Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats....

One of my most useful discovery tools is a SWOT Analysis. I use it often and almost always use it with the artisans I coach. The process always gets me to focus in on my next big idea (and I have a million ideas). It helps me:

  1. Determine what personal attributes are helpful to achieving the objective;
  2. Determine what personal attributes are harmful to achieving the objective;
  3. Determine what external conditions are helpful to achieving the objective; and 
  4. Determine what external conditions could do damage to the performance.
 my visual SWOT analysis

What is a SWOT Analysis?

A discovery of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats  for a specific goal. A personal SWOT Analysis is a powerful technique to identify your Strengths and Weaknesses and to examine the Opportunities and Threats you face. A business/career SWOT can help you discover and develop your unique niche which utilizes your specific talents, abilities, and opportunities to the fullest.

Download your SWOT Analysis Worksheet PDF file . This is with my compliments to do your own analysis.

As an artist it is helpful for me to create a visual SWOT Analysis as shown above. I illustrate my strengths after I do the above form. During this illustration process I work through many ideas and usually have an answer when I am finished with the artwork. It is a type of visual journaling also that I allow to flow intuitively.

Identification of your SWOTs is essential because subsequent steps in the process of planning for the success of the selected objective may be derived from your SWOTs.

The first objective is to determine whether the goal is attainable, given my SWOTs. If the objective is NOT attainable, I must choose a different objective and repeat the process.

If, on the other hand, the objective seems attainable, my SWOTs are used as source information to the creative generation of possible strategies, by asking and answering each of the following four questions, several times:
  • How can I Use each Strength?
  • How can I Improve each Weakness?
  • How can I Exploit each Opportunity?
  • How can I Mitigate each Threat?
When used in a personal context, it helps you develop your career path in a way that takes best advantage of your talents, abilities and opportunities.

What makes a SWOT analysis particularly powerful is that with a little thought, it can help you uncover opportunities that you are best suited to do. By gaining a clear understanding your weaknesses, you can manage and eliminate threats before they possibly cause you problems.

Possibly the best outcome of a SWOT analysis is the ability to craft a strategy that allows you to differentiate yourself from your competitors, capture your fair market share, and compete successfully.

How to use the tool:

To carry out a SWOT Analysis, print out our free worksheet, and answers to the following questions:

  1. What advantages (for example, skills, education or connections) do I have that others don't have?
  2. What do I do better than anyone else?
  3. What personal resources do I have access to?
  4. What do other people see as my strengths?
Consider this from your own perspective and from the point of view of the people around you. And don't be modest, be as objective as you can. If you are having any difficulty with this, try making a list of your characteristics. Some of these will be strengths!

Click for a great checklist of strengths.

  1. What could you improve?
  2. What should you avoid?
  3. What things are the people around you likely to see as weaknesses?

Again, consider this from a personal and external basis: Do other people perceive weaknesses that you do not see? Do co-workers consistently out-perform you in key areas? It is best to be realistic now, and face any unpleasant truths as soon as possible.

  1. Where are the good opportunities facing you?
  2. What are the interesting trends you are aware of?
  3. Useful opportunities can come from such things as:
A useful approach to looking at opportunities is also to look at your strengths and ask yourself whether these open up any opportunities. Alternatively, look at your weaknesses and ask yourself whether you could open up opportunities by eliminating them.

  1. What obstacles do you face?
  2. What are the people around you doing?
  3. Is your job (or the demand for the things you do) changing?
  4. Is changing technology threatening your position?
  5. Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten you?
Carrying out this analysis will often be illuminating - both in terms of pointing out what needs to be done, and in putting problems into perspective.

Mindtools says: A SWOT matrix is a framework for analyzing your strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats you face. This helps you to focus on your strengths, minimize weaknesses, and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available.

I encourage you to use this for decision making, especially business decisions. Let me know how you like it and if it helps you.

Information for this article was taken from: