A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) analysis is often a necessary step at the beginning of a strategic planning process.
A SWOT offers great guidance in how a strategic plan is constructed, and keeping your SWOT up-to-date is instrumental in ensuring a plan stays relevant to the environment that a company operates within.
Prudent treatment of a SWOT in the planning process has the power to convert weaknesses into strengths and threats into opportunities during execution. In fact, this is exactly what your plan’s measurements should be communicating.
Identifying Shifts in Your SWOT
To keep your plan agile, consider weaving in SWOT-oriented updates throughout the year. Sources of this type of data could come from:
- Your customer feedback program,
- Your HR department
- Competitor updates
You will need to have methods identified that will help you effectively tap into your environment. When considering sources of this data, make sure that you are receiving a balanced diet of information: mine for strengths as intensely as weaknesses; opportunities as intensely as threats.
When determining your strategic plan implementation, make these updates part of your executive agenda template. Consistent approaches for collecting this feedback over time will aggregate into the type of information that you can rely and strategically act upon. By staying on top of what is occurring in your environment, and determining how that may affect strategy execution, you will be keeping your plan relevant.
Changing Course Based on Your SWOT
Another important by-product of this exercise is that you will be increasing your capacity to react upon external trends or events when warranted. To adapt to any externality effectively requires a base of knowledge primed to absorb the details. In a rapidly changing environment, this equates to the development of a competitive advantage.
Finally, by continually adding outside feedback into your SWOT, it will make the next update of your strategic plan that much more effective. Your organization will have a more fundamental understanding of what strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or threats really looks like from an organizational frame of reference rather than an individual perspective.
Is your SWOT up-to-date?