A couple of clients this month have been talking to me about how to complete a SWOT analysis (strength, weakness, opportunity, threat). On both occasions I had to tell them that, in my view the biggest problem with this analysis was the acronym it has been given because it is easy to say. So, what did I mean by that?
Well, SWOT analyses tend to result in a two by two Johari window type document with strengths and weaknesses at the top and opportunities and threats at the bottom of the table. The benefit of doing these in this way is limited to being an audit exercise as no flow occurs from one element to the other.
If , however the tool had been called a SWOT, it would have been significantly more effective. The best way to truly use such an analysis to be able to affect your future plans is to go through it in this order:
- List the strengths that you have compared to your competitors in a given market place.
- For each strength listed, consider what opportunity is available to you. This may be a target market, a strategy to employ or another opportunity type.
- List the weaknesses that you have compared to your competitors.
- For each weakness listed, consider what threats there are to your business as a result of this weakness.
- For each threat listed consider what strategy you can employ that would mitigate the threats identified.
Through this process you will have created a flow of ideas form the strengths and the opportunities and considered strategies that you can work upon to overcome the threats that exist as a result of your weaknesses. These two lists now provide you with a set of actions that you can implement that will take your business forward and minimise risk while you do so.
I suggest that you run this exercise every six months or so and use the time after to move your business forward in a planned and secure manner.