The world’s largest iceberg just formed. It is remarkable for its size (larger than the Spanish island of Mallorca). The moment it separated from the ice shelf in Antarctica, the countdown timer begins on its title defense. It will be overtaken by a bigger iceberg, divided into multiple smaller icebergs, or eventually melt. Its fate as the former largest iceberg is inevitable.
When we try to retain a title as largest, biggest, fastest, best-funded, etc., we hang our competitive advantage on a flimsy flag pole. It might stand tall and be covered in spotlights, but our flag looks out of place, antiquated, and even irrelevant once it is surpassed. That is why some companies invest in achieving the title of ‘best place to work.’ It reflects their organizational culture and values. The best place to work is more challenging to create but sustainable when the community believes in its collective strength; it is not a finish line but an enduring journey.
Is your enterprise trying to win by metrics or invest in human experiences? The number of large retailers that were once ubiquitous and now obsolete might provide a narrative about the staying power of those who scale first. Then there are those remarkable causes that continue to deliver on a promise that is not easy to measure but is profoundly evident in every interaction.
Do we mark the way to the exit for those looking to move on, or do we let them stumble around until they find it without acknowledgement? It is easy to place our energy in marking the entrance but if those who entering encounter a tired and exhausted group of individuals looking for the depart, then neither group is being served. Even the airlines post a member of the flight crew at the plane door to wish us a good onward journey. What if our exit was as remarkable as our first impressions of the cause?
SWOT analysis is a fundamental activity during many retreats. They are visually pleasing and quick to focus conversations. It is easy to understand why they endured. Today I read a new process for facilitating a SWOT. The mindset is compelling.
Performed in isolation, the SWOT offers a myopic view of the world. It is our self-evaluation. We may believe we are memorable conference presenters because of our witty narratives but do we really know? Unless people walk out of the room during our presentation, or there is a sudden rush of new audience members, it is hard to assess how we are trending.
SWOT is an instrument. An opportunity to facilitate conversations. The greatest gift is getting to the human element. What are the behaviors and interactions we are fostering? We may have the most beautiful facilities, the best thank you gifts and a polished social media presence, but if our values are misaligned with our actions, then it is hard for anyone to build trust or take action on our behalf.
If we use the SWOT to discuss the relationships we are building with those who need what we have to offer, there is an opportunity for a robust conversation. If we use the SWOT to establish an arbitrary ranking, it may miss the highest return on investment, a discussion about how we can be of service.