The business environment is uncertain, and the survival may be determined by the ability of firms to continually adapt and implement strategic changes. According to Korbi (2015), strategic changes can be defined as those modifications to entities that alter their content (objectives, nature, and availability of key resources and environmental assessment) and the process (system, culture, structure, and values). Such transformations apply for both the for-profit corporations and not-for-profit organizations like the Habitat for Humanity International. This essay focuses on the strategic change analysis of the Habitat for Humanity international. Two models used are the SWOT analysis and the 4-D Cycle analysis (Appreciative Inquiry analysis). A brief background for the entity is presented as well as a comparison between the two strategic analysis frameworks.
Habitat for Humanity International is a non-profit organization whose main business is to help families access safe and affordable housing. The organization depends on donation and voluntary work with the proceedings used to build houses for the poor across the world. To date, it has served millions of people in the US and Asia as two of the prominent regions served. Habitat for Humanity International was established in 1976 and, since then, has served over 29 million people (Habitat for Humanity International, 2019). Its growth is perhaps the result of cases of homeless people growing by the day. It is expensive to own a home, and the organization seeks to make it possible for the lower-class people across the world to afford housing.
The model that Habitat for Humanity International has used in its operations has been successful so far considering the figures showing the number of people served. As such, it might seem like there is no need for a strategic change. However, it is argued that a strategic change is needed because the organization has not properly addressed some critical issues that still make it extremely expensive for many to own homes. In many Asian countries, for example, the number of houses surpass that of the households. The explanation given by Ravelo (2019) is that urban migration has led to an increasing demand for housing in cities that consequently cause prices to go up. The upcoming generations are faced with a situation where shelter is unaffordable. While it would appear prudent to help build homes in rural areas where land is cheaper, it might fail to produce the expected results as more people reside within urban areas. A strategic change would, therefore, be critical for the entity if it hopes to sustain its operations.
SWOT analysis is a strategic management tool used in the examination of the internal and external environment to determine strategic decisions. The investigation of the external business environment reveals how opportunities and critical threats affect the future and progress of the corporation (Gurel & Tat, 2017). Internal factors, on the other hand, explain how a firm can utilize internal strengths and resource capabilities and address the weak points to remain competitive in a market. While the SWOT analysis works best for profit-making organizations, it can also be used by non-profit organizations to determine strategic directions mostly for the sake of survival and continuity. A SWOT analysis for the Habitat for Humanity International is as discussed below.
Strengths are the internal capabilities and sources of competitive advantage. According to Sammut-Bonnici and Galea (2015), strengths are often derived from the resources that can be converted into competitive products. Habitat for Humanity International does not seek to compete but to successfully pursue its mission of affordable housing. Its major resource is the 2.5 million volunteers all over the world who build houses and offer labor and materials (Acharya, 2018). Additionally, the organization has the ability to utilize modern technologies to achieve operational efficiency, which is translated into cheaper buildings.
Habitat for Humanity International does, however, have several major weaknesses. Firstly, it cannot efficiently compete with the private sector in the acquisition of land in the urban areas where the majority of the world population are in dire need of housing. The case of Korea illustrated by Ravelo (2019) where, despite houses exceeding the number of households, the individuals still cannot afford housing. The organization is stretched in terms of resources as a result of extending operations across the globe. Even the 2.5 million volunteers distributed across several continents would appear inadequate to make a huge impact on the housing problem.
Habitat for Humanity International can exploit several opportunities in the housing and labor markets. Opportunities, as described by Gurel and Tat (2017), entail conditions or situations suitable for an action. Habitat for Humanity International can exploit the gaps in the labor market to boost employment in rural areas to keep people from migrating into the congested urban areas. Land prices are lower in rural areas, and, since the organization does not purchase land for the people it serves, more people can afford land in rural areas. Additionally, Habitat for Humanity International could take advantage of harnessing the growing need for houses in the cities and towns where it can acquire funds to purchase available land when it is cheaper. When the demand for housing arises, the organization can partner with relevant builders to make sure urban dwellers can access cheaper housing.
Threats are those situations that can potentially jeopardize the actualization of an action. Habitat for Humanity International is a non-profit organization meaning it cannot engage in the buying and selling of land and houses. Additionally, it cannot effectively compete with the private sector comprising real-estate for-profit companies who have more funds to purchase land and to develop commercial housing. As such, the organization will always be restrained to helping people who can afford to purchase land for building.
Appreciative Inquiry is another useful strategic management tool that can be used to explain the need and direction of a strategic change. According to Hung et al (2018), appreciative inquiry presents organizations with a more positive way of exploring, discovering possibilities, and transforming teams and systems within an organization towards a shared vision. It is more of a change management tool as it plays a vital role in initiating and managing the process of change (Openo, 2016). The appreciative Inquiry for the Habitat for Humanity International can be undertaken using the 4D cycle comprising discover, dream, design, and deliver.
This phase of the analysis examines the best of the past and the present choosing as positive as the focus of inquiry. Discover also entails appreciating and those processes that offer the organization with the possibilities for success. Applying to the case of Habitat for Humanity International, it can be argued that the entity does have global identity, recognition, and support that can be used as a strong point when soliciting for funding and voluntary work. That has been its model of operation since it was founded and a model that has allowed it to progress.
The second step in the appreciative analysis is the dream, a stage that involves using the findings from the discovery phase to create a compelling and ambitious picture of the desired outcomes in the future. Further topics for inquiry can be selected from the available alternatives. Those things that can work well and that point to the desired future state are envisioned. In the case of Habitat for Humanity International, the current mission is to achieve affordable housing across the world. While the organization has successfully pursued the goal, the gap remains and it can see itself as employment creators and major players in urban development.
Designing is the act of creating shared images of the preferred state in the future. After considering the alternatives, a firm can decide on what aspects make it better in the future. Habitat for Humanity International hopes to see a future where all people can afford housing. As a recommendation, it can actively engage in the purchase of pieces of land and building of houses sold or rented cheaply, especially in the urban areas.
After designing the future, an entity can then actively pursue it by actively allocating resources and undertaking the activities designed to take it to the future. For the Habitat for Humanity International, the journey to a future with affordable housing for everyone will probably begin with the solicitation of funds from volunteers, governments, or other humanitarian agencies. Consultations with the governments, local authorities, and the private sector might help avoid potential conflicts.
A comparison between the two strategic tools (SWOT and Appreciative Inquiry analysis) reveals that both seek to examine the current status and perceiving a better future status for the organization. While SWOT considers competitiveness in the market including both internal and external factors, Appreciative Inquiry largely looks within the firms to identify what can be done better. The organizational outcomes are similar in some ways and different in others. In SWOT analysis, for example, the analysis is made with the competitors in mind so that the resulting decisions are intended to give the company an edge. The analysis focuses on what the business can do better than rivals. On the other hand, Appreciative Inquiry seeks to improve the company in the face of the challenges confronted and not necessarily makes comparisons with the challengers. The outcomes are simply made to improve the company in light of its current capabilities. However, the end results of both are in the form of major changes and transformations.
Habitat for Humanity International has a mission to make housing affordable for all people across the planet. The organization’s efforts have been fruitful over the years with millions already having benefited. However, the modern dynamics of the world’s population create additional problems that still make housing challenges persist. A strategic change for Habitat for Humanity International is, therefore, a necessity. The SWOT and Appreciative Inquiry analyses have revealed where the company can make major strategic changes to better pursue its mission.
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Hung, L., Phinney, A., Chaudhury, H., Rodney, P., Tabamo, J., & Bohl, D. (2018). Appreciative inquiry: Bridging research and practice in a hospital setting. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 17(1), 1-10.
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