SWOT – I can never stop humming the theme to SWAT (a TV show from the 70’s) whenever I hear that term, and to be honest…they are alike in a way, as they are both ways to attack your problems.
SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) is a strategic planning tool that separates influences on a business’s future success into internal and external factors, and to us ex-Military guys…its an acronym we can all understand.
By plotting items on a SWOT Matrix (see to the right), you are able to separate and compare internal and external influencers and discern the following results:
- Define realistic goals
- Improve capability
- Overcome Weaknesses with Strengths
- Identify Threats and that can be turned into Opportunities
Of course, each of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats will vary from organization to organization – but they should be easily identifiable and (once identified and raised) actionable.
A common method of doing this in a group session is to have everyone write ideas or commentary down on Post-It notes, and then place them in one of the four quadrants that make up the SWOT Matrix. Once you have everything plotted on the board, there should be a good visual where the pros and cons lay – allowing you to attack them with one of these four types of Strategies:
- Strength/Opportunity (S-O) or Max/Max Strategy – Using a strength to maximize an opportunity
- Weakness/Opportunity (W-O) or Min/Max – Improving capability to maximize an opportunity
- Strength/Threat (S-T) or Max/Min – Minimizing a Threat with a Strength
- Weakness/Threat (W-T) or Min/Min – Minimizing Weaknesses and Threats at the same time
As a tool,this type of internal appraisal can be used with external customer survey (or a User Story Board like THIS) to marry up SWOT to existing strategies or to create new one – providing clarity to your future roadmaps.
Speaking of clarity – Hopefully this gives you a basic overview of SWOT, its usages and how you can implement it in your working environment.
And now – for your listening pleasure.