How to Leverage a SWOT Analysis in Your Organisation



Whether you’re an organisation of three people or three-thousand people, a SWOT analysis is an invaluable tool for everyone in the organisation to cast a critical eye at your operation. Casting this critical eye is essential because you can better position your organisation for the future, capitalise on the things you’re already doing well, and address possible solutions for the areas in which you’re under-performing.


It’s one thing to know what a SWOT analysis is, and an entirely different skill in itself knowing how to properly leverage it for your success, so in recognition of this, I’m putting together this piece of content for you running through the skeleton of SWOT analysis and putting into the context of doing business.


What’s the point?


Well, to put it simply, exercising a SWOT analysis regularly in your organisation is often the separation between highly efficient and effective organisations with their peers that are struggling to keep their heads above water. It’s tough to do business, no one will argue that- so why not prepare yourself as best as possible? Putting a SWOT analysis into practice in your organisation requires very little investment of time and resources on your part, and returns an attractive dividend when you consider how much more effective you’ll be at planning for the future once you’ve got a clearer picture of how your organisation is tracking along.


Well, to put it simply, exercising a SWOT analysis regularly in your organisation is often the separation between highly efficient and effective organisations with their peers that are struggling to keep their heads above water. It’s tough to do business, no one will argue that- so why not prepare yourself as best as possible? Putting a SWOT analysis into practice in your organisation requires very little investment of time and resources on your part, and returns an attractive dividend when you consider how much more effective you’ll be at planning for the future once you’ve got a clearer picture of how your organisation is tracking along.


When you consider the rewards you’re likely to reap through implementing a SWOT analysis, you’re wasting your time not doing one.


Data-Driven Improvement




Before we get into the meat of the topic, let’s first talk about the importance of collecting data surrounding your organisation. Having an effective dashboard of statistics can prove invaluable when it comes to a SWOT analysis, for both the purposes of expediting the process, and making it as accurate as you possible can. I’ll go into more depth on the topic of statistics in a piece here on our blog soon, but for now, I’ll just mention that if you make your SWOT analysis as data-driven as possible, you’ll be much better positioned to both identify changes that need to be made, as well as the effectiveness of your previously-implemented policies to determine whether or not they are having the desired impact. If you can narrow the scope of your inquiry, the lens through which you’re looking at your operations, the more likely you’ll be to direct your organisation's time and resources to the right place at the right time.


What’s required by a SWOT analysis?


All a SWOT analysis requires is for you and your team to take a step back from your operations, and cast an objective eye over your organisation as a whole. Once you’ve taken a step back you analyse the organisation in respect to its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, listing as many as you and your team can for each section.

Your strengths are made up of: what you’re already excelling at, as well as the areas in which you’re exceeding customer expectations, the key staff members of departments with specialised knowledge your organisation can leverage as you do business, as well as any tangible assets the organisation has, like intellectual property or sophisticated technology that might trump your organisation’s competitors. Consider things like your company’s reputation in the market; if it’s a point of pride for your organisation that you’re by far the most trustworthy or customer-oriented offering currently on the market- keep leveraging that.


Your weaknesses are comprised by the things that your competitors do better than your organisation, or something key to doing business that your organisation is lacking in. It could also represent the limitations of your organisation- be them resources or knowledge. This part of the SWOT analysis isn’t to necessarily get you depressed about the current state of your organisation, it’s quite the opposite really. If you’re first aware of your organisation’s short-fallings, you’re presented with a new equation for solving the problem: be it the allocation of resources to fix a problem, hire new talent or train existing staff. Getting honest feedback from everyone in your organisation as to why projects aren’t being delivered on time, or why some customers have given negative feedback - despite the negative connotations - are actually great learning exercises for you to leverage on your journey to continual improvement.


Your opportunities are represented by markets for your organisation’s product or service that are being underserved or under-delivered. Perhaps you’re operating in an industry with fewer competitors, or there’s a new-found need for your product or service that is beginning to trend upward. Maybe your marketing or sales teams are excelling and delivering more leads than you’re used to; whatever the reason, it’s important to get an idea of your opportunities to expand your operations and serve customers with a better quality product or service.


Your threats represent negative aspects like the potential for your organisation - or the wider industry - to be disrupted by a competitor racing onto the stage, or a rapidly changing regulatory or legal environment that leaves your organisation with the need to pivot its operations or combat negative media coverage which could spur changing attitudes from your customers toward your organisation. If it poses a threat, no matter how small the potential of that threat is, your organisation needs to consider ultimately how detrimental it could be to your success, and in turn, will act to implement ways to negate the risk.

All of these threads tie closely together, as your threats will hopefully soon turn into opportunities, and ultimately into strengths of yours.

I'll be continuing this thread in the coming days and weeks as we dive in deeper to the external and internal factors in respect to a SWOT analysis, as well as a handful of tips and tricks to help you throughout the process.

If you haven’t already, check out my four-part thread on appreciative inquiry- you’re missing out. After touching on how analysing your weaknesses, opportunities and threats can be useful for a repositioning of your organisation, appreciative inquiry hones-in on what you’re doing well, and asks you to double-down on it. It’s one of the simplest and most effective means of inspiring a cycle of positive change in your organisation, so I encourage you to check out the content I’ve written on our blog as we dive into the concept of appreciative inquiry in the context of doing business.


Thanks for your time,


Kobi Simmat.

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