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The sSWOT is designed to be thought-provoking, but ultimately is meant to drive action and change at your company. Execution is the real challenge. There will be various opportunities to act, so at the end of your analysis ask:
What can we do (together with partners) in the near-term, mid-term, and long-term?
Consider categorizing your insights according to when and how you will be able to act:
Near-term: next year’s budget and current operations. It may be that the logical immediate next step is to gather additional input and support from other, more skeptical colleagues or decision makers. For example, you may want to brief key business units on regulatory action that will take effect in your (or your customers’ or suppliers’) markets in the next few years.
Or you may take the insights directly to external stakeholders, like customers or suppliers. Ecofrotas, for example, convened a meeting of a dozen customers to share the insights from their internal sSWOT analysis and gather additional input (and build interest) for their lowcarbon fuel solutions.
Companies may find that launching a pilot project as soon as possible is an effective way to prove a concept, or learn what needs to be reconsidered.
Mid-term: partnerships to explore in the next 1-3 years; provide a “bridge” to the future. Where strong relationships already exist, a company may be able to collaborate with others relatively quickly and act on insights from the sSWOT analysis. In other cases, it may take time to identify the right partners and create a trusting relationship.
Your company might want to work with suppliers, customers, or even competitors to develop new technologies, inform new policies, or create new industry standards (for example, environmental reporting metrics) that will help prepare the company for upcoming challenges and shifting trends. Companies (and competitors) in the iron, steel and cement industries are co-investing in pilot projects to test low-carbon technologies that will help the industry comply with climate change regulations in Europe. (10)
Sanepar identified opportunities to collaborate more closely with an electric power utility facing similar challenges managing common water resources and adapting to climate change (see Box 13).
Long-term: investigation, monitoring, or planning priorities for the changing 3-30 years ahead. This is a deliberately wide time period as companies, depending on the industry, may find it important to highlight insights about impacts that are still decades away.
For example, if a future growth market like Indonesia will be exposed to significant rising sea levels by 2040, a company may choose to develop long-term plans and partnerships to ensure critical areas are more resilient to such threats.
INSIGHTS FROM ROAD TESTS
The team at Sanepar took the results from its sSWOT analysis to organize proposal of strategies into the following categories:
Address as part of ongoing activities: insights that can help inform or reinforce initiatives already underway at the company. This included insights about the value of engaging Sanepar’s stakeholders on changes and challenges affecting the sector. The company is sharing perspectives with policy makers and other sanitation companies, and disclosing information about Sanepar’s sustainability strategies and greenhouse gas emissions.
Explore new risks and opportunities: insights where Sanepar can encourage actions. This included efforts to engage research institutions on climate change science and modeling and explore partnerships with organizations that have shared interests in managing water resources. It also included new efforts to work with suppliers to develop appropriate technology solutions for GHG management.
Search for additional information: insights that needed further background research. The team visualized items in the context of the sanitation sector to further investigation into topics like: risks and impacts of climate change, emissions trading schemes, appropriate GHG mitigation technologies and carbon foot-print analyses.
More information needed. Some threats or opportunities may need additional information or context before you can identify action items. For example, your company might gather additional market data to demonstrate specific opportunities emerging in regions with greenhouse gas regulations (for example, Europe or California) or cities with greenhouse gas targets (for example, New York City or the 13 low carbon pilot zones in China).
There may also be threats or opportunities where the case for action is not strong. These might be areas where action or planning is premature, or issues are determined to be unrelated to your company’s future markets. These may be areas where market interventions and future regulatory action may be needed to align business and public interests.
In all cases, consider revisiting your sSWOT periodically (for example, annually) to monitor changes and update the analysis.