SWOT Analysis

A Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat (SWOT) analysis guides you to identify the positives and negatives inside your organization (S-W) and outside of it, in the external environment (O-T). SWOT is a simple way to identify the issues or problems you intend to change. It facilitates assessing the positive and negative forces within and without your initiative, to be better prepared to act effectively. A realistic recognition of the weaknesses and threats that exist for your effort is the first step to countering them with a creative set of strengths and opportunities

Conducting a SWOT analysis

  1. Designate a leader or group facilitator who has good listening and group process skills, and who can keep things moving and on track.
  2. Designate a recorder. Use a flip chart or white board to record the analysis and discussion points.
  3. Introduce the SWOT method and its purpose for your initiative. This can be as simple as asking, “Where are we, where can we go?” If you have time, you could run through a quick example based on a shared experience or well-known public issue.
  4. Divide participants into smaller groups.
  5. Provide flip chart paper to each group and ask them to designate a recorder.
    • Give the groups 20-30 minutes to brainstorm and identify strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats chart for your initiative. Encourage them not to rule out any ideas.
    • Remind groups that the way to develop a good idea is to consider lots of ideas. Refinement can come later. In this way, the SWOT analysis also supports valuable, honest discussion within your group.
    • Once a list has been generated, refine it to the best 10 or fewer points so that the analysis can be truly helpful.

Reconvene the larger group to share results. Gather information from the groups, recording on the flip chart or board.

  1. Proceed in S-W-O-T order, recording strengths first, weaknesses second, etc.
  2. Ask one group at a time to report. You can vary which group reports first so the same group isn’t always reporting last and repeating points made by others.
  3. Discuss and record the results. Depending on your time frame and purpose:
    • Come to consensus about the most important items in each category
    • Relate the analysis to your vision and goals
    • Translate the analysis to action plans and strategies
  4. Prepare a written summary of the SWOT analysis to e-mail to participants for continued use while planning and implementing your effort.
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