Making The Most of Your SWOT Matrix

SWOT Now What?

 

 

“So, you want to know how to get the most out of your SWOT Matrix”

Many people complete their strategic analysis by filling in their SWOT Matrix and move directly into action planning. You are about to discover the critical time saving step that they have missed.

 


In this article you will discover the critical step, missed by almost everyone in their enthusiasm to develop actions.

SWOT

Throughout your leadership career you will find that the SWOT analysis technique is widely used during strategic planning. It is used to both to summarize the extensive research that can occur during strategic analysis and as a brainstorming technique in simplified strategic planning.

Although many managers will use this technique, you will find few who will gain any real advantage from its use.

On completion of the SWOT matrix managers tend to jump straight into solution mode commencing the discussion of options for their next strategy. People are attracted to the creative elements of developing strategy. The resulting discussion generally has no shortage of suggestions or view points. 

The surprising thing is that most people who jump straight from their SWOT analysis to developing their strategy end up creating a strategy that does little to respond to the content of the SWOT matrix.

They often develop a strategic plan that does not respond to the issues identified by their own SWOT analysis. Last time I read research it cited that 80% of strategic plans do not address the issues identified by the SWOT analysis.

The analysis required to lead up to the completion of a SWOT matrix is very structured, so is the matrix itself. It is this structure that makes this technique so easy to learn and easy to use.

Though, the next step that makes use of your SWOT output is not as well understood, in fact few managers know what to do when they have completed their SWOT. So, what exactly are you going to do once you have the completed your SWOT?

Scroll down to find out

 

 

SWOT Now What?

Instead of jumping from SWOT analysis to solution there is another step that is required.

Unless your business is a start-up in its first year, you will already have a business strategy, it may not be documented by you will have a strategy. Now that you have a SWOT Matrix, revisit your existing strategy and identify which strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are already addressed by your current strategy.

Strategy is something that should persist year on year, it should not change dramatically from year to year. So, unless your business environment has radically changed, most if not all of the items listed in your SWOT will already be covered by your current strategy.

Where your SWOT has identified something that is not addressed by your current strategy, then you need to determine if you should tweak your strategy or develop a whole new strategy.

If your strategy should persist in its current form then the next step is to develop a business plan to pursue your existing strategy. The following table will help you to map you existing strategy to your SWOT matrix

 

 

SWOT Element

Comment on Current Strategy

Gap or No Gap

Leveraging Strengths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mitigating Weaknesses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking advantage of opportunities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mitigating threats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, you can map your SWOT analysis to your existing strategy and identify any strategy gaps. As with all things in strategy there are going to be shades of Gray, you will find that you will have items in the above mapping template that match, partially match and don’t match your existing strategy.

Scroll down to view examples and download your template

 

 

Example: SWOT Matrix Mapped to Strategy

Here is an example of SWOT items mapped to an existing strategy. In this example you will see that of the eight SWOT items only four are not covered by the existing strategy. So, the strategy only needs to be altered to cover the remaining four items.

 

SWOT Element

Comment on Current Strategy

Gap or No Gap

Leveraging Strengths

Strong recognizable brands

We always pursue territorial supply agreements with new suppliers

No

Innovative sales techniques

Our sales training and data collection processes were improved last year

No

Successful relationship marketing

Use of data to market is working well

No

Mitigating Weaknesses

Insufficient financial resource

No strategy to resolve

Yes

Taking advantage of opportunities

Consider importing directly

No strategy to do this yet

Yes

Increased customer life cycle

Already catered for in relationship marketing program

No

Mitigating threats

Foreign exchange rate changes will impact imports

No contingency plan in place

Yes

Rents increasing above CPI putting pressure on our margins

No plan in place to change

Yes

 

 

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