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SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats is what the acronym stands for. Used in strategic planning sessions and in organizational goal setting, SWOT is a tool that provides insights, focal areas for continued actions and behaviors as well as pinpoints areas that need improvement and additional focus for success.

Strengths are the actions, behaviors, processes, procedures, functions, decision making, and all of the things that the company, business unit, or organization does well. Identifying what is done well within the walls and structure of the organization – its strengths – is important because these are the things keeping the company alive; these are the things you want to continue to have happening day over day. Without strengths, an organization is destined to flounder and fail.

Weaknesses are the things not being done well – or not being done at all. Identifying what isn’t working, isn’t serving the organization, or isn’t being accomplished the way it needs to be is important for goal setting in new arenas. Weaknesses can be difficult to discuss. However, without taking a detailed look at all that is being done – the strong and the weak or limiting – an organization really cannot identify where it stands in relationship to its own goals or its ability to provide products and services in comparison to other providers and competitors.

Opportunities are often found in the market situations that exist beyond the walls of the company. Without opportunities, a company cannot stay in business, let alone grow; an organization cannot prove its ongoing value and keep itself alive. Opportunities include such things as: new markets opening up; improved technologies for reaching customers; new employee pools with the talents your organization needs open up; an unpredicted local, national, or global change that brings opportunities for your company to respond to with products and services.

Threats are also typically found beyond the walls of the organization. Although, from time to time, an internal weakness can rise to the level of being an internal threat. External threats can come from competitors serving customers better; from changing marketplace demands and expectations that your organization is not keeping up with; and from unpredicted local, national, or global changes that threaten harm to, or the very existence of, your company. COVD-19 has been both an opportunity and a threat – some companies are making more money because of it while others have permanently closed.

SWOT can also be a tool for self-reflection and discovery. Ask others what they see as your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

For example, one colleague has said “my programming strengths of old have become managerial strengths which means my programming skills may be out of date now and potentially a weakness. While looking at my future, retirement is nearing – that’s an opportunity that will change my life in small and large ways. As for threats, maybe family members without health insurance could be a threat to our family’s well-being.”

What is your company or organizational SWOT list?

What is your personal SWOT list?

And how will you act, make decisions, and move forward with this knowledge?

Is your team, executive committee or board ready for a SWOT analysis?  Master Facilitator and strategic planning leader Jana Kemp can support your efforts. Contact: Jana Kemp. 208-367-1701 or jana@janakemp.com

As the author of seven books, in seven languages, Jana has been interviewed by U.S., Canadian, and European programs, and magazines. Her presentations have been seen in the United States and India by international audience members.

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