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SWOT Analysis (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats)

When to use

Either to start or sum up most types of review sessions. 3. Repeat the process until the group seems to be running out of ideas. 4. Discuss the list. Considering actions to maximise the strengths, compensate for the weaknesses, utilise the threats and optimise the opportunities.

Example

Here is a SWOT analysis for the idea of producing this book. Strengths We know lots of tools. We have practical experience of using them. We know how to teach the use of tools. Opportunities People we work for are asking for a tool book. There are no simple to use, practical cover-all tool books. Weaknesses We have no experience of producing a tool book. We have no facilities to publish. Threats Someone might write one before us. Conflicts with our consulting business.

What you get

A snap shot of a situation highlighting areas of strength and weakness.

Time

Half-an-hour can provide reasonable results. However, the summary can be left visible, revisited and added to over the course of a project.

Nos. of people

From 1 to many although, for practicality, 2 to 10 is most useful.

Equipment

A large wipe-board to record results. Additional materials for brainstorming may be necessary (see Tool 4. Brainstorming).

Exercise

Complete a SWOT analysis for you personally in your job.

Method

1. Draw out a four box grid as shown in the example. 2. Get the group to suggest pertinent strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is often useful to use brainstorming techniques for this stage.

Generally speaking strengths and weaknesses will be features from within your business or department. Opportunities and threats will tend to come from outside.

Key Points

The important thing is to raise issues for discussion. Putting them in the right box is far less important. In reality, trying to place them is just a means of sparking debate. Do not stop people from recording issues on the grid. If it's important to them, it's worth discussing.

Excerpt from Tools for Success © Dr. S. Turner 2001 Page 1

Additional Comments

There are two primary methods of filling in a grid. The first is to work through the four headings one at a time. The second is to allow issues to be generated and then discuss where on the grid they should be placed. The first method tends to work better when people are not familiar with the tool. The second approach is better when you have a group that have already worked together successfully. It can be useful to review the original grid periodically, especially during a project, to see what has changed.

The tool can be dangerous if it is not usedhonestly. There is little point in not taking into account the reality of the situation, good and bad, if you don't the resulting actions will be damaging. It is also useful to complete a SWOT for your competitors and then compare looking for areas where you can gain competitive advantage.

Other Information

Concept originally developed by: H. I. Ansoff for further information see: H. I. Ansoff, Corporate Strategy Penguin 1987.

Strengths

Weaknesses

Opportunities

Threats

Excerpt from Tools for Success © Dr. S. Turner 2001 Page 2

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Tool Title

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