SWOT Analyses happen in both for-profit and non-profit worlds. They are a common way of evaluating where an organization stands, what are its greatest attributes and greatest areas of improvement. SWOT stands for Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – Threats. Over the next few days we will be looking at each area more in-depth but the break-down comes to strengths and weaknesses are more internal and opportunities and threats are external factors.
SWOTS can be a powerful tool for organizations and communities. The process helps participants uncover opportunities that can be quickly taken advantage of for achievable successes and provide a deeper understanding of the weaknesses that face the organization and community. These weaknesses, once identified, can be conquered with targeted plans, goals and action steps – this is where strategic and tactical planning come in handy.
There are some key factors that are needed to complete a useful and insightful SWOT analysis.
- Complete honesty – about yourself, your organization and your programming. This is the time to take off the rose-colored glasses of optimism we tend to have when it comes to the organizations we are committed to. The process of a SWOT is to do a careful and objective analysis of your organization so that you can create plans
- Schedule time for the SWOT. SWOTs take time and concentration and work best when they are the only things on the table. This means scheduling a special meeting or retreat to conduct the analysis and not trying to fit everything into a regularly scheduled board or committee meeting. You need to work through the entire grid – strength, weakness, opportunity, threat at one sitting so that you can see the interrelation and play between the four areas.
- Commit to your findings. A lot of wonderful information will be brought up during the SWOT analysis. It is on the board to take these findings and create a plan for either promotion (of strengths) or action (of the others). This is where tactical and strategic plans come into play. You can look at the SWOT and decide what actions need to be made within the next 12 months (your tactical plan) and what opportunities you can take advantage of or threats you can prepare for over the course of the next three to five years (your strategic plan).