The Post-Truth Environment - Embracing Risk Assessment, SWOT and TOWS

Posted 29/11/2016

This gives us a second launch point, where we can use a TOWS analysis to both record our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and identify defensive and creative strategies to deal with each. TOWS is a later adaptation of SWOT and provides a slightly different format, which more easily addresses the actions or strategies available implied by the SWOT analysis (see https://ceopedia.org/index.php/TOWS_analysis)  Post-Truth is an increasingly relevant part of the political discourse around us. Coined in 2004, it has frequently been used to describe environments in which misleading or fact free positions are taken by politicians in particular, and policy is replaced by assertion.  The level of uncertainty we can now see suggests that we should be pulling out our category strategies (you did create one, didn’t you?) and testing them to see the effects of change in particular directions.  One of the challenges is that, in a post-truth environment, it can be hard to determine what the actual change will be.  This adds a degree of uncertainty into the mix which takes us into the use of a mixture of different tools to try to project what might happen in the future and also identify how we can counter those events.  Our approach needs to embrace a combination of tools, each of which is well known but we will use here in a mix to give us the best possible chance of being prepared.  Our starting point is to game a range of possible future scenarios; we only need three to work with. One is an extreme future, one is a limited change future and one is something in the middle. We could start with an extreme future in which many of the existing trade agreements are scrapped, both in the US And UK, and look for the implications of that. We could add in petrodollar ranges as a modifier, and any forward views on currency.  From here, we can use a risk assessment matrix with each scenario to identify what the effects could be in terms of risk, with appropriate rating for likelihood and severity.

This gives us a second launch point, where we can use a TOWS analysis to both record our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and identify defensive and creative strategies to deal with each. TOWS is a later adaptation of SWOT and provides a slightly different format, which more easily addresses the actions or strategies available implied by the SWOT analysis (see ceopedia.org/index.php/TOWS_analysis

At this stage, we are well positioned to show a range of approaches which could be adopted under a variety of situations; even better, we are likely to develop a few ideas which are worth adopting into our current strategies. 

This approach of systematically reviewing conditions as they change and testing if alternative approaches need to be developed should be a regular part of managing category strategies. It is just more relevant now.  

One implication of this is the need to become familiar with others in your business who are using the same approach. Engaging in a discussion about the starting conditions, and building a stronger, cross business perspective is a valuable step, and has been written about as a strategic differentiator. Procurement should seek to be a full and active partner in such activities, and make sure that we're getting great input from others in these thought processes. 

Of course, none of the scenarios we develop might happen; but it is better to be prepared.


Tagged by topic: Category Management , News , Risk Management & Sustainability

  by Allison Ford-Langstaff

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