At the start of a project / program it's important to get a handle on the current situation.
Appreciating your strengths, studying opportunities, pinpointing weaknesses and identifying threats is a prudent way to kick you off in the right direction.
Otherwise you may stop things that you shouldn't or spend time, energy and money on stuff that you really should be avoiding at all costs.
A great activity to achieve this with your team is a SWOT Analysis.
Yes it's old. Yes everyone knows it. Yes it's been done to death. But it works and that's the only really important thing isn't it?
- To help you identify and resolve any perceived weaknesses or threats in your project or organization.
- To enable you to closely analyse yourself and the environment surrounding you.
When Would You Use It?
- This is a good activity to use early in a project or program to highlight what currently works and what doesn’t so you get an accurate feel of the situation before moving on.
- It can also be used operationally as part of a quarterly team / organization review process.
- You can also use it as a strong icebreaker to bring your Participants together and achieve some quick shared understanding of the landscape.
- The Facilitator agrees the scope of the SWOT with the Participants being careful to also define what’s out-of-scope for the exercise as well as what’s in-scope, e.g.
- ‘the merger between our two companies / departments’.
- ‘our transformation from a “command and control culture” to a more collaborative, people-focused leadership approach’.
- Turn Weaknesses into a Strengths (e.g. something ‘small’ could be redefined as being ‘nimble’ instead).
- Turn Threats into Opportunities.
Questions you can ask to stimulate conversation
- What do you know works well?
- What do you do better than others?
- What do others outside view as your strengths?
- How do you achieve your success currently?
- What doesn’t work so well?
- What could you improve?
- What should you stop doing?
- What do others outside do badly that you also do?
- What are you not doing yet but could easily see yourself doing with the right momentum?
- Are there any of your strengths that could represent a new opportunity for you?
- Are there any changes in political policy on the horizon that could help you?
- What is your competition doing much better than you?
- Are you lacking resources (people and/or money) meaning your progress is inhibited?
- Are there any regulatory issues that could stop or hinder progress?
- Are any weaknesses a real threat to your organization / project?
- Consider all possibilities – this is where brainstorming works well with this tool e.g. there will be many INTERNAL opportunities as well as EXTERNAL.
- All statements added to the chart should be confirmable and universally accepted to be seen as valid.
- Consider using the Prioritization Matrix if you end up with a long list in any of the categories so you focus on the ones most likely to have the greatest impact.