SWOT Analysis

last edited by: Fernando Gregorio on May 12, 2009 8:51 PM login/register to edit this page

Contents
1 Applications
2 Procedures
3 Instructions
4 Example

A structured technique to enable organizations to assess their strengths (S) and weakness (W) and identify their opportunities (O) and possible threats (T). A strength is something that the enterprise does well, or is an asset, skill, or network of contacts employed. (In addition, strengths can be anything "going well" for the enterprise, including its core competencies.) A weakness is the reverse, something not performed as well as necessary (or not going well at all), and/or something that is lacking or missing from the organization. An opportunity is an identified chance to exploit a strength and pursue a strategy to benefit the performance of the enterprise. Typically, weaknesses present opportunities. Market forces, trends, or other external influences can also create opportunities. A threat is a possible cause of poor performance, arising from an identified weakness, and/or anything external to the enterprise that may adversely affect or impede the enterprise.

A SWOT analysis can be performed to develop an understanding of the gaps that exist within the enterprise, between explicit and implicit visions and between today's vision and that required by the working vision. Using the SWOT technique, the strategic gaps (or barriers) that may block achievement of the enterprise's current explicit vision and the future working vision are highlighted and differentiated. These findings can be documented in a "Vision Assessment" report, which is provided to the sponsor of such a project.

In documenting the SWOTs, the following should be kept in mind.

Strengths and Opportunities:

  • A strength suggests one or more opportunities.
  • An opportunity exploits one or more strengths.
  • An opportunity is pursued by at least one strategy (see following example).
  • An opportunity may require information technology support, building on the IT strengths of the enterprise.
Weaknesses and Threats:

  • A weakness poses one or more threats.
  • A threat may be posed by one or more weaknesses.
  • A threat should be addressed by at least one strategy (see example).
  • A threat may be avoided by employing information technology support.

Applications

  • To highlight and differentiate the strategic gaps (or barriers) that may block achievement of the enterprise's current explicit vision and the future working vision.
  • To brainstorm possible activities/opportunities for redesign.

Procedures

  1. Prepare participants.
  2. Conduct a brainstorming session.
  3. Identify all SWOTs, and analyze strategies.
  4. Summarize results.

Instructions

Using a brainstorming session, discuss the strengths or weaknesses of the organization or enterprise. Be sure that all participants have a similar understanding of what is meant by a strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat. Explain that a strength or weakness is relative to an external factor, rather than an internal comparison of performance. One way to conduct the session is to prepare a set of four flip charts (or white boards), one for each of the SWOTs. Multiple scribes can be used to assist the workshop leader or facilitator to capture all the information. Following brainstorming guidelines (see Brainstorming), open the discussion by asking participants to suggest all possible SWOTs (this is where multiple scribes help), and record all contributions as they are made. (A facilitator may choose to use a round-robin suggestion gathering technique, if there is only one scribe.) Note that a strength may also be an opportunity, or a weakness, depending on who is making the contribution. Do not worry at this point; contributions will be reviewed and clarified later. Use appropriate open-ended questioning techniques or lateral thinking techniques (see Questioning and Lateral Thinking) to encourage participation. It may be helpful to:

  • ask the participants to express how the organization performs in comparison to other similar organizations
  • ask how well the organization meets the needs of the customer or the public that it serves
  • ask the participants what opportunities the strengths present
Also examine what threats to the organization's performance are posed by the weaknesses. Exhaust all possibilities, and review and clarify each contribution. Strategies to take advantage of the strengths and opportunities and strategies to address the weaknesses and threats can now be explored. IT support requirements can also be identified. Other techniques, such as Force Field Analysis and Ishikawa Diagramming, can be used to assist in identifying the SWOTs.

Example

swot analysis


last edited by: Fernando Gregorio on May 12, 2009 8:51 PM login/register to edit this page

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