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How to Evolve Strategic Alternatives into Planning Priorities

If you worked through creating a SWOT analysis and developing a list of possible strategic alternatives, you have some lists of choices. But because you can’t do everything, now you have to eliminate some of those choices. Know that every other business owner, executive director, and department manager has come to the same place you’re at right now. Although guarantees never exist in business, you can develop your own guidelines to assure that you make the right choices. But at the end of the day, you have to make a decision.

The one concept that most business owners, executives, and managers forget is that the lack of a decision results in more derailments of the mission than any other cause.

Grouping alternatives helps you compare like things when making trade-offs. For example, choosing between investing in new technology or hiring a new person is an expense decision with similar outcomes, whereas choosing between entering a new market or implementing a succession plan isn’t directly related. So at this point, you want to divide your choices into two groups — those that have internal implications and those that have external implications.

How do you decide what’s internal and what’s external? Check out the following definitions:

  • Internal priorities include everything related to productivity and process improvements, such as employees, training, operations, technology, efficiencies, research and development, and anything else that deals with the internal operations of your organization.

  • External priorities include everything that’s related to revenue generation, such as entering new target markets, serving new customer groups, developing new products, and partnering with other organizations.

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