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What is a SWOT Analysis?

19/06/2017

What is a SWOT Analysis?

Well firstly, here’s what SWOT stands for:

Strengths

Weaknesses

Opportunities

Threats

Ok, so what? What's it good for?

Pretty much anything you want to analyse. You could undertake a SWOT on yourself, your team, your department, your organisation, a project or venture… The list goes on.

The SWOT analysis is split into Internal and External factors, positives and negatives, and usually forms a grid.

Internal - Strengths (positives) and Weaknesses (negatives)

External - Opportunities (positives) and Threats (negatives)

 

Why would you use it?

Well, theres a lot of planning tools out there and in my opinion this is a simple, straight forward, easy to use tool that helps the user focus on the analysis. Basically, it’s the first step to engaging the brain into planning mode. What’s so great is that ANYONE can use this method. You don’t need to be a strategic thinker or a mathematical analyst. The SWOT is naturally designed around how the human brain tends to think and plan anyway. Now you might think, well if that’s how we think then why have a ‘tool’ for it?

These tools help you ‘focus’. An excitable mind about a project or a born entrepreneur sometimes needs that guide that will steer and develop creative innovative thoughts into a form of realistic delivery which allows you to plan but forces you to consider what might go wrong. This is something that the majority of people will admit they don’t like to think about. Being positive is great, but being realistic is essential.

If you are blessed with the ability to step out of a situation and look in from the inside without emotion, you may find that a SWOT is something you can undertake without input from others. However, in my experience having the right amount of relevant contributors is going to make your analysis so much more balanced.

Undertaking a SWOT on your organisation usually needs a team and this would depend on what it was for, what you are hoping to achieve and the size and structure of the organisation. For example, a SWOT analysis on a small to medium sized business is a powerful tool for decision makers if they include the right people with enough experience of the company to give valuable input. I personally have used it for strategic planning, operations and departments.

It is useful though, to undertake an analysis with your own thoughts first and then include others to see how far apart you are, if at all. You don't necessarily need to have completed our ILM NVQ Level 7 Diploma in Strategic Management & Leadership in order to be able to think strategically, especially with the help of the SWOT analysis.

Coming soon, how to undertake a SWOT analysis and what it looks like…

Thank you

Cheryl Watson

Specialist Vocational Training Ltd