Build your own SWOT form as easy as 1-2-3!
During a spontaneous fit of year end cleaning
office the other day, a tool fell out of the closet and
landed on my foot. Luckily, it wasn't a hammer or
worse, an anvil. It was a paper SWOT form for
I suspect it appeared as a reminder from the universe
me to use this tool more often with clients and also
with my own business.
If you're not familiar with SWOT, don't confuse
it with S.W.A.T., the police team with the special
The SWOT I'm referring to is a process for identifying:
For use with a group or individually, the SWOT
exercise helps all team members recognize what's
good and what is not so good about a business,
organization or project.
SWOT was introduced to the business world in the
1960's and 1970's in a project at Stanford University
by Albert Humphrey. The process focuses on
specifying the objective of a business, individual
or project and listing the factors that are helping
or hurting achievement of the objective.
You'll like the fact that the SWOT process is fairly
simple and is easy to begin.
- Divide a sheet of paper, poster board or white
board into quadrants.
- Label the quadrants: Strengths, Weaknesses,
Opportunities and Threats.
- Begin to add the items that make up SWOT in a
brainstorming fashion. Evaluate and prioritize
You can do this as a group project with team
members, or individually. According to business
consultant Gordon Smith of Buffalo, NY, "The reason
this process works is that it takes the thoughts floating
around in the brain and gets them on paper for all to
see. Most business owners never take the time to put
it down in this format."
In your first SWOT session, fill the quadrants on you
worksheet with the items offered by the team.
Brainstorming rules apply; no need to be judgmental
about the items offered in the first session. Then
meet again later the next day or week to review,
analyze and then prioritize. The purpose is
not to make lists; the goal is to produce strategies and
actions to help achieve the objective of your
Consider these points:
- You can't usually fix weaknesses, don't be
- Build on your strengths
- A weak strength doesn't balance or offset a strong
- The desired outcome is strategy and action plans,
not a simple list
An individual within a business, a riding instructor for
example, can do his or her own personal SWOT
session or the entire team can contribute for all
departments of a business.
The simplicity and power of this tool put it in the same
category as a hammer.
They both are easy to operate and essential for
building great things. You will get a good jump on
your 2008 business planning with a SWOT session