Ever had an annoying fly buzzing around you? You swat and swipe and you just can't get it away from you until you grab the right tool. I certainly have. Much like a fly swatter is the right tool for getting that pesky fly the Swot analysis is often times the right tool to help you identify four very important elements of business, projects or venture objectives.
SWOT stands for; strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The SWOT analysis is most commonly shown in a quadrant and views your objective from two key "points of view," Internal and external. Along with the Internal and external threats you will most likely be able to identify positive opportunities and negative factors as shown in the template below.
The Internal Strengths and Weaknesses- of an organization are more often than not derived from historical data that the company has collected over the years. Often times though a good opportunity to identify all of the Strengths and Weaknesses of a company should involve contribution from customers and "fresh eyes." This important step helps to ensure that the data being used identifies true strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind that the goal of the weaknesses quadrant is to find a way to transform the weaknesses identified into strengths.
External Opportunities and Threats- have a big impact on the sustainability of a company, Market or Implementation. By identifying opportunities to improve and threats that may be lurking around you have a much better opportunity to act sooner rather than later. The opportunities and threats quadrants are usually formulated using various types of risk analysis or reviewing previous history and analyzing trends or patterns.
You may have noticed already but the template that I use looks a bit different then the traditional SWOT analysis template. In case you did not notice most templates have the arrows pointing both down for positive and negative and typically both arrows are pointed to the right for Internal and External. Why do I choose to switch mine around a bit?
The Simplest answer I can give is the objective of performing a SWOT analysis is to convert threats into Opportunities, Opportunities into Strengths and Weaknesses into Strengths. Switching the arrows around provides a visual reminder that in our analysis we need to take action and put effort into those key conversions. Although it would not make much sense to try and convert an external threat into an internal weakness it does make sense on the other three elements of the quadrant.
The Swot analysis can be a powerful tool to utilize and strengthen organizations, use these questions below for each of the 4 quadrants and you should be able to develop some very solid data worth acting on. Keep in mind though that before you answer the questions below, you must define first your objective or your goal. If you do not have this how will you know your strengths unless they are directly related to a goal or objective and how they impact that goal or objective.
1. What do we do well?
2. What do customers,vendors and outside opinions say we do well?
3. What are our core competencies, niches or skills?
1. What do other people say we should do better?
2. What are a few reasons we should not try to accomplish this mission?
3. What don't we do well?
4 What skills, knowledge and or specialties do we lack?
1. What is missing?
2. What are other people doing that we could be doing too?
3. What are the clear opportunities here today?
4. Is there anybody willing, able and ready to support (why and how)
1. What Negative patterns, trends or tendencies do you know about today?
2. What bottlenecks and or constraints are creating a gap in accomplishing your objective today?
3. Is there anyone that may be causing the gap to grow in the future?
4. Are there any competitors? What might they do that will prohibit us reaching our objective?
These questions can help you generate a good start to some better actions that will help your company. Think of the SWOT analysis as a way of gathering the current condition of each of the four categories; Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. But don't forget the SWOT analysis is only good if you DO something with it.
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