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Discovering management
Discovering management

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2.3.1 SWOT

SWOT is an acronym for:

  • Strengths (S)
  • Weaknesses (W)
  • Opportunities (O)
  • Threats (T)

SWOT analyses are most often used to identify customers, competitors, and the organisation’s relationship to its external environment. They are also very helpful on focusing on your intrinsic qualitative strengths and weaknesses, or those of your organisation

Table 2 Common questions used in a SWOT analysis
Internal factorsExternal factors

Strengths

  • What are we best at?
  • What intellectual property do we own?
  • What specific skills does the workforce have?
  • What financial resources do we have?
  • What connections and alliances do we have?
  • What is our bargaining power with suppliers and intermediaries?

Opportunities

  • What changes in the external environment can we exploit?
  • What weaknesses in our competition can we attack?
  • What new technology might become available for us?
  • What new markets might be opening up to us?

Weaknesses

  • What are we poor at doing?
  • Is our intellectual property outdated?
  • What training does our workforce lack?
  • What financial constraints do we have?
  • What connections and alliances should we have, but don’t?

Threats

  • What might our competitors be able to do to hurt us?
  • What new legislation might damage our interests?
  • What social changes might threaten us?
  • How might an economic cycle affect us?
(Source: based on Blythe, 2001, p. 17)

However, like stakeholder analysis, the SWOT model is capable of being applied more widely to other situations that managers encounter. For example, it is frequently used by individuals to evaluate their developmental needs in terms of their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (or barriers) for development.

If you would like to read more about this, these CIPD resources on SWOT [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] (2008) are very helpful.

Task: Your SWOT analysis

Get ahead of the game. Create a SWOT analysis for yourself, using the factors in your own situation and the template provided below.

SWOT analysis template

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