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Ever been involved in a SWOT?

If so, did you find it useful?

As a Business Improvement Specialist and previously in many senior management roles I have taken part in several SWOT Analysis.

Swot analysis

Not all of them have been worth the effort however.

By definition, a SWOT Analysis is a planning tool used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats of a business, a team, a project or venture.

To be successful you need to determine what it is you want to achieve from the analysis; e.g. do you have a specific project in mind and need to evaluate your current capability to complete it?

Or do you want to evaluate the resources at hand against the opportunities & threats in the current marketplace?

The SWOT is made up of:

Internal factors  – strengths & weaknesses such as skills & training, manufacturing capability, intellectual property etc.

External factors – opportunities & threats such as changes to legislation and rapidly evolving technology.

Look at your strengths & weaknesses with an open mind as it is difficult to define them without knowing your objective. In other words,  until you consider the objective you cannot determine whether a particular trait is indeed a pro or con.

Confused? Ok, look at it this way; you have more than likely a whole range of  very different individuals on your team who in turn have a vast array of skillsets and life experiences unique to them. Imagine if you could somehow harness this in achieving your objective or Strategic Vision? Priceless!

Well that’s where a properly constructed SWOT Matrix comes in, which actually in the above example would be even more powerful if aligned with a Skills Matrix of your team.

So how does it work? As you complete the SWOT (something I like to get the whole team involved in by the way as part of the Strategic Planning Workshop) make a list of all the perceived strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats, don’t judge any input for now.

Once compiled try matching the internal strengths with external opportunities. This is how you focus your current strengths on the opportunities in the marketplace.

Alternatively if the strengths required are not on the team you can transform weaknesses to strengths and/or threats to opportunities. Use of the skills matrix will greatly assist in this.

So used smartly you can:

1. use the existing strengths to gain competitive advantage of an opportunity in the marketplace or

2. pinpoint weaknesses or threats which once transformed would give you a competitive advantage and a head start in a yet trending opportunity or a share of the market not yet explored.

As you can see, utilized to it’s full potential SWOT can be a very powerful tool. Depending on your circumstances you may also want to do a PEST Analysis but that’s the subject of another article.

Until then, Johnny


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