A SWOT analysis is worthless unless you use it to generate inferences. Learn how to identify themes, synthesize trends, and devise solutions based on your SWOT analysis findings.
- Once you've conducted your SWOT analysis, it's time to refine it. You should be looking to synthesize ideas and look for major themes that emerge from the SWOT analysis. What I recommend when you do this is first, let's eliminate things that aren't going to be major strategic themes. So looking at our SWOT, we might say that plant safety, while its important, is not a major strategic theme. Nor is expense reporting or IT desktop support. They're important but they're not strategic. We look down and say couponing isn't that big of a deal. And in our threats, we say Ohio weather, while it's important, it's only two percent of our market. So now we've shortened the list that we can look at to identify major strategic themes. As we look at our themes, and we look at the items across the entire SWOT, perhaps we notice that we have strengths in brands and supply chain and sales force. And then we look over and say, "Well we have some problems "in our digital marketing program." There's huge social media growth. And the economy is a risk. So what I generally have here is a major strategic theme around sales, marketing, branding, and how we go to market. I then look at what's left and I find out, well, we've got some things around our financials are very strong. We're not that good at acquisition integration. Acme has gone bankrupt, our biggest competitor. And there's a large risk of somebody else buying Acme and bringing them back into the market. So there may be a major strategic theme here around acquisitions, whether we look at acquiring Acme or taking defensive actions to prevent that acquisition from hurting our organization. So you look at your SWOT, get rid of the things that aren't major strategic themes, and then try and synthesize those major themes because that's ultimately going to feed into the initiatives that you think about pursuing and prioritizing as the highest priority items within the ultimate strategic plan.
- Define the principles of strategic planning.
- Identify forces used to assess the market.
- Explain how to conduct a SWOT analysis.
- Articulate how to establish guiding principles and set goals.
- Explain what strategic filters are used for.
- Describe the steps of a strategic planning process.