How? Start from Your Strengths

In the previous topic you made clear to yourself, or to the organization you’re involved with, what contribution you want to make to the world. In this and the next two topics you get more info about ‘HOW’ you want to do it. How, in what way, do you want to bring your purpose into the world? We chose to divide the information into three topics, because there are different aspects to it:
  • Start from your strengths
  • Which values guide you?
  • Your Unique Value Propostion
We start with your unique strengths, or those of the organization for which you will be doing the exercise. Why? Those who are highly driven to give something beautiful to the world are often willing to do a lot for it. And sometimes forget themselves, and are willing to go outside their own comfort zone. This is admirable but not always smart in this hectic world. For the sake of your own self-care, we recommend starting from your strengths. It will all go a little easier and it’s a lot more fun. And besides, the world deserves our best, right? So therefore: start from your strengths!
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There are different ways to determine your strengths. Below we present two exercises that map out strengths and at the same time link them to a business context. Don’t be put off by the business language, just hang on and soon you will be speaking it too! And you will help build the bridge between entrepreneurship and social work.

1. SWOT- Analysis

A SWOT analysis is a business tool that analyzes strengths and weaknesses combined with opportunities and threats. The SWOT analysis includes an internal and external part:
  1. Internal: an understanding of one’s organization. What are the strengths and weaknesses?
  2. External: an understanding of the market in which the organization operates. What changes are occurring? What are the main developments? What effects do they have on the organization, divided in opportunities and threats?
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  • If you want a clear explanation on how to use this tool, watch this five minute video on “SWOT- analysis: How to perform one for your organization”
  • If you want a more comprehensive explanation, you can watch this 15 minute video
  • If you want to make a personal (individual) SWOT-analysis: watch this entertaining video and answer the questions (6 minutes):

2. Treacy & Wiersema

According to Treacy and Wiersema, there are three different value strategies that organizations can employ:

Operational excellence (process focus)
The company offers relatively good products or services at low prices by managing processes and costs well. The entire process from purchase to delivery is optimized. Due to low costs one can choose to keep the price low or use a high margin. E.g. Mc Donalds.

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Product Leadership (product focus)
The product has the highest priority, the quality of a product often goes hand in hand with technology and innovation, and market trends. E.g. Apple.

Customer Intimacy (customer focus)
With customer intimicay, the organization focuses on the wishes of a customer. Usually it does not have a standardized product range. A good relationship with the customer is central, the organization always wants to know exactly what the customer wants and respond to that.

Value strategy example (following Treacy & Wiersema)

With these value strategies organizations can add value and distinguish themselves. On at least one of these value strategies an organization must be superior, according to Treacy and Wiersema, but the other two must also score sufficient.

You can also look at this scheme to check where the strengths of your business are situated.

If you want to learn more about this model, look at this video where treacy & Wiersema’s value strategies are explained.