NOISE Analysis In A Nutshell

A NOISE analysis is a strategic planning tool that is a useful alternative to the SWOT analysis. Conversely, the NOISE analysis allows decision-makers to analyze the current state of the business and create a strategic improvement plan. It incorporates solution-focused language that helps teams build upon their knowledge and goals and overcome identified obstacles. 

Understanding a NOISE analysis

Although the SWOT analysis is popular and effective, some businesses argue that it provides little scope for delivering improvements.

Conversely, the NOISE analysis allows decision-makers to analyze the current state of the business and create a strategic improvement plan.

It incorporates solution-focused language that helps teams build upon their knowledge and goals and overcome identified obstacles. 

In some cases, it may unearth opportunities a business never knew existed.

Conducting a NOISE analysis

Step 1 – Decide on a goal

In a group consisting of 5-20 people, start by deciding on a goal.

What will the business look like in a year if the proposed improvements are implemented?

What will each department be accountable for and how can each foster a culture of accountability within the organization?

Step 2 – Create the NOISE chart

On a large sheet of paper, draw a circle in the middle with four quadrants radiating out from the center.

Step 3 – Begin the analysis

Spend at least an hour collaboratively brainstorming each of the five key elements that comprise the NOISE acronym.

Needs, Opportunities, Improvements, and Strengths should be placed in each of the four quadrants. In the center, place Exceptions.

Needs (N)

What needs to be present for a plan or strategy to be achieved? Needs may be organizational or individual in nature.

Opportunities (O)

Which external factors will provide an opportunity for the organization to grow or develop? How are other departments, locations, companies, or teams achieving comparable growth? Are there areas of untapped or unrealized potential?

Improvements (I)

How must the organization change to establish needs and take advantage of opportunities?

Strengths (S)

What is the organization currently doing well? How is success measured? Give examples where necessary.

Exceptions (E)

Of the four above quadrants, what is already present or occurring? List all factors regardless of their current impact.

Step 4 – Identify clusters

Once the analysis is complete, sort through each quadrant by grouping clusters of ideas that may fit together.

Furthermore, look for outlier ideas that don’t seem to fit with others. These could be breakthrough ideas that will propel the business forward.

Then, give each cluster a name based on its general theme or area of interest.

Once this is complete, write these names on the NOISE chart in the correct quadrants.

Step 5 – Vote on cluster categories

In the fifth step, ask each team to vote on the category they deem the most relevant. It’s helpful to use a dot or tokenized voting system.

Step 6 – Create measurements and milestones

For each category, the mediator should ask the team to develop measurements and milestones to gauge progress toward its achievement.

Step 7 – Create the plan document

In this step, the mediator or team leader compiles the list of categories into a broad company plan

Each member of the team should agree to the plan before it is implemented.

Feedback must be taken into consideration and changes made as required.

Lastly, the NOISE analysis plan should be periodically reviewed to ensure that it is both relevant and successful.

Key takeaways

  • A NOISE analysis is a strategic planning tool. It differs from similar tools like the SWOT analysis in that it guides improvement implementation.
  • A NOISE analysis can be performed on a large sheet of paper with four quadrants representing the categories of needs, opportunities, strengths, and exemptions. A fifth category, exceptions, occupies a circle in the center.
  • A NOISE analysis can be performed in seven steps using a group consisting of 5-20 people. Ideas are categorized, grouped, and then synthesized into a broader strategic plan.

Other connected frameworks

Porter’s Five Forces

Porter’s Five Forces is a model that helps organizations to gain a better understanding of their industries and competition. Published for the first time by Professor Michael Porter in his book “Competitive Strategy” in the 1980s. The model breaks down industries and markets by analyzing them through five forces.

BCG Matrix

In the 1970s, Bruce D. Henderson, founder of the Boston Consulting Group, came up with The Product Portfolio (aka BCG Matrix, or Growth-share Matrix), which would look at a successful business product portfolio based on potential growth and market shares. It divided products into four main categories: cash cows, pets (dogs), question marks, and stars.

Balanced Scorecard

First proposed by accounting academic Robert Kaplan, the balanced scorecard is a management system that allows an organization to focus on big-picture strategic goals. The four perspectives of the balanced scorecard include financial, customer, business process, and organizational capacity. From there, according to the balanced scorecard, it’s possible to have a holistic view of the business.

Blue Ocean Strategy 

A blue ocean is a strategy where the boundaries of existing markets are redefined, and new uncontested markets are created. At its core, there is value innovation, for which uncontested markets are created, where competition is made irrelevant. And the cost-value trade-off is broken. Thus, companies following a blue ocean strategy offer much more value at a lower cost for the end customers.

Scenario Planning

Businesses use scenario planning to make assumptions on future events and how their respective business environments may change in response to those future events. Therefore, scenario planning identifies specific uncertainties – or different realities and how they might affect future business operations. Scenario planning attempts at better strategic decision making by avoiding two pitfalls: underprediction, and overprediction.

Read Next: SWOT Analysis, Personal SWOT Analysis, TOWS Matrix, PESTEL Analysis, Porter’s Five Forces.

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