The SWOT model is one of the classics in the business world. Interestingly, the original developer of the SWOT tool is unknown. Most of us were initially introduced to the SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) in one of our first business classes in college. Personally, I added it to the many templates that were being thrown at me under the category “Might be useful someday in the future but who knows?…”.
Well, 30 years later, I continue to be amazed how insightful the tool can be for an organization seeking to really understand their business. For those who aren’t familiar or have forgotten how the SWOT analysis works, an organization creates a 2 by 2 matrix to identify factors under the S, W, O and T strategic areas.
I believe it is informative to first identify all the Opportunities and Threats in the environment including future trends, upcoming legislation, and the overall economy. Starting with this macro analysis allows an organization to more accurately address the upper quadrants (Strengths and Weaknesses) with an informed perspective. I also recommend that an organization prioritize the factors under each quadrant, as each factor is not equal in importance.
From my perspective, there are 3 primary reasons that the SWOT is a timelessly valuable tool.
- A SWOT forces an organization to look beyond their specific product to what the overall market is doing. It also encourages one to look to the future vs. living in the past. The corporate history books are littered with tragic tales of large companies that ignored the trends in the industry and kept selling the same products even though the market had shifted. A focused annual look outside your four walls is an excellent way to stay organizationally healthy.
- A SWOT drives a team to honestly evaluate how their solution or organization stacks up in the industry. There is nothing like a transparent review of where you are excelling and where you aren’t to drive you to make hard decisions or changes in your product line. A well-formulated SWOT can be a very effective tool to convince upper management to adjust their plans.
- A SWOT allows a company to develop a vision for the future based on an agreed view of where their ecosystem is heading. Quickly measuring and adjusting the strategic fit of a product line or a business as disruptions happen in an industry is a great way to help organizations maximize their potential.
Here at Muddy Gecko, we offer a SWOT analysis as a subset of the overall Marketing Strategy service we perform for clients. We are a full-service agency that provides expert fractional marketing support across a number of fronts including strategy, communications, design, digital marketing and complete media solutions. Please let me know if we can support your organization in any fashion.
Brian loves hiking , yoga and building a great marketing strategy. In other words, the really epic and gnarly stuff. Brian honed his chops at technology shops like VMware and Intel. He began his career in the muddy oil fields of Oklahoma, and has experienced what it takes to find a gusher.