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SWOT Analysis as Inspiration:
Coaching the Big Picture

By Martha Lasley
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A SWOT analysis is a common business tool for scanning the environment and informing strategic planning. You can use it to evaluate the organization and you can also use it with individuals. The traditional SWOT analysis looks at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Instead of looking at weaknesses, you can focus on wishes. Based on the tenets of Appreciative Inquiry, the process of looking at wishes inspires people far more than looking at what they don’t want. Instead of saying, “My weakness is poor time management.” notice how it feels to say, “I wish for stronger time management skills.”

When your clients express a wish, listen carefully to their words, because wishes already imply movement. Strengths and wishes point to the internal landscape, the things we have control over. Opportunities and threats focus on the outer landscape, the things outside our control.

Below is a shortened example of a SWOT analysis.

Appreciative SWOT Analysis

Strengths

  • visionary leader
  • risk taker, explore new ways of developing people
  • surround myself with brilliant, competent people
  • give honest, authentic, inspirational feedback

Wishes

  • develop new ways of empowering my team

  • more patience and presence
  • more time for relaxation and creative outlets
  • stronger recruiting skills

Opportunities

  • work with Miguel to flesh out the Seagate idea
  • decrease my number of direct reports and free up time for innovative projects
  • write the book I’ve been planning
  • want to easily attract venture capital for my innovative ideas

Threats

  • economy floundering, impacting dollars spent on coaching and training
  • merger talks - my position may be impacted
  • my mentor and partner may retire soon
  • market is over saturated with coaches in my niche

 

You can use your SWOT analysis to identify the trends that will make it possible for you to stretch yourself, have the impact you want and reposition yourself.

  • What are three ways to use your strengths to realize your wishes?

  • What impact would you like to have in your organization?

  • How can you reposition yourself to be the change you wish to see in the world?


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