SWOT can also be used in planning that’s not strategic. For example, it can help you create marketing plans, staffing plans, business plans and almost any other plan you need.
However, to maximize your success, you must follow the process with discipline and without bias.
As an example, if the leaders believe a strength of the organization is customer service, but they don’t measure customer service, then how do they know it’s a strength? Unfortunately, their bias trumps the formal measurement process; therefore, their plan may become flawed.
In another example, the leaders believe one of their greatest opportunities is to develop and introduce Product XYZ to customers, but they have no market data to support the idea. Why would the plan be implemented if it lacks the research behind it?
It’s easy to list a strength, a weakness, an opportunity, or a weakness. However, it takes unbiased effort and discipline to substantiate the listed items. It also takes open discussion and healthy debate to take the correct actions. That’s why many organizations bring in an outside perspective to facilitate the discussion. Sometimes the internal bias (such as “best customer service in the industry”) isn’t even recognized until an outsider constructively brings it to your attention.
A SWOT analysis requires more than gathering a list of action items and working them. You must adopt a structured approach to prioritizing these items that have the greatest impact on the business, then build action plans to achieve them. To get you started, you can download a set of complimentary SWOT worksheets here. Contact me if you think you’d like to receive additional tools or templates.
Yes, the SWOT process can help you create a winning strategy, but you must be unbiased, disciplined, and strategic in your approach. SWOT works for serious leaders.