Snap your Strategy together with a SWOT
Some people believe in “doing strategy” once every few years; I disagree. The most successful clients I work with treat strategy as a crucial rhythmn of their business. One of my favorite strategy tools is a SWOT analysis, which highlights an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It also helps indicate strategies that may be otherwise overlooked by the organization. It’s like flossing - good for health, but easy to forget.
What is a SWOT Analysis?
A decent SWOT analysis can be accomplished in a couple of hours. What you need to do is enlist not only yourself but a cadre of key collaborators - your top staff members, perhaps a few trusted customers, and for your nonprofits out there, your volunteers, board members and/or clients. Once you’ve gotten this crew assembled, unleash their minds on brainstorming what are the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
You’ll likely encounter a mix of ideas - including some surprises. What you want to do next is, for each area, rank order the results in priority of importance. Expect some disagreements here. This is healthy; disagreements can illustrate where people have blind spots and help the group come to a better understanding of its own reality.
You should have rank-ordered lists for each of the SWOT categories by now. That’s great. The next step, which people often forget to do, is to use what’s known as a “TOWS matrix.” It’s a fancy way of saying that you’re thinking about how your Strengths match up to your Opportunities, and so on. It looks like this:
Finally once you’ve exhausted yourself thinking of strategies, rank order them in terms of priority. You should have a short list of 3-4 strategies that emerge from this exercise that everyone can get behind. Assign responsibilities and create some brief action plans, and voila - you’ve got new strategic initiatives for the quarter.
I hope you found this article informative. If you’d like to work on a SWOT analysis with me, please call or book a free consultation so that we discuss how to craft your SWOT.