Time to make that BIG push to 2012! Time to start getting your life in order! Time to devote totally to yourself!
Take some time for yourself and complete the SWOT Analysis and find your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats:
How to Use SWOT Analysis
Originated by Albert S Humphrey in the 1960s, SWOT Analysis is as useful now as it was then. You can use it in two ways - as a simple icebreaker helping people get together to "kick off" strategy formulation, or in a more sophisticated way as a serious strategy tool.
Consider your strengths from both an internal perspective, and from the point of view of your customers and people in your market.
- What advantages does your organization have?
- What do you do better than anyone else?
- What unique or lowest-cost resources can you draw upon that others can't?
- What do people in your market see as your strengths?
- What factors mean that you "get the sale"?
- What is your organization's Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
You should also be realistic - it's far too easy to fall prey to "not invented here syndrome." Also, if you're having any difficulty with this, try writing down a list of your organization's characteristics. Some of these will hopefully be strengths!
When looking at your strengths, think about them in relation to your competitors. For example, if all of your competitors provide high quality products, then a high quality production process is not a strength in your organization's market, it's a necessity.
- What could you improve?
- What should you avoid?
- What are people in your market likely to see as weaknesses?
- What factors lose you sales?
It's best to be realistic now, and face any unpleasant truths as soon as possible.
- What good opportunities can you spot?
- What interesting trends are you aware of?
- Changes in technology and markets on both a broad and narrow scale.
- Changes in government policy related to your field.
- Changes in social patterns, population profiles, lifestyle changes, and so on.
- Local events.
A useful approach when looking at opportunities is to look at your strengths and ask yourself whether these open up any opportunities. Alternatively, look at your weaknesses and ask yourself whether you could open up opportunities by eliminating them.
- What obstacles do you face?
- What are your competitors doing?
- Are quality standards or specifications for your job, products or services changing?
- Is changing technology threatening your position?
- Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems?
- Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten your business?
Further SWOT TipsIf you're using SWOT Analysis as a serious tool (rather than as a casual "warm up" for strategy formulation), make sure you're rigorous in the way you apply it:
- Only accept precise, verifiable statements ("Cost advantage of US$10/ton in sourcing raw material x", rather than "Good value for money").
- Ruthlessly prune long lists of factors, and prioritize them, so that you spend your time thinking about the most significant factors.
- Make sure that options generated are carried through to later stages in the strategy formation process.
- Apply it at the right level - for example, you might need to apply SWOT Analysis at product or product-line level, rather than at the much vaguer whole company level.
- Use it in conjunction with other strategy tools (for example, USP Analysis and Core Competence Analysis) so that you get a comprehensive picture of the situation you're dealing with.
- SWOT Analysis is a simple but useful framework for analyzing your organization's strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats that you face. It helps you focus on your strengths, minimize threats, and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available to you.
- SWOT Analysis can be used to "kick off" strategy formulation, or in a more sophisticated way as a serious strategy tool. You can also use it to get an understanding of your competitors, which can give you the insights you need to craft a coherent and successful competitive position.