How to make the most of a SWOT Analysis

In conventional SWOT analysis information is captured as a set of individual statements that can be used and referred to at a later date. The issue here is that no contextual information is not normally captured and the information that is generated is not normally linked to the organisations strategic model.

We take a very different approach to the SWOT analysis.

We use a participative approach to encourage people to contribute their thoughts and ideas relating to the SWOT analysis.  This includes creating causal links amongst the various elements of the analysis to each other (where appropriate) and also, critically to the relevant elements of the strategy  model.  This effectively creates a map of the SWOT analysis, as well as integrating that map into the overall strategy map.

As part of this integration into the strategy model, we look for opportunities to identify actions or activities from the process as follows:

We always seek to turn weaknesses and threats around in order to identify the actions that need to be taken to counteract them.  Similarly, we would seek to identify activities that would maximise the organisations strengths and the opportunities that are available to it.

As can be seen from the diagram these activities form the base of the strategy model.  This is, therefore, a critical step in creating the strategic plan as it helps to identify the important activities that the organisation needs to take in order to get from where it is to where it want to be.

For example, if the organisation identifies an weakness of poor morale, we would seek to understand the cause of the poor morale.  This may be due to poor communication, over work, poor working environment, etc.

Once we have identified the root causes then we can create action plans to correct issues – this may include working towards an Investors in People accreditation, for example.

Once we have completed the SWOT analysis and linked it to the business strategy, we will develop strategies to enhance strengths, eliminate weaknesses, take advantage of opportunities, and counteract threats.

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