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How to Conduct SWOC and SWOT Analysis, SWOT Analysis Example

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SWOT analysis

When faced with the need to make creative choices, especially when organizations are looking to make large or significant changes in a direction, they need a tool to help them pause and carefully reflect on what could happen. With such a tool, they can examine their environment, identify issues, challenges, and possibilities, and hopefully move confidently in a chosen direction (and not be blown randomly by the wind and tide) (Lamb, et al, 2008, p. 35). A technique like SWOT can help them to do this.

A SWOC analysis can help the organization identify its critical success factors. These are the things the organization must do or criteria it must meet in order to be successful in the eyes of its key stakeholders, especially those in its external environment(Gosling, & Edwards, 2003, p. 242). It is a straightforward technique, which can be used to help paint a picture of the existing situation of organizations. Its purpose is simply to create awareness of forces that will affect the company in the future.

How and When to Use SWOC and SWOT

A SWOT analysis is most useful when a large or complex situation is not entirely clear or broad ideas have been put forward that need evaluation from several angles. This process therefore imposes a specific structure to categorize suggestions made by individuals. This specific structure involves asking each individual to think of every possibility they can under each of the four headings. In this particular sense, the conducting process is like conducting four mini-brainstorming sessions (Lamb, et al, 2008, p. 36).

The process of conducting a SWOT analysis is best done by getting input under each of the four SWOT headings individually, writing the suggestions on a flip chart or white board, and then reviewing the overall chart at the end to see where the most telling input has been made, where the most action needs to be taken, and what strategy needs to be developed to deal with the issues(Lamb, et al, 2008, p. 36).

Although there is no need to follow any specific order or pattern in constructing a SWOT chart, it is usually helpful to follow the order suggested by the SWOT acronym, which offers a positive, a negative, a positive, and a negative again.

For SWOC analysis, Gosling and Edwards (2003, p. 242) providesthe idea to brainstorm under the following headings:

  1. Strengths This includes things that have worked previously, that the organization is proud to say about the situations.
  2. Weaknesses: This includes things that have not worked well, and times when they could have been done better.
  3. Opportunities: This includes the ideas on how to overcome weak points and build on strengths.
  4. Constraints: This includeslimitations and constraints that exist which reduce the range of opportunities for change.

Alternative descriptions of strengths and weaknesses can be as factors that are internal to an organization, and so can be controlled by management; opportunities and constraints can be seen as external factors affecting the environment in which organization is working (Gosling, & Edwards, 2003, p. 242). Bryson (2011, p. 153) specifically recommended that the SWOC analysis for the environmental assessment be replaced with a focus on the hopes and concerns of the community. It is also a way of reviewing progress in tacking these issues.

Components of SWOC/SWOT Analysis

This consists of an external scan and an internal assessment. A SWOT/SWOC analysis consists of two parts:

  • An internal situation analysis (strengths and weaknesses). An internal analysis attempts to identify what competencies and capabilities exist within the organization and how effectively they are being employed to achieve organizational goals (Williams, 2008, p. 228). This analysis is done by addressing questions related to marketing, finance, personnel, structure, leadership, technology, operations, production, adaptability, efficiency, and so on (p. 228). The analysis should produce insights into organizational capacities and limitations.
  • An external environment analysis (opportunities and threats). This should attempt to gauge what effects the environment of the organization has on its direction and ultimate success (Williams, 2008, p. 228). Addressing questions related to short and long term economic developments, technological advancements, social changes, industry trends, and the actions of competitors will provide information regarding what opportunities and concerns may present themselves in the future.

Organizations may create a checklist or a matrix that is tailored to their specific circumstances as a way of providing focus to the SWOT process. Many templates of varying complexity have been developed that may be useful in getting a SWOT analysis started. One example is a checklist fashioned by Kotler (2000) that includes both a rating scale and a priority scale in the assessment of various functional dimensions.

Conclusion

One of the fascinating features of most SWOC/SWOT analyses is that strengths and weaknesses are often highly similar to one another. That is, an organization’s greatest strengths and may be its greatest weaknesses. Likewise, the opportunities and challenges an organization faces are also often similar to one another. SWOC/SWOT analysis provides frameworks to evaluate an organization’s role and operations including its services, activities and products based on the effectiveness (or “doing the right thing”) and efficiency (or “doing things right”).

References

Bryson, John M. (2011). Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement. John Wiley & Sons, pp. 153-160.

Gosling, Louisa, & Edwards, Mike. (2003). Toolkits: A Practical Guide to Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Assessment. Save the Children UK, pp. 272

Kotler, P. (2000). Marketing management. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall

Lamb, Charles W., & Hair, Joseph H., & McDaniel, Carl. (2008). Marketing. Cengage Learning, pp. 35-40.

Williams, Chuck. (2008). Management. Cengage Learning, pp. 228-230.

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