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— SWOC Analysis — A Facilitation Tool for Identifying Strategic Issues. SWOC Analysis is a process of analyzing strengths , weaknesses, opportunities and challenges of an organization.

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— SWOC Analysis —

A Facilitation Tool for Identifying

Strategic Issues

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SWOC Analysis is a process of analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges of an organization.

The SWOT Analysis was developed as a component of the Harvard Policy Model for strategic planning in businesses. It has been included in the business policy course taught at the Harvard Business School since the 1920s.

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SWOC Analysis has since been expanded to address a wide variety of purposes including assessment and development of both for-profit and non-profit organizations, public agencies, and communities.

SWOC Analysis for organizations can:

  • Help a new group to focus on developing their mission and first important strategies,
  • Enable a group that has not been functioning as effectively as they could be to refocus their efforts and get on track,
  • Assist long-term organizations to periodically renew their priorities in a systematic fashion.
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Desired Outcomes

A SWOC produces documented lists of external (future-oriented organizational opportunities and challenges) and internal (present organizational strengths and weaknesses) factors.

Another important outcome of SWOC may be the formulation of specific actions to deal with

challenges and weaknesses, build on strengths, and take advantage of opportunities.

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BenefitsAn effective external and internal environmental assessment should provide several benefits to the organization.

Among the most important is that it will produce

information that is vital to the organization’s survival and prosperity.

It is difficult to imagine that an organization can

be truly effective over the long haul unless it has an intimate knowledge of its strengths and weaknesses in relation to the opportunities and challenges it faces.

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Every organization must manage the tension between its capacities and intentions in relation to the opportunities and challenges it faces.

A SWOC analysis clarifies the nature of these tensions by juxtaposing two fundamental dimensions of existence:

Good (strengths and opportunities)

Negative (weaknesses and challenges)

as well as

Present (strengths and weaknesses)

Future (opportunities and challenges).

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SWOC Group Process

The following process description is one example of how to conduct a SWOC Analysis with a group.

Please note that there are many ways to accomplish the same process. The technique is relatively simple, easy to use, speedy, and productive.

The technique is particularly useful as a component of a comprehensive strategic planning effort, as an environmental scan or strategy development step.

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In a SWOT analysis the technique focuses on these four questions:

1. What are our major internal or present strengths?

Internal strengths are resources or capabilities that help an organization accomplish its mandates or mission.

Examples: professional staff, adequate resources, leadership, values, physical facilities, talents, linkages or networks, history, reputation and many others.

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2. What are our major internal or present weaknesses?

Internal weaknesses are deficiencies in resources and capabilities that hinder an organization’s ability to accomplish its mandate or mission.

Examples: lack of effective communications,

absence of clear vision or mission, flawed organizational structure, noncompetitive pay structure, performance issues, board turnover, or lack of financial resources.

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3. What major external or future opportunities do we have?

External opportunities are outside factors or situations that can affect your organization in a favorable way.

Examples: new funding from a federal program, political support for a potential project, a chance to modify an outdated mandate, the global economy, changing customer demographics and preferences, technological changes, timing and other trends.

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4. What major external or future challenges do we face?

External challenges are outside factors or situations that can affect your organization in a negative way.

Examples: loss of state funding, increasing demand for a specific service, management conflicts, the global economy, competition, customer preferences, technological changes, political or social trends.

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After the SWAC, take your findings and ask:

What can we do to help build upon or enhance ________ strength?

What can we do to improve or overcome __________ weakness?

What can we do to take advantage of __________ opportunity?

What can we do to minimize or eliminate __________ challenge?

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The strategies identified can again be prioritized or further assessed through more detailed action planning.