A SWOT analysis can help your company develop and refine strategic plans. By analyzing SWOTs, which are strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, your leaders can learn more about what’s going well and what might need changing. This process can surface insights that lead to further study, process improvements and innovative ideas.

Planning a SWOT Analysis

One of the first steps in an effective SWOT evaluation is to define goals. Perhaps you want input on a major initiative or want to examine quality issues in some products. Setting goals focuses the process and helps yield actionable results. As you determine who to invite, make sure to engage colleagues from diverse roles to ensure robust input. Some corporations also include customers and business partners. Depending on your goals and topics, consider sharing relevant data in advance to provide more context and foster informed discussions. Facilitators should prepare a rectangular visual aid, divided into quadrants, that participants can see clearly. You can find various templates online or make your own. You might want to bring notepads so that participants can jot down their ideas during the brainstorming sessions.

Defining Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats

During the event, providing examples of how other groups have successfully used the SWOT process can help attendees see the value of their input. You should also help people understand what each category means. Strengths are traits or practices that are positive, or that you can use to an advantage. Weaknesses are barriers to success, or recurring problems. Opportunities are prospective ways your firm can perform better or grow in the market. Threats are vulnerabilities or problems that your organization faces in its industry, such as regulatory changes or new competitors. In general, strengths and weaknesses are internal, while opportunities and threats are external. You should schedule time for people to think about and share individual perspectives on each area before the group evaluates them.

Analyzing the Input

After people share their thoughts, a moderator should help the group synthesize them into key points and rank them by priority. You should tell participants what will happen to their findings, such as compiling them in a report to managers. Providing updates, such as sharing the final report and any actions taken, reinforces the impact of the recommendations.

A SWOT analysis can illuminate emerging ideas, identify profitable trends and shed light on growing areas of concern. The process can enhance bonding among participants, as well as show employees that their voices matter.