TED Organization


Introduction:Organizational background

TED is a non-profit organization formed in 1984 (ted.com, 2015A). Acreation of Richard Saul Wurman, the organization focused on bringingtogether people with unique ideas in the fields of technology,entertainment and design. Some of the first presentations were ademonstration of the functioning of a compact disc, theelectronic-format books and 3-dimensional graphics, all which went tobe major products in the world of technology, entertainment anddesign. However, along the way, the organization lost revenue, andhad to be restructured again. Given the re-organization and thealready established presence, the TED conference turned out to be asuccessful annual event held in Monterey, California (ted.com,2015A). Today, the organization has diversified and given birth tothree major additions, which are the TEDGlobal conference, TED prizeand TED Talk. This paper conducts a detailed SWOT analysis of theorganization, and uses the findings to recommend strategies forexpansion, growth and success as a non-profit organization.

SectionI: Internal weaknesses and strengths

Thissection focuses on the four major elements of the management processat TED organization, and the way each is considered as an internalweakness or strength.


A strong leadership is one of the major strengths of TEDorganization. Since inception, the organization’s leaders havefocused on achieving its major objectives. For instance, Mr. Wurmanset out the organization to be a central meeting point for thebrightest minds to discuss great ideas (ted.com, 2015B) by doing so,he motivated the employees and stakeholders to uphold the culture ofinnovation and creativity, which makes the organization what it istoday. In 2002, prior to taking over the leadership of theorganization, Chric Anderson gave a keynote speech, which persuadedall the stakeholders to focus on an idea-based non-profit endeavor(ted.com, 2015B). After this, the stakeholders increased their input,and were able to drive the organization into the position that itcurrently enjoys, among other related not-for profit organizations.According to Maak (2007), having a leadership that is able to remindthe stakeholders of the agenda and objective that brings themtogether as a unit makes the difference between success and failure.This is no exception for not-for profit organizations.


Effective planning is one the components of management that forms theorganization’s internal strengths. Over years, the organizationexpanded in its capacity, attracting interests from several entitiesacross the world (Merchant, 2013). This included individuals andorganizations that came to share their ideas at the organizedconferences. To accommodate this expanded capacity, theorganization’s management embarked upon clustering the participantsand other stakeholders, so that they could help them propagate theirideas efficiently. This led to the creation of the TED Website in2007, to accommodate the more than one million viewers worldwide(ted.com, 2015C). Later, the management re-launched the website,giving it a truly global audience. From a Porter’s five forcesperspective, this helped the organization to keep of threat from newentrants, who in this case were global conferences for idea sharing.As such, TED has been able to maintain a large and loyal globalaudience. According to Anheier (2014), for non-profit organizations,this element is helpful for understanding the environment, which isthe same for all key stakeholders. By doing this, the organizationdemonstrates that it is able to prepare for short term and long-termcompetition.


The organization, given it is not-for profit model, does not have acomplex financial system. Instead, TED uses a simple accounting modelto help them manage their finances. The mains sources of income forthe organization are sponsors and financers (ted.com, 2015B). Theorganization has a budget coordinator, whose primary objective is tocontrol finances from sponsors for event expense, and managing theirfinances.

From an IT perspective, TED’s information technology structure is amajor strength. The organization embraces internet connectivity tolink its members, and to help them benefit mutually from each other.Over the years, the organization has been able to control itsexpanding base by using the web and mass media. At the same time, ithas a strong presence in the social media platforms, hence, keepingthe stakeholders connected at all times. According to (Rahim, 2015),a strong connection established through IT helps modern organizationsto be well informed of the current industrial trends, as well askeeping the stakeholders together. Given that the organization is anon-profit one, is does not uses systems such as Total QualityManagement (TQM), 6-sigma and ISO.


TED’s management, from an organizational perspective, has elementsof internal strengths and internal weaknesses. The organization hasorganized the talks to address three major fields of innovation,which have a direct impact on the economy, society and sustenance.These fields are technology, entertainment and design. By organizingthe talks into these three major areas, the organization is able todeal with the load of input, which besides being the organization’smajor source of success, is part of the organizational culture.According to Fedelman, TED’s organizers uphold the culture ofintellect and adrenaline, in a professionally organized way. However,the organization has failed to arrange talks into regional orgeographical segments categorically. Given this, it misses fullyintegrating the ideas that come from various geographical boundaries,such as the Far East, Antarctica and Sahara-Africa. According toOuveurwitt &amp Wood (2015), having full stakeholder participationfrom every geographical location around the globe is key tosustainable success for any international organization.

SectionII: External opportunities and threats


TED, as a global idea communication conference, created a platformfor people and organizations to come together to develop their ideas.This has helped the organization to be attributed to some of thereigning trends in the fields of technology, entertainment anddesign. For instance, among the first presentations were thefunctioning of the compact disc back in the 1980s (ted.com, 2015C).After presenting this idea, the developers of the idea were able togain the attention of developers of entertainment media, and thus,took their ideas to the next level. Today, the success of the compactdisc in the worlds of entertainment and design are attributed to theplatform that the conference gave to the developers to sell theiridea to the world. This expands the opportunities for success for thecompany, as many more inventors would like to use it to sell theirideas.

Goingby the bargaining power of service providers, as outlined in thePorters’ five forces, the organization has a big influence onstakeholders who wish to sell their ideas to the corporate world(Fung, 2014). As of present, there are many conferences organized bynon-governmental organizations, as well as inter-sector workshops,where inventors and developers come together to sell their ideas tothe world. However, TED organization is one of the most favoriteplatforms for these individuals, as they prefer to be associated withits powerful network of individuals who have succeeded on the worldsof entertainment, design and technology. The organization, as aplatform provider, has the opportunity of achieving its coreobjectives, owing to the bargaining power it has.

Giventhe nature of operation of the organization, there is little threatfrom substitutes. As identified earlier, the organization’s rivalplatforms are those organized by independent organizations andselected individuals. At the same time, the organization hasdeveloped a strong presence, both physically and over the internet.As such, there is no serious threat of rivalry in its operations. Thethreat of new entrants is cancelled by the presence of high donor andsponsor loyalty, as well as a cushioned demand for particularservice, which is idea propagation.


One of the major threats to the organization’s success achievementis competitive rivalry. In the U.S, there are over 1.5 millionnon-profit organizations, which are active and fully operational(Anheier, 2014). Within this population, there are severalorganizations whose objectives are to provide inventors with aplatform to develop their ideas and sell them to the public. TED’sslogan, “Ideas worth spreading”, can be easily replicated inwords and actions by other organizations, who have the same purposeof providing a platform for inventors and thinkers.

There is also a threat from proponents of other idea-propagationplatforms across the U.S. According to Robbins (2012), the opponentsof TED’s operations hold that it is elitist, and the talks providedon it have little impact in today’s world of invention. At the sametime, by saying that the organization’s speakers do not want theirideas to be challenged, the organization runs risk of running out ofdonors, who are the backbone of its finances.

SectionIII: Evaluation of SWOT analysis

TED is not a profitable organization, and as such, its profit ismeasured from the success-rate perspective. The organization’smanagement, since inception, has been able to uphold the sense ofsimplification, authenticity and storytelling, to drive the objectiveof promoting ideas. Combining a remarkable organization and outreachprogram, the organization has been able to achieve success byreaching millions of people across the word, and informing themaccordingly. Another critical element of the organization’s successreminding the stakeholders not to focus on money, rather,concentrates on making a difference. Given the nature of theorganization’s operations, there is little threat from rivalorganizations, as it does not define its success on a monetary basis.

However,there are some technical adjustments to the organization’soperations that can help it to achieve success in its operations.These are mainly in its organizational structure and controls.Firstly, the organization needs to form collaborations withinstitutions of higher learning, so that they can both benefitmutually on the basis of outsourcing. Institutions of higherlearning, such as MIT, have the best minds on the world ofinnovation, and a collaborative effort between them can lead theorganization to higher levels of success. Secondly, the organizationneeds to develop a stronger regional network defined by geographicalboundaries. This way, it will be able to gather innovations from allcorners of the globe, hence, achieve its objective satisfactorily.


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