How to use are Weaknesses and Threats with a SWOT (and obstacles with mPGA)

March 2021mPGA, Obstacles, SWOT, Threats, Weaknesses

My experience with SWOT

SWOT has been used as a strategic analysis tool in almost every industry since the 1960s. It cannot be otherwise than that SWOT is a very strong instrument, at least that is my experience.

In your daily work you sometimes lose sight of reality.

  • How are we doing?
  • Where are our opportunities?
  • How do we seize those opportunities?

SWOT gives you the opportunity to analyze a complex situation in a relatively short time. By comparing internal and external factors, you get a thorough analysis.

You also come out as a team in a straightforward manner. It also provides input for follow-up steps such as a business plan, a marketing plan or a new product-market concept.

A SWOT works well when it comes to analysis. If it concerns the follow-up steps such as objectives and an action plan, a SWOT does not adequately provide for this.

By taking a number of extra steps after the SWOT analysis, you will, often with pain and effort, arrive at a global list of points for attention. Not only does this take a lot of extra time, it also loses a team’s energy and focus.

It requires a lot of attention and skill as a supervisor to successfully complete a SWOT. Below one of the factors is discussed why a SWOT is sometimes difficult. Why is the end result of the strategic analysis sometimes not satisfactory?

Zooming in on weaknesses

After strengths, weaknesses are offered. In principle, it is good to recognize the weaknesses in addition to the forces. Naming weaknesses often goes quite smoothly.

What makes it difficult to identify weaknesses?

  • They are often generalities
  • It produces negative energy
  • You can’t do much with it

Weaknesses are often the opposite of strengths. “Agility” is a strength often associated with smaller organizations. “Small market party” is a weakness that, compared to larger and more powerful organizations with more power, offers limited possibilities. You can also turn around: “market leader” (strength) versus “unwieldy organization” (weakness).

The question is what good are these factors that will not really surprise anyone. This general approach is lacking with mPGA (mission, Power Goals and Action). Expressing a sharper focus in advance (mission) and communicating it well with a team helps enormously.

End a SWOT with threats

After the internal factors, strengths and weaknesses have been enumerated, the external factors are presented.

Opportunities quickly generate a lot of energy. The other external SWOT factor, threats, often causes the energy to sink far away.

Why are threats so inconvenient in a SWOT analysis?

  • On the one hand, it is in the meaning and meaning of the word “threat”. The word has a negative ring to it, which affects the energy level of the team.
  • On the other hand, a team has already put a lot of energy into the first 3 factors, fatigue will also play a role in the last step.
  • In addition, the search for threats is not a positive activity. It is a closure that does not inspire a team, even rather demotivates it.

These factors mean that a SWOT analysis is often not concluded with positive energy.

You can solve the drop in the energy level by only briefly considering threats. And then to make the team enthusiastic again by combining internal and external factors. That often works, although as a supervisor you have to feel it well.

Threats are also often generalities. Or matters that are beyond the control of a team, organization or project. You can at best take them into account, you cannot influence them or only indirectly.

Something that cannot be influenced demotivates. Taking into account points that come up as threats: yes. The question is how specific are these threats to the subject of the analysis. Does it then make sense to tackle those threats? Are the real threats, which are relevant and solvable, sufficiently available? At mPGA weaknesses and threats are also offered. But at a different time in the process and in a way that a team can do something with it.

How the mPGA process works

The mPGA process consists of 4 steps. One to focus on the subject and one to analyze the situation. You can then formulate clear objectives. After identifying the obstacles, an action plan can be drawn up.

More information can be found here:

What are obstacles?

Obstacles are the weaknesses and threats that:

  • Stand in the way of achieving the set goals
  • Can be converted directly into actions
  • Focus on specific topic (mission)

With mPGA, obstacles are the weaknesses and threats that apply very specifically to the goals set in the step before it. In the action plan, the step immediately after, something can also be done about the obstacles identified. That gives energy.

The questions are then:

  • What do I have to do to tackle, neutralize and / or solve obstacles?
  • How can we best approach this?
  • Which obstacles require extra attention and attention?

The result of the step-in which obstacles are identified is a list of concrete points for attention that can be addressed immediately.

Obstacles provide positive energy

As indicated earlier: weaknesses and threats do not give energy. Obstacles do provide energy:

  • Obstacles are aimed at achieving the goals stated in the previous step.
  • Obstacles form the input for an action plan.
  • Obstacles are focused on the subject (mission), this prevents general points that are not relevant.
  • Obstacles challenge a team to go straight to work the next day. With mPGA, that feeling to get started the next day is realistic.

You can see obstacles as obstacles that can be overcome. The influence to overcome obstacles lies within the team. The positive energy that arises from obstacles does not mean that weaknesses and threats are not taken seriously. That they are stripped of generalities and can be influenced.

What are the differences?

The differences between mPGa and the SWOT analysis are summarized point by point in terms of weaknesses and threats.

Weakness / Threats
Related to Goals++
Energy level++
Can be influenced-/+++
Action oriented++
Positive team spirit++
Positive result-/+++

SWOT versus MPGA

The table above shows the differences between mPGA and the SWOT analysis as far as weaknesses and threats are concerned. There are more relevant differences. I will discuss this in two e-books.

The main difference is that where the SWOT provides an analysis, mPGA produces an analysis, goals and an action plan.

I converted my personal experience in guiding the SWOT sessions into an approach that maintains the power of the SWOT. In addition to an analysis, setting concrete objectives and a combination with an action plan. And that while an mPGA session takes just as much time as a SWOT. You can use mPGA for free

Maarten van Walsem

I have developed a new SWOT. You don’t need me for it. mPGA is completely free to use for everyone. mPGA is simple, fast and gives better results.

Just ask me your question

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