S.W.O.T. Like a pro

Melanie Touchstone | April 16, 2019

SWOT exercises are an important part of many strategy sessions. It is the use of a grid to lay out your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. While many go into the exercise believing it is all stuff they already know, but when done correctly, many find surprising revelations, a newfound alignment and a new perspective on the company and the people in it. 

The key is to do it correctly and with the right people. Often, people make the mistake of only inviting  leadership to be involved in the exercise. Ideally, you bring in representatives from your company that can speak to their perspective – this should span job category as well as experience level. Some of the most important insights can come from entry level employees. 

Remember that strengths and weaknesses are an internal view of what is and is not allowing your company to operate optimally. 

Opportunities and threats are external. They are factors out of your control that can be leveraged for success or alternatively, could jeopardize performance. 

Approach Strengths and weaknesses from an internal point of view. Strengths are about what the company is great at and what differentiates them from competitors. For example, proprietary technology that out paces competitors. 

Weaknesses are what is keeping the company from being the best it can be. It should include areas that need improvement. One example is a high employee turnover rate.  

 Opportunities and threats are external. Opportunities are about external factors that the company can leverage to perform optimally. An example could be a social media trend that has put a product category in the spotlight. 

Threats are the opposite – external factors that could jeopardize company success. For example, new legislation that negatively impacts the supply chain.  


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