Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Now, it's important to identify your S. W. O. T. Before starting on your organization's business or strategic plan because it gives you a great snapshot of your business and a baseline for your strategy. Scott: Basically, you want to figure out how to build on your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, seize your opportunities and counteract your threats. So how you do you conduct a S. W. O. T. Analysis? Let's talk about some best practices.
Diane: Well, first you want to make sure you have your company's stakeholders present - people whose opinions will give you the best perspective of where the business is. You want a variety of perspectives, not Just the CEO or SCOFF, who might only have a 30,000-foot view of the organization. Scott: Makes sense... So, you want to invite the entire management team to participate as much as possible to get perspectives from the people who do the work, as well as people who plan and oversee the work. Diane: Exactly.
Obviously you don't want the meeting to be too large and unwieldy, so oh might want to ask managers for their opinions a week or two before the meeting. Asking them for their input can help gain their buy-in to your strategy - because you've asked them to help create it. You're basically telling them, "l care what you think and I take you seriously as a manager. " Soot Discussion By snakebite comes to the meeting armed with input from the line. It sounds like this should be a formal meeting - almost an event. Diane: Yes. A S. W. O. T. Analysis is best conducted as a formal meeting and it's a great dead to have an impartial facilitator if you can - someone who isn't part of the business - to help the team wade through the brainstorming of topics. An impartial facilitator can also bring up some tough questions that someone in the organization may not want to or be able to do. Scott: So essentially you want to brainstorm the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and capture them in an organized way so that you can use them in your strategy. Is there a best way to do this?
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Diane: There are lots of ways to organize the information. Obviously, you want to cribber the information as you brainstorm it on a whiteboard or flowchart. If it's a virtual meeting, you would use a virtual whiteboard so everyone can see what you've captured. Scott: And you probably want to capture it in a matrix fashion so that you are able to see the information side by side - strengths versus weaknesses, opportunities versus threats. It's also a good idea to post your vision and mission statement somewhere in the room so that what you're brainstorming supports your mission and vision.
Diane: As you brainstorm, note that your strengths and weaknesses reflect your internal processes, while opportunities and threats refer to external factors. So a strength might be your organization's knowledge capital in your particular industry - you have lots of industry experts working for you. A weakness may be that you have quite a few of them at or nearing retirement age. This leaves open an opportunity to strategies a solution - pour it into your strategic plan. Scott: An opportunity might be that you want to enter a new market because that industry is seeing explosive growth.
A threat might be that you face a great many competitors in that particular market. This gives you an opportunity to strategies for marketing and business development accordingly. Diane: Let's talk to someone who conducts S. W. O. T. Analyses. We have with us, Ron Thompson, an IT and Risk Management Executive. Hello Ron and welcome to our show. We're discussing best practices for putting a S. W. TO. Analysis into place. I know you feel strongly about incorporating metrics into the process. Ron: Well Diane, I find that putting metrics in place as soon as possible for a S. W. O. T. Analysis will increase the quality of the analysis, measurably.
But, for instance, when owing, when looking at strengths and weaknesses one needs to list each strength and in one column of a spreadsheet and in the next column, I'll list the impact that that strength or weakness of the organization would have on the outcome of this initiative; Just a subjective ranking of 1 to 5. And then in the next column, I'll list either a positive 1, a plus 1 for a strength, a negative 1 for a weakness, those two factors multiply to give us a column of, actually, a column that will total to the difficulty of this, it would be a difficulty score of this initiative given its strengths and nakedness.
Now when looking at opportunities and threats, you have to keep in mind that you want to think of every threat to each opportunity you list to do a complete analysis. So you might list one opportunity several times in your spreadsheet if it has several threats. So opportunity and threat combinations down the left side and for every threat/opportunity combination what I'll do is I'll again, I'll list the impact of the opportunity on the value of this initiative and in the next column list the probability of occurrence of that threat; what's the likelihood that that wreath will actually occur.
Now when you multiply those two across, you get a factor that represents the risk to the initiative and of course that can be very useful in zeroing in on the threats you really need to pay attention to. Diane: Those are excellent points, Ron. Thanks so much for being here with us and sharing your experience. It's valuable for our class to hear perspectives from professionals who are doing the work. Ron: My pleasure, Diane. Scott: The last thing we want to mention is follow-through. A S. W. O. T. Analysis is only s good as what you've made actionable.
Diane: Absolutely. Again, you need to create specific actions in your plan to build on your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, seize your opportunities and counteract your threats. Sir Francis Bacon once said, "Knowledge is Power. " That is true, to be sure, but only if you use it. Scott: Well, that wraps up our broadcast for this week. In our next edition, we will talk about strategic planning and developing contingency factors to incorporate into your strategic plan. Diane: Until next time. [End of Audio]
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