You and your colleagues will already be familiar with your company’s core competencies. But with the sSWOT consider how Threats and Opportunities might introduce a need to reapply those strengths in a new way or pivot to provide solutions in a new market. Ask:

What are unexpected ways we can apply our strengths to environmental challenges?

Start with the familiar list of things your company, unit, or team is great at; the sources of your competitive advantage that allow you to lead markets and capture big opportunities. You might also include broader strengths, including those related to your values, mission, corporate culture, environmental credentials, or supply chain relationships.
Include unconventional strengths or new and creative ways of leveraging existing competencies. There are companies which have remained among the Fortune 100 for decades, thanks to their ability to adapt and apply core strengths (for example, engineering capabilities or R&D innovation) to new markets as times change. Not surprisingly, many of these enduring companies (like DuPont, Siemens, and GE) are now positioning themselves to provide solutions to environmental challenges like climate change, sustainable food production and wider access to clean energy.

Consider the strengths you can add and share through partnerships which can break down seemingly insurmountable barriers. One company cannot transform an industry by itself. It will need supporting partners, like customers, suppliers, or supporting infrastructure and policies (for example, to ensure adequate demand for low-carbon products or a sufficiently skilled workforce for upgrading buildings with energy-saving technologies).

Consider making a list of potential partners including:
  • Any suppliers who can (or would need to) provide new types of materials or products.
  • Any customers who are (or would need to be) interested in buying new products or services.
  • Potential new alliances or joint ventures (for example, with companies in other sectors or with smaller companies with new technology or business model innovations) to fill gaps in needed competencies (for example, to gain intellectual property or access new markets).
  • Examples of solutions or support from communities (for example, data, information, or participation in decisions about future resource management).
  • Examples of valuable expertise or support from universities, governments, NGOs, or even competitors.

BOX 10

Delphi, while looking for ways to achieve “zero waste to landfill” ambitions, listed strengths that included:

Information systems for waste management. A database with information on waste volumes, recycling metrics, and other key indicators to track performance.

Strong customer connections. Close working relationships with major auto manufacturers (key customers) and mutual interests in creating waste management systems that will reduce operational costs.

Delphi recognized that its information systems could enable a more comprehensive waste management approach, comparing practices at similar facilities and identifying cost-effective new approaches. The company is exploring pilot projects to drive toward “zero waste to landfill” at its headquarters and at facilities across each of its regions. The Environmental, Health & Safety team will be developing a toolbox and using available metrics to spotlight cost saving potential.

The strengths also pointed to a strategic opportunity to work with customers. By engaging companies like General Motors (GM) and Ford, Delphi can combine expertise on innovative waste management practices. For example, Delphi may be able to work with a partner like GM to identify recycling vendors in growth regions like Asia Pacific or even co-invest in waste management systems for production facilities located nearby one another.