All too often, we see businesses treating diagnostic tools as “one and done” events. They go through the process, identify strengths and weaknesses, and then never pick the diagnostic back up. This is such a missed opportunity. A business diagnostic tool exists to help you and your company continue to develop and grow – so they need to be revisited regularly. You wouldn’t go to a physician once, learn that you have high cholesterol, start eating oatmeal and then assume all is well! Once you identify an issue or goal, revisit it consistently in order to track progress and continue moving the bar forward. A business diagnostic is like an MRI on your business. It gives you information to act on and a metric to then revisit and measure progress against.
There are a lot of excellent reasons to perform a diagnostic on your business. It will help you identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). It will help you select and organize priorities. And, it is vital for assessing performance against competitors. Having a diagnosis administered by an objective and experienced facilitator will help to ensure you get the best results. The problem is that many organizations will charge a significant amount of money for a diagnostic that they only perform once.
At The Alternative Board, our Members enjoy unlimited access to our TAB Business Diagnostic as well as support in using the information to create a strategic plan. So, that’s one of the first things to consider when choosing a tool or service: is this a one-time diagnosis or a recurring resource? If it’s just a one-off event, or if it doesn’t offer support in translating the diagnosis into a strategic plan, you might want to consider an alternative tool.
Here are some key features to consider when selecting a business diagnostic tool:
Of course, at a basic level, any business diagnostic tool assesses a company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It’s a simple tool that can be used at an organizational level or department level to help improve processes and get your team back in alignment with your company’s core mission. The question is how a diagnostic tool manages the analysis. Does it break things down to focus in on key areas separately? Is it treating customer service, internal communications, and marketing (for example) as distinct areas of opportunity?
Does the business diagnostic include a between your company and those that have the same Standard Industrial Classification Code (SIC Code)? This is an invaluable set of information and should be included in any effective diagnostic. In order to create a truly actionable strategic plan, you must have a sense of how you’re measuring up against both your direct and indirect competition. From products to sales to marketing, you should have a clear idea of what your competitors are doing well in order to create a plan to do better.
Strategic Leadership Participation
How does the tool gather data? It’s vital for your entire management team (your Strategic Leadership Team) to take the diagnostic along with the CEO or company owner(s). This allows you to have a dialogue and identify any points of mis-alignment. Management and ownership often have different viewpoints, and an effective business diagnostic will help you identify those gaps in a productive way. Similarly, if there are co-owners or partners in the company, they should take the diagnostic in order to identify gaps. They can then focus on generating alignment within the organization from the top down.
An effective diagnostic will also provide you with a framework for next steps. Not everything can be your team’s number one priority. By identifying your company’s Critical Success Factors (CSFs) and Goals & Strategies, you’ll have a clearer sense of all the things that need to be put in place to move the needle of the company forward. What kind of accountability needs to be in place to achieve your company’s goals? What are the clear next steps and how can you work toward them?
Again, you should revisit and work from your diagnostic consistently. Ideally, you’ll revisit it every 12-18 months. By using the same tool, you can clearly track your progress and identify problem areas. How have the initiatives implemented after the last diagnostic performed? Can you see measurable results? If not, what strategic changes need to be implemented to get where you’re trying to go? Have your priorities shifted since the last diagnostic? What kinds of organizational recalibrations are in order?
Diagnostic tools shouldn’t be designed to simply identify a problem and then leave you to find solutions on your own. A strong business diagnostic tool provides you with both a diagnosis and a means to work toward your goals.
The TAB Business Diagnostic is a foundational element for increasing the value of your company. Paired with our Business Builder’s Blueprint, it provides you with a direct path toward increasing revenue, profit and overall value. You’ll have a clear vision that all team members understand, buy into and are working daily to achieve. Responsibilities and accountability will be clearly defined. The right people will be in charge of the right tasks. Ultimately, these tools will help you establish a thriving culture and the structure you need to successfully execute your vision of success.
Interested in finding out more? Reach out for a free diagnostic today!
By Blair Koch