Chapter 5: Summary, Recommendations, and Conclusion
Overview: You will summarize the research and present a series of recommendations based on the SWOT analysis findings.
Section I: Summary offers a restatement of your research. You will remind the audience of the thesis developed in Chapter 2 and discuss the idea based on the research findings. Recall that one of our example thesis statements was, “While the XYZ Company has enjoyed some internal progress, continued weaknesses in its strategic planning function will limit its ability to meet competitive threats and lead to a significant loss of profit.” Based on this thesis, a summary at this point might look something like this:
This paper researched the possibility that the XYZ Company was exhibiting a weakness in its strategic planning functions, making it vulnerable to threats in the industry’s competitive environment. This research has demonstrated that at least three competitors have entered the marketplace and are operating successfully in the environment while XYZ’s market share is falling. The research underscores the fact that XYZ Company lacks timely strategic planning, is failing to capture opportunities in the marketplace, and is ignoring threats in the competitive environment. Without a concerted effort to improve its strategic planning function to address these threats, the company will not achieve a competitive advantage in the future.
Section II: Recommendations, you will offer your recommendation to resolve the company’s problems. Format the recommendations as an action plan with appropriate time schedule for each suggestion you will implement. As the Hill & Jones text suggests, they should extend logically from your overall discussions and remain consistent with the SWOT analysis. Remember to:
• Recall any recommendations you began to uncover in earlier Chapters
• Refer again to the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and build upon the summary statement to offer alternatives to the predictions
• Specifically explore the company’s ability to address external threats without changes. If you decide it cannot, recommend how it should change business level strategies to succeed and achieve profitability goals.
• In addition, investigate the company’s ability to address internal weaknesses without changes. If you decide it cannot, recommend the changes necessary to succeed and achieve profitability.
As summarized in the Hill & Jones text, recommendations usually center on issues such as changing functional, business, or corporate strategies. They could also focus on changing organizational structure and control to improve performance. Other examples include recommendations that address questions such as:
• Should the company increase R & D spending? If so, how will your company derive the funding?
• Should the company divest business divisions?
• Should the company change from unrelated to related diversification?
• Should the company improve the integration between divisions?
• Should the company change the organizational structure to adopt a new business strategy? How soon?
In each of these considerations, be specific. For example, if you suggest that the company should change its business strategy, explain exactly which new strategy it should adopt, why it should adopt it, how it will help, and when the implementation occurs on the timeline.
At this point, make sure you discuss funding for any of these changes. Remember, you are presenting to a CEO or the board so you must offer a convincing, practical argument for the changes. Simply stating, “we must increase R&D spending to retain a competitive advantage” is an obvious conclusion that the CEO already understands and likely would have implemented had the funding been available. Try to offer an innovative solution that also addresses internal funding (efficiency improvement, force reduction, etc.). This will convince your CEO that you have identified a practical solution or recommendation exhibiting a measured—but acceptable—level of risk.
Section III: Conclusions in the last several paragraphs of the chapter. These final statements should briefly review the research methods, describe the results of the analysis, and offer a personal opinion regarding the company’s viability. In other words—based on your knowledge of the company’s leadership—do you believe the business is likely to adopt your recommendations for achieving future success? Support your claims and opinions here as well.