10 tips for effective SWOT analysis

10 simple ideas to help you make the most out of a SWOT exercise. This blog post goes hand-in-hand with my other blog-post that contains my favourite SWOT questions.


Doing a good SWOT is about more than just asking the questions…  (a new post on THAT topic will follow soon). Follow these 10 tips to do it well.


Take the time to do it

Most people don’t. Do. It’s as simple as that! SWOT is a great tool for assessing your own position. Once you have outlined your objective/mission, answer each of the SWOT questions in turn. Give your spontaneous answers first. When you have done that ask each question again, really looking at each important word in your objective or mission statement.


Do it with other people

In training, I ask participants to do a SWOT exercise together – it’s amazing to see the different points of view on even the most simple questions.


Ask for feedback

If you want to know your own strengths and weaknesses, ask for feedback from people around you. (Which reminds me, one of my clients has asked me to complete a 360° for her….)


Read industry literature, go to conferences, training etc..

“S”+”W” are about your internal strengths and weaknesses. “O”+”T” are about the outside world. If you want look for ideas about what is going on around you, industry literature, conferences and training events are great ways to see what are the new trends.


Share best practices

And if you share your own best practices, you’ll be helping other people. We live in sharing culture and what goes around comes around!


Social networking: Linkedin, twitter, yammer, Facebook, etc…
I’m a big fan of using tools like these to find out what other are thinking. If you join groups on linkedin and create lists on twitter you can easily see what others are working on, what is new and what people see as opportunities and threats.


Be honest with yourself …and others

There is no point over-estimating your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest. This idea goes hand-in-hand with the idea that you should take good measurements to have a clear idea of what is good and bad. And when people ask you for feedback, be honest yourself!


Brainstorm for opportunities, using tools like 6 thinking hats

Brainstorming is a managed process of using creative thinking techniques to find new ideas and solutions for a specific topic, objective or problem. By doing effective brainstorming, you can identify new ways to tackle opportunities, but maybe even see opportunities that you didn’t see before. Follow training with me on how to develop and facilitate a brainstorming session or read a nice book like “6 thinking hats” by @Edward_deBono for ideas on how to “think differently” when doing your SWOT.


Find good strategists who can help you

When you have your answers to the SWOT questions, the trick is to identify the links between elements in order to underline strategic priorities: How can this strength by used to face a threat or opportunity? What are the links between different elements of the SWOT? What can we do to ignore, manage or build on a weakness? etc etc… Some people are born for this kind of strategic thinking and if you know people like this, use them!


Complement with other tools like PEST, Jo Owen’s Influence Grid (How to Influence), Johari Window…

SWOT is not the only tool for assessing your position – there are hundreds. Here are a few I tools I like:


If you have comments of ideas to share, please post them below.

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Thanks for reading!