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Tuesday, 13 September 2011

SWOT Analysis - Getting from Ideas to Action

In the last post - SWOT Analysis - So what? - I introduced the SWOT analysis tool and how it may be applied to the development of strategy and action plans.

SWOT simple

The approach to using the tool might be summarised into 5 steps:

  1. Define the goal or objective
  2. Brainstorm and review strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) in the context of the objective
  3. Review the SWOT and brainstorm strategies or high level actions to address each idea
  4. Review each strategy or high level action, identify detailed actions to implement
  5. Schedule the actions to complete the action plan.

Mapping software is ideal for this kind of planning and I'll take you through the 5 steps using MindGenius to illustrate one possible approach.

Having defined an objective, next complete the brainstorm of the SWOT attributes.

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Capture high level strategies for action against each SWOT idea.

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Using the 'Analyze' function of MindGenius, assign categories to each of the elements of the map: SWOT template; the brainstormed SWOT ideas; the high level strategies or actions.  Filter the map to leave only the high level strategies or actions visible. Export these to a new map using the 'Create Category Map' function.Click to see full size image - opens in a new window

This gives a simple map listing only the high level strategies or actions.

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This may be reviewed, refined and restructured or taken as is. Taking each strategy, add detailed actions to the map.

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Next, schedule the detailed actions - actions with dates (and owners and resources) become more real.

In MindGenius, switch to the Gantt view. Schedule the actions, create dependencies, set durations and assign resources.

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The resulting action plan may be managed using MindGenius or it can be exported to MS Project. The action plan may be refined further, more detail added and so on.

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This simple example demonstrates what a simple yet powerful tool SWOT analysis is. The critical, creative part is the generation, review and evaluation of ideas and actions. Depending on the purpose of the exercise, the context (large or small company, for instance) and the level of governance needed, include in your plans time/effort for consultation, review and approval as well as for a number of iterations.

This example also illustrates how a mapping tool such as MindGenius can help you with each step of the process, creating strong visual documentation as you go.

In the next post I'll show how MindGenius can help with the initial brainstorming by the use of "Question Sets".

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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.

Should you decide to buy MindGenius, Peace of Mind Blog can offer a 10% discount.  Just use the discount code at the checkout on the MindGenius web site or quote the code in any correspondence with MindGenius.

To claim the 10% discount please use the code:  MGELST

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