Building your management toolkit: business strategy

Building your management toolkit: business strategy

Understanding the strategic aims of your organisation helps you to make better decisions. A thorough grounding in business strategy enables you to create more value, analyse your organisation’s resources and capabilities, deal with significant issues in the global marketplace and out-think your competitors.

Paul Butler from Aston Business School explains one approach to improving your strategic thinking.

To stay ahead of the competition in business you need to pay close attention to your strategic options and choose the ones that create real strategic advantage.  The TOWS matrix is one tool that can help you. It can be applied in any management context and using it will help you to develop, evaluate and select strategic options.

The TOWS tool is an extension of the well-established SWOT analysis which focuses on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the business.  You build your TOWS matrix by evaluating your key resources, core competences and the value that your business is adding to your customers.

The TOWS model enables your thinking to come from a different angle, by starting with the external threats and opportunities of a plan or strategy before looking at your business’s strengths and weaknesses.

Once you have collected your data, you can determine your organisation’s most important strengths and weaknesses, and analyse the environment in which the business operates to work out its most important opportunities and threats.

The TOWS matrix helps you make more sense of this information by pairing up the main categories:

  • Weaknesses/opportunities – to take advantage of those opportunities that can overcome weaknesses
  • Strengths/opportunities – to use existing strengths to take advantage of new opportunities
  • Weaknesses/threats – to identify how best to minimise threats and avoid weaknesses
  • Strengths / threats – to facilitate the use of strengths to avoid or minimise threats.

Each pairing opens up a new perspective.  This fresh viewpoint helps you to develop, evaluate and select a range of strategic options. 

You can then use this authoritative, new information to create recommendations for consideration by strategic decision-makers, adding detail to the objectives, tasks and scheduling for each option in an implementation plan.

TOWS is particularly useful for evaluating the potential impact of sudden events or developments.

Successful use of tools such as the TOWS matrix can give you the confidence to make decisions to accelerate your career as a manager.  Aston’s new Professional Managers’ Award is a practice-oriented programme that introduces you to a robust toolkit directly applicable to your day job.  Backed by world class academic rigour, this toolkit will enable you to manage confidently, and make better, more informed decisions.

Pragmatic real life examples and case studies will enable you to develop skills that support you now and into the future.  Topics are delivered to meet your individual requirements. In the Business Strategy module you will use your experience of your own organisation’s approaches to strategic planning, and learn how to improve these approaches using new tools and frameworks.

To find out more about our Professional Managers’ Award, email us on, telephone us on +44(0)121 204 3160 or visit