What is a SWOT analysis and why should you use one?
SWOT stands for: Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat. A SWOT analysis guides you to identify your organization’s strengths and weaknesses (S-W), as well as broader opportunities and threats (O-T). Developing a fuller awareness of the situation helps with both strategic planning and decision-making.
The SWOT method was originally developed for business and industry, but it is equally useful in the work of community health and development, education, and even for personal growth.
SWOT is not the only assessment technique you can use.
When do you use SWOT?
A SWOT analysis can offer helpful perspectives at any stage of an effort. You might use it to:
- Explore possibilities for new efforts or solutions to problems.
- Make decisions about the best path for your initiative. Identifying your opportunities for success in context of threats to success can clarify directions and choices.
- Determine where change is possible. If you are at a juncture or turning point, an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses can reveal priorities as well as possibilities.
- Adjust and refine plans mid-course. A new opportunity might open wider avenues, while a new threat could close a path that once existed.
SWOT also offers a simple way of communicating about your initiative or program and an excellent way to organize information you’ve gathered from studies or surveys.
What are the elements of a SWOT analysis?
A SWOT analysis focuses on Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Remember that the purpose of performing a SWOT is to reveal positive forces that work together and potential problems that need to be recognized and possibly addressed.
We will discuss the process of creating the analysis below, but first here are a few sample layouts for your SWOT analysis.
Ask participants to answer these simple questions: what are the strengths and weaknesses of your group, community, or effort, and what are the opportunities and threats facing it?