Wednesday, 1 July 2020

How to undertake SWOT analysis

SWOT is an acronym standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal to the organisation: Opportunities and threats are outside. Opportunities and threats arise within what is often called the macro-environment (politics, technology, economics, demographic, socio-cultural, legal etc).

Internal to the organisation is the first element, that of strengths. These can be thought of as competitive advantage. The second element is also internal to the organisation, that of weaknesses. These are the organisation’s limitations, barriers, lack of skill. The third element is outside the organisation’s control, those of opportunities. These are things which the organisation could take advantage of – if they have taken the time to look for it. The fourth and last element is also outside the organisation’s control, that of threats. Threats are things that the organisation needs to be watchful of: things that may damage their ability to survive.

How we should use SWOT is as business reflection, in order to be sure that the organisation has covered off all it needs to: to analyse where an organisation is currently, where it needs to go, and to get agreed goals in order to get the organisation to where it needs to go. There are six steps to this:
  1. This should not be aimed to be a fast process, but should bring everyone required together to brainstorm a range of business departments, projects, strategies, macro- and micro-environmental factors as a lens to view what it internally going well; what is internally not going well; what is – or what may become - a potential external opportunity, and what is – or may become - an external threat
  2. The key elements or issues need to be identified. Consider these in relation to the organisation’s staff, income, security, IP, longevity, investment, branding, reputation, strategic direction, development, R&D, plant, etc
  3. Formulate strategies to meet the identified issues
  4. Then – because the list will be FAR too long – prioritise the issues and strategies
  5. Implement the strategies which the organisation can afford to implement now. Bank the second tier for implementation when the first tier are underway
  6. Monitor strategies to see what works. Debrief those involved to develop the organisation. Review the SWOT regularly and build into the organisation’s planning cycle.
There is also a video which can be viewed here:



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