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How To Do A SWOT Analysis: Strategic Planning Made Easy

By Lyndsay Swinton

“Strategic Planning” sounds a lofty pursuit and perhaps beyond our humble capabilities. Not so with a SWOT Analysis. Learn how to do a SWOT analysis using the SWOT matrix and become an effective strategic planner today, achieving your goals.

What’s Strategic Planning Anyway?

Strategic planning is just management speak for long term future planning. Strategic planning concerns anything that will bring results in anything from 1 year to 5 years or beyond. It’s good management practice to raise your head above the daily grind every now and then, and take action now to positively affect your future.

Definition of SWOT

As with most management models, the clue is in the name.

S = Strengths
W = Weaknesses
O = Opportunities
T = Threats

The SWOT Matrix Explained

All the best management models have four quadrants, and the SWOT matrix is no exception. You use each of the four quadrants in turn to analyze where you are now, where you want to be, and then make an action plan to get there.

SWOT_matrix

Regardless of whether you or your team are future planning for specific products, work, personal or any other area, the SWOT analysis process is the same.

Step 1 – In the here and now…
List all strengths that exist now. Then in turn, list all weaknesses that exist now. Be realistic but avoid modesty!

Step 2 – What might be…
List all opportunities that exist in the future. Opportunities are potential future strengths. Then in turn, list all threats that exist in the future. Threats are potential future weaknesses.

Step 3 – Plan of action…
Review your SWOT matrix with a view to creating an action plan to address each of the four areas.

In summary;
· Strengths need to be maintained, built upon or leveraged.
· Weaknesses need to be remedied or stopped.
· Opportunities need to be prioritised and optimised.
· Threats need to be countered or minimised.

SWOT Analysis Example

Here’s one I prepared earlier…

Sow the seeds and reap the benefits

And that’s it! Not too complicated, I’m sure you’ll agree. The SWOT matrix is a useful tool for strategic planning and achieving your goals, individually or with a team. It’s easy to learn how to do a SWOT analysis – just try one out for yourself and reap the benefits.

Lyndsay Swinton is an experienced team leader, people manager and business coach. At her website she publishes her free no-nonsense Management Tips newsletter and a range of practical management articles.
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