SWOT Analyses 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. As we touched on before, strengths and weaknesses are internal and opportunities and threats are external. Today, we look at strengths and weaknesses.
If you ask yourself “what’s working” in terms of your organization, i.e. your strengths, the answers should come pretty quickly. They are the actions and functions you are most proud of and feel the most accomplished by. They are the things you are most know for and the services your community most appreciates.
As you begin the process of evaluating where your organization stands now, in this moment, it is important to take a few moments to ask yourself the following questions:
- What does your organization do really well?
- What are you most proud of in terms of your organization’s programming?
- What are you most proud of in regards to the way your board operates?
- What is it that your board does really well?
- What is the one or two items you find yourself bragging about in regards to your organization?
- What do you feel most accomplished by?
Conversely, if you ask yourself where you are falling short or “what isn’t working” in terms of your organization (or your weaknesses), you’ll find a lot of the answers, too, come pretty quickly but they might not be that obvious to everyone on your board or in your organization. Having an open an honest conversation about your weaknesses is not necessarily a criticism of the work you do or the people who do it. To be able to use the SWOT analysis as part of your tactical and strategic planning, it is important to know what you need to improve on in order to be the most efficient and effective in the work you do.
Strengths and Weaknesses are internal issues and completely within your control as a board of directors and organizational leadership. This is why it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you do well and where you fall short.
Back in April we touched on the importance of annual individual and teamwork board evaluations. These surveys are SWOTs and are a great forerunner to the group discussion needed when doing a full SWOT analysis. The surveys will help you assess what your strengths are – in people, in policies, in practices – and where your weaknesses lie – in your policies, practices, programming. The surveys are only one part of the processes and should not be used in a vacuum.