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Twokin Consulting: Using SWOT analysis for strategic planning

A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis is a strategic planning tool used to identify areas of improvement and inform decision-making. Twokin Consulting has found it as an effective first step in helping coordinate a strategic planning effort for an organization. In a SWOT analysis, the strengths and weaknesses refer to internal factors that are under the control of the organization, while opportunities and threats refer to external factors that are beyond the control of the business or project.

Strengths are the areas where an organization (nonprofit, company, college, department) excels, such as unique skills, resources, or products. In supporting a SWOT analysis, Twokin Consulting has asked participant to consider strengths from both an internal perspective, and from the point of view of customers (clients, students) and other organizations in the same niche. Example questions include:

  • What advantages do we have over competitors?

  • What makes us successful?

  • What do we do better than anyone else?

  • What unique or lowest-cost resources can we draw upon that others can't?

  • What do others see as our strengths?

  • What is our unique selling proposition?

Weaknesses are the areas where an organization needs improvement, such as inefficiencies or lack of resources. From the perspective of internal and external stakeholders, example questions Twokin Consulting has used include:

  • What are the areas where we need improvement?

  • What are the inefficiencies or bottlenecks in our process?

  • What skills or resources do we lack?

  • What could we improve?

  • What should we avoid?

  • What do people outside of our organization see as our weaknesses?

  • What are our competitors able to do that we cannot?

Opportunities are external factors that could benefit an organization, such as market trends or new technologies. Example questions Twokin Consulting has used include:

  • Are there recent trends or new approaches?

  • Are there new technologies or innovations that we could leverage?

  • Are there new markets or customer segments that we could enter?

  • Are there ways (e.g., automation, new thinking) that would improve efficiencies?

  • Are there changes in government policy that benefit us?

  • Are there changes in social patterns, population profiles, lifestyle changes that benefit us?

Threats are external factors that could negatively impact an organization, such as competition or economic changes. Example Twokin Consulting questions include:

  • What external factors could negatively impact the business or project?

  • Who are our main competitors, and what advantages do they have?

  • Are there economic, political, or environmental factors that could impact us?

  • Is changing technology threatening us?

  • Could any of our weaknesses seriously threaten our business/future?

  • Are there changes in government policy that threaten us?

  • Are there changes in social patterns, population profiles, lifestyle changes that threaten us?

The potential of a SWOT analysis is to help an organization understand its current position, its strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats it faces. While a SWOT analysis can be a useful tool for many organizations, there may be several reasons why an organization may choose not to do a SWOT analysis. These include:

  1. Lack of resources: Conducting a thorough SWOT analysis requires time, effort, and resources. Some organizations may not have the resources available to allocate to this type of analysis. It might be helpful to hire an external consultant, such as Twokin Consulting, to coordinate this effort.

  2. Limited usefulness: For some organizations, a SWOT analysis may not provide a significant amount of new information or insights. If an organization already has a clear understanding of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, a SWOT analysis may not be necessary.

  3. Alternative tools or frameworks: There are other tools and frameworks available for strategic planning and analysis, such as PESTLE analysis, Porter's Five Forces, and scenario planning. Depending on the organization's specific needs and goals, one of these other tools may be more appropriate.

  4. Lack of buy-in or commitment: For a SWOT analysis to be effective, it requires the participation and commitment of all key stakeholders in the organization. If there is not enough buy-in or commitment from key stakeholders, the analysis may not be as effective or useful.

  5. Changing circumstances: A SWOT analysis provides a snapshot of the organization's current situation, but this situation can change rapidly. If circumstances are changing quickly, the results of a SWOT analysis may become quickly outdated and irrelevant.

Overall, while Twokin Consulting has found a SWOT analysis can be a valuable tool for many organizations, it is not the only tool available and may not be appropriate in all situations.

Twokin Consulting specializes in helping supporting colleges, universities, and nonprofit organizations in brainstorming strategies and ideas for improving operations.


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