Monday, 26 September 2011

SWOT Analysis - Brainstorming Ideas

Click to see full size image - opens in a new window In previous posts on the subject of SWOT analysis, the initial steps in the process have been identified as:

  • Define the goal or objective
  • Brainstorm and review strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) in the context of the objective.

The key consideration before starting the analysis is to establish and agree the focus, whether you are working on your own or with a group in a meeting or workshop. Before any idea generation, determine what is the objective to be analysed and which feature(s) of the organisation, product or individual are to be examined in a given work session.  In facilitation terms, we talk about identifying the focus question.

For a SWOT analysis this focus question will include reference to the objective and define the scope or context further, such as:

  • Given our objective, what is it about the situation of our organisation/products/staff that needs to be addressed by strategy.

An example of this is:

 SWOT - Objective image

Use this focus throughout the SWOT analysis - keep coming back to the objective - there may be many internal and external factors that might be considered but not all will be relevant to achieving the objective.

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Stay within the context of the analysis. For a given session, it might be decided to focus only on selected capabilities, resources, performance or assets. This might be driven by the need to define strategy for a given market or product or for operational improvements. The focus might be on people, processes or technology. Agree what this focus needs to be and then work with it.

It is also useful to think of a next level of focus questions to help with the idea generation and to help control the analysis session.

If you are using MindGenius to undertake the SWOT analysis, you can use the 'Question Set' feature to define the questions and to use the question set to help drive the initial idea generation and analysis. This can help:

  • Maintain the focus
  • Break the idea generation and analysis into more manageable chunks
  • Stimulate ideas
  • Sequence or group the ideas.

A very simple question set created in MindGenius looks like this:

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The questions set may be used with the normal map creation/editing mode or with brainstorm mode.

In brainstorm mode, open the relevant question set, select each question in turn and add the ideas.

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Each idea can be linked to the question it relates to - in this example it is useful to know whether an idea is a strength, weakness, opportunity or threat, for instance. If ideas come up that relate to questions reviewed previously, then move back to the relevant question, select it and then add the idea. However this is not critical as the ideas will be reviewed again later.

Click to see full size image - opens in a new window

When complete, create a map from the brainstorm, selecting the option to create a 'Question-Centric Map'.

Click to see full size image - opens in a new window

Use this new map to review the ideas generated thus far, expand on ideas or to add new ones.

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Change the layout, amend the formatting, add notes and categories - whatever helps the review and refines the output.

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More sophisticated question sets will provide further focus, segmentation and depth. Take a look at the default question set for SWOT analysis to see an example.


imageThe images and slides used in this post were created using MindGenius.  If you would like to know more about MindGenius, do visit the web site and try the product free for 30 days.

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lucintel said...

Hi Friend
Nice information you have posted. I also want to add some more about SWOT analysis.
SWOT analysis was developed by the middle of the 1960s for large organizations to determine the strategic fit between an organization's internal, distinctive capabilities and external possibilities and to prioritize actions. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
The steps in the common three phase SWOT analysis process are:
1: Detect strategic issues
2: Determine the strategy
3: Implement and monitor strategy

Ben Benjabutr said...

SWOT Analysis seems to be the easy thing but it's actually difficult to get it right. It's good to know that there is a software that helps to stimulate ideas and gather solutions.