ENHANCING SWOT ANALYSIS USING TRIZ AND THE BIPOLAR CONFLICT GRAPH: A Case Study on the Microsoft Corporation
Editor | On 22, Aug 2004
By: Dr. Rod Kuhn King
By Dr. Rod Kuhn King (email@example.com)
Ideal-Solutions Management Consultancy
7625 North First Street #195
Fresno, California USA
In strategic planning, SWOT analysis is the most common technique for situation analysis of organizations. â€œSWOTâ€ is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. However, the results of SWOT analysis, which are presented in a 2×2 matrix, are largely descriptive. The matrix contains a listing of organizational strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that are usually the outputs of brainstorming sessions. Traditionally, a SWOT-analysis matrix is not systematically and formally analyzed with a view to developing strategies for increasing the organizationâ€™s â€œidealityâ€, efficiency, or performance.
This paper presents a new framework for improving SWOT analysis and consequently, strategic planning for the â€œideal organizationâ€ using TRIZ and the â€œBipolar Conflict Graph.â€ This new framework facilitates the systematic identification as well as elimination of physical and technical contradictions (â€œconflictsâ€) in organizations. Continuously eliminating conflicts results in an organization steadily increasing its performance and competitive advantage.
As an illustration of the enhanced framework for SWOT analysis, TRIZ and the bipolar conflict graph are systematically applied to the Microsoft Corporation.
The main results of this case study are numerous alternative strategies that could be tested and evaluated using hard data from Microsoft. The new framework, which mainly integrates SWOT Analysis and TRIZ, could be used to facilitate continuous improvement of organizations, products, services, and processes.
1 BACKGROUND ON SWOT ANALYSIS
SWOT Analysis is probably the most popular tool used in Strategic Planning and Organizational Problem Solving. â€œSWOTâ€ refers to Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The origin of the SWOT acronym, however, is obscure.
Haberberg (2000) notes that Harvard Business School academics were using the concept in the 1960s. In contrast, Turner (2002) attributes development of the SWOT Analysis concept to Igor Ansoff (1987).
In spite of its uncertain origin, SWOT Analysis is used for many purposes and applied to diverse units of analysis. The main uses of SWOT Analysis include the following:
Â· providing situation analysis of an organization, enterprise, community, region, country, product, service, process, family, team, person, brand, project, or task
Â· providing background information for developing mission and vision statements as well as setting objectives and making strategic decisions
Â· identifying opportunities, resources, constraints, and strategic options
Â· developing an awareness of, learning about, and gaining insights into a systemâ€™s position: strengths; weaknesses; opportunities; threats
Â· developing a â€œbottom-topâ€/â€œtop-bottomâ€ shared vision for an organization
Â· providing input for the development of scenarios and strategic plans.
There are many criticisms of SWOT Analysis. Koch (2000) contends that most criticisms of SWOT Analysis deal with its poor and inappropriate uses rather than inherent weaknesses of the method. Nevertheless, as a minimally structured (2×2) descriptive matrix tool, SWOT Analysis has several weaknesses. First, SWOT Analysis is predominantly carried out at an undifferentiated system level rather than at the level of system, sub-system, and super-system. Second, listed factors are neither weighted nor ranked in a traditional SWOT matrix so that critical constraints and resources are not explicit. Third, there is no quantitative index that summarizes the prospects and limitations of a system as well as provides an operational criterion for benchmarking, managing, and controlling identified strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. In fact, the majority of SWOT Analysis do not describe factors in terms of quantitative performance indicators.
Other limitations of SWOT Analysis include the subjectivity, integrity, and instability (over time) of listed strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Information contained in a SWOT matrix may be biased and not reflect consensus reality for the system. Dynamic and structural changes at the level of system, sub-system, and supersystem affect the validity of entries in a SWOT matrix. Consequently, entries in a SWOT matrix are time-dependent and influenced by the implementation of strategies, including those derived from information in the SWOT matrix. Finally, there is no formal method to deal with (physical) contradictions that may be revealed or inherent in a SWOT matrix, e.g., for an entry occurring as both a strength and a weakness. Constraining interdependencies such as technical contradictions (trade-offs) are not identified between listed factors of a SWOT matrix.
2 THE SWOT-RADAR SCREEN AND STRATEGIC SWOT-PLAN
The SWOT-Radar Screenâ„¢ refers to a nested SWOT Matrix at 3 levels: level of system, subsystem, and supersystem. For an organization, elements at the various levels include the following:
* Level of Supersystem (External Resources):
– Market/Customers/Buyers (Segmented)
– Competitors (Old/New/Potential)
– Complementors (Strategic Alliances)
– Environment (Local & Global P.E.S.T.L.I.E.D.: Political; Economic;
Social; Technological; Legal; International; Environmental; Demographic)
* Level of System (Internal Resources – Mostly Intangibles):
– Firmâ€™s Purpose/Mission/Values/Strategic Plans
– Structure (Bureaucracy)
– Core Competencies
* Level of Subsystem (Internal Resources – Mostly Tangibles):
– Business Unit(s), Enterprise(s), or Department(s): Purchasing;
Distribution; Sales & Marketing; Customer Service; Human Resources;
Research & Development
– Product(s): Functionalities/Features; Tools; Fields; Inputs; Outputs
– Process(es): Functionalities/Features; Tools/Core Drivers; Fields; Inputs; Outputs
– Service(s): Functionalities/Features; Tools/Core Drivers; Fields; Inputs; Outputs
The above multi-level perspective of a system mainly draws ideas from the concept of multi-screen in TRIZ, Value Chain & Five Forces (Porter, 1985), and Balanced Scorecard (Kaplan & Norton, 1996). For a qualitative SWOT Analysis, the above description of elements would suffice for the listing relevant strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. For a quantitative SWOT Analysis, however, a hierarchy of SWOT-performance indicators could be derived for each element in the multi-level system. These indicators will make more specific the qualitative descriptions. In this article, a multi-level SWOT Matrix with qualitative descriptions for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is called a SWOT-Radar Qualitative Screenâ„¢. When strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are quantitatively expressed, weighted, and aggregated the multi-level SWOT Matrix is called a SWOT-Radar Quantitative Screenâ„¢. Table 1 shows the format of a SWOT-Radar Quantitative Screenâ„¢.
In the SWOT-Radar Quantitative Screenâ„¢, the contents of strengths and weaknesses are summarized in an index, the present degree of conflict. Mathematically and using, for example Multi-criteria Analysis, the present degree of conflict could be expressed as:
Present Degree of Conflict
= Weighted Present Disadvantages/Weighted Present Advantages
= Weighted Weaknesses/Weighted Strengths
= â€œHarmful Effects + Costsâ€/â€œUseful Effects (Benefits)â€ = 1/Degree of Ideality
The potential degree of conflict may be similarly expressed as:
Potential Degree of Conflict
= Weighted Future Disadvantages/Weighted Future Advantages
= Weighted Threats/Weighted Opportunities
It may be noted that the ideal value for the present and potential degree of conflict is nearly zero or tends to zero. The ideal degree of conflict is not zero, because two systems, each with almost no disadvantage but infinitely different levels of advantages, have not a zero level of conflict but significantly different levels of conflict. Due to economic and information linkages in the organizational space or value chain as well as between present and future events, spatial and temporal interdependencies exist between values of the degree of conflict.
In this article, it is assumed that the main function of management in an organizational system is to continually strive and manage for a minimum (nearly zero) present and potential degree of conflict at the level of system and subsystem. In the parlance of SWOT analysis, a minimum present degree of conflict could be obtained by a minimization of weaknesses (Mini-Strategy) and/or a maximization of strengths (Maxi-Strategy); a similar idea applies for a minimum potential degree of conflict.
Resources at the level of system, subsystem, and supersystem could be used to operationalize a typology of Mini- and Maxi-Strategies. These strategies could be documented in and translated to a â€œStrategic SWOT-Planâ€ that aims to achieve explicit and minimal degrees of conflict at various levels in the organizational hierarchy. The Strategic SWOT-Planâ„¢ could be disaggregated into a set of Action Plans and Programs for each element at the level of system and subsystem.
3 THE BIPOLAR CONFLICT GRAPH (BCG)
The Bipolar Conflict Graphâ„¢ (King, 2003) refers to a graph depicting relationships between two variables that are usually described at a parametric or performance indicator level. Common sets of variables on a Bipolar Conflict Graphâ„¢ could be described as follows:
Â· Type I: Desirable Parameter [P(+)] vs. Undesirable Parameter [P(-)]
With regard to SWOT Analysis, a â€œdesirableâ€ parameter refers to a â€œstrengthâ€ or an â€œopportunityâ€-performance indicator.
An â€œundesirableâ€ parameter refers to a â€œweaknessâ€ or
Â· Type II: Desirable Parameter [P(+)] vs. Desirable Parameter [P(+)]
A Type I – Bipolar Conflict Graph is shown in Fig. 1.
Each axis of a Bipolar Conflict Graphâ„¢ decribes a functionality (verb+noun-object) rather than just a function (verb) or parameter (noun-object). Continuous relationships between the two variables are described by three families of nested curves: â€œconventional realityâ€ curve; â€œpractical idealityâ€ (straight line) relationship; â€œutopic idealityâ€ curve; see Fig. 1. The conventional reality curve illustrates a trend of increasing levels of technical contradictions between the two variables. In contrast, the utopic ideality curve shows an ideality trend of decreasing levels of technical contradictions (â€œdisruptive solutionsâ€) until the Ideal Final Result or ideal solution is obtained. The practical ideality curve indicates a trend of optimal solutions when the system is assumed to be at its fundamental (saturation) limit for the pair of variables.
Five of the nine cells of the Bipolar Conflict Graphâ„¢ are metaphorically labeled for easy referencing, classification, and interpretation of objects. The labels in the Bipolar Conflict Graphs are: â€œLionsâ€; â€œSuper-Eaglesâ€; â€œSnakesâ€; â€œTurtlesâ€; â€œMinnows.â€ Lions refers to objects that are â€œpowerfulâ€ and â€œfastâ€ but are large and require â€œhigh maintenanceâ€ while Super-Eagles refers to â€œpowerfulâ€, â€œagileâ€, and relatively smaller and â€œlow maintenanceâ€ objects. On the Bipolar Conflict Graphâ„¢, Lions and Super-Eagles could represent anti-objects or bipolar states of a physical contradiction. A line connecting diametrically opposite zones such as Lions and Super-Eagles is called a bipolar gradient and may represent one or a family of bipolar objects for a given variable. TRIZs Separation Principles relate to the bipolar gradient (line).
The above metaphorical labels facilitate not only intuitive classification and comparison of a set of apparently disparate objects but also the generation of ideas for analogical tools, devices, means, strategies, and principles that could eliminate technical and physical contradictions (â€œtrade-offsâ€), especially in non-physical systems such as organizations. The majority of TRIZs Inventive Principles, for instance, are expected to fall near or below the utopic ideality curve and at best, in the Super-Eagles zone of the relevant Bipolar Conflict Graphs. A Bipolar Conflict Graphâ„¢ can therefore be regarded as a â€œgeneral purpose and visualâ€ cell for any pair of parameters in the Contradiction Matrix. In other words, the Contradiction Matrix is a master table of 39×39 or 1521 Bipolar Conflict Graphs. It is important to note that objects with the lowest degree of ideality are expected to be in the Minnows or Turtles zone.
By providing a visual framework for â€œplottingâ€ technical and physical contradictions, one could transparently and more easily apply TRIZs classic ideas of Contradictions, Contradiction Matrix, Inventive Principles, Functional Database, and Ideal Final Result to both physical and non-physical systems. This transparency is especially important for situations where no Contradiction Matrix exists or the classic Contradiction Matrix is not considered useful, or even relevant. Another advantage of the Bipolar Conflict Graphâ„¢ is that it could be related to graphs in other domains such as in business; graphs such as the Boston Consulting Group Matrix, General Electricâ€™s Strength-Attractiveness Matrix, and Ansoffâ€™s Product-Market Box may be regarded as special cases of the Bipolar Conflict Graphâ„¢. The Bipolar Conflict Graphâ„¢ will therefore be useful when mapping contradictions (trade-offs) and generating strategies for eliminating inherent trade-offs in a SWOT Analysis matrix.
4 STRATEGIC ANALYSIS OF THE MICROSOFT CORPORATION USING THE SWOT-RADAR SCREEN, BIPOLAR CONFLICT GRAPH, AND TRIZ
4.1 A Sketch of the Microsoft Corporation
Established in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the Microsoft Corporation is currently the worldâ€™s largest software provider and perhaps, the most â€œvaluableâ€ company in the world.
Microsoft produces many and diverse software for personal computers including the Windowsâ„¢ operating system and Internet Explorerâ„¢ browser. Microsoftâ€™s vision is: â€œA computer on every desk and in every home (all running Microsoft software).â€
Microsoft has dominated the landscape of software development for over two decades.
Microsoft seems to be continuously eliminating the technical contradiction of â€œsize (growth)â€ vs. â€œrigidityâ€ as well as the physical contradiction of â€œbig sizeâ€ vs. â€œsmall size.â€ Using the metaphors of the Bipolar Conflict Graphâ„¢, one could say that Microsoft is continually riding near or on the utopic ideality curve while approaching the Super-Eagles zone. Microsoft is one of the largest companies in the world but it has the agility, flexibility, and nimbleness of a small company. Many would agree that valuable lessons could be learnt from the continued hypersuccess of Microsoft, especially how Microsoft manages to eliminate existing as well as emerging technical and physical contradictions in its organizational space.
Several questions are of interest when strategically examining Microsoft. For instance, what makes Microsoft tick? What are its core strengths and weaknesses? What most threatens Microsoft? And what are Microsoftâ€™s prospects or opportunities, especially in the landscape of hyper-competition, high technology, and globalization? These strategic issues of Microsoft are cursorily addressed in this paper mainly using the tools of SWOT Analysis, the Bipolar Conflict Graphâ„¢, and TRIZ.
4.2 The I-CCEM Framework for Crisis Problem Solving and Planning
The framework, within which SWOT Analysis, the Bipolar Conflict Graphâ„¢, and TRIZ are integrated, is referred to as I-CCEMâ„¢. The acronym, I-CCEM, stands for â€œIdeal-Conflict Creation, Elimination, and Management.â€ The principal tools of the I-CCEMâ„¢ framework are the CD-MAGIC cycle, SWOT-Radar Screenâ„¢, and Creative Web Templateâ„¢. Central to the structure of CD-MAGIC cycle and Creative Web Template is the Creative Web model.
The Creative Web (King, 2002; King, 2003) is a generic model and macro-framework for creative problem solving. At a meso-level, the Creative Web could roughly be translated to â€œCD-MAGICâ€ cycle. The acronym, â€œCD-MAGICâ€, is an extension of â€œDMAICâ€, a process that has been popularized by the Six Sigma methodology. A â€œCâ€ and â€œGâ€ have been added to â€œDMAICâ€ to emphasize the modules of â€œCollectâ€ and â€œGenerateâ€; the â€œGenerate-moduleâ€ subsumes the process of â€œEvaluate/Select.â€ Further details of the Creative Web and â€œCD-MAGICâ€ cycle are presented in Table 2. The Creative Web Templateâ„¢ exists at a microlevel and is used to document, explore, and generate ideas.
Table 2 also contains tools of TRIZ that have been structured according to modules of the Creative Web. The I-CCEMâ„¢ framework is generally applied to the Microsoft Corporation. The main aim is to illustrate basic application of the tools rather than to produce a detailed strategic analysis of the Microsoft Corporation. Also, present and potential degree of conflict are not quantified. Consequently, discussions regarding Microsoftâ€™s conflicts are based on a qualitative assessment of the degree of conflict.
4.3 Multi-level SWOT-Radar Screen for the Microsoft Corporation
A SWOT-Radar Screenâ„¢ was prepared for Microsoft after obtaining information from books and other literature on Microsoft and Bill Gates. A fully completed SWOT-Radar Screenâ„¢ provides a comprehensive view of a systemâ€™s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats at the level of the system, subsystem, and supersystem as well as in the past, present, and future. Due to limitations of space as well as the objective of basically illustrating the enhanced framework for SWOT Analysis, (i.e., I-CCEMâ„¢), a simplified version of the SWOT-Radar Screenâ„¢ is presented in this section. This section focuses on truncated and nested SWOT matrices at the level of subsystem, system, and supersystem. The relevant SWOT matrices are contained in Tables 3, 4, and 5.
Table 3 focuses on the level of Microsoftâ€™s subsystem. Performance indicators and weights could be developed for the SWOT factors of specific organizational elements in Table 3. But, as mentioned earlier, this work is not carried out in this article. Although Multi-criteria analysis is not applied to Table 3 to obtain present and potential degree of conflict for each element of the subsystem, the highest present degree of conflict probably relates to â€œTechnology.â€ The lowest present degree of conflict would occur with regard to â€œEquipmentâ€, â€œInfrastructureâ€, and â€œLocationâ€; weaknesses of these items are regarded as not significant. In contrast, the future degree of conflict for Products seems higher. In a more detailed study, management would focus on specific means and plans for significantly reducing the degree of conflict in Products. Analysis of Tables 4 and 5 is similar to that of Table 3. At the system level, the highest present degree of conflict is probably Microsoftâ€™s brand, while the future highest degree of conflict is in Microsoftâ€™s culture. At the level of the supersystem in Table 5, highest degrees of conflicts present a contradiction. Some high degrees of conflict are to the advantage of Microsoft, e.g., for Competitors, while other high degrees of conflict such as in Microsoftâ€™s value chain could constrain elements at system and subsystem level. From Microsoftâ€™s point of view, current and â€œdesirableâ€ conflicts relate to competitorsâ€™ style of management. An â€œundesirableâ€ weakness is Microsoftâ€™s dependency on hardware manufacturers for pre-installing its software. In future, the highest (â€œundesirableâ€) degree of conflict will occur in the organizational space of Competitors such as Linux, Sony, and Nintendo; the Sector/Industry of high-end computing and web servers; imitation and piracy as well as security of Microsoftâ€™s software.
5 STRATEGIES FOR ELIMINATING AND MANAGING CONFLICTS IN
THE ORGANIZATIONAL SPACE OF MICROSOFT CORPORATION
The foregoing section generally discusses present and future degrees of conflict in the organizational space of Microsoft. But, what are Microsoftâ€™s major conflicts, now and in the future? In the absence of quantitative determination of the degree of conflict at subsystem, system, and supersystem levels as well as lack of direct information from personnel at Microsoft, the author presents a hypothetical answer. This answer should be subject to verification, especially from the management at Microsoft, in a more realistic study.
Looking at the SWOT-Radar Screens in Tables 3, 4, and 5, the author of this paper assumes that one of the major challenges facing Microsoft is the conflict (contradiction) of â€œMarket shareâ€ vs. â€œNumber of employees.â€ In every market for its products, Microsoft would like to rapidly increase its market share. However, a rapid market increase usually comes with a rapid growth of the workforce as well as increase in the number of levels of management. A large increase in payroll costs and slower decision-making in a â€˜bureaucracyâ€™ tend to make staff increases undesirable. The question now is: How could Microsoft reduce and manage the conflict of â€œMarket shareâ€ vs. â€œNumber of employeesâ€, especially using TRIZ and the framework of the ICCEM â„¢ in Table 2.
Based on Table 2, TRIZs heuristics as well as the Creative Web Templateâ„¢ and SCAMPERDUTION â„¢ matrix (King, 2003) could be used to generate conflict-elimination strategies. The assumed major conflict of â€œMarket shareâ€ vs. â€œNumber of employeesâ€ and an outline of conflictelimination strategies are summarized in Table 6.
The conflict of Opportunity (â€œMarket shareâ€) vs. Threat (â€œNumber of employeesâ€ ) could be reduced using two main categories of strategies: closed-system solutions and open-system solutions. Closed-system solutions focus on using internal resources, i.e., organizational elements at subsystem and system levels. In contrast, open-system solutions use closed-system resources and external resources that occur at the level of supersystem. If more creative solutions are desired, then scarcer internal and external resources should be leveraged to reduce or eliminate identified conflicts.
In Table 6, two approaches are used for generating more specific conflict-elimination strategies in the solution space of the Creative Web. The first approach involves the Bipolar Conflict Graphâ„¢, in which the conflict of â€œMarket shareâ€ vs. â€œNumber of employeesâ€ is modeled in Fig. 2. The second approach attempts to use the Contradiction Matrix and TRIZs heuristics, especially the Inventive and Separation Principles.
Fig. 2 indicates that the conventional approach is to allow increases in number of employees as a business rapidly grows as a result of increased market shares. Pursuance of this strategy leads to businesses ending up as Lions: powerful but relatively inefficient. The ideal solution lies in the Super-Eagles zone, where key assets are power, agility, and nimbleness. Attempting to move from the Lions zone to the Super-Eagles involves the use of strategies like downsizing, delayering, trimming, and â€œsegmentationâ€ of the organization.
Based on information in Table 4, Microsoftâ€™s plotted position or â€œstarâ€ is in the zone between the practical ideality curve and utopic ideality curve; in other words, between the Snakes and Super- Eagles zones. Using examples of best practices, including Microsoftâ€™s experience, the author suggests, for reducing the conflict of â€œMarket shareâ€ vs. â€œNumber of employeesâ€, the following strategies: restructuring (re-organization); process re -engineering; automation (Digital
Nervous System/Virtual organization); self-organization. These strategies are by themselves not new. However, they are qualitatively different from strategies for an organization that is transitioning from the conventional reality curve to the practical ideality curve. Nevertheless, a paradigm shift is always involved in moving from one curve to another or from one labeled zone to another. What the Bipolar Conflict Graphâ„¢ in Fig. 2 does is to illustrate this paradigm shift as well as create focus for strategies that are required to move an organization to the Super-
Eagles zone and ultimately, to the ideal solution.
It may be worth noting that Fig. 2 visually displays the physical contradiction when the aim is to obtain the highest market share: there is almost a natural tendency (â€œmomentumâ€) for the organization to be in the Lions zone, although the organization would like to be in the Super-
Eagles zone. In the language of TRIZ, the physical contradiction is: a high number of employees vs. little number of or no employees. TRIZs separation principles indicate the following separation strategies:
Â· Separation in space:
o e.g., separate in geographical space Microsoftâ€™s business units, processes, services, equipment, technology, and infrastructure
o decentralize leadership, management, and innovation
o transfer or outsource jobs to highly productive but cheaper labor markets
Â· Separation in time:
o e.g., carry out â€œ24×7â€ shift-work around the globe
o prioritize and do work in phases such as previous â€œidleâ€ or â€œslackâ€ time
o separate time for work and play
o separate processes and services in time
Â· Separation on condition:
o E.g., focus on autonomous and self-organized teams
o disaggregate or operationalize core competencies
o assemble and disassemble teams according to volume of available work
o managers to do technical jobs and vice versa, as the need arises
Â· Separation in structure (within system, subsystem, and supersystem):
o e.g., separate technical and administrative decision-making
o segment or re-classify customers, sales, finance, suppliers, employees,
complementors, competitors, sector/industry, and the environment The above are suggestions, or more specifically, â€œhypothesesâ€ that should be tested and evaluated using hard facts or data. The authorâ€™s main purpose is to illustrate how the separation principles could be used to facilitate the generation of ideas such as in a brainstorming session for reducing an identified conflict in an organization.
In order to use the Contradiction Matrix, the performance indicators of â€œMarket shareâ€ and â€œNumber of employeesâ€ should be translated to parameters in TRIZs list of 39 (engineering) parameters. This translation and consequently, suggested inventive principles will be subjective especially as none of the 39 parameters is described as â€œMarket share.â€ This author takes the description of â€œPowerâ€ (parameter number 21) as synonymous with â€œMarket share.â€ Thus, Power is the improving (â€œdesirableâ€) parameter. The worsening (â€œundesirableâ€) parameter is parameter number 26, â€œQuantity of substanceâ€, which is regarded as equivalent to â€œNumber of employees.â€ Thus, the conflict in terms of the Contradiction Matrix is: Parameter number 21 (Power) vs. Parameter number 26 (Quantity of substance).
From the Contradiction Matrix, the following inventive principles are obtained: Inventive Principle #4 â€“ Asymmetry; Inventive Principle #34 Discarding and Recovering; Inventive Principle #19: Periodic Action. These principles are recorded in Table 6. This set of principles could also be regarded as a shortlist from the population of idea prompters of the SCAMPERDUTION â„¢ Matrix, which includes idea prompters from TRIZ as well as from the literature on creativity and business development; see Table 7. The SCAMPER-DUTIONâ„¢ Matrix could be used for obtaining descriptions that are more meaningful to business people as some descriptions of TRIZs inventive principles may not immediately be understood in a business environment.
TRIZs inventive principles, which originally focused on technical systems, include descriptions like â€œMechanical vibrationâ€, â€œPneumatics and hydraulicsâ€, and â€œFlexible shells and thin films.â€ With regard to eliminating the contradiction of Power vs. Quantity of substance (i.e., Market share vs. Number of employees) the suggested inventive principles could be elaborated as follows:
Â· Asymmetry (#4) – Change the shape of an object or system from symmetrical to asymmetrical:
o e.g., introduce â€œweirdnessâ€,â€œchaosâ€, or risk-taking in an organization
o encourage out-of-the-box, â€œdisruptionâ€, or reversal thinking
Â· Discarding and Recovering (#34) â€“ Make portions of an object that have fulfilled their functions go away or modify them directly during operation:
o e.g., employ workers on project-based contracts and recall them when similar projects arise
o forget about past success and peak experiences but use them, when necessary, to empower employees and management
Â· Periodic Action (#19) â€“ Instead of continuous actions, use periodic or pulsating actions:
o e.g., segment processes in time
o carry out upgrades not continuously but in concentrated phases
Some of these suggestions are summarized in the â€œleft-brainâ€ solution space of the Creative Web Templateâ„¢ in Table 6. All strategies could be disaggregated further to an operational and domain-specific level. As with the strategies that are based on the separation principles, the suggestions in Table 6, should be regarded as hypotheses to be tested and evaluated using hard facts from Microsoft.
In this paper, an enhanced framework for SWOT Analysis is presented. The enhanced framework includes the tool of SWOT-Radar Screenâ„¢. In the SWOT-Radar Screenâ„¢, TRIZs concept of Multi-screen is used to present a framework for a systemâ€™s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats not only at the level of the system but also at the level of subsystem and supersystem. The elements at each level are then described especially using concepts from Porterâ€™s value chain and Five Forces, and Kaplan & Nortonâ€™s Balanced Scorecard. Also introduced is an operational definition for the degree of conflict which relates to strengths and weaknesses on the one hand and opportunities and threats on the other hand. The degree of conflict could be regarded as the reciprocal of TRIZs degree of ideality. The framework of the SWOT-Radar Screenâ„¢ and the criterion of the degree of conflict make superfluous many previous criticisms of SWOT Analysis.
An overarching framework, I-CCEMâ„¢, is then introduced. In the framework of I-CCEMâ„¢, the enhanced tools of SWOT Analysis, Bipolar Conflict Graphâ„¢, and TRIZ are integrated. This framework is then applied to the Microsoft Corporation not only to describe its current position and prospects but also to identify its present and future degree of conflict. Based on Microsoftâ€™s SWOT-Radar Screenâ„¢, a major conflict (â€œMarket shareâ€ vs. â€œNumber of employeesâ€ ) is hypothesized and corresponding strategies generated using the Bipolar Conflict Graphâ„¢ in addition to TRIZs Contradiction Matrix, Separation Principles, and Inventive Principles. The numerous generated strategies are presented as hypotheses to be detailed, tested, and evaluated using hard data from Microsoft. Going through this process will enable an analyst to obtain valuable insights for eliminating the conflict or contradiction of Market share vs. Number of employees.
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About Dr. Rod Kuhn King
Dr. Rod Kuhn King is President of Ideal-Solutions Management Consultancy which is based in Fresno, California. Dr. King has an undergraduate honors degree in civil engineering and postgraduate degree in infrastructure planning as well as regional development planning. He also has a postgraduate certificate in advanced academic teaching.
Dr. King is a prolific developer of tools for crisis problem solving as well as innovation learning. He has developed many tools, some of which are published in the highly acclaimed book, Research Methods for Postgraduates. His business, Ideal-Solutions Management Consultancy, specializes in providing consultancy services and training in Crisis Problem Solving, Creativity, Innovation, Ideas Management, and Business