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.

Connected Analysis Frameworks

Cynefin Framework

The Cynefin Framework gives context to decision making and problem-solving by providing context and guiding an appropriate response. The five domains of the Cynefin Framework comprise obvious, complicated, complex, chaotic domains and disorder if a domain has not been determined at all.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT Analysis is a framework used for evaluating the business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It can aid in identifying the problematic areas of your business so that you can maximize your opportunities. It will also alert you to the challenges your organization might face in the future.

Personal SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis is commonly used as a strategic planning tool in business. However, it is also well suited for personal use in addressing a specific goal or problem. A personal SWOT analysis helps individuals identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Pareto Analysis

The Pareto Analysis is a statistical analysis used in business decision making that identifies a certain number of input factors that have the greatest impact on income. It is based on the similarly named Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of the effect of something can be attributed to just 20% of the drivers.

Failure Mode And Effects Analysis

A failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) is a structured approach to identifying design failures in a product or process. Developed in the 1950s, the failure mode and effects analysis is one the earliest methodologies of its kind. It enables organizations to anticipate a range of potential failures during the design stage.

Blindspot Analysis

A Blindspot Analysis is a means of unearthing incorrect or outdated assumptions that can harm decision making in an organization. The term “blindspot analysis” was first coined by American economist Michael Porter. Porter argued that in business, outdated ideas or strategies had the potential to stifle modern ideas and prevent them from succeeding. Furthermore, decisions a business thought were made with care caused projects to fail because major factors had not been duly considered.

Comparable Company Analysis

A comparable company analysis is a process that enables the identification of similar organizations to be used as a comparison to understand the business and financial performance of the target company. To find comparables you can look at two key profiles: the business and financial profile. From the comparable company analysis it is possible to understand the competitive landscape of the target organization.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

A cost-benefit analysis is a process a business can use to analyze decisions according to the costs associated with making that decision. For a cost analysis to be effective it’s important to articulate the project in the simplest terms possible, identify the costs, determine the benefits of project implementation, assess the alternatives.

Agile Business Analysis

Agile Business Analysis (AgileBA) is certification in the form of guidance and training for business analysts seeking to work in agile environments. To support this shift, AgileBA also helps the business analyst relate Agile projects to a wider organizational mission or strategy. To ensure that analysts have the necessary skills and expertise, AgileBA certification was developed.

SOAR Analysis

A SOAR analysis is a technique that helps businesses at a strategic planning level to: Focus on what they are doing right. Determine which skills could be enhanced. Understand the desires and motivations of their stakeholders.

STEEPLE Analysis

The STEEPLE analysis is a variation of the STEEP analysis. Where the step analysis comprises socio-cultural, technological, economic, environmental/ecological, and political factors as the base of the analysis. The STEEPLE analysis adds other two factors such as Legal and Ethical.

Pestel Analysis

The PESTEL analysis is a framework that can help marketers assess whether macro-economic factors are affecting an organization. This is a critical step that helps organizations identify potential threats and weaknesses that can be used in other frameworks such as SWOT or to gain a broader and better understanding of the overall marketing environment.

DESTEP Analysis

A DESTEP analysis is a framework used by businesses to understand their external environment and the issues which may impact them. The DESTEP analysis is an extension of the popular PEST analysis created by Harvard Business School professor Francis J. Aguilar. The DESTEP analysis groups external factors into six categories: demographic, economic, socio-cultural, technological, ecological, and political.

Paired Comparison Analysis

A paired comparison analysis is used to rate or rank options where evaluation criteria are subjective by nature. The analysis is particularly useful when there is a lack of clear priorities or objective data to base decisions on. A paired comparison analysis evaluates a range of options by comparing them against each other.

Related Strategy Concepts: Go-To-Market StrategyMarketing StrategyBusiness ModelsTech Business ModelsJobs-To-Be DoneDesign ThinkingLean Startup CanvasValue ChainValue Proposition CanvasBalanced ScorecardBusiness Model CanvasSWOT AnalysisGrowth HackingBundlingUnbundlingBootstrappingVenture CapitalPorter’s Five ForcesPorter’s Generic StrategiesPorter’s Five ForcesPESTEL AnalysisSWOTPorter’s Diamond ModelAnsoffTechnology Adoption CurveTOWSSOARBalanced ScorecardOKRAgile MethodologyValue PropositionVTDF FrameworkBCG MatrixGE McKinsey MatrixKotter’s 8-Step Change Model.

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