When it comes to strategic planning, SWOT analysis is as old as the hills. But what differentiates a good SWOT analysis from a great SWOT analysis? The answer lies in the analysis part of the equation. Too often, planners overlook the two additional steps capable of adding true value to SWOT, namely: (1) articulating the benefits, impacts and implications of each strength, weakness, opportunity and threat respectively; and (2) initiating and sustaining a dialogue capable of linking the analysis with other aspects of the planning process, including visioning and goal setting. Going the extra mile on both fronts ensures that management remains engaged, informed and forward-focused on organizational outcomes.
Since 2008, farmers in the village of Bokundia (Bangladesh) have increased their potato production by 800%. How did they do it? USAID talks about their stories in this video. Yet another good example of how capacity building using the value chain approach can link businesses with technology, knowledge and markets in agriculture.
A recent workshop at the International Development Partnerships Forum reinforced the need to make sustainability a top priority for grant-supported projects throughout the world. Four guiding principles were found to be instrumental and, while the workshop context was an international one, three of the four principles are applicable in virtually any setting.
Partner with the right people. Sustaining externally-funded activities beyond the end of their funding cycles involves identifying partners with synergistic mandates, missions and incentives for line managers. High-impact partnerships can provide unique and meaningful opportunities for grantees – and their partners – to institutionalize grant-funded activities.
Build organizational capacity. Any organization hoping to sustain its impact over the long term must devote resources to capacity building as an integral part of its implementation strategy. This accomplishes two things: Not only does it build capacity to sustain specific, externally-funded activities, it also enhances capacity generally – thus enabling organizations to play expanded roles in their communities.
Encourage innovative approaches. Funding sources should do everything possible to help their partners to think outside of the box when devising sustainability strategies. This includes establishing mutually-beneficial linkages with other like-minded organizations and leveraging the private sector and its incentives whenever appropriate synergies are present.
When adopted in tandem with appropriate resource development strategies, these three principles can often spell the difference between a grant-funded program that simply disappears when the money goes away and one that keeps on giving for years to come.