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:
- Determine what personal attributes are helpful to achieving the objective;
- Determine what personal attributes are harmful to achieving the objective;
- Determine what external conditions are helpful to achieving the objective; and
- Determine what external conditions could do damage to the performance.
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?
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.
How to use the tool:
To carry out a SWOT Analysis, print out our free worksheet, and answers to the following questions:
- What advantages (for example, skills, education or connections) do I have that others don't have?
- What do I do better than anyone else?
- What personal resources do I have access to?
- What do other people see as my strengths?
- What could you improve?
- What should you avoid?
- 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.
- Where are the good opportunities facing you?
- What are the interesting trends you are aware of?
- Useful opportunities can come from such things as:
- What obstacles do you face?
- What are the people around you doing?
- Is your job (or the demand for the things you do) changing?
- Is changing technology threatening your position?
- Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten you?
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.