Learn how to lớn conduct a SWOT Analysis to identify situational strengths & weaknesses, as well as opportunities & threats.

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Change is an inevitable part of community organizing. If you know how khổng lồ take stock of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, you are more likely to lớn plan và act effectively.

SWOT provides a tool khổng lồ explore both internal & external factors that may influence your work.

What is a SWOT analysis and why should you use one?

SWOT stands for: Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat. A SWOT analysis guides you to identify your organization’s strengths và weaknesses (S-W), as well as broader opportunities & threats (O-T). Developing a fuller awareness of the situation helps with both strategic planning & decision-making.

The SWOT method was originally developed for business and industry, but it is equally useful in the work of community health and development, education, and even for personal growth.

SWOT is not the only assessment technique you can use. Compare it with other assessment tools in the Community Tool Box to determine if this is the right approach for your situation. The strengths of this method are its simplicity & application khổng lồ a variety of levels of operation.

When bởi vì you use SWOT?

A SWOT analysis can offer helpful perspectives at any stage of an effort. You might use it to:

Explore possibilities for new efforts or solutions khổng lồ problems.Make decisions about the best path for your initiative. Identifying your opportunities for success in context of threats to lớn success can clarify directions and choices.Determine where change is possible. If you are at a juncture or turning point, an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses can reveal priorities as well as possibilities.Adjust and refine plans mid-course. A new opportunity might xuất hiện wider avenues, while a new threat could close a path that once existed.

SWOT also offers a simple way of communicating about your initiative or program and an excellent way khổng lồ organize information you"ve gathered from studies or surveys.

What are the elements of a SWOT analysis?

A SWOT analysis focuses on Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, và Threats. 

Remember that the purpose of performing a SWOT is lớn reveal positive forces that work together và potential problems that need khổng lồ be recognized and possibly addressed. 

We will discuss the process of creating the analysis below, but first here are a few sample layouts for your SWOT analysis.

Ask participants to answer these simple questions: what are the strengths và weaknesses of your group, community, or effort, & what are the opportunities & threats facing it?









If a looser structure helps you brainstorm, you can group positives & negatives to lớn think broadly about your organization & its external environment.



Below is a third option for structuring your SWOT analysis, which may be appropriate for a larger initiative that requires detailed planning. This "TOWS Matrix" is adapted from Fred David"s Strategic Management text. 

OPPORTUNITIES1.2.3.4.Opportunity-Strength (OS) StrategiesUse the strengths khổng lồ take advantage of opportunities1.2.Opportunity-Weakness (OW) StrategiesOvercome weaknesses by taking advantage of opportunities1.2.
THREATS1.2.3.4.Threat-Strength (TS) StrategiesUse strengths lớn avoid threats1.2.Threat-Weakness (TW) StrategiesMinimize weaknesses & avoid threats1.2.


David gives an example for Campbell Soup Company that stresses financial goals, but it also illustrates how you can pair the items within a SWOT grid to develop strategies. (This version of the chart is abbreviated.)

 STRENGTHSCurrent profit ratio increasedEmployee morale highMarket chia sẻ has increased

WEAKNESSESLegal suits not resolvedPlant capacity has fallenLack of strategic management system

OPPORTUNITIESWestern European unificationRising health consciousness in selecting foodsDemand for soups increasing annually

Opportunity-Strength (OS) StrategiesAcquire food company in Europe (S1, S3, O1)Develop new healthy soups (S2, O2)Opportunity-Weakness (OW) StrategiesDevelop new Pepperidge Farm products (W1, O2, O3)
THREATSLow value of dollarTin cans are not biodegradable

Threat-Strength (TS) StrategiesDevelop new biodegradable soup containers (S1, T2)Threat-Weakness (TW) StrategiesClose unprofitable European operations (W3, T1)


This example also illustrates how threats can become opportunities (and vice versa). The limitation of tin cans (which aren"t biodegradable) creates an opportunity for leadership in developing biodegradable containers. There are several formats you can use to bởi a SWOT analysis, including a basic SWOT khung that you can use khổng lồ prompt analysis, but whatever format you use, don"t be surprised if your strengths & weaknesses don"t precisely match up khổng lồ your opportunities và threats. You might need to refine, or you might need lớn simply look at the facts longer, or from a different angle. Your chart, list or table will certainly reveal patterns.

Listing Your Internal Factors: Strengths & Weaknesses (S, W)

Internal factors include your resources và experiences. General areas to consider:

Human resources - staff, volunteers, board members, target populationPhysical resources - your location, building, equipment Financial - grants, funding agencies, other sources of incomeActivities & processes - programs you run, systems you employPast experiences - building blocks for learning và success, your reputation in the community

Don"t be too modest when listing your strengths. If you"re having difficulty naming them, start by simply listing your characteristics (e.g.., we"re small, we"re connected to the neighborhood). Some of these will probably be strengths.

Although the strengths and weakness of your organization are your internal qualities, don"t overlook the perspective of people outside your group. Identify strengths and weaknesses from both your own point of view và that of others, including those you serve or khuyễn mãi giảm giá with. Bởi vì others see problems--or assets--that you don"t?

How bởi you get information about how outsiders perceive your strengths và weaknesses? You may know already if you"ve listened lớn those you serve. If not, this might be the time lớn gather that type of information. See related sections for ideas on conducting focus groups, user surveys, and listening sessions.

Listing External Factors: Opportunities & Threats (O, T)

Cast a wide net for the external part of the assessment. No organization, group, program, or neighborhood is immune khổng lồ outside events & forces. Consider your connectedness, for better & worse, as you compile this part of your SWOT list.

Forces and facts that your group does not control include:

Future trends in your field or the cultureThe economy - local, national, or internationalFunding sources - foundations, donors, legislaturesDemographics - changes in the age, race, gender, culture of those you serve or in your areaThe physical environment (Is your building in a growing part of town? Is the bus company cutting routes?)Legislation (Do new federal requirements make your job harder...or easier?)Local, national or international events

How bởi you create a SWOT analysis?

Who develops the SWOT?

The most common users of a SWOT analysis are team members & project managers who are responsible for decision-making and strategic planning.

But don"t overlook anyone in the creation stage!

An individual or small group can develop a SWOT analysis, but it will be more effective if you take advantage of many stakeholders. Each person or group offers a different perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of your program và has different experiences of both.

Likewise, one staff member, or volunteer or stakeholder may have information about an opportunity or threat that is essential to understanding your position & determining your future.

When & where vày you develop a SWOT analysis?

A SWOT analysis is often created during a retreat or planning session that allows several hours for brainstorming and analysis. The best results come when the process is collaborative & inclusive.

When creating the analysis, people are asked to lớn pool their individual and shared knowledge & experience. The more relaxed, friendly và constructive the setting, the more truthful, comprehensive, insightful, and useful your analysis will be.

How vày you develop a SWOT analysis?

Steps for conducting a SWOT analysis:

Designate a leader or group facilitator who has good listening and group process skills, and who can keep things moving và on track.Designate a recorder khổng lồ back up the leader if your group is large. Use newsprint on a flip chart or a large board to record the analysis và discussion points. You can record later in a more polished fashion to share with stakeholders và to update.Introduce the SWOT method and its purpose in your organization. This can be as simple as asking, "Where are we, where can we go?" If you have time, you could run through a quick example based on a shared experience or well-known public issue.Depending on the nature of your group & the time available, let all participants introduce themselves. Then divide your stakeholders into smaller groups. If your retreat or meeting draws several groups of stakeholders together, make sure you set the small groups khổng lồ get a range of perspectives, & give them a chance to lớn introduce themselves.The size of these depends on the kích thước of your entire group – breakout groups can range from three to lớn ten. If the kích thước gets much larger, some members may not participate.Have each group designate a recorder, and provide each with newsprint or dry -erase board. Direct them lớn create a SWOT analysis in the format you choose-a chart, columns, a matrix, or even a page for each quality.Give the groups 20-30 minutes lớn brainstorm and fill out their own strengths, weakness, opportunities và threats chart for your program, initiative or effort. Encourage them not to rule out any ideas at this stage, or the next.Remind groups that the way lớn have a good idea is to lớn have lots of ideas. Refinement can come later. In this way, the SWOT analysis also supports valuable discussion within your group or organization as you honestly assess.It helps to generate lots of comments about your organization and your program, and even to put them in multiple categories if that provokes thought.Once a danh mục has been generated, it helps to refine it to the best 10 or fewer points so that the analysis can be truly helpful.Reconvene the group at the agreed-upon time to mô tả results. Gather information from the groups, recording on the flip-chart or board. Collect & organize the differing groups" ideas và perceptions.Proceed in S-W-O-T order, recording strengths first, weaknesses second, etc.Or you can begin by calling for the top priorities in each category -the strongest strength, most dangerous weakness, biggest opportunity, worst threat--and continue to lớn work across each category.Ask one group at a time lớn report ("Group A, what vị you see as strengths?") You can vary which group begins the report so a certain group isn"t always left "bringing up the end" và repeating points made by others. ("Group B, let"s start with you for weaknesses.")Or, you can open the floor to all groups ("What strengths have you noted?") for each category until all have contributed what they think is needed.Discuss và record the results. Depending on your time frame & purpose:Come to lớn some consensus about the most important items in each categoryRelate the analysis to lớn your vision, mission, & goalsTranslate the analysis to action plans and strategiesIf appropriate, prepare a written summary of the SWOT analysis to share with participants for continued use in planning and implementation.

More ideas on conducting successful meetings can be found in Community Tool Box resources on conducting public forums và listening sessions, conducting focus groups, and organizing a retreat.

How vì chưng you use your SWOT analysis?

Better understanding the factors affecting your initiative put you in a better position for action. This understanding helps as you:

Identify the issues or problems you intend to lớn changeSet or reaffirm goalsCreate an kích hoạt plan

As you consider your analysis, be mở cửa to the possibilities that exist within a weakness or threat. Likewise, recognize that an opportunity can become a threat if everyone else sees the opportunity & plans to lớn take advantage of it as well, thereby increasing your competition.

Finally, during your assessment & planning, you might keep an image in mind khổng lồ help you make the most of a SWOT analysis: Look for a "stretch," not just a "fit." As Radha Balamuralikrishna và John C. Dugger of Iowa State University point out, SWOT usually reflects your current position or situation. Therefore one drawback is that it might not encourage openness lớn new possibilities. You can use SWOT lớn justify a course that has already been decided upon, but if your goal is to grow or improve, you will want khổng lồ keep this in mind.

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In Summary

A realistic recognition of the weaknesses và threats that exist for your effort is the first step to lớn countering them with a robust mix of strategies that build upon strengths và opportunities. A SWOT analysis identifies your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to lớn assist you in making strategic plans và decisions.