The SWOT analysis can be a helpful tool to determine what your strategic priorities will be over the next three to five years. Although the SWOT is often used in the planning process, my bet is that over 70% of the time it is set aside and abandoned because the team does not know how to use the information. The typical next step would be to create a TOWS grid and match, e.g., company Strengths to maximize Opportunities, etc.
Another way to take advantage of the information you and your team have develop in the SWOT analysis is to go “goal and initiative hunting.” This method has you focus on your new SWOT analysis results to identify the broad goals to achieve your vision, then cascade down to the strategies you will use to reach each goal. Then, determine the key initiatives or projects you will implement to operationalize your strategies to achieve your vision. To begin, refocus on your completed SWOT matrix:
• Strengths: Look at competitive advantages with a focus on what you need verses what you have.
• Weaknesses: Pick the urgent and important weaknesses that you need to prioritize. You can also use an Effort Impact grid to determine which to prioritize.
• Opportunities: Prioritize external opportunities. You can use a Market Attractiveness Grid to help focus this discussion.
• Threats: Identify the key external threats to watch and review at a Quarterly Refresh meeting.
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