT. Goals and a concrete action plan were exactly what the company needed to improve itself.