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SWOT - It's All About The Follow Through

I have been involved in many SWOT sessions over the years, often as a participant and many other times facilitating the group. What I can say without any shadow of doubt is that the real work kicks-in once the initial session is done, but sadly we often don’t get round to that, as we continue to get caught up in the many other challenges that we face daily. Probably the challenges that caused us to call a SWOT session in the first place!

It is worth reminding ourselves and others that a SWOT is not just a marketing tool; it is a major contributor to you identifying and following the correct strategies going forward. It needs your time, it needs your commitment and it needs to be supported by your executive team if it is to have any chance of making a difference.

So how can we make a SWOT a practical and effective experience?

Quick Wins 

As with many other brainstorming activities we tend to get really enthused with the discussions on the day. With that comes an expectation that we are going to do something positive to address things. It is critically important that the euphoria within the group doesn’t get the opportunity to ebb away and to avoid this we need to identify, act upon and implement quick wins to demonstrate to all we mean business.

How do you identify Quick Wins 

How we capture information during the SWOT session has a major impact on the amount of work required to make progress. There tends to be a lot of information generated, some great, some worth considering, some nonsense, some random and some out of context. Although Post-it notes, flipcharts and Excel capture stuff, they make for heavy work when you try and make sense of it all.

I have found that Mind-Mapping tools are great in these situations as they allow you to quickly grab information. Later as you walk through the content it is really simple to group related thoughts. With mind mapping tools you have the ability to drag and drop individual ideas at will, allowing you to quickly get to a subset of ideas to be further examined. There are many of these tools to choose from and they all have this feature to some degree.

The next thing that I think is key, is to review and tag this subset of ideas from TWO key perspectives.

  • Impact – if we did this, the positive impact would be High / Med / Low
  • Effort   – the effort to do this would be High / Med / Low

Some MindMapping tools allow you to redraw the map based on how the content has been tagged and very quickly you end up looking at the ideas from the perspectives of Impact and Effort as shown below. I find the mapping component of MindGenius Online and the MindGenius product particularly strong in this area.

From here we focus our attention on the following, in this order, to give us our Quick Win List.

  • High Impact / Low Effort
  • Medium Impact / Low Effort
  • High Impact / Medium Effort

File the rest to your maybe / someday list and now focus all your attention on the Quick Wins you have identified and make them happen.

The SWOT Analysis template provides some guidance on potential questions to be asking when conducting a Company SWOT Assessment. The template can be modified to suit your own requirements. 

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