The SWOT Analysis
Do you want to know how to do a SWOT analysis? Don’t worry; it’s easy!
The SWOT analysis was developed from work done in a Stanford University study in the 1960s. The study looked at various Fortune 500 companies and found that there was a difference between the strategic priorities that were set and what was actually done. It also revealed that the problem was not poor employees, but rather a lack of clear objectives. Therefore, the SWOT analysis was developed to give staff a clear understanding of a business or project.
The SWOT analysis is one of the most popular available tools for decision making. One of the things that make it so successful is that it is very simple to apply and can be used by either organisations or individuals as a way to define the crucial internal and external influences on their situation. It gives us a snapshot of ‘where‘ we are.
SWOT stands for ‘Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats’. Strengths and weaknesses relate to internal factors, whereas opportunities and threats are triggers to consider external issues.
The most common way to present and consider the SWOT analysis is as a matrix. Here is an example template:
When using the tool it is worth taking some time to brainstorm as many different considerations as you can under each heading. Then prioritise them; work out which are the top three to five things in each quadrant.
Remember that weaknesses are often a reflection of strengths. For example, if you have a strength in that you are very good with coming up with lots of ideas, a weakness might be that you find it hard to focus on just one of them. Similarly look at the flip side of external factors; you may find that threats can also provide opportunities.
Once you have created a list of items in each box spend some time considering what actions you need to take. How can you play to your strengths? What people and processes can help address your weaknesses? How can you exploit the opportunities? What control measures do you need to put in place to limit the threats?
Most importantly, whether you are using it as an individual or as part of a team, keep is simple; that is the systems greatest strength.
Have you used any other decision making tools? Which ones do you rate? Do leave a comment and let me know.