God’s model for planning does not include a SWOT analysis, but rather an OFF analysis – Opportunities for Faith. Let’s look at the differences. The SWOT analysis draws our attention to our own strengths as a way to mitigate or overcome our weaknesses. In a like manner, it identifies the opportunities in the situation for gain and assesses the threats to our being able to take advantage of those opportunities. There’s nothing really wrong with that approach – it’s just not God’s best for us. Isaiah 55:8 says, “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways’ declares the Lord.”
(Note: Doesn’t this contradict the “count the cost” process described in Luke 14:28-30, and with which you all started this Market 70 journey? No. Before you make a commitment to the Lord is the time to count the cost. Once we have made the commitment, we are to be all in, trusting completely in the Lord.)
OFF analysis looks something like this. Focusing on God’s vision for the future, we identify all those things God would want us “walking into,” those situations and people He sees us in the midst of. We accept God’s vision for our organization and seek His promises in the Word that allow us to have faith for that vision. We pray into those situations by owning and declaring those promises. In this way, we create a list of opportunities for faith around which we will set goals, strategies and action plans. Another example might be helpful.
When Linda and I caught God’s vision for Market 70, we saw that He had us working with multi-million dollar companies and organizations; He had us working internationally; He had the Market 70 materials being used by companies all over the world. Uh, excuse me, reality check! We didn’t know one person who had more than a $10 million dollar company. We had no international contacts in business. And the Market 70 materials didn’t exist! These were all Opportunities For Faith. We began “walking into” His vision by praying. As we did so, He brought to our minds Scriptures that promised He would deliver nations to us. Our intercessors received word that we would be ministering internationally. People we didn’t even know told us that in prayer, they saw us dealing with governments. God’s Word assured us He would “establish the work of our hands.” We were reminded that He would share His counsel with us and reveal things we could not know. As we believed Him for His provision and for His direct guidance into His vision, we immediately began to see things happen.
Are you beginning to see the value of OFF over SWOT? Focusing on God’s opportunities for faith bring us directly into action steps that are undergirded by divine will and promise. It keeps our attention on the outcome – the vision – rather than on the impediments, weaknesses, barriers, etc. Oh, they are still there, to be sure. And we are still aware of them. But they enter our planning process as a “done deal” rather than as something in our path. SWOT analysis is linear, temporal and concrete. OFF is non-linear, dynamic, eternal (in that it is not time bound) and abstract.
SWOT places management and employees in a position of working toward an uncertain end because of the focus on overcoming the present obstacles. Though we may do our best to motivate ourselves and direct our strengths, gifts and talents to removing or overcoming them, our current existence is still defined by them. We are still “here.” OFF has the advantage of creating a future reality now, in the present. Management and employees own and embrace and begin living the future reality today, in spite of obstacles.
Does that sound all metaphysical and theoretical? Which scenario would you prefer? Do you want employees who truly believe and act like they are totally empowered to deliver excellent customer service in spite of the numerous logistical obstacles your company faces in doing so? Or do you want employees who always hesitate, waffle and make excuses with customers because they are still “working out the kinks?” In the former situation, your staff are already living in the vision of excellent, uninhibited customer service. Yes, it leaves management in the position of scrambling behind the scenes to keep up with customer needs, but the customers themselves feel as if they are in competent, caring hands.
You will understand more on this when you work through the Practical Application.