Two Strategies for Connecting Your SWOT Analysis to Realistic Goals: Part 3 of 4

Managing Change Through Disruptive Thinking

Performing a SWOT analysis to determine your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats will give you a better understanding of how well your organization is performing and areas that could be improved by developing the right strategy. Ask Fuel First asks this question about setting realistic goals: What strategies can I use to set goals after performing a SWOT analysis?

Being a disruptive thinker means looking for different ways to improve your practice. The SWOT analysis tool can help you identify the areas where you might need to make those changes. But collecting data for the SWOT analysis is only the first step. The next step is using that information to set realistic goals that will elevate your practice. In this article, we discuss two strategies to move forward after the SWOT analysis: making a match or making a conversion.

Making a Match

Making a match means finding ways to connect two categories. Ask questions like, “Is there a weakness that is a real threat to the organization?” or “is there a strength that matches an opportunity?”

In the last article, we talked about Carrie, an administrator at Bend ENT*, who wanted to set some goals for the practice. This strategy helped get Carrie search for connections in the data she collected. For example, one of the practice’s strengths was that they have a large patient list. When looking through the opportunities list, she found that Better Hearing and Speech Month was coming up. She asked herself, “Is there a connection between these two things?” And the answer was “yes!” This was the perfect time to run a marketing campaign that targets patients in her database.

Making a Conversion

Another strategy to set goals is making a conversion. This means taking a negative and turning it into a positive. Ask questions like, “Is there a weakness that could be turned into a strength?” or “which of the weaknesses on my list could be an opportunity?”

A weakness on Carrie’s list was a decline in the patient experience because there was a lack of trained front office staff. This weakness was actually an opportunity to design a training program for staff, so those staff members would eventually become one of the practice’s strengths.

What’s the Right Formula for Setting a Goal?

Once Carrie identified matches and conversions with the data from her SWOT analysis, she created some goals. To do this, she used the AW3 formula:

Action + What + Why + When

Every goal starts with action. Some action verbs that can be used to create goals are to improve, implement, integrate, develop and decide. There are, of course, many more, but these helped Carrie get started.

Next is what. This is the meat of the goal. Ask yourself questions like, “What is my desired outcome?” or “what will my team agree to do?”

Carrie was specific when answering these questions. Some examples she thought of included focusing on getting an individual or everyone on the team HIPAA trained and placing emphasis on the number of patient bookings and appointment conversions.

Now we need to think about why. Ask yourself, “Why is this important to me?” Once you decide what’s important, think about what success looks like for that goal. Some examples are to meet compliance, show ownership of outcomes, demonstrate trust to co-workers or improve access to patients with hearing loss who are underserved in your community.  

Last is when. Most likely, this is the deadline. It might not simply be a deadline, so factors that indicate when the goal has been reached are important. Examples could be immediate, next week, next quarter and even next year. It’s important to be realistic when it comes to this part. If the plan is to train the entire front office staff, it probably can’t be done in one day. It could take months to train staff in the new procedure, assess their adaptability to follow the procedure and follow up with consistent monitoring and messaging until the desired behavior is in place. Here are some types of goals with examples set by audiology and ENT practices:

  • Technical Performance Modification: Complete (action) HIPAA training online (what) in order to meet compliance (why) by the end of the first quarter (when).
  • Behavior Performance Modification: Take responsibility (action) for all your actions and decisions (what) to show ownership of outcomes and demonstrate trust to co-workers (why) starting now (when).
  • Organization/Team Growth: Increase (action) the number of patient bookings and appointment conversions by 10% (what) to contribute to the overall goals of the practice (why) this year (when).
  • Organization/Team Efficiency: Integrate (action) a process to reduce check-in time for new patients (what) to enhance the patient experience and meet staff expectations (why) by the end of March (when).

Bend ENT’s Goals

Carrie used the matching and conversion strategies to create goals for the practice. Using the matching strategy, she decided to write a goal highlighting the practice’s strength of having a large patient database and matching it with the opportunity of the upcoming Better Hearing and Speech month. Following the AW3 formula, she decided on the following goal:

Implement (action) + a marketing campaign (what) + to increase hearing aid sales by 10% (why) + for the month of May (when).

Fuel Medical assisted Carrie with her goal by creating branded marketing materials, helping source possible manufacturer funds to decrease her out-of-pocket expenses and then guiding her through the tracking process to ensure that her campaign was successful.

Using the conversion strategy, she chose one of the practice’s weaknesses which was high turnover of front desk staff. She knew that less employee turnover could have a positive effect on their patients’ experiences at the practice. Next, Carrie used the AW3 formula to write her goal:

Decrease (action) + high employee turnover for front office staff (what) + to contribute to the positive patient experience (why) + by the end of August (when).

Carrie knew that Fuel Medical could help her accomplish this goal, too. Our human resources team helped with her recruiting process, and our professional development team trained her staff on a variety of topics where she identified skill gaps.

Goal setting gives focus to your practice and brings teams together. We’ve given you the blueprint to use the information you gleaned from your SWOT analysis to create useful goals for your practice, but you’re not alone. Fuel Medical is here to help you fine-tune your goal-setting skills.

*Bend ENT is a fictional practice, but the ideas presented in this article are based on our experience working with ENT and audiology practices around the country.

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