Strategic management is the way to go in order to maximise your potential as a University of London student. Don’t just plan for the sake of planning, or based on what you feel is important - your plan should be anchored in a well-reasoned analysis that is based on key fundamentals to drive success.
Here, I’ll be looking at renowned strategic planning models in the real world that can help you get the most out of your own abilities.
We all have strengths (talents/competencies) and weaknesses, both of which are internal. Also, the way we interact with society means we are being affected by conditions and changes taking place in the external environment. The circumstances in the external environment have the potential to either harm or help us. I believe that maximising your potential has to do with managing both internal and external factors.
To strategically plan, one option is to do a SWOT analysis highlighting all of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
To enhance your understanding and also put this article into context, I’ll identify some common SWOT examples:
Strengths can be sound oratory skills or distinguished writing ability.
Weaknesses can be public speaking fright, or poor written communication.
An example of an opportunity could be increasing demand for commercial students in the job market.
A potential threat could be increasing automation, leading to a reduction in need for staff.
Having done your SWOT analysis you can develop a matrix which builds on your results by helping you develop strategies you can pursue that will maximise your strengths, exploit opportunities, reduce weaknesses and manage threats.
Draw and divide a rectangle into four equal parts. The top of the rectangle should be labelled ‘opportunities’ and ‘threats’ (against the two upper boxes), and the two boxes on the left should be labelled ‘strengths’ and ‘weaknesses’ (against the two boxes on the left). Search the Internet to visualise the above. You will end up with one quadrant each for strengths and opportunities, strengths and threats, weaknesses and opportunities, and the last for weaknesses and threats.
In each of these boxes, you should develop strategies. In the ‘strengths and opportunities’ quadrant, develop various strategies on how you are going to utilise your strengths to leverage the available opportunities in the external environment. I recommend that 60% of your plan should be focused on executing these strategies, as they are so important when maximising your potential.
In the ‘strengths and threats’ quadrant, develop strategies that will utilise your best qualities to provide some cover against the threats in the external environment; In the ‘weaknesses and opportunities’ quadrant, you should design strategies to improve on your weaknesses; and in the ‘weaknesses and threats’ quadrant, you should design strategies that will minimise weaknesses and manage threats.
With this information, you will be better placed to evaluate the options available to you, and make a decision on which strategies you want to pursue in 2020. I hope that this will be a useful exercise for taking on the unprecedented challenges of the future. You can go through this process every year and make the necessary adjustments. Good luck!
Sinneh is studying the MSc in Professional Accountancy in Sierra Leone.