Step 4 of the S.W.O.T Analysis Process

Using the Information Developed

In most cases, the S.W.O.T. Analysis will produce a number of exciting challenges and opportunities for the  business.  Your must realize that you cannot take advantage of all of the changes or opportunities which you have developed.  Your task is to prioritize the opportunities with which you have been presented.

You are going to be looking for opportunities with the largest cost-benefit ratios -- in other words, the "biggest bank for the buck".  And you are going to have to pick a number of opportunities that you can actually handle.  In my experience, first-time S.W.O.T. users should probably choose no more than six initiatives.  Depending on the level of time and resource commitment, this would be a reasonable number of initiatives to plan, deploy, execute and follow-up in one year.  If you are able to fully execute all initiatives during the year, and would like to add another, just go back to your list and select the next opportunity in line.

In terms of company morale and the future buy-in of your key personnel, it is important that you successfully execute all the initiatives you select.  In the beginning especially, it is better to select less demanding initiatives and see them through to success than it is to select a world-changing initiative and be unable to accomplish the goal.

Be certain that when you take on an initiative, you and your team have fully considered the financial and management resources which must be allocated to the accomplishment of that goal.  Buy-in on the part of your personnel will be much higher if they can envision the change as "do-able" with current levels of finances and management, and not as something which will only be accomplished by super-human effort and sacrificial measures.

Planning With S.W.O.T.

Once you have used the S.W.O.T. Analysis process to select the initiatives which you intend to pursue in the coming period, reduce the initiatives to writing, using the Initiatives Summary Form.

Describe the initiative carefully, and provide metrics that can be measured.  The initiative is not "Increase sales", but "Increase sales by $2,000,000" or, better, "Increase sales by $2,000,000 by addressing the "Age-In-Place" market".  The manager owning this initiative is selected. The steps in accomplishing this initiative are then described and the party responsible for each step of the initiative is determined.

As the owner of the company, it is important that you demonstrate total buy-in to the planning and implementation process.  Especially in companies which have not gone through this process previously, your managers and staff will be taking their cue from you as to how they will view the process.  If you are not actively pursuing the goals established in the S.W.O.T. Analysis, they will follow your lead.

I recommend spending at least one meeting or a part of a meeting every month to specifically address the progress of the goals established, hold accountable the managers responsible for the progress of the initiative to make sure they are meeting the milestones, and gather information about upcoming milestones.

It is good management training for them and good practice for you.

View the S.W.O.T. Initiatives Summary Form

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