Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats, and Trends will take definitive roles in the
immediate and long-term future of Individuals, Families, Teams, and Companies.
This is a simplified practical view of the most powerful strategic planning tool you
can put into play to benefit yourself and others in a very short period of time.
The SWOTT is something very real that is
turning around behaviors and results everywhere. The SWOTT has the ability to generate a roadmap that can take
you to a next level of success and satisfaction. The SWOTT will bring your group together and let you all
integrate the team you all need.
I felt compelled to write this article because most of what has been said about SWOTT is described more from
an Academic and in some cases Sophisticated style than in a simple applicable way so that anyone will be able to
understand and follow to get the best results in a very short period of time.
The main ingredient to have this process work for you is of course: Communication and with it:
So... What is the SWOTT all about?
It is the deep transparent analysis of what we are today and what we need to do to produce a better
tomorrow. It is a cooperative exercise where everyone in a group will have input to create the realistic current
situation and therefore the group’s future.
The SWOTT Unsophisticated
Any healthy group must have some degree of inconformity if we are to aim at some progress. No
progress comes from status quo and conformity. So, if you have and are a part of a “thinking group”, here is a
great opportunity to develop the skills and true potential of the synergy that you all can generate.
Synergy is defined as the sum of energy that comes from bringing together two or more efforts that
are applied in the same direction. Most of the time though those energies remain isolated and captive, not going
The Starting Point
Especially in the current competitive condition of most manufacturing industries, it is more
convenient than ever to get to know more about ourselves and our enterprise. The more you know the better off
you are to enhance your results. So let us get to it…
Start the Process:
1. Put together a team. It needs to be comprised of as many of the different levels in the
organization as possible 6 to 12 people is ideal, depending on the size of the Company.
2. Devote some serious time in everyone’s agenda. They are not to be interrupted or distracted
3. Usually five 1-hour sessions will suffice. Early mornings have shown to be better
4. Establish some norms:
a. No cell phones or calls of any kind during the whole hour of the meeting
b. Absolute punctuality from all. Start for example at 7:59 or 6:59 sharp every morning
of that week. If they want coffee, water, etc, they will get that before start time or after the finish time
c. Everyone has the opportunity and the duty to contribute with their views
5. Have a wall in the meeting room dedicated to the exercise, and enough flipchart paper and
fresh markers ready
Then to start this adventure say something like...
“We have decided to do this exercise because it is very valuable for everyone in the Company
and for the Company itself. We all are here to contribute as much as possible into the exercise. We will all
benefit from doing this not only in our professional lives at work but also we will be able to apply this
valuable concept at home in our personal benefit.
The exercise consists of Putting in Writing all
D. Threats and
A. What are the main Strengths of our people and
a. Technology - Machinery
d. Design - Uniqueness
e. Infrastructure - Flexibility
g. Market share
h. Skilled people
j. Financial reputation – Credit Lines
k. Endorsements of any kind
l. Recognition and respect earned
m. Find as many others as you can
B. Recognize your Weaknesses
Analyze practically the same issues that we just went through on the Strengths, adding perhaps a
few like... Excessive inventories, Aging factory, Regulations compliance, etc.
No doubt this is an exercise for the brave, you all need courage and sincere-realistic objectivity
to fill this second list out. Do it brainstorm style, having everyone feel free to speak out and putting every
single idea or thought on the draft paper. Later will come some time to elaborate, cleanup, and consolidate
Here I strongly recommend that you put your first two lists side-by-side and you will be
able to see that some of your weaknesses can be defeated by your strengths almost immediately. That
certainly feels good! Does it not?
Now we are ready for some creative and optimistic (but realistic) approach to...
C. Visualize your Opportunities.
This is made easily at this time since the “muscle” of true communication and interaction has been
exercised enough. We are now more “elastic” and resilient and will bring up some ideas that before we would have
not thought as opportunities for: development, redirection, flexibility, reengineering, and openness to change!
Excuse the bad word, I meant Improvement!
Make sure everyone feels free to contribute any concept they may have that can be exploited as an
opportunity for the business. In moments like this companies like General Electric or Toyoda Looms came up with
diversifications that don’t have anything to do with their original business. And they succeeded big time going
into Diesel engines and Automobiles respectively. Moments like Coca Cola coming out of the bottle into a can,
AT&Telegraph moving into Satellite communications. Well, you get the idea!
Good News: We have done the three toughest lists.
D. Now, bring the team into discovering the
These are the threats that your company and industry are facing. It is a good time to do this since
we are all wired up with our previous sections of the exercise. At this time all those threats that might have
seemed enormous at other time, now they look completely solvable and our conviction of power will help us defeat
them in a New York minute.
We have discovered in the previous stages that we have the Team-Power and the Will to do whatever
it may take to keep our business running! This list will take a shorter time to write and we will see each item
in the right and real dimension and will not feel overwhelmed as we could have just a week before.
E. Discover and analyze the Trends…
Where are our Business, our current Industry, the Market, and the Economy going?
Fill out the list; consider everyone’s observations, forecasts, and foresights. Trends can
sometimes be worrisome and also can be very promising. It all depends on our position. The right thinking here
is: the world is going in that direction anyway. Usually no one is able to change the trends, so be brave enough
and ask yourselves:
How can we take advantage of this? What do we need to be equipped for that future state of things?
What do we need to change to avoid the inconveniences and profit from those inevitable changes? Get excited,
This exercise can be very successful and provide you with a team building opportunity like very few
others. Through this you will have probably gotten to know your people better and they know you better too.
Knowledge is Power.