Four SWOT Analysis Mistakes That Make It An Entirely Pointless Exercise


Four SWOT Analysis Mistakes That Make It An Entirely Pointless Exercise

SWOT analysis is a popular tool you may have heard of once or twice. Especially if you have been to your local business school. It’s used by many businesses, often incorrectly, to assess their:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

What is a SWOT analysis? No points for knowing what the SWOT acronym stands for. However, did you know it is often misused? Resulting in incomplete or misleading analysis. This article reveals the four SWOT analysis mistakes that make it an entirely pointless exercise. And How to do SWOT Analysis With Competitive Intelligence Questions

Here are four common mistakes and tips on how to do a SWOT analysis properly:

Focusing Only On Internal Factors

Many organisations only look at their internal strengths and weaknesses and ignore external opportunities and threats. To do a SWOT analysis properly, it’s essential to consider internal and external factors. It’s created, so we do this. Strengths and Weaknesses are internal, and opportunities and Threats should be focused on external factors. There’s an argument that both sides can be swapped around. It’s up to you as long as it’s clear from the start. We would not suggest combining these two very different exercises. Split them into two.

2. Being Too General

Sometimes organisations make sweeping statements that are too general. Like “We have great employees.” This may be true, but it’s boring and useless. The CEO is not going to say we have terrible people working for us. We have a great purpose of saving the planet. Again too general, me too, and it helps no one — least of all the earth. To do a SWOT analysis properly, it’s essential to be:

  • Specific
  • Provide evidence to support each statement.

Not Prioritising

Many list their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats without prioritising or ranking them. It’s important to prioritise and focus on the most critical factors. Otherwise, it’s just a list of things that need doing. Soon to be put into the door to gather dust. And remember It’s SWOT Analysis, Not Competitive Intelligence. It’s one of many tools available to a competitive intelligence analyst.

Not Validating Findings

Often, organisations fail to validate their findings with data, research, or other evidence. Gathering data to support your analysis correctly is important for SWOT analysis. This an obvious statement we know. Building analysis that you will make big decisions based on unverified is unwise. And it happens all the time.

Quick And Dirty

SWOT analysis is a great quick and dirty tool. A tool that gets people at least thinking about their competitive position. But treating it like a quick and dirty tool is the problem. A SWOT exercise should be planned, time given to the event and the analysis of the answers. Dissenting voices are great for SWOT. So are people from all the layers of your organisation. There’s an argument here that you bring external support into this analysis. Or perhaps have an independent analysis leader. We know a company that would love to do that 🙂

To do a SWOT analysis properly, start by defining your objective. Then identify the scope of the analysis will cover. Then, gather data and information on internal and external factors. And then identify critical trends and patterns. Next, rank and prioritise the elements based on their importance and potential impact.

Finally, develop strategies and action plans based on the analysis. Validate your findings with data and research. Don’t put analysis into the exercise just to keep the boss happy. The analysis needs to be:

  • Hard-hitting,
  • Future facing
  • Action orientated
  • Accurate
  • meaningful
  • valuable for making informed decisions

Four SWOT Analysis Mistakes That Make It An Entirely Pointless Exercise

We offered four SWOT analysis mistakes that make it an entirely pointless exercise. SWOT analysis is a powerful tool that can benefit businesses if done correctly. It requires more than listing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It requires in-depth strategic thinking. SWOT analysis can become an invaluable asset for you to make well-informed decisions. But only when appropriately used. Therefore, it is important to understand this tool’s nuances and use it appropriately to maximise its potential.

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