Those of you who know me, know that I have spent my career as both an Entrepreneur and more recently … an Intrapreneur. I have also been on a slightly quirky quest to find useful tools and models that will enable me to make better, more objective decisions that increase the chance of success and minimize risks.
Whether you call yourself an Intrapreneur or not, you probably have a need to make decisions about your own projects. Which brings me to today’s posting. I have come to rely on a handful of basic but indispensible tools and am curious about whether these are same tools and methods that everyone else relies on.
My favorite tool by far is the SWOT Analysis. I have used it hundreds of times over the years for everything from personal career planning to many different business situational assessments. I even used it to start the project that eventually became IBM’s Patient Care and Insights solution. At the time, we were trying to decide how to approach bringing a major breakthrough in healthcare analytics innovation to market that has been invented by IBM Research named Patient Similarity Analytics … and it all started with a SWOT Analysis.
A SWOT Analysis is an easy to understand and versatile way to assess your position at any point in time. Think of it a tool to assess any situation from 4 different positions or perspectives (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). It can be as simple as making a list for each of the SWOT categories. There are many different ways to apply and use SWOT Analysis. It’s power is in it’s versatility. Once the items are listed, decision making becomes easier bordering on obvious. The listed items can also be scored or weighted with other relevant information such as likelihood, impact, etc.
Catherine Kaputa has a wonderful way to use SWOT as a career / personal brand assessment in her book on personal branding titled “You Are A Brand”
Credited to Dwight D. Eisenhower, an Eisenhower Analysis (also known as the Eisenhower Box, or Decision Matrix) is a time management or prioritization tool. It is best used when trying prioritize, organize or otherwise get control of a situation or workload. The goal is to easily recognize the highest priority items from the noise. As an example, many people confuse “urgent” work with “important” work and this helps bring clarity to those kinds of issues. Once the items are listed, prioritizing is clear. Like SWOT, the listed items can also be scored or weighted with other relevant information such as likelihood, impact, etc.
|Urgent and Important (1)
||Neither Urgent nor Important (4)
Franklin Analysis (Pros / Cons)
Credited to Benjamin Franklin, the Franklin Analysis (also known as the pros and cons analysis) is a comparison tool for decision making … typically in a list format. It is used when comparing the pros (positives, pluses or benefits) to the cons (negatives, minuses or costs). This tool is most effective when there are many items to consider and the decision is not obvious. Many people bring emotion into decision making and this approach helps keep an objective perspective. Like the SWOT and Eisenhower approaches, the listed items can also be scored or weighted with other relevant information such as degree of importance, etc. Totals can even be calculated from the weighted scores.
There are literally hundreds of decision making models and approaches but I kept this list to the most well known. What is your favorite tool? As always, leave me your thoughts and ideas here.