SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) is an analytical framework that can help organizations to face their greatest challenges and find the most promising new markets, fosters strategic planning and decision-making process.
Duration: Long (more than 1 hour)
Complexity: Not defined
Group size: 1 - 15 persons
SWOT is an analysing and innovation tool, for business or industry, but it could also be applied in-group or individually on very broad areas of application. This technique was developed by a research group including Robert Steward, Mariod Dosher, Otis Benepe, Birger Lie and Alber Humphrey in 1960's. The SWOT analysis facilitates discovering opportunities for new efforts or solutions to problems in complex situations in order to make decisions, and identify alternatives in the context of possible threats. This method outlines where change is possible and reveals strengths and weaknesses that can help to identify priorities as well as possibilities. The SWOT method can also be used, to improve and refine on-going plans and reveal new opportunities with wider avenues.
- Prepare a small example of a SWOT analysis matrix
- Provide space to build and work in the sub groups
- Designate moderator who has well-crafted listening and group process skills, someone who can keep things moving on the track.
- If your group is large, also designate a recorder to support the leader. Use a flipchart or a large board to record the analysis and discussion points.
- Introduce the SWOT method and its purpose in your organization. This can be as simple as asking, "Where are we, where can we go?"
- Depending on the nature of your group and the time available, let all participants introduce themselves. Then divide your stakeholders into smaller groups (3-10).
- 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.
- 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.
- Remind groups 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.
- 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.
- Once a list has been generated, it helps to refine it to the best 10 or fewer points so that the analysis can be truly helpful.
- Reconvene the group at the agreed-upon time to share results. Gather information from the groups, recording on the flipchart or board. Collect and organize the differing groups' ideas and perceptions.
- Proceed in S-W-O-T order, recording strengths first, weaknesses second, etc.
- 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.
- Ask one group at a time to report. 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.
- Or, you can open the floor to all groups for each category until all have contributed what they think is needed.
- 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
- If appropriate, prepare a written summary of the SWOT analysis to share with participants for continued use in planning and implementation.
Hints from experience
As you consider your analysis, be open to the possibilities that exist within a weakness or threat. 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.
- Board markers or pencils
Ctb.ku.edu,. Section 14. SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Retrieved 6 August 2015, from http://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/assessment/assessing-community-needs-and-resources/swot-analysis/main
Humphrey, A. (2005). SWOT analysis for management consulting. SRI Alumni Newsletter (SRI International), 1.
Pelz, W. SWOT Analyse: Beispiele, Geschichte und Tipps zur Umsetzung. Retrieved from, http://www.wpelz.de/ress/swot.pdf
SWOT Analysis Activity. Retrieved from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/SWOT.html