What if you could summarize all the strengths, weaknesses, and threats of your organization in a simple exercise that could guide your organizational strategy over many years? What if you could do it?
You would. The good news is that this type of exercise already has the foundations.
It’s also known as a SWOT analysis. In this article, we’ll explain what SWOT analysis is and how to do it. We’ll also give you several examples to help you create your own analysis.
What is a SWOT analysis?
SWOT analysis is a framework to make informed, calculated decisions.
SWOT analysis is one tool in the project manager’s arsenal. It can also be used to help with strategic planning and decision-making.
SWOT can be used for analysis of individuals, teams, businesses, organizations, and even products. You can even use it to make everyday decisions.
What should you have for breakfast? SWOT it. Where should you go this weekend? SWOT it. How to lose weight? It’s easy.
SWOT analysis can sound a bit confusing because it is so open-ended. Here’s a quick video to help you understand SWOT analysis.
SWOT analysis is not a tool that helps you decide what to do. It’s more about helping you decide whether or not you should do something. SWOT analysis is, in other words, less of a guide and more of an aide-mémoire.
SWOT analysis’s ultimate goal is to match strengths and opportunities to identify a clear path towards success or to uncover weaknesses that could potentially be exploited to improve your organizational strategy.
This SWOT analysis helps to inform risk management.
How to write a SWOT analysis that is effective
Brainwriting, or brainstorming, is the first step to creating a SWOT analysis. Gather your team and use a whiteboard to brainstorm strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, and other information.
Here’s a quick overview of each element in SWOT to help get you started.
Strengths: What are your strengths? What can you offer people that others don’t have or don’t?
Weaknesses: What is it that your team isn’t very good at that others do better?
Opportunities: What areas could your organization thrive in that it’s not currently taking advantage?
Threats: What are some external factors–competitors, consumer demand, economic conditions–that could make it more difficult for your team to succeed?
The first two letters are focused on things you can control internally, while those in the last two focus more on external environmental conditions that your company will have to address.
Once you have a few ideas for each quadrant you can fill the template and begin making connections.
Get started with a SWOT analysis template for free
Here’s a SWOT analysis template you can use to fill in your own strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. Next, we’ll discuss what to do after you’ve completed the template. Below are some examples of SWOT analyses that were created using the same template.
Once you’ve completed the SWOT worksheet, it is time to translate your brainstorming into concrete next steps.
How can I use a SWOT analysis to my advantage?
Begin by looking for connections. It’s a good idea to be aggressive if you can clearly see the connections between your strengths and potential opportunities. For example, if your sunglasses business caters specifically to young people and you have the opportunity to open a new location close to a college campus.