I have worked many times with the SWOT analysis for all kinds of organizations that have investigated different topics. As an analysis tool, the SWOT is easy to explain and understand. All those sessions gave me insight into how teams work together when using the SWOT. And how useful a SWOT analysis can be for use in a variety of different cases.
Points that require attention in a SWOT analysis
However, it is not easy to make a SWOT successful. This often has to do with the different perceptions of participants in advance and the overly too general subjects mentioned of the analysis.
- Often participants don’t seem to think exactly the same about what a SWOT is about.
- Too many general points are mentioned, which contribute little to an analysis of a specific topic.
- Because the opportunities only come up after the strengths and weaknesses, participants automatically feel limited. As a result, opportunities are missed.
- The weaknesses and threats often give an unsatisfying and even negative feeling, causing the energy in a team to disappear.
- This requires extra attention from the supervisor in order to maintain motivation within the SWOT team.
- In a SWOT, one participant is much less detailed than the other when it comes to summing up points.
- The end result, a strategic analysis, is not enough to continue full of positive energy the next day. Much more has to be done.
Since the SWOT only provides an analysis, tools have been included that attempt to eliminate or circumvent the above points.
The strengths of SWOT
SWOT also has a number of strengths. It offers the possibility to compare internal and external factors. For example, what strengths can we use to seize opportunities? Or what weaknesses do we need to improve in order to seize opportunities?
However, is that enough to enthusiastically start the implementation at the office the next day?However, is that enough to enthusiastically start the implementation at the office the next day?
Is it not the right time to set concrete goals if you have insight into the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities? It is a missed opportunity to set more concrete goals. While the team is ready for it at the time.
And wouldn’t it be nice if a concrete action plan was also delivered?
Make SWOT more meaningful
You can make a SWOT analysis more useful using some additional tools. These extra tools yield better results and ultimately lead to a global action plan. While it might be better to call it a list of global points, grouped by importance.
The disadvantage of these extra tools is that they take considerably more time for the total turnaround time. So, the question is whether the SWOT is due for revision on a number of points? Not by using more separate consultancy tools. But especially by looking closely at whether you need to change anything at the core of the SWOT analysis.
SWOT 3.0 or a step further?
I’ve been working on customizing a SWOT for years. It was not easy to get rid of the SWOT as it works now because I have used it as a method so many times. Which is still very successful today.
However, I eventually came up with a different approach. You can call it SWOT 3.0 or even label it as a completely new approach. This new approach leads to clear goals, more concrete results and as part of this an action plan. I have tested this new approach, mPGA, a number of times. My conclusion is now: in more than 70% of cases this approach is better than SWOT. mPGA stands for mission, strength, goals and actions.
More information about mPGA can be found in this Blog.