Remember that the purpose of performing a SWOT is to reveal positive forces that work together and potential problems that need to be addressed or at least recognized. Before you conduct a SWOT session, decide what format or layout you will use to communicate these issues most clearly for you.
We will discuss the process of creating the analysis below, but first here are a few sample layouts--ideas of what your SWOT analysis can look like.
You can list internal and external opposites side by side. 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? INTERNAL | EXTERNAL | Strengths | Weaknesses | Opportunities | Threats | | | | |
Or, if a looser structure helps you brainstorm, you can group positives and negatives to think broadly about your organization and its external environment. Positives | Negatives | * strengths * assets * resources * opportunities * prospects | * weaknesses * limitations * restrictions * threats * challenges |
And here's a third option for structuring your SWOT analysis that might be appropriate for a large initiative that requires detailed planning or many alternatives. This more elaborate "TOWS Matrix" is adapted from Fred David's Strategic Management text (see "Print Resources"). Here a working table guides you to identify strategies by matching items in each quadrant. | STRENGTHS1.
4. | WEAKNESSES1.
4. | OPPORTUNITIES1.
4. | Opportunity-Strength (OS) StrategiesUse strengths to take advantage of opportunities1.
2. | Opportunity-Weakness (OW) StrategiesOvercome weaknesses by taking advantage of opportunities1.
2. | THREATS1.
4. | Threat-Strength (TS) StrategiesUse strengths to avoid threats1.
2. | Threat-Weakness (TW) StrategiesMinimize weaknesses and avoid threats1.
David gives an example for Campbell Soup Company that stresses financial goals, but it also illustrates how you can pair the items within a SWOT grid to develop strategies. (This version of the chart is abbreviated.) |
| STRENGTHS1. Current profit ratio increased
2. Employee morale high