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A Key Process Step in Developing a Business Strategy

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HR as a Business Partner

  • Format: Self-paced
  • Course Duration: 1 hr 5 mins
  • SHRM Professional Development Credits: 1.0
  • HRCI Business Recertification Credits: 1.0
  • Certificate of Completion (after passing quiz)

You’ve likely heard that YOU, the HR professional, are a strategic business partner. But what does that really mean? When your fellow team members mention the strategic direction of the company, where do you fit in?

Human Resources brings a great deal of value to an organization. The profession has changed significantly over the past 20 years. Today’s HR Pro is expected to not only wear multiple hats associated to an employee’s life cycle, but also act as a business leader, one who can guide an organization through and around a continually changing economic landscape.

The primary goal of this course is to help you understand what business strategy is and how you, the HR pro, can act as a mighty force multiplier in its implementation. After setting the foundation with key terms, the focus will turn to the importance of communication and explain what expertise you provide in People Development, Organization Structure and Change Management.

Take this course to better understand your value and role as a strategic business partner. As a result, you will lead your team and workforce to the successful implementation of its business plan and achievement of its key performance objectives.

HR Jetpack is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. This program is valid for 1.0 PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit

This activity, has been approved for 1.0 HR (Business) recertification credit hours toward aPHR™, PHR®, PHRca®, SPHR®, GPHR®, PHRi™ and SPHRi™ recertification through HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®). For more information about certification or recertification, please visit the HR Certification Institute website at
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Title: A Key Process Step in Developing a Business Strategy
Module: Strategic Planning
Duration: 5:11

The first step in developing a business strategy is to be able to clearly articulate the current state of the organization. There are many ways to do this. Many HR and business professionals have offered multiple models for determining your current state, but for sake of time, I will just walk through one model – the SWOT analysis.

SWOT is an acronym that stands for, “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.” A SWOT analysis is a great way for organizations to identify positive strengths, exciting opportunities and also to articulate what Peter Drucker calls “Brutal Facts.” What are your weaknesses and threats?

SWOT Analysis is normally performed with senior level management for strategic planning purposes for the organization as a whole. Often, outside consultants are called upon to facilitate the event, usually offsite. But it doesn’t have to be that way. As an HR professional skilled in interpersonal relationships you are uniquely qualified to conduct these types of events. This is an opportunity for you and your department to provide value to the strategic planning process.

A SWOT analysis is a grid of 4 quadrants. Each quadrant is labeled with each of the elements of the SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Collectively or divided into 4 groups, leaders spend time discussing and listing each of these and then they report back to the larger group. Consensus is made for each of the four elements and a SWOT analysis is complete. What are the elements of a SWOT?

Strengths. Your organization does many things really, really well! Acknowledge that. This is an opportunity to call those strengths out and celebrate them. But celebration is not the only reason to specifically call out your strengths…it is to conscientiously commit to keep doing them.

It is a check against organizational apathy. Competition is fierce and the moment your organization becomes apathetic to your strengths someone else will fill in that space. A word of warning, anecdotal or “your gut” telling of what your strengths are should be taken with a grain of salt. There is nothing wrong with anecdotal data, but it should not be the sole source of determining your strengths. Many organizations say, for example, “our strength is our customer service. We are the best in our industry with customer service.”

Make sure that you have solid data to support your claims. Have you won awards? What actual data do you have from your customers…and not just your “best customers?” If you were to aggregate all your customer services comments onto a bell curve, a good best practice would be to “throw out the both extremes: “Your company is the best ever” and “Your company is the worst ever”. Then focus on the comments located within the middle of the bell curve.

Weaknesses. As mentioned above, Peter Drucker refers to weaknesses as “brutal facts.” Taking time to really reflect with your colleagues and external consultants to discuss areas of opportunity is a great way to articulate where your organization is as a “current state.”

This often takes courage from your internal employees. It is hard to reflect on areas of opportunity…but we need to truly move from what Jim Collins calls “Good to Great.” Often times, organizations will call in external consultants to help in this area. The reason for this is because external consultants can look at an organization with “fresh eyes” and may not be as reserved in mentioning observations of weaknesses.

Opportunities. Perhaps as a part of your strategic plan your organization would like to shift to another focus area as we mentioned earlier. In other words, move from a “products/services” focus to a “method of distribution focus,” for example.

Perhaps you are in an industry that’s ripe with merger opportunities. Is there a new market opening up to capitalize on? The opportunities that are available to your organization are really only known to you and are usually industry specific, but taking time to articulate these is a valuable component of the SWOT analysis.

Threats. Competition, Government Regulations, Changes in Customer Behavior, Loss of Talent, Technology replacing your workforce? These are all threats, along with many more that only you would know that must be planned for. Calling out these threats and implementing innovative problem-solving initiatives to combat them are all a part of articulating your current state.

Once the SWOT is presented, documented and agreed upon by leadership you should have a pretty accurate picture of the current state of the organization.

Understanding your organization’s current state will then function as a great launching point for determining your “future state,” where you want your organization to go.

Instructor: Scott Pitts

Scott has spent nearly two decades in the human resources, learning and organization development professions. Scott has led multiple organizations and has taught hundreds of students on effectively creating and implementing business strategy, managing change, and designing effective learning solutions.

Scott is also an Associate Adjunct Professor of Training & Development, as well...

Scott's Full Bio

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HR Jetpack® is an official SHRM Education Partner recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP.

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