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SWOT analysis

SWOT analysis (alternatively SWOT Matrix) is a structured planning

method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities,

and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture. A SWOT

analysis can be carried out for a product, place, industry or person. It

involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project and

identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and

unfavorable to achieving that objective. The technique is credited to

Albert Humphrey, who led a convention at the Stanford Research

Institute (now SRI International) in the 1960s and 1970s using data from

Fortune 500 companies. [1][2] The degree to which the internal

environment of the firm matches with the external environment is

expressed by the concept of strategic fit.

Setting the objective should be done after the SWOT analysis has been

performed. This would allow achievable goals or objectives to be set for

the organization.

Strengths: characteristics of the business or project that give

it an advantage over others

Weaknesses: are characteristics that place the team at a

disadvantage relative to others

Opportunities: elements that the project could exploit to its

advantage

Threats: elements in the environment that could cause

trouble for the business or project

Identification of SWOTs is important because they can inform later

steps in planning to achieve the objective.

First, the decision makers should consider whether the objective is

attainable, given the SWOTs. If the objective is not attainable a different

objective must be selected and the process repeated.

Users of SWOT analysis need to ask and answer questions that generate

meaningful information for each category (strengths, weaknesses,

opportunities, and threats) to make the analysis useful and find their

competitive advantage. [3]

Contents

3 Use

Matching and converting

One way of utilizing SWOT is matching and converting. Matching is

used to find competitive advantage by matching the strengths to

opportunities. Converting is to apply conversion strategies to convert

weaknesses or threats into strengths or opportunities. An example of

conversion strategy is to find new markets. If the threats or weaknesses

cannot be converted a company should try to minimize or avoid them. [4]

Internal and external factors

SWOT analysis aims to identify the key internal and external factors

seen as important to achieving an objective. The factors come from

within a company's unique value chain. [citation needed] SWOT analysis

groups key pieces of information into two main categories:

1. internal factors the strengths and weaknesses internal to

the organization

2. external factors the opportunities and threats presented

by the environment external to the organization

Analysis may view the internal factors as strengths or as weaknesses

depending upon their effect on the organization's objectives. What may

represent strengths with respect to one objective may be weaknesses

(distractions, competition) for another objective. The factors may

include all of the 4Ps; as well as personnel, finance, manufacturing

capabilities, and so on.

The external factors may include macroeconomic matters, technological

change, legislation, and socio-cultural changes, as well as changes in the

marketplace or in competitive position. The results are often presented in

the form of a matrix.

SWOT analysis is just one method of categorization and has its own

weaknesses. For example, it may tend to persuade its users to compile

lists rather than to think about actual important factors in achieving

objectives. It also presents the resulting lists uncritically and without

clear prioritization so that, for example, weak opportunities may appear

to balance strong threats.

It is prudent not to eliminate any candidate SWOT entry too quickly.

The importance of individual SWOTs will be revealed by the value of

the strategies they generate. A SWOT item that produces valuable

strategies is important. A SWOT item that generates no strategies is not

important.

Use

The usefulness of SWOT analysis is not limited to profit-seeking

organizations. SWOT analysis may be used in any decision-making

situation when a desired end-state (objective) has been defined.

Examples include: non-profit organizations, governmental units, and

individuals. SWOT analysis may also be used in pre-crisis planning and

preventive crisis management. SWOT analysis may also be used in

creating a recommendation during a viability study/survey.

Criticism

Some findings from Menon et al. (1999) [5] and Hill and Westbrook

(1997) [6] have shown that SWOT may harm performance. Other

complementary analyses have been proposed, such as the Growth-share

SWOT - landscape analysis

such as the Growth-share matrix. SWOT - landscape analysis The SWOT-landscape systematically deploys the relationships

The SWOT-landscape systematically deploys the relationships between

overall objective and underlying SWOT-factors and provides an

interactive, query-able 3D landscape.

The SWOT-landscape grabs different managerial situations by

visualizing and foreseeing the dynamic performance of comparable

objects according to findings by Brendan Kitts, Leif Edvinsson and Tord

Beding (2000). [7]

Changes in relative performance are continually identified. Projects (or

other units of measurements) that could be potential risk or opportunity

objects are highlighted.

SWOT-landscape also indicates which underlying strength/weakness

factors that have had or likely will have highest influence in the context

of value in use (for ex. capital value fluctuations).

Corporate planning

As part of the development of strategies and plans to enable the

organization to achieve its objectives, that organization will use a

systematic/rigorous process known as corporate planning. SWOT

alongside PEST/PESTLE can be used as a basis for the analysis of

business and environmental factors. [8]

Set objectives defining what the organization is going to

do

Environmental scanning

o Internal appraisals of the organization's SWOT, this

needs to include an assessment of the present

situation as well as a portfolio of products/services and

an analysis of the product/service life cycle

Analysis of existing strategies, this should determine

relevance from the results of an internal/external appraisal.

This may include gap analysis which will look at

environmental factors

Strategic Issues defined key factors in the development of

a corporate plan which needs to be addressed by the

organization

Develop new/revised strategies revised analysis of

strategic issues may mean the objectives need to change

Establish critical success factors the achievement of

objectives and strategy implementation

Preparation of operational, resource, projects plans for

strategy implementation

Monitoring results mapping against plans, taking

corrective action which may mean amending

objectives/strategies. [9]

Marketing

Main article: Marketing management

In many competitor analyses, marketers build detailed profiles of each

competitor in the market, focusing especially on their relative

competitive strengths and weaknesses using SWOT analysis. Marketing

managers will examine each competitor's cost structure, sources of

profits, resources and competencies, competitive positioning and product

differentiation, degree of vertical integration, historical responses to

industry developments, and other factors.

Marketing management often finds it necessary to invest in research to

collect the data required to perform accurate marketing analysis.

Accordingly, management often conducts market research (alternately

marketing research) to obtain this information. Marketers employ a

variety of techniques to conduct market research, but some of the more

common include:

Qualitative marketing research, such as focus groups

Quantitative marketing research, such as statistical surveys

Experimental techniques such as test markets

Observational techniques such as ethnographic (on-site)

observation

Marketing managers may also design and oversee various

environmental scanning and competitive intelligence

processes to help identify trends and inform the company's

marketing analysis.

Below is an example SWOT analysis of a market position of a small

management consultancy with specialism in HRM. [9]

Strengths

Reputation in

Weaknesses

Shortage of

Opportunities

Well established

Threats

Large

marketplace

consultants at

position with a

consultancies

operating level

well defined

operating at a

rather than

market niche

minor level

partner level

Expertise at

Unable to deal

Identified market

Other small

partner level in

with multi-

for consultancy

consultancies

HRM consultancy disciplinary

assignments

because of size

or lack of ability

See also

in areas other

than HRM

looking to invade

the marketplace

VRIO

References

Management Consulting". SRI Alumni Newsletter (SRI

Retrieved 2012-06-03.

Journal of Computer Science 4 (9): 706712. Jan 2008.

5. ^ Menon, A. et al. (1999). "Antecedents and Consequences

of Marketing Strategy Making". Journal of Marketing (American

Marketing Association) 63 (2): 1840. doi:10.2307/1251943.

6. ^ Hill, T. & R. Westbrook (1997). "SWOT Analysis: It’s Time

for a Product Recall". Long Range Planning 30 (1): 4652.

7. ^ Brendan Kitts, Leif Edvinsson and Tord Beding (2000)

Crystallizing knowledge of historical company performance into

interactive, query-able 3D Landscapes

8. ^ Armstrong. M. A handbook of Human Resource

Management Practice (10th edition) 2006, Kogan Page , London

9. ^ a b Armstrong.M Management Processes and Functions,

1996, London CIPD ISBN 0-85292-438-0

SWOT may refer to:

mission to make the first global survey of Earth’s surface water

SWOT analysis, a strategic planning method used to evaluate the

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a

project or business venture, industry or marketing evaluation

SWOT (manga), a Japanese media franchise

SWOT Analysis

Discover New Opportunities.

Manage and Eliminate Threats.

SWOT Analysis is a useful technique for understanding your Strengths

and Weaknesses, and for identifying both the Opportunities open to you

and the Threats you face.

Used in a business context, a SWOT Analysis helps you carve a

sustainable niche in your market. Used in a personal context, it helps

you develop your career in a way that takes best advantage of your

talents, abilities and opportunities. (Click here for Business SWOT

Business SWOT Analysis

What makes SWOT particularly powerful is that, with a little thought, it

can help you uncover opportunities that you are well placed to exploit.

And by understanding the weaknesses of your business, you can manage

and eliminate threats that would otherwise catch you unawares.

More than this, by looking at yourself and your competitors using the

SWOT framework, you can start to craft a strategy that helps you

distinguish yourself from your competitors, so that you can compete

successfully in your market.

How to Use SWOT Analysis

Originated by Albert S Humphrey in the 1960s, SWOT Analysis is as

useful now as it was then. You can use it in two ways - as a simple

icebreaker helping people get together to "kick off" strategy formulation,

or in a more sophisticated way as a serious strategy tool.

Tip: Strengths and weaknesses are often internal to your organization, while opportunities and threats generally

Tip:

Strengths and weaknesses are often internal to your organization, while

opportunities and threats generally relate to external factors. For this

reason the SWOT Analysis is sometimes called Internal-External

Analysis and the SWOT Matrix is sometimes called an IE Matrix.

To help you to carry out a SWOT Analysis, download and print off our

free worksheet, and write down answers to the following questions.

Strengths:

What advantages does your organization have?

What do you do better than anyone else?

What unique or lowest-cost resources can you draw upon that

others can't?

What do people in your market see as your strengths?

What factors mean that you "get the sale"?

What is your organization's Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

Consider your strengths from both an internal perspective, and from the

point of view of your customers and people in your market.

Also, if you're having any difficulty identifying strengths, try writing

down a list of your organization's characteristics. Some of these will

hopefully be strengths!

When looking at your strengths, think about them in relation to your

competitors. For example, if all of your competitors provide high quality

products, then a high quality production process is not a strength in your

organization's market, it's a necessity.

Weaknesses:

What could you improve?

What should you avoid?

What are people in your market likely to see as weaknesses?

What factors lose you sales?

Again, consider this from an internal and external basis: Do other people

seem to perceive weaknesses that you don't see? Are your competitors

doing any better than you?

It's best to be realistic now, and face any unpleasant truths as soon as

possible.

Opportunities:

What good opportunities can you spot?

What interesting trends are you aware of?

Useful opportunities can come from such things as:

Changes in technology and markets on both a broad and narrow

scale.

Changes in government policy related to your field.

Changes in social patterns, population profiles, lifestyle changes,

and so on.

Local events.

Tip: A useful approach when looking at opportunities is to look at your strengths and

Tip:

A useful approach when looking at opportunities is to look at your

strengths and ask yourself whether these open up any opportunities.

Alternatively, look at your weaknesses and ask yourself whether you

could open up opportunities by eliminating them.

whether you could open up opportunities by eliminating them. Threats  What obstacles do you face?

Threats

What obstacles do you face?

What are your competitors doing?

Are quality standards or specifications for your job, products or

services changing?

Is changing technology threatening your position?

Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems?

Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten your business?

Tip: When looking at opportunities and threats, PEST Analysis can help to ensure that you

Tip:

When looking at opportunities and threats, PEST Analysis can help to

ensure that you don't overlook external factors, such as new government

regulations, or technological changes in your industry.

regulations, or technological changes in your industry. Further SWOT Tips Mind Tools on Strategy:  SWOT

Further SWOT Tips

Mind Tools on Strategy:

SWOT Analysis

If you're using SWOT Analysis as a serious tool (rather than as a casual

"warm up" for strategy formulation), make sure you're rigorous in the

way you apply it:

Only accept precise, verifiable statements ("Cost advantage of

US$10/ton in sourcing raw material x", rather than "Good value

for money").

Ruthlessly prune long lists of factors, and prioritize them, so that

you spend your time thinking about the most significant factors.

Make sure that options generated are carried through to later

stages in the strategy formation process.

Apply it at the right level - for example, you might need to apply

SWOT Analysis at product or product-line level, rather than at the

much vaguer whole company level.

Use it in conjunction with other strategy tools (for example, USP

comprehensive picture of the situation you're dealing with.

picture of the situation you're dealing with. Note: You could also consider using the TOWS Matrix.

Note:

You could also consider using the TOWS Matrix. This is quite similar to

SWOT in that it also focuses on the same four elements of Strengths,

Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. But TOWS can be a helpful

alternative because it emphasizes the external environment, while

SWOT focuses on the internal environment.

environment, while SWOT focuses on the internal environment. Example SWOT Analysis A start-up small consultancy business

Example SWOT Analysis

A start-up small consultancy business might draw up the following

SWOT Analysis:

Strengths:

We are able to respond very quickly as we have no red tape, and

no need for higher management approval.

We are able to give really good customer care, as the current

small amount of work means we have plenty of time to devote to

customers.

Our lead consultant has strong reputation in the market.

We can change direction quickly if we find that our marketing is

not working.

We have low overheads, so we can offer good value to customers.

Weaknesses:

Our company has little market presence or reputation.

We have a small staff, with a shallow skills base in many areas.

We are vulnerable to vital staff being sick, and leaving.

Our cash flow will be unreliable in the early stages.

Opportunities:

Our business sector is expanding, with many future opportunities

for success.

Local government wants to encourage local businesses.

Our competitors may be slow to adopt new technologies.

Threats:

Developments in technology may change this market beyond our

ability to adapt.

A small change in the focus of a large competitor might wipe out

any market position we achieve.

As a result of their SWOT Analysis, the consultancy may decide to

specialize in rapid response, good value services to local businesses and

local government.

Marketing would be in selected local publications to get the greatest

possible market presence for a set advertising budget, and the

consultancy should keep up-to-date with changes in technology where

possible.

keep up-to-date with changes in technology where possible. Key Points SWOT Analysis is a simple but

Key Points

SWOT Analysis is a simple but useful framework for analyzing your

organization's strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and

threats that you face. It helps you focus on your strengths, minimize

threats, and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities

available to you.

SWOT Analysis can be used to "kick off" strategy formulation, or in a

more sophisticated way as a serious strategy tool. You can also use it to

get an understanding of your competitors, which can give you the

insights you need to craft a coherent and successful competitive position.

When carrying out your SWOT Analysis, be realistic and rigorous.

Apply it at the right level, and supplement it with other option-

generation tools where appropriate.

What is a SWOT analysis and why should you use one?

When do you use SWOT?

What are the elements of a SWOT analysis?

How do you create a SWOT analysis?

How do you use your SWOT analysis?

Opposition is an inevitable part of change and one that can significantly

impact your community organizing. However, if you know how to take

stock of the opposition inside and outside of your effort or group, you

are more likely to plan and act effectively.

That's where SWOT analysis comes in. SWOT can help you handle both

ordinary and unusual situations in your community health or

development initiative, by giving you a tool to explore both internal and

external factors that may influence your work.

What is a SWOT analysis and why should you use one?

The name says it: Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat. A SWOT

analysis guides you to identify the positives and negatives inside your

organization (S-W) and outside of it, in the external environment (O-T).

Developing a full awareness of your situation can help with both

strategic planning and decision-making.

The SWOT method (which is sometimes called TOWS) was originally

developed for business and industry, but it is equally useful in the work

of community health and development, education, and even personal

growth.

SWOT is not the only assessment technique you can use, but is one with

a long track record of effectiveness. Compare it with other tools found in

the Community Tool Box (especially Chapter 3) to determine if this is

the right approach for your situation. The strengths of this method are its

simplicity and application to a variety of levels of operation.

When do you use SWOT?

A SWOT analysis can offer helpful perspectives at any stage of an

effort. You might use it to:

Explore possibilities for new efforts or solutions to problems.

Make decisions about the best path for your initiative. Identifying

your opportunities for success in context of threats to success can

clarify directions and choices.

Determine where change is possible. If you are at a juncture or

turning point, an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses can

reveal priorities as well as possibilities.

Adjust and refine plans mid-course. A new opportunity might

open wider avenues, while a new threat could close a path that

once existed.

SWOT also offers a simple way of communicating about your initiative

or program and an excellent way to organize information you've

gathered from studies or surveys.

What are the elements of a SWOT analysis?

A SWOT analysis focuses on the four elements of the acronym, but the

graphic format you use varies depending on the depth and complexity of

your effort.

Remember that the purpose of performing a SWOT is to reveal positive

forces that work together and potential problems that need to be

addressed or at least recognized. Before you conduct a SWOT session,

decide what format or layout you will use to communicate these issues

most clearly for you.

We will discuss the process of creating the analysis below, but first here

are a few sample layouts-ideas of what your SWOT analysis can look

like.

You can list internal and external opposites side by side. Ask

participants to answer these simple questions: what are the strengths and

weaknesses of your group, community, or effort, and what are the

opportunities and threats facing it?

INTERNAL

EXTERNAL

Strengths

Weaknesses

Opportunities

Threats

Or if a looser structure helps you brainstorm, you can group positives

and negatives to think broadly about your organization and its external

environment.

Positives

Negatives

strengths

weaknesses

assets

limitations

resources

restrictions

opportunities

threats

prospects

challenges

And here's a third option for structuring your SWOT analysis that might

be appropriate for a large initiative that requires detailed planning or

many alternatives. This more elaborate "TOWS Matrix" is adapted from

Fred David's Strategic Management text (see "Print Resources"). Here a

working table guides you to identify strategies by matching items in

each quadrant.

 

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

1.

1.

2.

2.

3.

3.

4.

4.

OPPORTUNITIES

Opportunity-

Opportunity-

1.

Strength (OS)

Weakness (OW)

2.

Strategies

Strategies

3.

Use strengths to

Overcome weaknesses

4.

take advantage

by taking advantage of

of opportunities

opportunities

1.

1.

2.

2.

 

THREATS

Threat-Strength

Threat-Weakness

1.

(TS) Strategies

(TW) Strategies

2.

Use strengths to

Minimize weaknesses

3.

avoid threats

and avoid threats

4.

1.

1.

2.

2.

David gives an example for Campbell Soup Company that stresses

financial goals, but it also illustrates how you can pair the items within a

SWOT grid to develop strategies. (This version of the chart is

abbreviated.)

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

1. Current profit

1. Legal suits not

 

ratio increased

resolved

2.

Employee

2.

Plant capacity

morale high

has fallen

3.

Market share

3.

Lack of strategic

has increased

management

system

OPPORTUNITIES

Opportunity-

Opportunity-

1.

Western

Strength (OS)

Weakness (OW)

 

Strategies

Strategies

European

unification

2.

Rising health

Acquire food

Develop new

consciousness in

company in

Pepperidge Farm

selecting foods

Europe (S1, S3,

products (W1, O2,

3.

Demand for

 

O1)

O3)

soups increasing

Develop new

annually

healthy soups

 

(S2, O2)

 

THREATS

Threat-Strength

Threat-Weakness

1. Low value of

(TS) Strategies

(TW) Strategies

dollar

Develop new

Close unprofitable

2. Tin cans are not

biodegradable

European

biodegradable

soup containers

operations (W3,

(S1, T2)

T1)

This example also illustrates how threats can become opportunities (and

vice versa). The limitation of tin cans (which aren't biodegradable)

creates an opportunity for leadership in developing biodegradable

containers.

See "Tools and Checklists" for a basic SWOT form that you can use to

prompt analysis. Whatever format you use, though, don't be surprised if

your strengths and weaknesses don't precisely match up to your

opportunities and threats. You might need to refine, or you might need

to simply look at the facts longer, or from a different angle. Your chart,

list or table will certainly reveal patterns.

Listing Your Internal Factors: Strengths and Weaknesses (S, W)

Internal factors include your resources and experiences. General areas to

consider are:

Human resources - staff, volunteers, board members, target

population

Physical resources - your location, building, equipment (Does your

building have a prime location? Does it need renovations?)

Financial - grants, funding agencies, other sources of income

Activities and processes - programs you run, systems you employ

Past experiences - building blocks for learning and success, your

reputation in the community

Don't be too modest when listing your strengths. If you're having

difficulty naming them, start by simply listing your characteristics (e.g.,

we're small, we're connected to the neighborhood). Some of these will

probably be strengths.

Although the strengths and weakness of your organization are your

internal qualities, don't overlook the perspective of people outside your

group. Identify strengths and weaknesses from both your own point of

view and that of others-those you serve or deal with. Do others see

problems--or assets--that you don't?

How do you get information about how outsiders perceive your

strengths and weaknesses? You may know already if you've listened to

those you serve. If not, this might be the time to gather that type of

information. See "Related Sections" for ideas on conducting focus

groups, user surveys, listening sessions, and meetings.

Listing External Factors: Opportunities and Threats (O, T)

Cast a wide net for the external part of the assessment. No organization,

group, program, or neighborhood is immune to outside events and

forces. Consider your connectedness, for better and worse, as you

compile this part of your SWOT list.

Forces and facts that your group does not control include:

Future trends - in your field (Is research finding new treatments?)

or the culture (Do current movies highlight your cause?)

The economy - local, national, or international

Funding sources - foundations, donors, legislatures

Demographics - changes in the age, race, gender, culture of those

you serve or in your area

The physical environment (Is your building in a growing part of

town? Is the bus company cutting routes?)

Legislation (Do new federal requirements make your job

harder

or

easier?)

Local, national or international events

As a tool designed for businesses, the major threat to success for most

SWOT practitioners is "the competition." Programs to improve the

health and well-being of individuals and communities might not have

competitors in the market sense, but there could be overlap in services

with other agencies that you need to consider. Or perhaps preferences

for funding aren't favoring you you're interested in health promotions,

but treatment is getting all the resources.

So it can help to think of the "competition" in a broad sense as you

consider threats to your effort. Perhaps the competition for your target

population's time and attention exists in a competing unhealthy habit,

such as smoking, or in a societal force like tobacco advertising, or even

in the lure of couch and TV, which occupy time that might be given to

exercise.

How do you create a SWOT analysis?

Who develops the SWOT?

The most common users of a SWOT analysis are team members and

project managers who are responsible for decision-making and strategic

planning.

But don't overlook anyone in the creation stage!

An individual or small group can develop a SWOT analysis, but it will

be more effective if you take advantage of many stakeholders. Each

person or group offers a different perspective on the strengths and

weaknesses of your program and has different experiences of both.

Likewise, one staff member, or volunteer or stakeholder may have

information about an opportunity or threat that is essential to

understanding your position and determining your future.

When and where do you develop a SWOT analysis?

A SWOT analysis is often created during a retreat or planning session

that allows several hours for both brainstorming and more structured

analysis. The best results come when participants are encouraged to have

an open attitude about possibilities. While you might "SWOT" in

conjunction with an informational or business session, the tone when

creating a SWOT analysis is usually collaborative and inclusive.

When creating the analysis, all people involved are asked to pool their

individual and shared knowledge and experiences. The more relaxed,

friendly and constructive the setting and environment, the more truthful,

comprehensive, insightful and useful your analysis will be.

How do you develop a SWOT analysis?

Here's one way to proceed in a gathering to produce your analysis. (For

more ideas on meeting strategies, see Chapter 3, Section 3: Conducting

1. Designate a leader or group facilitator who has good listening and

group process skills, and who can keep things moving and on track.

2. Designate a recorder to back up the leader if your group is large. Use

newsprint on a flip chart or a large board to record the analysis and

discussion points. You can record later in a more polished fashion to

share with stakeholders and to update.

3.

Introduce the SWOT method and its purpose in your organization.

This can be as simple as asking, "Where are we, where can we go?" If

you have time, you could run through a quick example based on a shared

experience or well-known public issue (even the new TV season).

4. Depending on the nature of your group and the time available, let all

participants introduce themselves. Then divide your stakeholders into

smaller groups. If your retreat or meeting draws several groups of

stakeholders together, make sure you mix the small groups to get a range

of perspectives, and give them a chance to introduce themselves.

The size of these depends on the size of your entire group breakout

groups can range from three to ten. If the size gets much larger, some

members may not participate.

5. Have each group designate a recorder, and provide each with

newsprint or dry -erase board. Direct them to create a SWOT analysis in

the format you choose-a chart, columns, a matrix, or even a page for

each quality.

a. Give the groups 20-30 minutes to brainstorm and fill out their own

strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats chart for your program,

initiative or effort. Encourage them not to rule out any ideas at this stage,

or the next.

b. You can provide these tips for listing:

As you list, keep in mind that the way to have a good idea is to

have lots of ideas. Refinement can come later. In this way, the

SWOT analysis also supports valuable discussion within your

group or organization as you honestly assess.

In the beginning, though, it helps to generate lots of comments

about your organization and your program, and even to put them

in multiple categories if that provokes thought.

In the end, it is best to limit your lists to 10 or fewer points and to

be specific so the analysis can be truly helpful.

6. Reconvene the group at the agreed-upon time to share results. Gather

information from the groups, recording on the flip-chart or board.

Collect and organize the differing groups' ideas and perceptions.

Decide before hand how you will gather the input. There are at least two

ways to do so:

a. Proceed in S-W-O-T order, recording strengths first, weaknesses

second, etc.

b. Or you can begin by calling for the top priorities in each category -the

strongest strength, most dangerous weakness, biggest opportunity, worst

threat--and continue to work across each category.

There are also at least two ways to take information from the groups.

a. Ask one group at a time to report ("Group A, what do you see as

strengths?") You can vary which group begins the report so a certain

group isn't always left "bringing up the end" and repeating points made

by others. ("Group B, let's start with you for weaknesses.")

b. Or, you can open the floor to all groups ("What strengths have you

noted?") for each category until all have contributed what they think is

needed.

Whichever way you proceed, the facilitator or recorder should keep

writing until the input from all groups is recorded. Note repeated items

across groups for "weighting" of important possibilities.

You might want to discuss some of the items as they come up. In fact,

cross connections between categories-"This strength plays into that

opportunity"-is what you're pursuing, so a good facilitator will tease out

those insights as they arise.

At the same time, you want to keep the process moving until all the chart

is complete, so facilitator and recorder should work together to begin a

fifth column or new page-one for working ideas.

Encourage the participants to also make notes of ideas and insights as

you build so the drawing together process will continue to be creative

and collaborative.

7. Discuss and record the results. Depending on your time frame and

purpose:

Come to some consensus about the most important items in each

category

Relate the analysis to your vision, mission, and goals

Translate the analysis to action plans and strategies.

8. If appropriate, prepare a written summary of the SWOT analysis to

give or e-mail to participants for continued use in planning and

implementing your effort.

How do you use your SWOT analysis?

In some ways a SWOT analysis pushes you to think "inside the box" by

asking you to categorize your effort in such simple opposing terms. But

the purpose of this information gathering is definitely to help you move

outside the box of any constraints or limitations that may have hindered

you before.

Knowledge is indeed power, and knowing what the positives and

negatives of your program are puts you in a more powerful position for

action. While a SWOT analysis is not in itself action, it can be a

"support team" to help you:

Identify the issues or problems you intend to change

Set or reaffirm goals

Create an action plan

The "Example" included with this section illustrates how SWOT can

help discover areas for action.

And as you consider your analysis, remember the half-full glass. Be

open to the possibilities that exist within a weakness or threat. Likewise,

recognize that an opportunity can become a threat if everyone else sees

the opportunity and plans to take advantage of it as well, thereby

increasing your competition.

Finally, during your assessment and planning, you might keep an image

in mind to help you make the most of a SWOT analysis: Look for a

"stretch," not just a "fit." As Radha Balamuralikrishna and John C.

Dugger of Iowa State University point out, SWOT usually reflects your

current position or situation. Therefore one drawback is that it might not

encourage openness to new possibilities. You can use SWOT to justify a

course that has already been decided upon, but if your goal is to grow or

improve, you will want to use it differently. (See "Internet Resources"

below for this article.)

In Summary

A realistic recognition of the weaknesses and threats that exist for your

effort is the first step to countering them with a robust and creative set of

strengths and opportunities. A SWOT analysis identifies your strengths,

weaknesses, opportunities and threats to assist you in making strategic

plans and decisions.

SWOT is a simple yet comprehensive way of assessing the positive and

negative forces within and without your organization, so you can be

better prepared to act effectively. The more stakeholders you involve in

preparing the SWOT, the more valuable your analysis will be.

Whatever courses of action you decide on, the four-cornered SWOT

analysis prompts you to move in a balanced way throughout your

program. It reminds you to:

build on your strengths

minimize your weaknesses

seize opportunities

counteract threats

A SWOT analysis will be most helpful if you use it to support the vision,

mission, and objectives you have already defined. The SWOT will at

least provide perspective, and at best will reveal connections and areas

for action.

We encourage the reproduction of this material, but ask that you

credit the

Community Tool Box: http://ctb.ku.edu

Resources

Print

David, Fred R. (1993). Strategic Management, 4th Ed. New York:

Macmillan Publishing Company. (Dr. David also maintains a strategic

planning web site, Checkmate Plan, and is available by e-mail at

Jones, Bernie. (1990). Neighborhood Planning: A Guide for Citizens and

Planners. Chicago and Washington, D.C.: Planners Press, American

Planning Association.

Internet

Radha Balamuralikrishna and John C. Dugger describe use of a SWOT

analysis to initiate new programs in vocational schools; article appeared

in Journal of Vocational and Technical Education.

Helpful guide from Management Sciences for Health and United

Nations Children's Fund.

A quick overview from Mindtools Books.